Overcoming Money Trauma: Why I Retired To Taiwan With Only $600,000

After sharing how one man retired at age 41 with a household net worth of $4 million, I thought it would be good to share another story about early retirement from a completely different situation. This story comes from money trauma and how it is being conquered.

One of the complaints about the $4 million retirement post was that it was unrelatable. For some old-fashioned people, it was hard to imagine having two kids and a high-earning wife. While others thought only working for 14 years after law school was an unreasonably short amount of time to amass wealth.

In my opinion, working 60-hour weeks for 14 years burns you out sooner than working 40-hour weeks for 21 years. I'm also very pro-women who want kids and a well-paying career. More than half my classmates in college were women. And the managing director at my last job of 11 years was a woman who also had three children. She was a rockstar!

Whatever the reasons people aren't able to relate to others, I love reading about how people achieve their personal monetary goals. There are always some useful nuggets of wisdom to absorb.

The following is a guest post by 38-year-old Stacy on how she overcame money trauma, left America, and retired to Taiwan with only about $600,000.

Why I Retired Early: Hated My Job

Sam has written that money is psychological. If you think you're financially independent but do nothing to change a suboptimal situation, you're not financially independent.

Well, guess what? When my net worth hit $600,000 last year I handed in my two-week notice and retired. After 16 years, I never want to do online marketing again.

It wasn't just that I was sick and tired of doing the same work over and over again. I left because I didn't believe in the purpose of my last company.

We were selling pipe dreams online to people who couldn't really afford what we were selling. Specifically, my firm sold $2,000, $3,000, and even $5,000 e-courses about how to live healthy lives, how to have long-lasting loving relationships, and how to get rich. We hired ”gurus” to give lessons and gave them a percentage of profits.

After you bought one course, it unlocked a “discount” for you to buy another course so you could level up. Each year, our private company made the founders millions.

Taking Advantage Of Desperation Created By Money Trauma

We targeted desperate people who had just gone through a divorce, had lost a lot of money in their investments, gotten into an accident, or had an illness. In other words, we preyed on people's desperation.

As a marketing expert, I understood the importance of connecting with people's deepest emotions. I had to create an emotional connection in order to make our products attractive. But after a year, I realized we were going a little too far.

The products we provided were of decent quality. We put a lot of work into our content, which is one of the reasons why I kept marketing them. However, after I started analyzing the data, I began to feel guilty.

About 40% of the people who bought these expensive e-courses never finished them. And by the time they realized they couldn't finish, our 30-day refund policy had already expired.

If our customers wanted to get their money back after 30 days, they couldn't. Instead, we would upsell them to a cheaper $500 – $1,000 product to make them feel like they were getting a deal.

Felt Bad About The Work I Did

After a while, I began to feel gross about my work. Even though the products were helpful to those who finished them, the company had put systems in place that enriched itself at the expense of its clients. If all its clients could have gotten their money-back guarantee, I'd have less angst about continuing at my job. 

I had one client who filed for bankruptcy six months after purchasing one of our courses. The course was supposed to help save her, but instead, it just accelerated her financial demise while the company kept winning.

Didn't Have Respect For My Bosses

Besides feeling bad about what I did for a living, I also didn't like my bosses. They were mostly money-hungry men who didn't seem to mind preying on the most vulnerable. Instead, all they cared about was making as much money as possible.

Every time I heard them shout in triumph after a sale, I'd think of the movie Boiler Room or The Wolf Of Wall Street. They were scumbags who kept coming back like cockroaches for more.

My job added to my distaste for money and those who worshipped money above all else. Given I didn't like my bosses and I no longer believed what I did was helpful, I decided to leave.

I had a little over $600,000 invested, which was more than enough for a single person like me with minimal expenses. I had always wanted to live abroad, so I relocated to Taipei, Taiwan.

You might think $600,000 is not enough. And if I really did have money trauma, I would want to work longer and save even more. But let me explain why I don't need millions to feel secure.

Understanding My Money Trauma

When I was seven years old my dad left my mom for a family friend who used to babysit me. I ended up losing my dad and my babysitter in one instance.

It is probably due to his betrayal that I have a deep-seated distrust for men. It takes a long time for me to open up to men because I never know when they're going to stab me in the back. Even if he is the nicest person, I can't always help but think I will eventually be used.

My mom was left to raise me and my younger brother on a near minimum wage salary. Thankfully, my grandmother lived close by to help out. However, she too, found herself alone after an unsuccessful marriage.

