- Name: Jen B.
- Location: Birmingham, Alabama
- Age: 51
- Retired At: 51
- Marital Status: Married
- Profession: Co-Founder of Expatsi.com
After a 30-year career in marketing, Jen semi-retired in 2022. She felt trapped during the pandemic, in her job, her house, and her life. Finding a “happy place” became very important to her. Jen didn’t want to fight younger people for hustle-culture jobs during The Great Resignation. She also recognized that her parents passed away at ages 70 and 72, so she didn’t want to wait 15 more years to “start living.” So Jen retired at 51 and began her journey. Part of that included starting a company and planning a move. We talked with her about her retirement.
Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?
Jen: My pitbull and officemate Squiggy and I wake up when the mood strikes us and I head to the kitchen for one of my husband’s delicious triple lattes. I spend the morning writing TikTok scripts or working on our site, and then I stop to make lunch.
During the pandemic, I started growing vegetables and making my own stocks, and I love cooking decadent meals that we eat for days, like a chicken pie with bacon and leeks or beef vindaloo. Brett works remotely in a home office, so we link up for lunch, which makes my day.
In the afternoon, I’ll shoot, edit, and post videos, answer questions from other people who want to live abroad, and work on prep for our move, like listing items we want to sell on eBay or Poshmark.
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Jen: We did, but I up-ended it! We planned to spend 10 years visiting countries we might want to live in and then drilling down to regions and cities while we continued to save for retirement. But after we visited Mérida, I didn’t want to wait that long.
We had an idea for a website and assessment that would help people like us find the best country to move to, so we decided to go for it and started building it this year. It’s called Expatsi. I also use TikTok and blogs to advise people on how to move abroad.
We’ll make the move to Mérida in April. Because the cost of living is lower, I was able to retire and work on Expatsi now. We’ll still visit other countries to see if we’d like to move again one day. Brett is in his early 40s, and as long as he’s working, we essentially have unlimited runway to bootstrap Expatsi.
Best Part About Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?
Jen: The freedom! I love the work that I get to do and I love my hobbies. I take improv classes, cook and grow vegetables, and play with my animals. I can read a book for fun. It’s an incredible privilege.
Challenges In Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?
Jen: Because we live in Alabama, we already have a low cost of living, so there are many places we can’t afford to move, especially within the U.S. We had to decide what trade-offs we were going to make to find our highest quality of life at the lowest cost of living. We see that a lot in people who take The Expatsi Test, which is our quiz that recommends countries to fit your needs. Everyone wants to live on the beach in western Europe, but they also want it to be affordable. You usually have to choose.
Cost Of Retirement
Retirement Awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? Do you have a budget, meet with your advisor on a regular basis, etc?
Jen: Advisors are a crucial part of the process. I think there’s a preconception that you have to be very wealthy to use them, but you don’t. They can help you at any budget.
Because we’re starting this business and still in the U.S., we have to spend some of our savings each month, and we have a strict budget. We also make judicious use of the money we make selling our belongings before the move. Our goal is to make our business profitable by 2024 so that we can put the brakes on spending, but our cost of living in Mexico will also be much less. Not dirt cheap — just less.
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire?
Jen: I think the younger generations have it figured out. We should work to live, not live to work. I realize that this won’t mean much to someone having to work three jobs to make rent, but if you can afford to live with less, do it. Enjoy your life without worrying about amassing possessions or keeping up with the Joneses.
Things I Wish I Would Have Known
Retirement Awaits: What are a few things you wish someone would have told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?
Jen: The world has changed so drastically over the past few years that I feel like we’re charting our own course. I look forward to meeting like-minded retirees in Mexico.
Best Retirement Vacation
Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?
Jen: Unsurprisingly, I love Mérida. Countless beautiful beaches, inspiring Mayan heritage sites, incredible food, and the kindest humans. I can’t wait to be one of them.
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