A place is a place, people are people

I had recently an interesting conversation regarding my daughter. She is only 2,5 years old but due to the nature of my job, she already moved 3 times together with our little family and at the age of 3, she will have moved 4 times as I am going to have to move again latest by April next year. Working as a hotel manager requires flexibility and the conversation narrowed down on the topic of traveling and raising children. The common perception is that once you have children, things become more complicated and difficult and that you should settle down somewhere to offer your children a stable and safe surrounding to learn, grow and to develop.

Here is the thing: I don’t agree. At all.

First of all, children are much more flexible and can adapt to new surroundings in a way that most adults can’t even remotely keep up with. I notice it every single time. While my wife always needs two to three months to get around in a new area, my daughter is up and running from day one as soon as we unpack those few bags. She will quickly figure out all the rooms of the new apartment or house, discover the garden and sleeps perfectly fine the next day forward. She also finds new friends quickly and frankly, I believe she rather helps my wife to get accustomed to a new area rather than the other way round.

Secondly, kid’s come without prejudice. If we move to another country, another language area, another cultural surrounding, she just accepts it and quickly figures out how to appreciate it. I would say most adults have much bigger problems with this and in fact, most adults never really overcome the once setup prejudice which remains in their heads since childhood.

If you ask an adult about his or her nationality, what will they say? They got their mind made up and they have mostly a clear answer to your question. There are of course exceptions, such as myself with a double-nationality or specific mindset, but for the majority, there is a clear distinction.

Kid’s don’t have it. They don’t know anything about the concept of nationalities. For kid’s, a place is a place, and people are people. No matter where. No matter who. It is us who destroy this open mind by our teachings of countries, languages, nationalities, and barriers that we consider important to keep up our world order.

I am not saying that it doesn’t make sense, but I am saying that this coin has 2 sides. There is no question that putting things in place and order is important to ensure progress and economic development, but it comes at a high price of differentiating and separating people from each other. This breeds conflict, as we can now see everywhere around the globe. Conflict of economics, conflict of cultures, conflict of religions.

So, for my point of view, someone growing up in different places, experiencing different cultures, languages, mindsets, laws, rituals, and world-views is a huge advantage. A gift, that offers the opportunity to keep an open mind for as long as possible. It surely is not a guarantee and it has its downsides. But that applies to everything, doesn’t it, and at least it offers the chance to see and to learn more along the way.

Why is this important for this blog?

Well, I really just wanted to write about this. But to give a small connection to this blogs main purpose: Reaching financial independence becomes much easier if you free yourself from your prejudice and open up your mind to move out from your comfort zone.

Don’t nail me on the exact statistics but if I remember correctly, the average American household spends 30% of his/her income on housing or rent. The average German household even up to 50% and I believe for Scandinavians it was beyond that. The tax may eat up 25-40% of the total household income and social security deductions that come on top of that.

At the end of the day, people are left with a paycheck that is just enough to keep anything between 0-10% percent of household income for savings and investments. This explains that most EU or US citizens don’t have retirement savings at all and those who do have something stacked up, have by far not enough.

It’s a scary thought, so naturally, people tend to brush thoughts about this away and instead rely on the idea that social security will take care of them once retired at 65. Or 67. Or 69. Depending on where the government will shift this over the next years.

Well, does this really sound like a promising scenario? Working until your health deteriorates and relying on your government to take care of you, even though we all know that social security systems will have to collapse at some point?

When I moved to China as a trainee, my salary was only 500$ a month which was 350EUR at that time (2009). In Germany, I was expecting to get approx. 1,800 EUR a month before tax. And yet, after working 1 year in China, I saved up much more money that I could ever have in Berlin. Because the housing was offered for free, the food was included, there were no taxes to be paid and even the cost for a private insurance was much lower compared to what I would have to pay in Europe for my basic social security.

So what would happen, if you could eliminate or reduce your housing, basic living expenses, and taxes from that total of anything between 50-70 % down to let’s say 10-20% of your total monthly income?

Well, suddenly saving and investing 30-40% of your monthly income doesn’t sound unrealistic at all and retiring with 50 or 55 without dragging any government into this is also becoming a realistic, if not even a desirable target.

If you want to escape the rat race, you should consider getting out of that labyrinth that you got put in.

I know it is not an easy decision, but consider moving to an area that will make these things possible. It may be another state, another country, another continent. Why not? What is it really that binds you to a place? Your neighbors? Family? Friends? Or is it just the comfort to stay at a place that you know with things that are convenient? This is something that really should be thought through and put into consideration.

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