The Perfect Heist

A cop and his partner investigate the death of an accountant, who is found in an industrial wood shredder (what’s left of him anyways).

In their search for the truth they end up with a pastor at a local church. This pastor turns out to be a con-man who had defrauded another congregation a few years before. His signature trade was to have the congregation work hard to make money for their parish. Next, the “wolf in sheep’s cloths” (aka the Pastor) would transfer the funds abroad (Curacao in this case) and vanish with his pretty partner.

The Perfect Heist - Industrial Wood Shredder

The Perfect Heist – The Industrial Wood Shredder, a useful tool for every criminal/murderer
Source: https://www.vermeer.com/NA/en/N/industries/wood_waste

 

However, this time the female partner realized she is betrayed by the pastor. She had found out that he impregnated another female of the congregation. In a twist these ladies start to work together and conspire against the pastor and have the congregation members kill him. They end up getting away with $357.000 and you see them sipping (virgin) margarita’s on the beach in Curacao. End good, all good! Or is it? For some reason(s) we don’t think this was the perfect heist….

Curacao

The above story lines comes from an episode of the series “Grimm”. We watched some of this series on Netflix last week. The episode was called “the good shepherd”, in case you are interested. But his episode got us thinking, it is possible to survive and even thrive on the income from “the perfect heist” as commonly shown in movies and series? Time to find out!

The Perfect Heist - Curacao

The Perfect Heist – Location of Curacao

Let’s start with the story line as noted above. Besides the $357.000 heist from the parish in Portland, the initial heist from the first parish also collected $440.000. This totals to a nice $797.000, assuming all the transferred funds were untouched. Now, the two ladies had to fly to Curacao. There would have been costs for bank accounts and transfer fees. Let’s also assume they party a bit in the first month of “retirement”. A rough guess is that they would have about $790.000 left for a long-term stay on Curacao.

A Long and Happy Retirement?

For sake of simplicity we assume the 4%-rule is true and will hold up in the coming decades (this is debatable, we know). The 4% SWR would yield $31.600 per year. Let’s assume this is after taxes. Would these two ladies be able to survive in Curacao?

According to the Cost Of Living Index, Curacao is not too bad for individual costs. However there is no data rank for this place. We therefore assume it is about 65% of living in New York City (which is the benchmark). This percentage is based on neighboring countries/areas and the fact that Curacao is an tropical island (and thus more expensive for certain goods and services).

At 65% of NYC, the living costs without rent is approximately $727 per person per month (NYC = $1.119 pppm). Rental of an apartment outside a city with 3 rooms averages about $1371/month. The two ladies would therefore need about $2.825/month. This is $33.900/year. What do you know! If they are able to save about $2.300 per year, they might actually be able to make it. But it won’t be margaritas on the beach every day served by sexy waiters. It would be a relaxed, but a far from glamorous retirement.

Low Cost of Living Areas

Perhaps it’s not a bad idea for them to move to a lower COL area, to stretch the “hard earned” dollars a bit further. Based on the COL index, you’d likely end up in India, Egypt, Pakistan or Ukraine. If they’d like a bit less of an adventure and a more “western” feel to it, they could go to Las Palmas in Spain.

The Perfect Heist - Las Palmas Spain

The Perfect Heist – Las Palmas Spain
Source: http://www.grancanaria.com/patronato_turismo/Discover-the-city.12652.0.html

Las Palmas has a COL index of 48.62. This translates into living actual costs of just $544 pppm. Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment is about $621/month. This would mean total costs of $1709/month or $20.508/year. That would leave about $12.000 per year for sun, fun and margaritas! Guess we have a clear winner here.

Catch?

But there is also a catch. Curacao and Spain both have an extradition treaty with the USA. Considering the two cops already know who they are, they could be in for some serious issues! More on this later.

Heist Amounts

In most cases heists are performed by a group of people. Even the electronic heists are usually done with a team of “experts”. I’ve make a short list of several movie heists and associated values (total and per person). It is actually quite hard to find the heist amount in most movie synopsis. If you feel I missed an important one (or two/three/etc.), please comment! Would love to make this list a bit longer.

The Perfect Heist - Heist the Movie

The Perfect Heist – Heist the Movie

  • Heist: Cash for sick daughter’s medical bill. Value: $300.000 (not for retirement, obviously)
  • Snatch: 86 carat diamond. Value: $3.9M. Team size 6 = $0.65M pp
  • The Score: Scepter. Value: $4.0M. Team size 4(?) = $1.0M pp
  • The Italian Job: Gold. Value $38M. Team size 6 = $6.33M pp
  • Ocean’s Eleven: Cash. Value $150M. Team size 11 = $13.63M pp

In most of the above examples, the guys/girls should be just fine financially. Especially in the case of Ocean’s Eleven! They would have no issue living in Zurich or Bermuda (the two highest COL areas in the index).

