changing the world

Hello There, After a Two-Year Hiatus from the Blog

Greetings from sunny Florida! I can’t believe we haven’t written in nearly two years, and it’s been a fascinating early retirement journey so far.

So, we’re back to share some of our experiences in the hopes of inspiring others to live their best lives! I don’t want to go into detail about what we’ve all been through over the last two years. We could use a break from all of that! I’d like to talk about what we’ve been up to and what’s coming up for Crucial Wealth.

Early retirement’s first six months

For those of you who are visiting our blog for the first time, let’s go over the summer of 2019, when we retired from our corporate jobs. We spent about two months in Europe shortly after retiring. Belarus, Lithuania, and Spain were among the countries we visited on our journey. We then returned to Pennsylvania in September and stayed until the winter of 2019. More information can be found in the following post: Six Well-Lived Months in Early Retirement.

life after early retirement

Never entrust your critical thinking to a third party

We came to Florida that winter of 2019 with the intention of staying until spring. We arrived in Florida in December and planned to return to Pennsylvania in March of 2020. Then, because of the “pandemic,” we extended our stay in Florida until April of 2020. As long as the cities where we stayed, North Port and Venice, remained open, we could still enjoy the area’s beaches and playgrounds. That lasted until early April 2020, when we decided to return to PA.

life after early retirement

We already knew we wanted to relocate to Florida. However, we intended to stay in Pennsylvania for much longer so that we could travel for months at a time without having to worry about the cost of maintaining a house on a larger lot.

The fact that most businesses and attractions, including playgrounds, were closed made staying in Pennsylvania too boring. To put things in context, something wasn’t quite right about the way the series of events was reported and the actions that were suggested and mandated.

We decided to make our own independent health decisions as we dug deeper and used our critical thinking skills. With that in mind, we decided against staying up north.

So we decided to look for a home in Florida before the fall because we were concerned that: 1) Pennsylvania’s governor would tighten mandates again. With the flu season approaching, there will undoubtedly be an increase in the number of sick people. 2) Florida was going to become a haven for people looking to escape mandates and restrictions.

On both counts, we were correct.

Finding our ideal house

We spent the early summer of 2020 looking for a home online in North Port. Houses didn’t last long on the market back then. If you liked something, you had a few days to bid if you wanted your offer to be considered.

Since we didn’t have financing in place, we didn’t have enough time to bid on the first house we liked. We had the cash on hand, but with interest rates so low, we wanted to see what kind of mortgage we could get.

The second home that piqued our interest was a three-bedroom home built in 2016 on a quarter-acre lot. It was just the right size for our family. My mother-in-law showed us the property via video and inspected it because we couldn’t see it in person.

The house was in great shape and appeared to have been staged, but it hadn’t! The homeowners were extremely tidy and took excellent care of the property.

life after early retirement
life after early retirement
Our home’s open concept with previous owner’s furniture.

We liked what we saw and made an offer right away. After some haggling, the sellers accepted our counteroffer of $249,900. We were overjoyed to learn that we had a house under contract and started packing as soon as we heard that! 🙂

We had settled into our new home in Florida by the end of October 2020. I made a few repairs to our PA rental property before we moved out and had a tenant lined up to move in literally as soon as I walked out the door.

Some upgrades that we made to our new home

Since our FL home was practically brand new, we only made a few improvements to make us feel even more comfortable.

We replaced the carpet in two rooms with vinyl planks, added a cabinet to the laundry room, and expanded and enclosed the lanai in a cage to keep bugs out. The house only had gutters by the front, we also installed additional gutters.

We did some of the lanai work ourselves, such as installing ceramic tiles and upgrading the ceiling light to a fan light, and outsourced the rest. This was money well-spent. 🙂

life after early retirement
The covered lanai to protect us from rain and bugs. It’s a nice space for entertaining and watching the afternoon rain. This is one of our happy places.
life after early retirement
The uncovered side of the lanai. We have found a home for the retirement hammock here.

The empty backyard also got some love. We started a vegetable garden in raised beds, planted fruit trees everywhere, and added landscaping around the lanai. We also installed a rain barrel to collect rain water, which aids in the watering of the coconut and banana trees.

life after early retirement
One of eight raised beds we have in our garden.

In addition, I also researched and installed a good irrigation system throughout the yard. We no longer have to worry about watering the garden or fruit trees. It’s done automatically in the early evenings.

