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  • Writer's pictureAndrew


Updated: Jul 22, 2022

One of FIRE’s unique challenges is that it those practicing it are younger than traditional retirees. Younger people often have children who are younger than those of traditional retirees (who often have adult children!). While you may have accounted for spending on children before committing to FIRE, you may not have realized the dynamic logistic challenges that would come as children age and lifestyles change. Let’s talk about daycare.

Daycare is expensive. In Virginia, it’s more expensive than college tuition! While it may decrease as children age, it increases with the number of children attending. As children reach ‘school age’, it goes away, to be replaced by costs for clothes, food, and extracurriculars. During COVID times, it’s important to note that children remaining home for exposure quarantine don’t often generate a discount, potentially necessitating additional costs for babysitters (though this may not be as critical for folks who’ve retired). Waiting lists are ubiquitous and taking children on extended vacations often does not result in discounts so any childcare on the other side will result in additional payments. Home and worldschooling is an option chosen by many but these offer a new set of challenges. Nannying and nanny-sharing are other expensive choices that may relieve some of these logistics challenges, though the solution here is certainly not without its own challenges. The cost for all these options is subject to inflation.

Logistic challenges abound and they’re compounded for those living a nomadic or FIREbird lifestyle. Here’s a few helpful considerations:

1. Nannys, au pairs, and other forms of in-home childcare are common abroad and less common but still available in the US. On a quick google search, there are a number of agencies matching experienced au pairs with those in need of childcare (here and here etc.). For those abroad, there are communities dedicated to nomading families offering commentary on (nearly everything) childcare and how to find it. Often, the best resource here is word-of-mouth referrals. “Nanny-sharing” allows you to combine financial forces to pay for a nanny while also potentially offering your child(ren) socialization with others. Keep in mind, you’re relying on an individual for childcare in this scenario and that’s subject to that person’s life too (e.g. they may become ill, have to quit abruptly for personal reasons, etc.).

2. Community childcare is used worldwide and may have even provoked an adage about a village and raising a child. Many religious and ethnic communities within the US do it already. For some reason, it remains generally uncommon in the US. Think of it like this: your friends watch your children then, in exchange, you watch theirs. In its simplest form, that’s 50% extra time off for parents. Or, you can build a couple other families into the equation. Establishing something like this may require a little bit of work on your part but there may be great benefit. Alternatively, you may be able to find an established community doing it already. Needless to say, there are fewer regulations/protections in place here so prioritize the safety of your children when making all considerations.

3. Take the above in an entrepreneurial direction and start a ‘daycare’. Supplemental income post-FIRE never hurts. This will certainly be subject to local regulations nearly anywhere you travel so make sure to consider them first.

4. Not everyone has siblings, parents, or close friends who are able/willing to help with childcare. Those who’re lucky enough to be in this situation may not have realized it. As you hit FIRE and start thinking about living better, it’s worth considering whether this is a resource you might have. I know a lot of grandparents who’d not only like to spend more time with grandchildren but who would also like to spend the winter months somewhere warm. So, if you’re thinking about nomading or FIREbirding, consider the possibility that your family might enjoy an extended trip and may be willing to spend a few hours watching the little ones.

5. Worldschooling, while not outsourced childcare, is a great option for those living on the road. It’s essentially homeschooling, but it’s bigger. It supplements traditional didactic education with local educational resources experiences. So, children learn math, language (possibly, but not necessarily, English), civics and other traditional disciplines for a few hours, then spend the rest of the day taking in local museums, events, sites, and cultures. It is certainly not the most hands-off of the options, but it has myriad advantages over a traditional educational curriculum. Many parents worldschooling children note that it takes far less time to move through the traditional coursework than it does for children within the traditional US educational model. Then, the kids can spend more time doing kid things like playing, meeting other kids, learning the local language, and other beneficial things outside of the classroom.

What resources are you taking advantage of for childcare after reaching FIRE?

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