I generally know what they mean, but sometimes I question them to clarify what they are asking: "You mean, what did we do to afford this lifestyle at such a young age*?"
Firstly, I will say that this lifestyle isn't expensive. It's less expensive than an average lifestyle for us in our home countries: Australia and Belgium. But, I want to talk about the expense side in another blog post, so that's for later.
So, what did I do before?
Well, I didn't have a profession and I didn't go to university. But I did work hard, save hard, and invest well.
Very importantly, I was blessed with parents who encouraged me to skip university and buy a house. I bought my first house at age 18, about 20 months after finishing high school. It was incredibly cheap, and I'd worked 7 days a week, in various jobs, to save a deposit for it.
Even at 16 I knew I wanted to have enough money to travel, so one day I went and talked to an old family friend who lived from the money made on his investment properties. I didn't take a lot away from the chat but it shows my interest.
After I'd bought that house I painted it and did basic renovations and, after a year I rented it out. After a few more years I bought another, and then another, both with a partner, in each case we painted them and did basic, necessary, renovations before renting them out.
I was very fortunate with my houses, they weren't expensive, but rental returns were good. House prices in the town where I bought them hadn't risen much in years and prices were cheap in comparison to other places. Then a mining boom hit and property values went up.
One day I decided that, although I wasn't wealthy, I 'had enough' and that I should travel, since it is what I have always wanted to do. One day I might have to work again, but I'm confident that I can and will be able to.
In fact, in my mid thirties, despite 'having enough', I went back to work just because I had failed, in my backpacking, to find a travel companion and thought that if I worked in the travel industry I might be satisfied. But I wasn't satisfied, and after almost 2 years I quit and went to India.
Hendrik's story is different but similar. He too didn't go to university, but he did have a profession and made some good money in a short amount of time. But, more importantly, he also invested his money in a couple of run-down houses, renovated them (although, whereas I did most my own paintwork, he paid others for his work) and rented them out.
One day he too decided he 'had enough' and decided to go travelling.
The idea of 'having enough' is important to Hendrik and I so one day I hope to say a bit more about that.
*Hendrik is 40, I'm 39.