Money Was A Constant Sore Subject

Money was always tight in my family. While my friends were getting new toys every month, I continued to play with toys from when I was years younger. I felt like I was always watching re-runs while my friends were always watching the latest hits.

Then one year, my mother lost her job. The company she was working for shut down its office and relocated to Chicago. For six months, my mother was on unemployment benefits. And for a year after that, she worked at a couple of jobs earning barely enough to make ends meet.

The whole experience with my parents traumatized me enough to not take my studies or my income for granted. In a positive way, the money trauma I experienced propelled me to save and invest way more than I would have had I lived a more comfortable childhood.

I didn't want to go through the constant stress my mother faced.

The Home As A Sanctuary And As A Burden

The only major asset my mother owned was a home. She didn't trust the stock market, but she could trust a roof over her head that provided for me and my brother.

Today, the home is paid off. But it took 28 years and many surprise expenses to get there.

Just when my mom thought she was on a roll with her money a water heater would break. One year, a big storm caused shingles to blow off, which also resulted in a big leak and over $10,000 in repairs. Beware of vertical walls during windy rainstorms! They are likely your leak culprit.

My mother seemed to always be fixing something in our old house. Sometimes, she would have to choose between repairing the house over something fun, like going on a trip or taking us to an amusement park.

So you'll forgive me if I decided to rent my entire time after college. Seeing my mother always worry about fixing our home made me never want to own. In retrospect, I should have bought eight years ago when I could have.

Despite all of my mom's struggles, she's proud to own her home free and clear. Today, it's worth about $400,000 – $420,000 and she has enough tappable equity to take care of any emergency.

How Much Money I Made In Marketing

For those curious, here’s how much I made as an online marketer.

Year 1 at age 22- $28,000

Year 2 – $30,000

Year 3 – $33,000

Year 4 – $55,000 (changed jobs)

Year 5 – $60,000

Year 6 – $68,000

Year 7 – $70,000

Year 8 – $100,000 (changed jobs)

Year 9 – $105,000

Year 10 – $110,000

Year 11 – $115,000

Year 12 – $120,000

Year 13 – $140,000 (changed jobs)

Year 14 – $140,000

Year 15 – $145,000

Year 16 – $145,000 (retired at age 38)

Total earnings after 16 years: $1,464,000 gross, about $1,170,000 after taxes.

My saving rate averaged about 35% after-tax for my entire career, which means I saved about $407,750.

If you want to make more money, change jobs. You'll never be fully appreciated if you stay at your firm for more than five years. Another upside to changing jobs every three-to-five years is that you develop a thicker skin when it comes time to move again or retire.

Also, if I do need to make extra money, I can always take up some freelance online marketing gigs in Taiwan if I want to. I was able to leave my job with about $10,000 on unpaid vacation and other benefits. I just don't want to the online marketing world forever.

Net Worth Progression As A Marketer

Here’s my rough net worth progression as a marketer.

I invested most of my savings in the S&P 500 and a couple other diversified funds. I also contributed to my 401(k) up to the maximum company match each year. The match ranged from 3% – 5% of salary or $4,000, whichever was lower.

Year 1: $0

Year 2: +$5,000

Year 3: +$10,000

Year 4: +$25,000 (changed jobs)

Year 5: +$50,000

Year 6: +$80,000

Year 7: +$120,000

Year 8: +$160,000 (changed jobs)

Year 9: +$200,000

Year 10: +$250,000

Year 11: +$310,000

Year 12: +$370,000

Year 13: +$410,000 (changed jobs)

Year 14: +$490,000

Year 15: +$550,000

Year 16: +$620,000

Out of the $620,000, about $500,000 is in taxable brokerage accounts and $120,000 is in my 401(k), which I won't touch until 60 or later. I’ve also got about $18,000 in cash.

My taxable brokerage accounts generate about $8,000 a year in dividend and bond income. Meanwhile, my monthly expenses are only about $12,000 a year.

So how do I make up for my $4,000 yearly, or $334 monthly shortfall? I teach English part-time in Taiwan making $1,500 – $2,000 a month.

If I didn't teach English, my investments would last me 50 years until they go to zero, assuming no growth. 50 years worth of expenses is good enough for me, especially if I can earn supplemental income or see investment returns.

