For some time now, my dream has been to retire early and travel the world. But I’ve also wanted to have kids and raise a family. Sometimes I wonder if these two lifestyles are mutually exclusive — you can have one but not the other.
On one hand, it would be easy to retire in the next few years with more than enough assets to cover the two of us for life and begin our travels. Perhaps we could settle down somewhere after our travels and see where life takes us. But my wife doesn’t think a nomadic lifestyle is conducive to raising kids. I wholeheartedly disagree and think it would make for a great education. On the other hand, if we had kids sooner rather than later, they’d probably take over our lives, which would lead to me feeling resentful that I never got to follow my dreams.
So at least one of us (not me), feels like we can’t life both lifestyles at the same time. That leaves doing one before the other. I’d rather not wait until I’m old and grey to travel so I would advocate traveling first, then having kids. Then it becomes a race against the clock as I’d want to achieve financial independence before traveling and having kids. (I know this is unconventional and many people do not even have the luxury of this option so for the second post in a row, I apologize if I seem out of touch.) In reality, the gravy train I’m on will come to a complete stop when I leave Biglaw and, for the purpose of avoiding a false sense of security, I am assuming that I will never be able to get back on.
But there’s even more uncertainty in this approach. The timing is very delicate, but I think it will work out. My wife is in her late 20’s and she will enter her early thirties in 2-3 years. By that time, barring any major financial crashes, our combined net worth should be over $2M. If we then travel for 1-2 years, we should have time to have 1 or 2 kids when we return.
The $2M net worth seems OK, but I really do not have a good sense of how much kids cost and what our cost of living will be in the future. That’s the part that’s eating me right now. I imagine we’d have to move somewhere cheaper. If we spend $300K on a house, that leaves $1.7M (or ability to spend $57K a year at a 3% withdrawal rate). We spend about $50K a year right now, but that includes $23K in rent, which would be replaced by ~$5K in property tax, leaving a buffer of $25K per year to spend on one or two kids (including tuition savings). Is that reasonable? I have no idea — it doesn’t seem to be according to the hysteric mass media telling us we need millions to afford kids. I suppose one or both of us could work again, but it’d have to be something I’m passionate about as I couldn’t bear to work a depressing and uninspiring job for a fraction of the amount I’m making now. Perhaps I could bootstrap a business. But I don’t want to HAVE to do that, I want to have the OPTION of doing that.
So now it seems like instead of having two choices, there are three and I can only choose two: long-term travel, children, and true financial independence. What do you all think?