But in some of the above cases they are on the run from law enforcement, or pissed off gangsters/mobsters or even both. It is probably time to disappear instead of flaunting the new wealth, but where to go?

Safe and Affordable Locations to Retire for the Aspiring Criminal

A quick search on the interweb found the following post. There is quite the list of countries with no extradition treaty with the USA. This is the good news if you have law enforcement coming after you! However, as noted in the article, there is still the chance of you becoming a pawn of governments. A deal to extradite you might still be made and you would be out of luck (and in prison!).

That being said, the following countries could be interesting (depending on your retirement preferences):

  • Cuba (No COL index available)
  • Indonesia (Yogyakarta COL index = 35.08)
  • The Maldives (No COL index available)
  • Namibia (No COL index available)
  • Nepal (Kathmandu COL index = 34.24)
  • Morocco (Casablanca COL index = 37.94)
  • Samoa (No COL index available)
  • São Tomé & Príncipe (No COL index available)
  • Taiwan (Kaohsiung COL index = 59.78)
  • Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City COL index = 43.38)

Unsurprisingly, most these places have a pretty low COL and you could live like a king. Not really low key though….might attract more attention than you want. Guess if (fellow) gangsters are after you, the Brazilian jungle or Siberian mountains are a better place to stay. These places will undoubtedly have a low COL too, but are far from glamorous/comfortable.

The Perfect Heist - Cost Of Living Index

The Perfect Heist – Cost Of Living Index Map of the world
Source: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/

The Perfect Heist

The perfect heist is obviously difficult, as nothing is perfect. So here are some considerations for “the perfect heist” (or “practical heist”) from a financial perspective:

  • Gold is not too bad. The weight of $1M in gold today (@ $1.267/oz.) is about 789.3 oz. = 22.37 kg. You could still add this into your luggage and not have to pay extra when flying out of the country! It does have poor resale value at (smaller) jewelers/pawn shops. When stealing $1M in market value, you could probably lose up to 30% or so in commissions/exchange rates.
  • Diamonds are great in the sense that they are light and easy to transport. The price is however subject to the market, quality and the size (higher carat diamonds are generally worth more per carat). You would have to steel many more smaller ones to get the same value. But in this case you should probably still steel small diamonds, as the bigger ones are more difficult as there are fewer available. Finding a balance is key here.
  • Cash might also be a problem too depending on how much you steal. The weight of $1M in $20 bills is 50kg and encompasses nearly 52l of volume! That’s an extra charge at the airport (unless you use points or are a frequent flyer). Perhaps you better steel $100 notes, in that case you are down to 10 kg and just over 10.3l of volume. That should fit in a backpack! Traceability might still be a problem, as each bill has a unique number/code.
  • Art is a tricky one as the value per weight/dimensions can be really high. But because art is so unique, selling it might be difficult. When you sell on the black market it is likely also at significantly reduced values.
  • That leaves electronic data/currency, which has no weight (unless you transport on a stick of drive). It might take some time to shift the funds via different banks in different countries to a final destination bank or banks. Even better, transfer into Bitcoin or some other non-traceable digital currency. This way you might be able to really disappear of the (virtual) radar. But with Bitcoin, the value in USD also changes and I’m not sure about any transfer/transaction fees. The fluctuations might actually work two ways, it could make you even more money, or result in big losses. Only time will tell.
The Perfect Heist - The Diamond Heist

The Perfect Heist – The Diamond Heist
Source: http://www.enigmarooms.co.uk/

The Moral of this Story

If you plan “the perfect heist” of some sorts, make sure it is for a good amount of (guaranteed) money to cover your risks. And quickly get your butt to a non-extradition country and lay low for a while!

But despite all the options, the perfect heist is likely not doing one at all. Probably better to just slash costs of living and invest the difference into income producing assets. This is almost a guarantee for success with no risk to your personal life. Clear win if you’d ask me.

So, no plans on our side for any of this, but one can dream, right?! How about you, what’s your perfect heist?

P.s. interesting trivia, the actor playing the con-man/pastor actually stopped working to sail around the world for 2.5 years with his family! Seems like a smart cookie that knows how to value life and experiences.

Flag of Belgium

I probably should be writing the savings rate post for April, but I’m still too much into the whole holiday thing. Despite already being at work for three days….sigh. So instead of pretty graphs with good savings rates, you can take a look at some of the things we have seen last week. Without further delay, here is a short summary of our holiday in Belgium.