All the work was completed while visiting the beach or the Warm Mineral Springs regularly, raising our child, entertaining friends and family, and exploring Florida.

Our Florida lifestyle

We really enjoy living in Florida. Life is fantastic here. We’ve been having so much fun since we moved here that we haven’t even had time to write in this space.

We made new friends and met a lot of wonderful people. I’m not sure if it’s the weather or the southern atmosphere, but people here are much nicer than people up north. No offense to our wonderful friends and family we left behind. You guys are fantastic.

The gulf coast has a more laid-back vibe. Driving is not a stressful experience here. The government treats you as if you are an adult. They are not here to impose orders but to protect people’s rights. We love it!

We also started planting the garden as soon as we moved in. In the garden, we grow tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, herbs, eggplant, okra, peas, and a few other vegetables.

There are at least 25 fruit trees in addition to the garden, including papaya, peaches, persimmon, cherries, blackberries, mulberries, avocado, guava, passion fruit, bananas, and mandarins.

life after early retirement
One of two passion fruit vines in our backyard.
Super sweet passion fruits from our backyard! Simply cut them in half and eat the pulp and seeds with a spoon.

Change the World by Changing a Life

Our daughter is also having a good time here. She made so many friends that by the time her third birthday party came around in August 2021, we hosted about 30 people. Except for my mother-in-law and a couple of friends, we met all of these people in a matter of months.

We didn’t have to take her to daycare because we’ve been caring for her since retirement. Since we don’t outsource the care, she can socialize with children and choose who she wants to hang out with rather than being forced to do so due to being confined to one location.

Educating our child

In terms of languages, she is fluent in Russian, has Spanish as a second language, and is learning English.

Since she and mommy are the only ones who understand all three languages in most situations, she has to translate frequently, and it’s amazing to see her three-year-old brain processing all the information and spilling it out.

It’s an exciting journey to watch her grow into a young lady capable of thinking for herself.

We believe that her education must meet her needs, and we are paving the way for her to receive the best education possible, based on her interests and without regard to time or place. Learning happens at all times and in all places.

It will not be the easiest path for us, but it will be the most advantageous for her. The best way for her to learn is to let her choose what she wants to learn, how she wants to learn it, and when she wants to learn it. Her upbringing also emphasizes self-sufficiency.

We’re raising a beautiful human being who’d view college as optional, but if she chooses to attend, colleges would salivate and be willing to pay her to attend. 😉

life after early retirement
Our daughter, with her friends, collecting prizes from a piñata at a recent birthday party.

What’s next for Crucial Wealth?

One of the primary reasons we want to keep writing is to motivate people to live better lives. The solution is right in front of us. It’s within us as humans, and sometimes just remembering how we came to be is all we need to answer that call. We are nothing more than a reflection of the world.

There is a global awakening taking place, and we want to contribute more to it. It’s wonderful, and the tides are finally turning. We can continue to make the world a better place by first changing ourselves. We’ll keep speaking out for the change we want to see.

Crucial Wealth is our bridge

Crucial Wealth is our online space where we can do that. In the real world, we do it all the time by setting a good example and sometimes by simply assisting our friends and family when they need some advice. This is a main reason we’ve returned to writing.

Moving forward, you can expect to see more articles from us. We’ll also go over our investment strategy, which includes vehicles that other early retiree bloggers aren’t considering.

Crucial Wealth will continue to evolve and take on its own personality. We’ll just feed it and nurture it like we do our garden and see how it grows.

Final thoughts

We made the right decision by relocating to Florida during our early retirement phase. We’re literally putting down roots here.

Our daughter is maturing alongside her childhood friends and creating lasting memories. And we’re right there with her, influencing her education and watching her grow without missing a beat.

If I had to compare Crucial Wealth to something, it would be a grafted tree that we are growing.

We planted an Enchumbao tree seven years ago, and the roots are from that tree. It is now time to evolve by adding a mature branch and providing it with the nutrients it needs to thrive.

We’ll be expanding on what we’ve already established with our posts on financial independence as we write about our early retirement journey. Make the most of life’s beautiful journey!

Please join our mailing list if you haven’t already. You’ll receive our newsletter, which will contain exclusive content not available on the blog. Until next time, take care.


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

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1 year ago

How wonderful to see you writing again!!! I love the update and can’t wait to see what will happen next.

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