Chautauqua 2018 Greece: A week for the gods!

“No one in my day-to-day life understands this FI path. At Chautauqua, everybody gets it. I have found my tribe.”

Way back in 2012 I headed to Ecuador to create the very first Chautauqua held in the fall of 2013. The basic concept then, as now, was…

  • Travel to a cool place
  • Hang out in a cool venue
  • Gather a small group of cool people
  • Talk about cool stuff

It exceed my wildest expectations. People that week, and every week since, have told me this was one of the best weeks of their lives. Many call it the single best week.

We did it again in Ecuador in 2014.

Then we did two weeks back-to-back in Ecuador in 2015. And 2016. And 2017.

In 2017 we also took it for a week to the United Kingdom. And, now, for 2018, we are just back from two back-to-back weeks at the foot of Mt. Olympus in Greece. Home of the gods.

Mt. Olympus from Litochoro


I’ve been writing about how incredible these events are for seven years now. Want my take? Here you go.

For this post, let me share what some those who joined us in Greece have to say. These are the posts out so far. If others come to my attention, I’ll keep adding them. So check back!

Attendee Posts:

It is common in the FI community that one partner is more on board with the program than the other. Every year we get a couple of these reluctant attendees who we have come to think of as “dragged along” spouses. They expect to bear up and endure. They wind up having a blast.

This “dragged along” spouse gives her take.

Brandon joined us last year, unable to persuade Kimmy to come along. He was back for the second time, this time with his own “dragged along” partner in tow. The other side of FIRE is a short video of her experience. BTW, that’s Brandon’s drone video that opens this post.

A Findependant Woman needed no one to drag her anywhere. Here she…

Recaps Chautauqua

She was the dragger, dragging along her very reluctant fiancé, Caspar. His turn around was so complete, we gave him a special award at the Friday Night Gala.

Here’s Caspar and Craig having summited Mt. Olympus…

Craig also gives a fine overview in…

I Paid $4,000 for a Week-Long FI Retreat in Greece—And It Was Worth Every Penny. Here’s Why.

One small point of clarification: When he says “40 people from around the world” he is including the Chautauqau speakers and team. We limit the number of attendees to 29. This small, intimate group is part of the magic.

Speaker Posts:

FireCracker always captures the magic and does so again here focusing on the attendees:

Something special about Chautauquans

Mr. 1500 Days came first to Ecuador as an attendee and we were so impressed we invited him back as a speaker. Brilliant decision, if I do say so myself. He was inspired to write a series of posts on his experience:

Being FI done well

Faffing about in Greece

Grecian delights, dildos and dinosaurs 


Comfort Expansion Zone



Brad and Jonathan with a huge bottle of water

Brad and Jonathan have long been fans and supporters of Chautauqua. Brad told me attending has been on his bucket list for years. By mid-week both separately came up to me and said basically, “I knew this would be great. My expectations were very high. But, I had no idea…” You can hear them capture the essence of the Chautauqua experience perfectly and in their own words at the beginning of this episode


We are still finalizing plans for next year, but I can give you a few insights.

In the spring we’ll be returning to the United Kingdom and to the same venue as in 2017. Why?

This is why:

Then in the fall we head to Portugal for the first time ever.

If all goes to plan, the speakers above will be returning as will the incredible JD Roth. JD was a speaker at the very first Chautauqua. He is a great friend and we are thrilled to have him back.

Details, as they come together, will appear first on the official website:

FI Chautauqua

Sometime in the next couple of months we’ll make a formal announcement and open up for ticket sales. As always, we limit the number of attendees to less than 30, a total of only 58 spots. Keeping the group small and intimate is part of the magic. But it also means tickets go very fast.

First word will go out to those on our mailing list. Add yourself here:

Mailing List


So far there have been 11 Chautauquas and only ~300 people have been able to attend. By design, the group size is small and our band-width for doing them is limited. It is not designed for everyone and only a small fraction of even those who have the desire will ever have the opportunity. (also see this comment)

We have had attendees from all over the world and every continent except Antarctica. They have been of every race and multiple nationalities. They have ranged in age from 17 to their seventies (minimum age is now 18). They have been of all religions and sexual orientations. They have ranged from those early on their FI journey to those fully there to an entrepreneur/CEO who just stepped away from the tech company he started and took public.

Those who do attend are forever Chautauquans. The bond they share with those from their own week is incredible, but so is the instant bond when they meet fellow Chautauquans from other weeks. It is amazing, and for me a privilege, to see.

