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What I Learned From Hawaii

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Now that the fun is over, I’m resigned back to a life of dull monotony. You know the drill — wake up, go to work, leave work exhausted and stressed, relax for a few short hours, go to sleep, and then start the day all over again. What a lovely life…

Since I just arrived back after a three week hiatus from paradise (Hawaii), naturally, you might have guessed that my spirits took a plunge off the deep end. πŸ™

That’s ok. Hawaii was obviously a tease, but I did learn some valuable things that will help guide me further in my quest to early financial independence. In particular:

  • The world is vast and there are lots of places to explore, things to do. It would be a damn shame to go through life and not experience as much as possible. When I look back, I want to have ZERO regrets.
  • Believe the hype. Hawaii is absolutely gorgeous. The weather, the beaches, the environment, people, everything. I really didn’t believe Hawaii would live up to the hype because I expected so much from it already. Still, it exceeded all my wildest imaginations. I found heaven on earth.
  • I don’t want to settle! For instance, I’m definitely not a cold weather person. Even the Bay Area is too cold for me around this time of year (except this Winter, which is unusually warm). There are places out there, like Hawaii, that provide warm weather all year round. If such a place exists, why not move there permanently? I’ve seen snow… I love to snowboard. But I can definitely do without it since I prefer to be in shorts, tank top, and flip flops year round.
  • I want a tropical paradise. Hawaii may be out of the cards because the cost of living is so high. To have my cake and eat it too, I’ve started to entertain the thought of living overseas. After all, it’s my life, so I get to direct and star in this motion picture. Why not live in a cheaper country where your dollar goes a lot farther? The only real point in living in an expensive area is to make a lot of money. Once you’ve achieved this goal, why not go someplace cheap so that you can maximize your hard work? Lately, I’ve been thinking about the Philippines, Thailand, Bali, etc. I could even island hop… 6 months here, 6 months there, etc. If things really don’t work out, then I’ll try and find a creative way to end up in Hawaii (semi-retirement/part-time gig).
  • Back to the topic of weather, I believe it can have a profound impact on your daily life. I seriously believe if I lived in Hawaii, it would easily add 10 to 15 years to my life. When the weather is so absolutely perfect, it prompts you to go out and do things. In the Bay Area, I have no interest to go to Santa Cruz beach. However, when I was in Kaanapali, I was lured to go swim in the warm, clear water.
  • Motivation is now at an all time high. I’ve seen the alternative to “Life in a Cube”. That movie is a rotten tomato, and I want sooooooo much more out of my motion picture. Let’s make this happen. Let’s shoot for retirement at 30. There’s a lot of life to live and I don’t want to waste another moment.


What about you? Have you gone on any vacations that changed your outlook on life? Where do you want to ultimately end up?



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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Financial SamuraiNo Gravatar January 23, 2014, 8:09 am

    I’m pumped you’re digging Hawaii!

    I took a month long business trip last Nov/December and wrote a post entitled, “If You Can Make It In Hawaii, You Can Make It Anywhere.” I’d love to get your thoughts. The post is linked in the website bar.

    So what are your plans? Time to move eventually too??

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:13 am


      Great article, I’ll be sure to leave a comment after going through it again.

      Yeah, once I check out of the corporate world, I’ll most likely relocate to a cheaper destination. Hawaii would be ideal, but probably too expensive at this point in time. SE Asia is looking very tempting.


  • Mrs. SbsNo Gravatar January 23, 2014, 8:32 am

    Could not agree with you more. We live in a city that gets lots of snow, which is great for the first two weeks but you kinda get sick of it when it continues for another 5.5 months. We took a trip south a couple weeks back and it always amazes me how different life is there. People still go outside and have fun during the months of November-May? Wow! During those months our city transforms into a ghost town. Don’t even get me started about the lack of sunshine, uggh! I’m totally with you about moving some place warm. Hawaii does seem like heaven judging from your pictures. Too bad about the cost of living. We recently started looking at (temporarily) moving out of the country and Ecuador looked interesting. Temperature wise not that ideal, but it’s easy to get a residency permit there, the cost of living is really low, and they use the US dollar as a currency.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:24 am

      Mrs. Sbs,

      Yikes, 5.5 months, that’s way too long for me. I can’t even stand rain/gloomy weather for 3 months.

      Yeah, it’s too bad Hawaii is so expensive. It would be perfect to be able to live in a tropical island that is still a part of the U.S.