Retiring To Taiwan With A ~$600,000 Net Worth

I moved to Taipei, Taiwan because I love the food, I love the people, and I like the lower cost of living. I visited years ago during a one-month trip to Asia between jobs and I immediately took a liking to the place. It was a country where I thought I could go to heal my money trauma.

The cost of living in Taipei is not as cheap as it is in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Saigon, the most popular cities for digital nomads. However, Taipei is still relatively cheap on a global scale. The infrastructure is fantastic as well.

Here are the average costs of various items in Taiwan.

1 US dollar equals about 30 New Taiwan Dollars (NT). The USD has appreciated over the past year.

Taipei Accommodation Averages:

One-bedroom apartment in city center: NT 15,000 – 30,000 ($500 – $1,000)

One-bedroom apartment outside city center: NT 8,000 – 20,000 ($267 – $667)

I rent a furnished one-bedroom apartment in the western part of Taipei called Banqiao for $550 a month. Nothing fancy, but good enough for me.

Banqiao, Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei Groceries Averages:

Dozen eggs: NT 79 ($2.63)

1 Litre Of Milk: NT 92

1 kg of Rice: NT 96

Loaf Of Bread: NT 56

1 kg Chicken Breasts: NT 273 ($9.1)

I spend about $7 a day on food. My favorite food to buy are fruits from side vendors, lychee in particular when in season. I mainly eat fruit for breakfast and have a simple lunch box (bian dang) for about $2.5. Below is a typical lunch box example.

Taiwanese street food, bian dang

Taipei Eating Out Averages:

Big Mac Meal: NT 150 ($5)

Local Beer: NT 60 ($2)

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant: NT 900 ($30)

Street food dinner: NT 300 ($10)

I never go out to western restaurants because they charge the same prices as they do back home. Instead, I stick to local Taiwanese restaurants, night markets, and street food. Taiwanese food is truly some of the best in the world.

Taipei Utilities and Internet Averages:

Unlimited Internet: NT 780 ($26)

Monthly Utilities for three-bedroom apartment (electricity, water, gas): NT 2,400 ($80)

My utility bill is closer to $35 a month. My internet bill is also about $25 a month.

Taipei Transportation Cost Averages:

Bus fare anywhere in city: NT 25 (83 cents)

Taxi (per km): NT 25

Mass Rapid Transit (Subway): NT 20 – 50

Gas (liter): NT 35

I take the bus or the MRT everywhere. The MRT is almost always on time and usually only costs NT 20 (67 cents). Many of my friends have scooters, but I'm not so daring yet.

Healthcare Cost In Taiwan: A Big Relief

Taiwan has a single-payer healthcare called the National Health Insurance (NHI). It is available to everyone, including foreigners and is highly affordable.

Expats and citizens get taxed 5.17% of their wages for NHI premiums. The government provides subsidies for lower-income workers. Foreigners also need to pay between 10-20% for the cost of any treatment. But the average cost of treatment in Taiwan is way lower than in the U.S.

There is no fear of bankruptcy or financial ruin in Taiwan due to high healthcare costs. The universal healthcare system also lowers the stress of always needing to have a full-time job to get healthcare coverage. For early retirees or people who want to just work part-time, having truly affordable healthcare is a true relief.

Easier To Retire Abroad

I've retired from my life as an online marketer and am fully enjoying my early retirement life in Taipei. In the strictest sense of the word, I'm not fully retired because I'm still spending 15-20 hours a week teaching and tutoring English. You can call me Barista FIRE. But I love what I do.

Teaching English is a low-stress job that helps people immediately. It is also a great way to meet new friends in a new city. I've already attended several birthday parties and gone on a couple of road trips outside of Taipei with my students. In fact, I may have even found a special friend.

My students are mostly adults looking to boost their speaking skills to improve their job prospects. It feels great to give people more confidence. The more people I've gotten to know, the more opportunities have come my way. So I try to be nice to everyone I meet because you never know.

More Balanced Work Culture In Taiwan

While I was in the U.S. I was stuck in an environment where everybody was hustling to make money. Here in Taipei, it's a bit more low-key. The Taiwanese work hard, but they also seem to have more fun because the nightlife is always bustling. Check out Asia At Night on Netflix to get a taste of Taipei nightlife.

Then again, maybe it's because I'm finally relaxing that I'm able to see more fun around me. I'm sure there's a mixture of both. But I feel rich living in Taipei, even though I make less than $30,000 a year. I no longer worry that I'll run out of money.