If it is on your bucket list, perhaps we’ll see you in 2019. We are excited to have you join us!


As promised, some additional posts that published after I first put mine up:

Amanda captures the magic of one of the week’s excursions:

The God of Wine and the Majesty of Mount Olympus

This guest post from Brandon is really not about Chautauqua, but the story came out of Chautauqua and it is a great lesson worth hearing:

How to get a Raise: The Path Less Traveled to FI

Shaun was inspired at Chautauqua to start his own blog, complete with his own Chautauqua post:

Discovering Inspiration in Greece

From Kathy:

FI Chautauqua Revisited: Why I Love These People

“There’s something about being with a group of open-minded, positive people that spurs creativity…encouraged to see the possibilities beyond our own limiting beliefs.”

Greece, 2018 was Kathy and Brett’s second Chautauqua. They are joining us in Portugal 2019 for their third!


Old Post

For some reason, this old post has been getting some traffic of late. It is always nice to see these getting some attention and it is fun, for me anyway, to re-read them. In this one I tell the sad tale of the time I bought my mother a condo…

Case Study #10: Should Josiah buy his parents a house?


The Korean edition of The Simple Path to Wealth is out!




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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
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  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Yeah, seems these last couple of times someone always brings a drone and, man, it makes for some cool video.

      But it still creeps me out when it is just hovering there, looking at me for the group shots. I just know it is looking at me. 😉

  1. FIRECracker says

    Great summary, Godfather! That Chautauqua video gives me ALL the FEELs. Brandon really captured the feeling of meeting your tribe perfectly. It’s the best feeling in the world. Can’t wait for next year! Here’s to making each Chautauqua more epic than the last! *cheers*

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Having you and Wanderer on the team has helped take Chautauqua to a whole new level.

      Thanks for all your incredible work! 🙂 🙂

      Can’t wait to get back to “our” manor house in the UK, and Portugal! 🙂

  2. Susan @ FI Ideas says

    As one of the lucky attendees, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. If I go back, it will be to bring my husband, because in spite of all the wonderful stories, you have to be there to really get it.

    There were so many takeaways, but one that we enjoyed last night at home was watching the movie “Tag”, recommended by another Chautauquan. It is the story of grown men continuing a lifelong game of tag. It has the excellent quote that seemed to be part of the Chautaquan experience:

    “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Susan…

      We were lucky to have you there!

      If you choose to return, we’d love to meet your husband as well. Maybe one of the “dragged along” spouse stories will help.

      Thanks for the Tai Chi lesson! 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      We have gone a bit upscale of late and it has been great, but Ecuador was awesome and will always have a special place in my heart. 🙂

  3. Kevin says

    Wonderful video and post. As a past attendee, I can wholeheartedly say that it is absolutely worth it! Looking back, I do not even recall what we spent…but I will always remember the people, friendships and memories from the Chautauqua that we attended in 2016. You’ve definitely put together something special. Congrats on the continued (and growing) popularity!

  4. Cutting through chaos says

    Jim, it was a real pleasure to join you in Greece. Thank you for sharing your Chautauqua’s with all of us, for picking such amazing organizers in Alan and Katie, and for arranging a bunch of rock star presenters.

    And if you ever have a potential attendee sitting on the fence – feel free to send them to Mrs Chaos or I and we’re more than happy to talk some sense into them. And dont worry, Mrs C now knows who you are!!!

    Looking forward to having you and your lovely wife visit us some time!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks CtC…

      It was awesome having you there!

      I agree, Alan and Katie do an incredible job pulling these together and trust me when I say, it ain’t easy. I am so very grateful to have found them.

      For every Chautauqua, our slate of speakers is a bit different but they are always amazing. We pick them not just because they give good talks, but because they are the kind of people we want to hang around with. Seems to work. 🙂

      We’d love to visit you guys. It has been too long since we’ve been to Africa and never to where you are. Thanks for the invite!

  5. Matt says


    Looks like a great time!

    I wonder why the price tag has to be so high? As people who are super efficient optimizers, why not choose a country with super low costs (Thailand, Colombia, etc.) and have an event that is more affordable and FI-friendly to everyone? Restaurants/banquet halls located within these countries would no doubt be much much cheaper to use for the events.

    Also, are these events a profit generating endeavor? Are the attendees supplementing the costs of the speakers (travel and lodging costs)?


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Matt…

      The basic answer to your question is that Chautauquas are designed to be exactly what I want them to be and they cost what it takes to make them that way.

