This California Couple Retired On An Argentine Vineyard For Only $150,000

phelan

Photo: Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Phelan

San Fernando Valley, Calif. natives Tom and Yvonne Phelan envisioned one goal for retirement––purchasing and running their own vineyard.But by the time they hit their mid-sixties and hunkered down to start planning in early 2007, they were confronted by a bleak reality: The $150,000 they’d managed to stash for their golden years wasn’t going to stretch very far in the states.

“We had talked for a long time about owning a vineyard, and by the time we got serious about retirement, we realised that if we wanted to fulfil that dream, we’d have to look outside of the U.S.,” Tom told Business Insider. 

So the couple sold off most of their belongings and turned to South America, where they spent a gruelling year navigating language barriers, dodgy realtors and their own naivete in their search of the perfect plot of land

“We did not have a lot of money,” Tom said. “But we didn’t want to let our vineyard dreams die.” 

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

It was during a business trip in Argentina that Tom, an international speaker on IRA investments, decided to see what the country, with its flourishing wine industry and relatively low cost of living (today's exchange rate is about 4.5 Argentine pesos to the U.S. dollar), had to offer. The couple rented an apartment in Buenos Aires and set out for nearby province of Mendoza, the heart of the country's wine industry.

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan'

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

They quickly hired the extra help they'd need to get things up and running. Here, one of their main workers, Segundo, tests out a new tractor.

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

While workers broke in the land, the couple crashed at this condominium, an easy 1.5 hour drive away in nearby Mendoza.

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Lodging is covered, too. Here's the home the Phelans built for their crew.

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Even with all their bases covered, the fruits of their labour were slow coming. It took about three years for the vineyard to really start producing a substantial harvest. Here, a new vine emerges.

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Phelan

From one alternative lifestyle to the next ...

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