Lifestyle Design: What You Never Hear about It

by JT McGee

Lifestyle design your life around work, or retire tax free in Belize?“Lifestyle design, man.”

“It’s not that I missed my goals, I’m just falling with style…like Buzz Lightyear, right?”

There’s a lot of lifestyle design that my inner economist and free spirit really loves.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to live on relative peanuts, work a few hours a day, and then do whatever you want for the rest of the time?

It sounds fantastic!

But I don’t think we’re getting the full story with this whole lifestyle design thing. I think we’re being sold all the good parts, and all the bad is comfortably left out.

It’s like telling someone that a blue screen of death on a Windows computer isn’t a flaw, but a benefit: it’s a reminder that you just need to reinstall the OS and wipe your computer clean!

Lowering goals to meet them

Really, a lot of lifestyle design people forget to tell us that they don’t have much of a chance at going back to their old lifestyle. After you’ve spent a number of years in a second-rate country earning minimum wage in the United States, it’d be practically impossible to move back to the US. You just wouldn’t have the cash to make it a reality, and suddenly, all your expenses would go up ten-fold.

This is how I see it. I could move to India right now. Today. Sounds insane, but we’re doing the whole lifestyle design ADD thing.

I’d use my credit card rewards to buy the one way ticket, and from what I understand from the people I work with, I could afford a nice apartment, several maids, a full-time chef, and still be putting cash in the bank.

But I’d still live in freaking India. Why would I want to move from the United States to India? Why move half a world away from friends, family, and what is still, even with all its problems, the best country on earth?

My lifestyle design confession

I know everything there is to know about Belize…because I once dreamed about how awesome it’d be to go there.

Belize is pretty awesome. Beautiful beaches, relatively safe, and some political sanity. Plus, since I’m an American national, I can get the hookup should I decide to retire there. Just look at the criteria for calling Belize home.

What you need to retire (LIKE A BOSS) in Belize:

  1. Have lived on earth for 45 years
  2. Currently hold a citizenship in Canada, the US, or England/UK
  3. Earn a pension of $1,000 or more per month
  4. Generate monthly investment revenues of at least $2,000, which has to be deposited into a local bank

That’s it. Plus, you get to live tax-free. Woot.

I think a lot of people get turned off by the $3,000 in investment or pension income, but it’s pretty modest, really. If you haven’t planned to have that kind of cash flow after retirement…well, you should probably look into moving to India to boost your savings.

Seriously though, I’m not entirely sure you’d want to have less than $3,000 in monthly income and live there. I have a feeling that without the sandy beaches and beautiful views it’d be just like any other place that’s hot and sunny. You can get that for a lot cheaper.

Retirement vs. Working Life

Retiring in beautiful Belize from revenues generated from investments, not work, is real lifestyle design. We’re talking about a tropical destination where homes on the beach are a lowly $250,000. Plus, maids, chefs, and other “around the house” employees can be hired for mere peanuts.

To move to Belize to retire in year-round 85 degree weather isn’t moving to India to pound out freelancing work. I realize you may have to wait to 45, or whatever the age may be, and that’s a minor concession. Though, in the grand scheme of things, something tells me safe is better than sorry, and waiting to have enough to have what I declare to be “it all” seems like a fair trade off to a less than stellar standard of living at 25.

Besides, if you play your cards right, you can always move back to the US. Call me skeptical, but every time I read an article about how destination X is better than old boring Y place, I start to think the person leaving their opinion probably can’t afford the flight home. Seems logical, right?

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: lifestyle designers won’t ever really get the lifestyle that they really wanted, so they just lowered their goals. They’ve accepted this whole, “hey, if I just want less then I can have it all” mentality to the fullest.

I’d much rather slave away in the United States to earn an honest wage then move elsewhere. What I don’t want to do is move elsewhere then slave away. Lifestyle design sounds like working through retirement, whereas retirement sounds like doing exactly what I want for the rest of my life because I’ve already put in the time. I always have the second-rate living exit strategy, but if I were to move elsewhere, I’d risk the possibility of being stuck.

Maybe I’m just a cynic.


What do you think?

Am I too tough on lifestyle designers?

Do you think there are downsides that maybe aren’t fully explained? Upsides I didn’t cover fully?

Photo by: anoldent

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

YFS @ YourfinancesSimplified October 21, 2011 at 21:40

I agree 100% with you when you said “I’d much rather slave away in the United States to earn an honest wage then move elsewhere. What I don’t want to do is move elsewhere then slave away.” You’re not tough on lifestyle designers.. sounds crazy to me


Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: