Many early retirees embrace a tough decision most people aren't willing to make

  • Many early retirees move away from expensive cities to lower their cost of living and save money.

  • The New York Times recently profiled several people who managed to retire comfortably in their 30s or 40s.

  • Some of the people in the profile decided to move to cheaper locations as part of their plans for financial independence.

Many early retirees make a fairly extreme decision to help save more money: moving to a much cheaper city or town.

The New York Times recently interviewed several people who managed to retire comfortably in their 30s and early 40s. One of the common threads among several of the early retirees was making the choice to move to a place with a lower cost of living.

Scott Rieckens, a filmmaker working on a documentary about early retirement who was interviewed by The Times, recently moved with his family from the San Diego suburb of Coronado, California to Bend, Oregon. Rieckens told the Times that in Coronado, he and his family "were spending nearly $3,000 a month on rent, and that was considered a good deal."

But Rieckens told the Times that Bend was significantly less expensive, which helped him on his path to early retirement. The article notes that Bend has no state sales tax, and gas and other expenses were much lower than in California.

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Jason Long, a former pharmacist who retired at 38 from a job that gave him nightmares of being "back at work arguing with morons," was another early retiree interviewed by the Times. In his blog detailing his post-retirement life, Long described how he "found a 28-acre tract currently worth $150,000 for only $85,000" in rural Tennessee, and did much of the design and building of his house with the help of his family.

Long noted another key financial advantage of Tennessee: The state has no income tax. Taxes vary widely across different states and cities, and as Long wrote, "knowing the tax code makes an enormous financial difference."

The cost of living varies widely across the United States. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed that the most expensive places in the country include the big metropolitan areas on the coasts, while smaller cities and rural parts of the country that fall outside of metro areas tend to be significantly cheaper.

That's not exactly a secret — most people know it's more expensive to live in or around a major city. However, moving is a huge decision that many people aren't willing to make.

In 2015, life and business coach Tony Robbins championed moving to a cheaper locale to save money, pointing out that "you [could] be living large in a magnificent community like Boulder, Colorado, for what you're paying in rent alone in New York City or San Francisco."

Robbins himself had grown up in California and never imagined leaving, until California dramatically raised income taxes for the highest brackets in 2012. He and his wife ended up moving to Florida, and, he wrote, "with the taxes we're saving every year as residents of the Sunshine State instead of the Golden State, we hope to pay off our entire new home in six years."

He's "almost evangelical" about his new home, he wrote, and he encourages others to follow in his path — a lesson some early retirees seem to echo.

"Our country — and even the world — has boundless opportunities waiting for you to explore," Robbins wrote. "So why not take off the blinders just for a moment to consider what life could be like if you lived in a new city or town?"

Read the full story from The New York Times »

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