And there’s the reality of money. I can’t afford to go traveling around the world in the normal way in some sort of early retirement. It’s not clear that I could retire at the normal age and have enough money to live at my current standard. I think the experts suggest that you need at least 2/3 of your current income to live comfortably during retirement. Cruisers suggest that two people can live on a (paid for) cruising sailboat for $10,000 to $25,000 a year without feeling deprived. People in their 20’s do it for even less, although they often go back to the “real” world after a year or two of what may feel like deprivation.
But it costs to get ready to go cruising. Of course part of the secret here is to get an inexpensive boat – and it is certainly possible to find a seaworthy boat at an affordable price. Many of the cruising life style books in Resources talk about how to do this. Also check our costs for Phoenix. But let’s look at some numbers.
- You can afford to buy some kind of seaworthy boat ($15K-$80K) while you’re still working – maybe instead of a new car, maybe instead of some vacations, maybe from savings – not by borrowing money.
- You can afford to work on the boat yourself to get it ready, or you can afford for someone else to while you continue working.
- You are willing to work at piece work while cruising until you can get to your retirement income.
- You will have some investment or retirement income when you get over 62.
Let’s say you go cruising 5 years before you would normally retire. You buy and outfit a boat for $50,000-$80,000 while you still have income. You go cruising and spend $12,000 per year*. For the years until you would officially retire you make this amount by stopping to work until you have the money to go on (boat work, computer work, bar tending, writing stories for magazines, whatever you can do as piece work). Burning question: is it feasible for a couple to make $12K to $15K a year in foreign ports?
Of course some people have $12K to $15K a year in investment income. This would be ideal but we didn’t manage to put away anything but 401K contributions which we can’t use effectively until we’re retirement age.
After you retire you draw $12,000 a year from your retirement income (assuming you have something). Your retirement years (say, 15) will cost you $180,000.
If you stay home and work until retirement, your retirement years will cost you 70% of your current income – say $70,000 * 15yrs or $1,050,000. That initial $50,000 boat cost is looking pretty affordable. Go down to one car and you may save that amount alone in the five or ten years before you go cruising. Unless you and your partner are living on $18,000/year now, retiring to a sailboat could be much less expensive than retiring on land.
But maybe you don’t want to go cruising for 20 years or more. Is it a lifestyle or a vacation? If it’s a vacation for a year or so and you don’t have enough savings to pay for it, you probably have to stop and work. But working in Yap or Fiji or Sydney for part of a year so you can go sailing the rest may not be that bad (see Burning Question above) … or you may hate it. We’re finding out for ourselves.
*See Beth Leonard’s Voyager’s Handbook 2nd Edition for a great presentation of different sailing budgets.