As reference, the GDP per capita in Taiwan is about $33,000 and the average net worth in Taipei is around $400,000. Therefore, I'm squarely in the middle class.

What About The Money Trauma?

So far, you might not feel like this is a post about overcoming money trauma. And maybe it's because I'm finally healing by escaping my past and creating a present.

Or maybe you simply forgot about the first half of the post where I talked about:

  • My deadbeat father leaving us when I was seven
  • My mom struggling to make ends meet after he left and she lost her job
  • Our house always draining our family's emergency fund with some sort of maintenance issue
  • Renting my entire life out of fear of being locked down
  • Working with money-hungry people who took advantage of desperate people
  • My role in selling excessively-priced products with low efficacy
  • A client going bankrupt after buying one of our products and not being able to get their money back
  • Not getting married out of fear of getting divorced. I haven't talked about this yet, but I'm doing so now.

Feels Great To Start Fresh

Leaving America has given me a chance to start fresh. It has also given me time to heal. It's hard to overcome any type of trauma if you keep seeing it in your daily life. Whether it's a bad boss or a bad relationship, you've got to leave.

Yes, I would absolutely consider myself a fake retiree given I'm teaching English. Whether I stay retired is also a different situation. I may come back home, but not now.

Some other expats I've met in Taipei have also shared with me some of their financial and relationship traumas as well. Maybe we are running away from our pasts. But I'd like to think we are running towards a new future.

Eventually, I do want to return home to America. And when I do, I'll be much stronger due to my travels.

Reader Questions

What type of money traumas have you experienced? How are you overcoming your trauma to live a better life. Have you ever considered moving to a new city or a new country to start fresh? If you have, how did it help or hurt?

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter.

Check out my new WSJ bestseller, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. It'll be one of the best personal finance books you'll ever read.

About The Author

53 thoughts on “Overcoming Money Trauma: Why I Retired To Taiwan With Only $600,000”

  1. Hi i just want to know.. what visa are you holding in order to stay permanently in Taiwan? Because they don’t have retirement visa and I am not eligible for the other visas (hahah I am not keen to invest in Taiwan).

  2. Hi,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, Stacy. I relate a lot and am considering the same. Do you have any social media to share or way that we could get in contact with you? Would love to hear more about your story


  3. money taichi

    Thanks for sharing your story and life journey! You are so courageous. Your happiness and peace of mind are worth millions of dollars. You can meet any obstacles on your path.

  4. Great post! Your job reminds me of when I worked in a call center in college to help pay tuition. I hated that job, I was good at it but it was so emotionally draining knowing you were useing peoples emotions & insecurities ageinst them.

    The up sell technique of unlocking a discount after you buy a course is a strong one to keep people comping back. Nobody wants to leave money on the table!

    Thanks for shareing your story!

  5. Hi Stacy,

    I appreciated your post and can personally relate! Especially regarding the fear of investing in a house (my mom was/is emotionally attached to her home) and not getting married (my parents had a bitter divorce and fought about money/custody regularly). Like you, money trauma from my childhood inspired me to save and create financial stability for myself, and I managed to amass almost $500K by the age of 35. I did this while traveling the world and working in education. When I was 22, I quit a job in marketing and took a job teaching English in South Korea. My original plan was to work for a year and save enough money to backpack the following year. By the end of those two years, I was successful and hooked on the lifestyle. I learned I enjoyed working with kids but didn’t want to return to the US to work for what felt like minimum wage. I decided to pursue educational credentials and began working in international schools; some have allowed me to save $30K+ a year while living rent-free and require only 180 working days per year. After spending the last year in the US, I miss the privileges and excitement of international life. In the summer of 2022, I will embark on living in central Africa and am super excited to move to an entirely new region with a partner who loves traveling and discovering different cultures as much as I do! Thanks again for your detailed and thought provoking post. :)

  6. Thank you for your post Stacy! It’s my favorite so far.

    I am glad to see you overcome the struggles you experienced and escape the rat race. It’s very inspiring to me because I dream of retiring early in a lower cost of living country such as Thailand. I think Taiwan is a great place to live even if it’s not quite as affordable as Thailand, Vietnam, etc., since it’s a lot more developed than those countries and has great infrastructure.

    Personally, I find it ridiculous to work so hard, save/invest so much only to sink those hard earned dollars into a high cost of living city (in a country with absurd healthcare costs).