Day 1: Beach, Travel and Arrival in Belgium

Before we actually drove to Belgium, we met with friends at the beach in Noordwijk (the Netherlands). This was one of the more spontaneous actions we have done in a while. Great prelude to the holiday actually! After lunch we started to drive towards Belgium. Once we crossed the border, the holiday feeling really kicked in.

I believed it was a good idea to take local roads, rather than the highway, to have a prettier drive. Pretty it was, but boy was it a wrong decision! Forgot how poor the Belgium secondary road system is. In the Netherlands we are blessed with near perfect roads, driving abroad always reminds me of this. Apparently Miss CF agreed that the roads were poor (and winding), unfortunately her stomach did not agree! Never knew that we would be so happy to have rubber boots in the car….. But she was a good girl and aimed very well, no spills 😉 Poor kid, motion sickness is no fun!

Day 2: Alden Biesen (Belgium)

Alden Biesen is a castle located just outside the town  of the Bilzen. It’s freely accessible and it’s an nice place to roam around for a couple of hours. But once we got there, there was a story telling fair for kids. We explored the various dungeons and rooms where these story telling events were about to happen and found one that had spaces left. Fortunately Miss CF could freely join in, but got bored after about 20min and wanted to run outside again. This was fine with us, so we walked through the massive gardens and enjoyed the sunshine. We also enjoyed some packed lunch in the gardens.

Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen - The Church

Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen – The Church

Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen - The Main Castle

Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen – The Main Castle

Day 3: Tongeren and Bilzen (Belgium)

We were told by the owners of the vacation rental that the city of Tongeren was very nice to visit. We therefore got out the trusty GPS and drive down to a free parking area and went to explore the city. It’s not very big, but it does have lots of character and many very old buildings and a medieval wall (well sections of it anyways).

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren - Main Church

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – Main Church

We got lucky and were able to enter the Moerenpoort (a old tower at the city gate) and climb all the way to the top for a great view of the city of Tongeren.

 

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren - Moerenpoort

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – Moerenpoort

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren - City View

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – City View

 

After leaving Tongeren we decided to also check out the city centre of Bilzen, another old town not far from Tongeren. But there was not that much to see and do. We therefore ended up doing grocery shopping and went home for diner (and to play with the animals in the yard of the vacation rental).

Day 4: Play Day at Edenhof, near Bilzen (Belgium)

After two days of cultural sightseeing, we decided to have a bit of frugal family fun with Miss CF. We had found a free play park called “Edenhof” near the town of Bilzen. It boosted about 30 different units including swings, zipline, climbing towers and more. Needless to say that Miss CF did not want to leave, not even after nearly 2 hours of running around! We eventually persuaded here with food (we were starving too and needed a hot cup of tea to warm up). Who ever said you need to go to a amusement park to have fun?

https://twitter.com/CheesyFinance/status/857222130911596544

Day 5: Kings Day in Maastricht (the Netherlands)

We have friends that live in Maastricht. We already visited them and the city a couple of times and really like the place. It’s a very pretty city! But this day it was also Kingsday! In short, major outdoors flea markets, concerts and lots more. If you even visit the Netherlands, make sure it’s around this time, the country goes mad and orange (including me).

https://twitter.com/CheesyFinance/status/857486628369117184

We first explored the flea market and met with friends whom where selling their stuff. Next we visited the St. Pieters Berg (free parking!), before heading over the our friends place for diner and more fun.

Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht - Pietersberg

Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht – Pietersberg

Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht - Old Mining Area

Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht – Old Mining Area

Day 6: National Park Hoge Kempen (Belgium)

Due to the long and tiring day for Miss CF in Maastricht, we decided to take it easy in the morning. Which was a smart idea, as Miss CF crashed again just after lunch. About 3 hours later we still had some time for a walk in the National Park Hoge Kempen.

Day 7: Gaia Zoo in Kerkrade (the Netherlands)

We don’t have one specific supermarket where we shop for groceries. But when we found out the Jumbo was having a savings program that could provide discounts on zoo’s, amusement parks and more. This was potentially useful for a day trip, so we decided to have a look. Turned out that the program was pretty lucrative! For every €10 shopping we received a coupon for €2.5 discount on entrance fees.

In short, we did some major grocery shopping before the holidays. Stocking up on stuff we would have bought anyways. We ended up with €30 off the zoo entrance fees, which meant we only paid €27.5 to get in (over 50% discount!). This is not a lot of money for a whole day of fun. We were at the zoo when it opened at 10 and left about 6 hours later. We obviously brought our own lunch and drinks to keep costs further in reign. It was a great day and Miss CF crashed before we got to the car to drive back.