      As I touch on in the beginning of this post, when I went looking for an event like these in 2011-12 I found it didn’t exist. So I created it.

      I had no idea if anyone would care or show up. That’s the risk one takes.

      But they did. It sold out in three weeks and we had a waiting list of people wanting to come. Every year since then it has sold out even faster and the wait lists are longer. Already we cannot accommodate all those who wish to experience it.

      Chautauqua is not designed to be cheap, it is designed to be awesome.

      Is it expensive? That depends on the individual’s perspective, as I explain in this post:

      For some who come, it is a large, carefully considered expense. For others, the price is pocket change. Money is relative. But in all cases, attendees report their expectations exceeded and having received great value for their money. That’s the goal.

      Chautauqua is absolutely a for-profit business.

      Alan and Katie work extremely hard pulling these together and I want them to be very well paid for their efforts. I believe in people getting paid for their work.

      As for the speakers, we cover all their costs during the event and give them $1000 in travel expenses. If they travel-hack their way to our destination for less, they get to keep the balance. If they spend more, it is on them. We also pay them a small stipend for their services.

      In short the Chautauqua formula works, demand far exceeds our ability to meet it and it is exactly what I want it to be. I have no desire to put in the time and energy to create and operate an alternative version.

      Sounds like Chautauqua is not the event you are looking for, but there are many less expensive ones available in the FI community. If none of those meet your expectations either, you can do what I did: Start your own.

      Good luck!

    • Carl says

      Hey Matt!

      Chautauqua is something special and magical. I have the unique viewpoint of having gone both as an attendee and speaker. Both times, I left a different person than the one I was when I arrived. Since you’re coming at it from the viewpoint of the attendee, I’ll focus on that though.

      Getting together a small group of like-minded people in a wonderful setting leads to a special experience and deep connections. I’m not the most eloquent human, so it’s difficult to wrap my mind around it exactly, but you feel from the start like you’re with 30 good friends who you’ll bump into for the rest of your life.

      Chautauqua means something a little different to everone, but I’ve seen many of the attendees make life course-corrections as a result of the conversations there. An international flight is expensive, but figuring out some deep truths about yourself and making significant changes as a result is priceless.

      And you have to be there to appreciate the planning that goes into this thing It’s an incredible amount of effort that starts many months before the event. In Greece, I saw Alan and Katie work almost nonstop every waking hour.

      In any case, if you’re looking for something else, you may want to check out Camp FIs. It’s not the same experience (short and less intimate), but it may be more up your alley.

      However, don’t dismiss Chautauqua either. I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to attend these events.

  6. Luis says

    Hi Jim,

    A great time had by all. I wish we could attend but with four adorable little monsters and a fifth due in mid January, we’ll have to experience Chautauqua through this blog. Or, as I mentioned to Katie, maybe you can have one at Big Sky, MT just 30 miles from where I live?!?!

    Semper FI,

    • jlcollinsnh says

      If ever I were to pick a location for somebody, it would be you Luis.

      But you’d still be a week away from your family and I couldn’t do that to them. 😉

      Congrats on the coming 5th. Seems retirement agrees with you. 🙂

  7. Reina says

    I am just so impressed and grateful for your vision and execution on creating this unexplainable event! It was truly amazing, powerful and life altering.

    What is so incredibly cool about the event is exactly what you say- “hanging out with cool people having cool conversations”. Although somehow that doesn’t quite do it justice.

    The opportunity to come together with like minded people on a similar journey is just so powerful. The way we could just start conversations at 5 levels below what we do in our “normal” life was so great. In fact, I’ve been implementing some of this with my friends back home.

    Since Chautauqua I’ve found myself asking better questions, asking others to take action, acknowledging people for what I appreciate about them and most importantly learning how to listen better. And that’s just after returning a couple weeks ago!! I know the ripple effects will continue on…

    I can’t imagine money better spent. Thank you, thank you. I love my Chautauquan family. xo

  8. Retired Immigrant says

    What a great idea of getting same minded group of people together in different parts of the world.

    I am definitely signing up for next one! Just got myself on mailing list.

  9. Holly says

    It has been a dream for my husband and me to go to the UK. We have it on our bucket list when the kids are a little bit older so they can remember some of it. We are working on our points.

    Now after I went to FinCon I really want to go to Chautauqua even more. Someday! 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Holly!

      More and more I hear people say Chautauqua is on their bucket list. Give me a chill each time. 🙂

      It has been a few years since I’ve been to FinCon, but it was a great time. Chautauqua, of course, is an entirely different experience. 😉

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