      I haven’t looked into Ecuador yet, but thanks for the suggestion. So far, I’ve only researched into SE Asia.

      Take care!

  • MichelleNo Gravatar January 23, 2014, 9:01 am

    We went to Kauai a few years ago, and we still think about it all the time. We have been thinking about renting a home somewhere in Hawaii for a few months to test it out πŸ™‚

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:26 am


      I’d love to make it out to Kauai for my next trip! That and the Big Island. A rental home in Hawaii would be sweet… When I was there, I did check out the real estate prices, just out of curiosity, but anything in the prime locations is upwards of $1 million. Definitely not cheap, but maybe you can find something more affordable outside of the main city.


  • Fast WeeklyNo Gravatar January 23, 2014, 9:58 am

    Welcome back FI, even if you feel mixed about it. At least Hawaii gave you something to remember and shoot for in the future. Something to hold in your heart (and visualize) when you wonder why you’re working so hard to create a steady and sustainable cash flow.

    EVERY vacation changes me. Every one reminds me that my daily job isn’t what I’m met to do forever. I’m meant to make a difference in this world. That is what I find fulfilling, and why I work so hard for financial independence. In the shorter term it’s all about my 2015 trip :o)

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:27 am


      Yes, I’m definitely more motivated than ever before! I didn’t realize such a beautiful place existed…

      Yeah, vacations are wonderful. I try to take something from every location I visit, even if it isn’t too far away from home. It’s amazing what you can find out there if you go looking. I’m sure you are excited about your trip in 2015. It’ll be there before you know it!

      All the best!

  • writing2realityNo Gravatar January 23, 2014, 10:14 am

    No matter what, ending up somewhere warmer is definitely the goal. Doesn’t hurt if it happens to be tax advantageous as well since that will help minimize the amount of dollars needed to retire. It certainly wouldn’t hurt my feelings to go full time ex-pat, but the lucky little lady doesn’t have quite the comfort zone that I do.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:29 am


      That’s always the hard part, getting the significant other on board πŸ˜‰

      I might start early FI single, so that would make it easier to jump around… lots of people in their 50’s, 60’s retire out overseas, and so far I’ve heard lots of good things… Haven’t really read too much on those doing it at 30, but maybe I’ll do it and blog about it…


  • JC @ Passive-Income-PursuitNo Gravatar January 23, 2014, 12:07 pm

    I like the cold but not to live in. It’s nice to visit but I don’t know how the people living in places like Chicago or Buffalo deal with all the cold and snow. Although I’m sure they feel the same about that Texas heat in the summer. I’m hoping to be able to take a trip to Hawaii soon. I’m pretty annoyed that I haven’t made it there yet. I’ve only visited a few of the Caribbean islands but you’re absolutely right that there’s so much to explore and learn. Even if you limit yourself to just the US you could spend decades exploring new areas. My wife and I are thinking of a week long road trip in July. I’d love to take a 1-2 month road trip but I don’t have the time/vacation for that yet.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:32 am


      I hope you get a chance to make it out there soon, my friend. Hawaii is definitely worth seeing… I’m sure the Caribbean islands are gorgeous as well.

      Yeah, very true, the U.S. is a marvelous place. You could easily spend decades here and not be bored… For myself, I haven’t really traveled to any far away countries, so I’m getting increasingly more interested as time goes on. Why not start out early FI in a new country? Seems like an exciting way to go…

      Hope you get to take that road trip in July. I’m already planning my next vacation! I’m thinking East Coast trip sometime in May.

      Best wishes!

  • Dave @ The New York BudgetNo Gravatar January 23, 2014, 3:05 pm

    You just got me fired up! Let’s do this – let’s retire early and make the most of our lives!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:32 am


      Love the enthusiasm. Yes, let’s do this!!!


  • Dan23No Gravatar January 23, 2014, 5:56 pm

    Agree. I think one day I will move to warm weather. Las Palmas comes up as best climate, though I would prefer 5 degrees warmer:
    My ideal would be:
    -between 75-90 all year long
    -low humidity
    -sunny, low rain
    -no car needed – preferably this means good public transit, not never going anywhere.
    -related – good base for visiting other places (flights or trains are cheap and close)
    -nice size population

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:36 am


      Interesting, thanks for sharing that. I’m with you, and my criteria is basically inline with yours. I think 70-85 would be my ideal, but close enough. The only thing I would add is affordability… otherwise all bets are off πŸ˜‰

      The low humidity part would be awesome, although most of SE Asia is pretty humid. But I guess you can’t have everything.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Dividend MantraNo Gravatar January 23, 2014, 6:46 pm


    Now you’re talking, my friend. Speaking my language. Preaching to the choir…and all that.