  7. Ok, another one I love. Thanks Stacy.

    My take home is the importance of being able to leave a job in which you are truly unhappy and morally concerned. Lots of people end up digging themselves deeper into the work they question and damaging their true selves.

    I appreciate the details. If Stacy was my daughter I might try asking my daughter where she sees her life going (children, continuing to live abroad, potentially wanting more spending, vacations, a car, charitable giving, . . . ) and possible disruptions in the future (serious illness, an invasion, . . . .) But, the principle that you can leave a job with less if you can live on less is a good one.

    We used to see this in the 2000s, with young folks who included folks who’d gotten 1 or 2 million payouts as secretaries or even cleaners or box movers.

  8. Great job saving and clever to move to Taiwan for a lower cost of living and even a better QoL.

    That said, it is kind of odd the way you put this:

    “I talked about:
    . . .
    Working with money-hungry people who took advantage of desperate people”

    Staging this as your own trauma and portraying yourself as a victim here is unfair.

    Stacy, from what you posted, you are the money-hungry person who took advantage of desperate people, not just your higher-ups. You were fully aware of what the company was doing, and worked there for years nonetheless. Taking advantage of the desperate is what is fueling your lifestyle today.

    All best.

    1. It is actually the guilt that I have to live with, which is the trauma. And so I quit and have moved on.

      All the best to you too. I am surprised you and others have not shared any of their money traumas.

      Maybe I am the only one.

      1. Stacy, may I know what is the visa/permit to get to be able to stay there? I have been wanting to go there since I spent sometime in Taiwan as a student before, and have been wanting to go back and be able to live there. But then I was told, I have to either have a business visa or student visa. Thank you.

        1. Sure. I got a working resident visa for a year that can be renewed.

          Cost: $160

          Documents: Original Bachelor’s Degree, federal background check, passport valid for at least 6 months, x2 passport photos, copy of flight itineraries

          Length: This visa is valid for the length of the teaching contract (typically one year)

          For more information, you can check out the Taiwan Consulate website: https://www.taiwanembassy.org/us_en/index.html

          *Note that this is specific to US citizens applying for a visa, and that these visa laws can change, and that it is up to the teacher to look into the most current Visa requirements that a specific to them.

  9. Gennadiy from Belarus

    Yes and No.
    Stasi can call situation Barista retirement but I personally call her situation as Front Loaded.
    Her 0.5 mill located in USA.
    Her cashflow let her live on teacher’s salary as English teacher. No need to make a deep in to stash.
    Let her wander last 5 years. We will see.

    My aunt was killed in Afrika. Son of guest family did it.

  10. Hospitalist

    I know Taiwan very well, lean FIRE in the states automatically turns into fat FIRE in Taiwan. I will definitely consider it.

  11. Best article so far. Stacy – you are courageous and your story was empowering! Instead of chasing more and more, you decided to take a step back, evaluate your life, and took steps to move in the direction that was best suited for you. I wish you luck in your journey of healing and please keep us posted. Enjoy Taipei – wishing you the best with everything!

  12. I can totally relate with running away and running towards a better future – adventure in a new place literally/figuratively. Enjoy every minute of it.

  13. I’ve lived overseas a few time and I’ve considered the whole expat thing. Overall, I find other countries can be (and often are) nice places to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

    Not if I can still live within relatively easy travel distances of my kids and grandkids and still not miss any meals or medical care. Also, I’d probably start to miss my wife.

  14. Nice move! You have to do what’s right for you. Ignore what everyone else says.
    Was it difficult to relocate to Taiwan? Usually, there are a lot of legal hoops to jump through to immigrate to another country.
    I plan to live in Thailand half time when our son goes off to college. I have family ties there and can speak Thai. Taiwan was great when we visited about 15 years ago. The food was awesome and we loved the hot springs hotel there.
    Are people nervous about China? Who knows what Xi Jinping will do once he gets reappointed.

  15. Yes, it would be costly for China if it attacked Taiwan. But, it would be more costly for the rest of the world.

  16. Randall Blackford

    Wow, super article. Good for you. I think there is a long and really fun road ahead for you, and quitting a job you didn’t like will be the door opening to a lot of stuff you will love. Good luck.

    1. Thank you! It’s been a great journey so far. Feel totally revitalized. Every corner there’s something new.

    2. Wonderful post. I have grown up with money trauma and father issues (cheated left and right). Although i was unable to make some of the same life choices as you. I am so happy for you.

  17. This is one of my favorite posts in financialsamurai. I love all the other posts teaching people how to become financially freedom but this post shows me how to live a better life even without earning a whole lot of money.

    If possible I would like to see a VLOG of your daily life.

  18. I can remember back in the early 1980s when I thought about “retiring” to Mexico when I achieved a net worth of $50,000. Back then the peso was very weak and one could have easily have lived on less than $5,000 per year just from the interest on a Mexican bank account.
    Life got in the way, and I did not finally retire to Mexico until a few years ago. I did learn a hard lesson, though, inflation can quickly ruin one’s dreams. The late 70s and early 80s were brutal.

    1. What did you end up doing after passing on your Mexico retirement 40 years ago? And are you happier as a result?

      Moving to Taiwan has helped significantly deflate my expenses. It’s been great.

  19. Money trauma,,well said, The Purpose of Life is NOT to chase money, but of course for a reasonable & comfortable life “Money” is very much essential.

  20. I recently went on a trip to Costa Rica and when we flew back to San Francisco, just watching the plane land sparked immediate anxiety. Costa Rica was relaxed, friendly, and affordable. The moment I got back to San Francisco, my brain immediately fixated on getting back to work so that I can barely afford to live here. I don’t even think it’s that great here! But my family is here and so is my partner’s and so we are crawling through the wicked rat race with everyone else. I don’t work in tech and actually left the white collar world to pursue my passion and true interest. I am met every day with the conflict of leaving what I love to do for something higher paying with benefits. It’s exhausting. Reading this story was a nice reminder that there are other options out there, so thank you.

    1. When you live in expensive places like SF and NYC with ultra smart and competitive people, it’s hard not to get caught up in things!

    2. Joseph Clipperton VI

      As a Silicon Valley native I 100% concur. This place is toxic and the traffic (and general population) is getting increasingly aggressive. I regularly visit a quiet corner of Europe and consider living there, but job and everyone I know keeps me here planted in Silicon Valley. Fortunately, the amazing California coast is just moments away as are the Santa Cruz mountains and other natural areas.

  21. I’m curious if the recent bear market in stocks has affected your relationship with money? Retiring with a somewhat modest net worth then watching it shrink by 20 percent seems pretty scary to me. How do you deal with it?

    1. It hasn’t been fun. Had over $620,000, and now under closer to $570,000. But I just think long term. Cash flow is fine and expenses are low. Low expenses makes life easier.

      I’m just so much happier being here and exploring and meeting new people that far outweighs any monetary loss.

  22. Wow I really love this post. Thank you so much for sharing, there’s a lot of things I can relate to here. I also appreciate the breakdown Stacy did of her income/expenses/etc. Really gives a good benchmark for comparison.

  23. Love this! I think it is so important for people to remember there are so many options for living abroad. I can’t retire here in So Cal with my current net worth, but I can fully retire if I choose a lower cost country with affordable health care. Thank you for sharing a wide range of numbers and perspectives. Not everyone needs or wants millions.

  24. Another mislabeled “retired” post… It clearly states she is working part time. Unfortune the word “retired” is thrown around these days in the wrong context.

    To save everyone the trouble Webster’s dictionary’s definition of retired is: withdrawn from one’s position or occupation : having concluded one’s working or professional career.

    Please stop misleading readers who have the desire to actually retire also known as someone who is NO LONGER WORKING

    1. Alex, I enjoy your insistence on the one definition of retirement.

      If Stacy didn’t teach English for 15-20 hours a week, would you allow her to be retired? Her net worth will provide her 50 years of living expenses, assuming no growth.

      Personally, I want to do something in retirement. Retirement is way too boring doing nothing.

      If you have retired, can you share your experience? And if you haven’t retired, how do you know you will be happy doing nothing if you haven’t retired?

      I think you’ll enjoy this post: The Internet Retirement Police Are Coming To Get Ya

      1. You make a good point, Sam. You have to do SOMETHING once you retire. If you’re under the age of 65 and you’re just sitting at home everyday doing nothing; then that doesn’t sound very enticing.
        I’m not a full-time member of the IRPD, but I think that people who retire and go on to “work” for themselves may experience less stress than people who retire and go on to work for someone else (i.e., a “Boss”).

      2. Hey Sam – Yes, a resounding yes! If she did not teach she would of course be retired. She has done a great job saving and has decided to scale back her hours and work part time. I do not know what the future holds and when I will retire. I currently work 60+ hours a week and love my job. If I scaled my work back to 20 hours a week should I start telling everyone I retired even though I am still working?

