Dianne and Guillermo Rastelli retired in 2018 at the ages of 44 and 47, respectively, with $2.2 million. The couple decided to move abroad, first to Mexico, and then to Lisbon, Portugal, where they currently live.
They spend their days running a YouTube channel where they document their financial journey and ongoing search for a “forever home” abroad, which still leaves them plenty of time to enjoy their hobbies and meet for happy hour every day at
It̵[ads1]7;s a lifestyle that’s hard to criticize — even for Grant Sabatier, creator of the financial website Millennial Money and author of “Financial Freedom,” a book that helps guide people toward the kind of financial independence the Rastellis enjoy.
First, he believes the couple was wise to move abroad to cut their living expenses, a move known in the FIRE (financial independence, early retirement) community as “geo-arbitrage.”
“Portugal is like cheating when it comes to FIRE, because I think the cost of living is 25% or 30% of what it is in the US,” Sabatier tells CNBC Make It. “So if they’ve saved $2.2 million, that actually means they have $6 or $7 million in US dollars.”
Sabatier also admires the Rastellis’ commitment to investing their savings. The couple’s 2018 net worth of $2.2 million had grown to $2.6 million by June 2022.
“They’ve been able to participate in the end of what was really one of the best bull markets in history,” says Sabatier.
The market has since experienced a steep decline, making it difficult for retirees to live off their portfolios, as any withdrawal from their accounts today means selling investments after they have fallen in value. A silver lining for the Rastellis: They enjoy rental income from three properties they own in Northern Virginia.
Before leaving the United States, they sold the house they were living in for about $120,000, a move Sabatier sees as suboptimal. “It’s one of the fastest-appreciating markets in the country,” he says. It would have been financially smarter to hang on to it as a rental for as long as possible.”
Sabatier also wonders if the Rastellis have been too conservative with their day-to-day expenses. By moving to Lisbon, the couple cut living expenses to $3,700 a month, down from a $7,000 monthly budget in the US
“They have about 70 times the expected expenses based on where they live in Portugal,” says Sabatier. “I guess they could have fired three, four, five years earlier.”
Overall, though, they’ve done everything right — “perhaps too much right.”
“I would encourage them not to be too dependent on their spreadsheets, and maybe take a little more risk in life,” says Sabatier. “Maybe spend a little more money if they can to see how it makes them feel.”
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