    I could almost live off the income my dividends and online ventures provide me now if I were up to living in Thailand or somewhere similar. The idea does sound quite intriguing! The only thing that concerns me is the thought of being so far away from family. Does that ever cross your mind, or are you not close to family? I moved to Florida from Michigan because I’m also not a cold weather person, and I figured getting by without a car and avoiding state sales tax would bode well for my chances to save a lot of money. It all really worked out great thus far, but I’m bummed out by thinking I might have to do this another 7-10 years!

    Looking forward to seeing what you do next. Your rental income as it stands now could easily fund an early retirement in SE Asia. Thoughts?

    Best wishes!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:43 am


      Definitely an intriguing idea… Believe me, I’ve thought about this plenty. Like you, I’m at the point where I probably could realistically start early FI in a place like Thailand, or somewhere in SE Asia.

      For my own situation, it’s a little bit more murky since I’m relying on rental income. I closed the year at about $1500/month in net passive income. As we all know, real estate is very volatile, and the paychecks aren’t as constant (stable) as through dividend income. So, the main reason I haven’t done it yet is I feel like I need a larger safety net (lots and lots of cash reserves). It doesn’t help that most of my assets come straddled with even more debt. So, I must protect my downside at all cost. Next year may very well be the year I decide to pull the trigger.

      I actually am extremely close to my family. I guess I’m just at the point where I’m ready for a new adventure. Even though I’m open to moving overseas, I’m sure I’d fly back and visit family pretty regularly.

      All the best! Maybe I’ll see you out there in Thailand one day soon…

  • Done by FortyNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 3:24 am

    Great takeaways. Hawaii can definitely remind us that there is a benefit to sunshine and good weather, and the simple pleasures of nature. I’m glad you have a direction for your life: go get that leading role.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 8:47 am

      Done by Forty,

      Thanks! I’ve seen what the end game looks like and I’m racing everyday, faster and faster, to try and get there.

      Life is beautiful. Let’s cherish it, embrace it, and LIVE it!

  • theFIREstarterNo Gravatar January 24, 2014, 12:44 pm

    Thailand is amazing… I really want to go back and see the rest of SE Asia.

    I think I could definitely live there if I could move all my friends and family out there! That’s the huge spanner in the works for myself and I am guessing a lot of people though. If you can work out a way to do that and still come back to see your family enough and be happy then more power to you and I say wholeheartedly you should go for it!
    Funny you say about not being a cold weather person… there is a guy at work from Malaysia who has come over here for education and employment. His family are still all back there. I have absolutely no idea why anyone would do that!!!?!? Maybe he is not a warm weather person πŸ™‚

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 26, 2014, 9:45 pm


      Yeah, I remember you doing a post in Thailand which sparked my interest even further. Looks so lovely in the pictures.

      Haha, that’s an interesting story… I don’t think you could pay me enough to move to the cold… I love my sunshine too much πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for the support and encouragement!


  • Pauline @ Make Money Your WayNo Gravatar January 25, 2014, 2:41 am

    I think my round the world trip for a year after college showed me that life is much, much cheaper abroad and you don’t need much (thus less work) to live well.
    There are a lot of tropical paradises South of the U.S., you may want to look into these as it would be easy to keep a freelance job in the States (similar time zone), fly back in 3-5 hours instead of 12-18, and learning Spanish is much easier than Mandarin.
    Anyway, just my $0.02. Glad you had a blast in Hawaii!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 26, 2014, 9:47 pm


      Good point, there are lots of wonderful Spanish speaking countries that offer the same benefits as SE Asia, namely affordability.

      Who knows, I may very well end up exploring South America and Central America after my SE Asia journey. The world is a vast and wonderful place. Just like you, I want to travel around and live life. You are a true inspiration!


  • ResmanNo Gravatar January 26, 2014, 1:24 am

    I have been following your road trip. Have you considered crossing the pond to Europe. The Mediterranean offers some very exciting places to live !
    South France

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar January 26, 2014, 9:47 pm


      Thanks for the suggestions. I welcome new ideas and feedback πŸ™‚

      I’ll have to spend more time researching… in general, I’ve always thought that Europe was super expensive… but maybe I’m wrong there.

      Take care!

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