        1. Sure, if you want. That’s the beauty about having enough money. You can do what you want!

          You’ll eventually discover that when you don’t need to work, work is a lot more fun. Especially if you’re doing work you enjoy.

          What is it that you do for 60+ hours a week you love so much? And how long have you been doing it? I think that it’s great you have the energy to do so. I ran out after 13 years.

          If you have kids, how do you balance family?

      3. Personally, I’ve realized that doing any type of work for money leads to stress. So it is something I really hope to avoid in “retirement”. I dont want to feel obligated to do something for someone in a certain timeline or a in certain place. My happiest days at work are when I manage to find a way to do nothing at work. So maybe I’m a natural for retirement!

      4. Robert Spall

        No one seems to have noticed, but 400+120=520 net worth, not 620? Maybe I missed something. At any rate the 50 years of living expenses (600/12) is not realistic. That’s not even a back-of-the-envelope calculation. Inflation in Taiwan seems to average around 2.5 to 3% long term. At 2.5 percent compounded over 50 years, one’s annual expenses would increase by a factor of about 3.4.

        1. Typo and good catch. She has/had $500K taxable, $120K tax advantages, and she has $18,000 cash too.

          It’s amazing what earning supplemental retirement income can do. And if she meets someone, living costs might get even cheaper.

    2. Having a net worth equal to 50X expenses should be enough to claim one is retired.

      If you don’t think so, how much is enough?

  25. Thanks for sharing your story! I’ve visited Taiwan once and enjoyed my time there. It’s a bit too urban for me now in this stage of my life but if I was younger and single with no kids I would love it there. Adventurous and yes so many great eats at shockingly low prices compared to here. Wishing you the best on your new journey!

  26. OK, I’ll say it. Given the uncertainty about Taiwan – lately amplified by recent events, I don’t know if I could live there and be comfortable. I’ve been to Ukraine and several places I’ve visited have been devastated or been under Russian occupation for years (Crimea). If things got nasty, you are on an island and that makes it harder to get out if you need to.

    1. Do you think China would really attack Taiwan AFTER seeing how much the world cut off Russia? I don’t think so.

      China wants harmony. And Taiwan is a wonderful place to live. It does get really muggy during the summer though!

      1. Chinese people want harmony, yes.
        Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hates harmony. They only want power, period.

        Unfortunately China is governed by CCP, the most brutal and evil regimes in human history, judging by the number of people a regime has killed. That’s tens of millions of Chinese killed, if you dig up the history on Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward, Tiananmen Square Massacre, just to name a few.

        Taiwan is indeed a great place to live.

      2. The world cut off Russia because they were able to. Relatively speaking, Russia is an inconsequential economy and trading partner for most of the world. Italy has a bigger economy. The only thing Russia provides is gas for Western Europe. Unfortunately, the world can’t cut China off in the same way because we’re all far more dependent on them. Cutting off Russia doesnt impact the rest of the world very much. Cutting off China, the world’s #2 economy and a massive trading partner, would have a huge impact and not be feasible.

      3. Well, let’s see. No one expected a violent invasion of Ukraine, but it happened. The CCP’s official policy is (and has always been) that Taiwan will never be allowed to be a fully independent nation. While China doesn’t want to violently take Taiwan, I can see the CCP rationalizing doing it anyway.

        …and then you’re stuck in the middle of all this.

        On an island that has been suddenly isolated and invaded. And if it happens, it will be sudden.

        It might be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t spend more than a few months there.

    2. These are valid concerns. However, if Stacy has assimilated to living in a country like Taiwan, she could probably move to another SE Asian country and do just fine. Thailand and Malaysia, in particular, also have low costs of living with lots of ex pats, good cheap food, etc.

  27. Fascinating Story. You are very brave. I admire you for picking up from your roots because they weren’t working for you, and not letting always needing to make another couple dollars or hundred thousand dollars keep you entrenched in an unhappy situation. You sound quite happy and relieved now and can know you made the correct decision.

    As far as money and options, I think the biggest thing is having kids or not. For you, this is definitely the time to do this. If you have kids everything can change. My kids are in their 20s and pretty independent, but I still reflect on how my major financial decisions will impact them.

  28. “Maybe we are running away from our pasts. But I’d like to think we are running towards a new future” – Great story. Good luck for the new future.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *