Today I have an unusual post for you.
This post is a call to action for you to join me in a project that has been sitting in the back of my mind for almost a couple of years. I think time has come for a public kick off.
Say welcome to the:
European Early Retirement Guide
Are you excited?
Do you want to know more?
Ok, let’s get started!
The original idea was to start a series of posts “Early Retirement in XYZ“, where I would explore the nuances of retiring early in country XYZ: taxes, cost of living, specific investment opportunities, real estate market, visa problems, crime rate, side hustling opportunities, health care an so on.
First two countries I would have explored are Italy and Switzerland, of course. I would have then asked other bloggers and FIRE seekers around Europe to write a guest post on my blog for other countries. As many European countries as possible. Given my shortlist of FI friends, I think we can easily cover 15-20 countries. With some extra effort and word of mouth we could cover most of Europe, if not all of it. Yes my dear friends from Andorra, Lichtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City, you can contribute too!
But I want to step up and create a guide, a physical guide! À la “Lonely Planet”. Something with pictures, ratings, graphs, suggested attractions (frugal things to do) and so on. Something which is informative, accessible, beautiful and fun.
I will still run the guest posts series on my blog, so please volunteer before I come bugging you. You know you’re in my shortlist. Don’t look around, my finger is pointing to you! I know, you may be thinking “well, there are other FI seekers/bloggers in my country…” but NO, that’s not the right way to start. We need more contributions from big and popular countries like Germany, France, Italy, Spain… we might also have some city/region specific variables that we want to gather. So don’t be scared, please volunteer! And if you’re the only one blogging in… say… Serbia… you’re automatically volunteered in 😉
And now for something more concrete. I have ideas but nothing is written in stone yet.
Please follow me, this direction 🙂
Table of Contents
- European Early Retirement Guide
- What I want to do
- Why I want to do it
- What exactly I want to produce as output
- Why a Book?
- Why I think this guide is important
- What’s out there on this topic today?
- What I need
- What’s my Role in this project
- Business Model
- Why I’m not a moron who wants to become rich with this guide
- How jealous I am of my idea
- What goes into a country review
- Guide Name
- What do we do now?
- You’re crazy RIP, do you realize how much work it requires?
What I want to do
A guide for everyone in Europe (or looking for European opportunities) with as many details as possible for as many countries as possible. Details regarding how good country XYZ is for the following phases of life:
- Phase 1: education / skill building.
- Phase 2: work / accumulation phase.
- Phase 3: side hustling / entrepreneurship / active (early) retirement.
- Phase 4: real retirement / withdrawal phase.
Why I want to do it
Because I think it’s important and I perceive a strong demand for it and almost no offer.
Because it’s fun and forces interactions within the FI community in Europe. It’s a community effort!
Because I think it’s an awesome idea.
What exactly I want to produce as output
An e-book. Distribution is still to be defined. Price point is to be defined. Ideally as low as possible, just enough to cover production/publishing costs.
A physical book. That’s a stretch goal. But… who knows? Maybe the guide becomes so popular that it ends up in every bookshop all around the world!
A free PDF. Mine is not meant to be a commercial idea. I just want to see this f***ing guide out. It would be my single biggest professional accomplishment in life so far. And I want to make it freely accessible (free as in “free beer”) for those not willing to pay for the e-book or the physical book. No question asked. No email signup trap.
A post series on my blog. Original country reviews will appear on my blog, of course. Enjoy! No, wait, not yet… we need volunteers first!
A website. Maybe the best we can do is to put all the information on a website.
Why a Book?
Because I want something high quality, higher than the sum of the individual guest posts.
Because I want to learn about book publishing.
Why I think this guide is important
Because there’s strong demand, and information is sparse and incomplete. Take a look at these threads on r/financialindependence, r/EuropeFIRE, r/eupersonalfinance:
- What European countries have you considered as possible FIRE locations? (400+ comments)
- Anyone life-hacking Europe? (this is exactly the question I plan to answer)
- Expenses and FI Numbers in Europe (lots of info and links)
- How much money do you need for financial independence in your country? (lots of info)
- Country choice: CH, AT, FR, UK? (LOL Switzerland)
- I compared high-paying incomes for 7 countries to see where you can FIRE earliest (not only EU)
- Best country to incorporate SaaS business (focusing on business, but still relevant)
- Why I’m Moving Abroad and Starting a New Life (Style) (just a blog post, but it shows relevant questions I want to answer in the guide. This one is also gold from the Canny Contractor)
What’s out there on this topic today?
That’s not much on the interwebz today:
- Some cost of living calculator like Numbeo, Expatistan.
- Life Quality indexes like OECD better life index, global liveability index.
- Entrepreneur and tax resources like accountancyineurope, nomadifiscali (in Italian language, it means “tax nomads”).
- Frugal Vagabond’s “retire abroad” series
Those are individual resources, not easy aggregate-able and comparable.
What I need
- A brainstorming team. My idea is not finalized yet and I want it to be demolished and stress tested as long as improved, extended and brought to the next level. The brainstorming team will meet few times over skype (or any other VC tools) and there will probably be some async communication via mail. Wait before volunteering here: I’m going to check my closest FI friends first. Yes, I’m looking at you, friends from FIWE!
- A judge team. My idea (subject to change in brainstorming phase) is to give “star ratings” or something similar to each aspect of each country (education, quality of life, cost of living, work/accumulation, hustling, retirement) to make for some comparison. I need judges. I expect judges to be same folks from brainstorming team, but I’m open to new entries here. I’d like someone who grew up, worked and lived in more than one country.
- A publishing/marketing team. We need to produce a cover, some nice pictures, images, graphs and so on. Then editing, typesetting, proofreading and so on. Then some way to spread the words once it’s launched, a website where to publish regular updates… it’s a lot of work. I need you! Please volunteer here! My graphics and self publishing skills are close to ZERO, but I want to learn as much as possible. I expect to get some help, but I’m also willing to compensate professional work here.
- Country specialists. I want to cover as much of Europe as I can. Please volunteer. If you’re a FI blogger, the best way to volunteer is to write a guest post on my blog filling a “country review” for a country where you lived, studied, worked, hustled or retired in. Even partial country reviews are more than welcome! Did you work for 2 years in Lichtenstein? Awesome, let us know! The country review format is not defined yet, that’s one of the main goals of the brainstorming team. Also if you’re not a regular blogger and want to help us, please do! I can interview you and publish your contribution!
What’s my Role in this project
I’m the project’s benevolent dictator for life 🙂
I’ll be leading the project, coordinating efforts, making it happen.
I’ll be writing an intro, and maybe other portions of the guide.
I’ll do my best to make it fun too 🙂
I don’t have a budget for the project yet, but I’m personally willing to put my money where my mouth is. I’m willing to finance production costs like editing, graphics, proofreading and so on.
Essentially I’ll be the book’s publisher. Of course, any help is more than welcome. I’d love to get help from graphic designers, editors etc.
Financial contributions to the project are also welcome. Fundraised money will be the first returned in case of a “profit”. Ok, it’s getting confusing. The financial aspects of the project will be defined in the brainstorming phase. Maybe we’ll switch to a kickstarter / patreon / donations model. I don’t know yet. I’m not really interested in the financial outcome of the project.
On the country reviews side, I want to aggregate so many collaborators that’s impossible to remunerate all of them. Someone might be, but it’s not guaranteed.
I’ll donate profits (after costs coverage) to a charity still to be defined. I’ll finalize this decision together with the “judges”.
Why I’m not a moron who wants to become rich with this guide
- I won’t be earning a dime, just hoping to cover publishing costs.
- I will share any extra earning (after covering publishing costs) with contributors. My share will go to a charity yet TBD.
- The book price will be as low as possible.
- There will also be a free PDF
The “business model” of this project has not been finalized yet, I’m willing to accept suggestions. Again, I don’t plan to make money on it.
How jealous I am of my idea
Not at all!
If you want to do something similar, or take this idea and implement it on your own I’m totally fine!
If you want to use country reviews that will appear on this blog on your “better-than-RIP’s European early retirement guide”, please do! Maybe ask for permission to the contributor if you’re “getting inspired a lot” by a guest post.