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade - Ducks/Ibis

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Ducks/Ibis

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade - Wild Pig

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Wild Pig

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade - Lioness

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Lioness

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade - Rhino

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Rhino

Day 8: Driving home and the Swimming Pool!

No personal pictures here, but we ended up on this pool: http://www.sr-dommelslag.be/ For anyone passing nearby Overpelt (Belgium, close to the Dutch border) with kids, this is a great pool. Pretty new, got something fun for everyone and is relatively cheap.

We wanted to brake up the drive back by stopping by a swimming pool along the way. We initially looked for tropical swimming pools/water parks in holiday parks like Landal Green Parks and Centre Parks. These places charge around €11-15pp depending on your age. For us this would have been nearly €40 for a couple hour swim. That’s mad! The pool in Overpelt was only €9.50pp and kids under 4 were free! At €19 total, it was a lot more affordable.

The Holiday Cost

This is a financial blog, so we do have to review the costs for the holiday of course! Normally we don’t include food, fuel or kids items, as this goes into separate categories in our budget. Reasoning is that we would have spend most of this money anyways, regardless of going on holidays. But for sake of completeness we added them below in the holiday overview.

The holiday costs included:

  • Vacation rental (7 nights): €400
  • Zoo entrance: €27.5
  • Swimming Pool: €19
  • Fuel: €40
  • Costs food / going out to dinner / cash: €138.5

The total holiday would come in at about €625. Not bad, especially considering we were aiming at between €700 and 900!

How was your last holiday? Where did you go? Did you stick to your budget?

Travel

After reading up on the blog “Wandering Earl”, and enjoying it very much, I’ve started to think where our (Mr. CF, Mrs. CF and Team CF) travels have let us to in the last decades. The list is not nearly as long as Earl’s (see here), but we appear to have done our fare share of travelling. Between the two of us we have been to 23 countries so far (including Hawaii with the US, of course). We are still planning to add a few more countries in the coming decades.

Do note that our travels were both for business, studies and pleasure. Both Mr and Mrs CF have studies abroad for a semester. Mr CF also worked extensively abroud during his carreer. We also emigrated to Canada for many years, which was an absolutely amazing experience!

Photos!

We have included a few of our own photos to give an impression. For some places we don’t have any photos as we did not have any (digital) camera’s at that time:

Angola (Business)

Catching Cobras (not me though!)

Angola - Cobra

Austria (Leisure)

Castle/Mountain Lake

Austria - Castle Austria - Moutain Lake

Belgium (Leisure)

Brugge/Caves of Han

Belgium - Brugge Belgium - Caves of Han

Canada (Business/Leisure)

Lake Louise/Rockies/Snowshoeing

Canada - Lake Louise Canada - Rockies Canada - Snowshoeing

Croatia (Leisure)

Denmark (Leisure)

Estonia (Leisure)

France (Studies/Leisure)

Mont Blanc/Paris (Le Notre Dame)

France - le notre dame France - Mont Blanc

Finland (Leisure)

Germany (Studies/Leisure)

Black Forest Home

Germany - Black Forest House

Great Britain (Business/Leisure)

Greece (Leisure)

Hawaii (Leisure)

OK , this technically is the USA, but it is a special place: Lava/Blow Hole/Maua Kea Observatory

Hawaii - Lava Hawaii - Maui - Blow Hole Hawaii - Mauna Kea Observatory

Iceland (Leisure)

Iceland - Reykjavik

Italy (Leisure)

Luxembourg (Leisure)

Netherlands (All)

Keukenhof (Lisse)/Hellevoetsluis (Windmill) – we know, very stereotypical!

Netherlands - Hellevoetsluis Netherlands - Keukenhof

Norway (Leisure)

Portugal (Business)

Lisbon (Castle)

Portugal - Lisbon

United States (Studies/Leisure)

Yellowstone/Bison/NYC

USA - Yellowstone

USA - Bison USA - NYC

Qatar (Business)

Camel near Doha

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Spain (Studies/Leisure)

Sweden (Studies/Leisure)

Switzerland (Leisure)

Mountain Lake/Church on the Rock(s) 😉

Switzerland - Church Switzerland - Moutain Lake

And you, where have you travelled?

Where have you travelled? Where have you gotten yourself to on this amazing planet? What was your most memorable place or the one you love most? Any ides on where you will be going this year? Let us know!