I want to see this happening, I don’t want to take credits. If you’re better organized, faster and with more resources please go ahead and do it. Even better: get in contact with me. Maybe we can go further and faster if we work together 😉
One extra request: if you want to implement this idea alone (and faster than me) please don’t prevent me to implement my own version via copyright and legal stuff. That’s something that would piss me off. This idea is sitting on the back of my mind since two years at least. It started in a different shape but now I’ve been hit by a “that’s how it should be done!” punch in my stomach, and that’s it. It has to be done. I want to see it implemented. What would piss me off would be not being able to see my idea properly implemented.
What goes into a country review
My initial idea was to limit the focus only on early retirement, trying to answer the question “is this country a good geoarbitrage candidate?” for each country. I considered aspects like taxation, cost of living, housing market, visa issues and so on.
But why limit ourselves just to early retirement?
“RIP, because your guide is called European Early Retirement Guide…”
Yes, ok, good point. Well… first, the guide name is not yet finalized. Second, early retirement should not be the end goal of anyone’s game. Third, nobody splits their life in accumulation phase and withdrawal phase. You might want to slow down at work, aim to lean fire, try barista fire for a bit, take a mini retirement, plan for a multistage retirement where you side hustle hard for a while until real retirement, and many other scenarios. We, humans, want to be productive no matter what. What’s the point of early retiring in country XYZ if there you can’t realize your dreams?
I extended my idea to include more aspects of a country support for a fulfilled and productive existence: education, work/employed, work/entrepreneur, retirement.
A temporary/tentatively list of aspects I’d like to cover for each country review:
- Geography: some basic info about the country like extension, population, territory (mountains? Sea? Ocean?), weather and climate.
- Education quality & costs: is education free? Is it good quality? is there any excellence?
- Cost of living: few scenarios, city and rural areas. Needs vs wants. Highlights (childcare, healthcare, transportation, housing…)
- Work opportunities: Main companies, sectors, average salaries, workweek length, part time opportunities and so on.
- Bureaucracy annoyances: how easy/complicated is to survive the bureaucracy jungle. Highlights and lowlights.
- Banking system: can you live without ever visiting a physical bank (like I do in Switzerland since 6 years)? How easy is to wire money? How paperless is the process? Which shitty fees or taxes do they have? What’s the name of the top bank(s)?
- Visa: kind of visas, immigration laws, citizenship, requirements and so on.
- Taxes: income taxation, profit taxation, wealth taxation, dividend taxation, capital gain taxation, regional differences in taxes, other tax saving tips and so on. Inheritance taxes.
- Healthcare: what’s the healthcare model? Implications for workers and not workers.
- Family Friendly & Childcare: how being single vs couple vs family with children impacts your plans. What about taxes? What about childcare expenses?
- Retirement Locations: recommended places where to retire within the country.
- Early Retirement: suggested Fi number, threshold for leanfire and fatfire. Feasibility of baristafire and so on. Impact of taxes on your strategy.
- Welfare: are there a social security obligation/benefits? What about unemployment?
- Political Scene: is there a civil war going on? What about political stability? Is nationalism and populism ruling your country too? Which risks do you foresee in next 5/10 years?
- Crime Rate: is it safe to hang around?
- Diversity: are diversities in gender / ethnicity / political view / race / religion / age / favorite soccer team accepted? Tolerated? Forbidden?
- Weird laws: is it forbidden to wear a hat on Saturday/Sunday? am I forced to wear a clock on Wednesday? Can my wife drive a car? Can my dog be served in a restaurant?
- Side Hustling: how (bureaucratically) easy/hard is to start a company? What kind of company can I create? What are the tax implications? What about obligations? How good is the country for digital nomads?
- Pension System: how does it work? Should I contribute? Which options do I have? Will I get something back if I leave the country after X years?
- Housing Market: should I rent or buy my primary residence? Can you give an overview of renting and purchase prices in few scenarios (rural, small town, big city)? Is the country good for real estate investments? What are the risks, rules, tax implications of renting out an apartment?
- Financial Investing: which brokers are accessible? Banks? Which securities are accessible? Which not? How dividends and capital gains are taxed?
- Frugality Tips: country specific frugality tips.
- Wealth Tips: implications of having money abroad, fiscal residency, how to avoid declaring your status and tell people what you do and so on.
- Fun Facts: fun facts about the country, better if related to money, spendypants habits, touristic traps to avoid, stupid false myths everybody believe and so on.
- Town(s) / Region(s) specific Highlights/Lowlights: Is there a specific region/town worth mentioning for any good/bad reason?
- Miscellaneous: internet quality, anti-touristic attractions (frugal things to do), connectedness with the rest of the world (low-cost flights, railways), country specific issues and so on.
- External Resources: links to other sites like Numbeo and so on.
- Star Ratings: what’s the overall quality of the country? Rate the country for education / accumulation / hustling / retirement. Final thoughts.
As you can see, many aspects I proposed overlap. Anyway, nothing is written in stone. I hope brainstorming will help finalizing the list. Maybe my list is too rich, maybe we decide it’s unfeasible to cover so many aspects with the right level of details.
That’s not all: the information we’re going to gather for each country should be double checked and backed by verified sources. We don’t want to publish false or misleading content. That makes the project even more gargantuan.
That’s up for discussion. For now the project is named EERG (European Early Retirement Guide).
Early Retirement European Guide (EREG)? Guide for Early Retirement in Europe (GERE)? GREG? GREG is cool but I don’t have an acronym.
I’m also open to some funny names that mock other famous guides like “Retirely Planet” or “Le Guide Retir’d“, but we may hit some copyright wall 🙂
I don’t put a deadline on this project, of course. Got a job, a blog, a family, friends and other activities.
Just as an out of the envelope attempt to put a timeline on the project:
- Oct 2018: Brainstorming phase. Idea finalized, Judge team finalized, country review defined, list of country specialists in good state, budget defined, financial aspects defined, publishing needs defined.
- Nov 2018 – Mar 2019: Country reviews and ratings.
- Apr-June 2019: Publishing iterations and final reviews. I expect the publishing process without a real publisher to be both painful and fun. Editing, design, typesetting, proofreading, graphic content production… Plus we might need some iteration on country reviews and star ranking. We might want to add intro, conclusions, some success stories and whatnot.
- Summer 2019: Launch! And parties, and champagne, Pulitzer prize, Nobel prize, you name it!
What do we do now?
I’ll spread the word. I’m waiting to hear your voices. I’ve setup a public Trello board for the project. Once we have finalized what goes into a country review I’ll work on Italy and Switzerland reviews. If you’re planning to contribute on Italian and/or Swiss country reviews please let me know: I can incorporate your contribution. I’ll actually come bothering you if I think you’re more expert than me on Italian investing or on French-Speaking Swiss Cantons.
If you have something to say, any complains, you think it’s a bad idea, you think it’s an impossible project, you think it’s useless and a waste of time… please comment below. The best you can do is helping me improve my idea or convincing me to quit it.
If you think it’s a valid idea, and you want to see it happening, you can do several things: the most important one is to spread the word by sharing this post. I need a lot of help. If you plan to spontaneously contribute on country XYZ please contact me. I’ll come bothering you anyway if you’re in my shortlist.
The project won’t start if I don’t get enough help.
I’ll be fine anyway, don’t worry: I’d only regret not having tried.
You’re crazy RIP, do you realize how much work it requires?
I know that if the project kicks off it will be another full time job on my plate. Coordinating ~100 people (not all at the same time, though), 99% of whom lives in other countries and 100% of whom conducts an already rich and complicated life. I’m aware that I’ll be working on this project at 5am every day, and spending many evenings on it at the expense of family and sleep time. I know that the day is still made of 24 hours, it refuses to adjust with inflation!
But as Paul Graham says:
I realized recently that what one thinks about in the shower in the morning is more important than I’d thought. I knew it was a good time to have ideas. Now I’d go further: now I’d say it’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.
And now it’s too many showers after I started thinking about it. Maybe I’m committing too much, let’s see. So far my commitment matches my enthusiasm 🙂
Have a nice day!