We left our jobs about eight months ago and headed for early retirement. In this post I would like to share what I have learned so far. What are some of the positives, and what are some of the challenges.
The luxury of more time
Time to linger
One of the best things to me has been the chance to simply slow down a bit and not rush around all the time. When I come home from a morning run I can linger a bit afterwards. There’s time to catch my breath, maybe check on the plants in the garden, or maybe take a look at that sticky garage door.
I am out in the neighborhood quite a bit walking our dogs. Now when I run into a neighbor, I have time to catch up. There’s no need to cut things short because I’m already thinking about the next place I need to be.
I love the flexibility early retirement has given us. We can now make dinner reservations for a Tuesday night, and not have to worry about that 7:00 am meeting the next day. We can go places during times when not everyone else is there also. That saves the hassle of the crowds, and sometimes a little money too.
Time for more activities
The most obvious benefit of early retirement is of course the additional time you gain. Full time employment takes up at least 10-12 hours per day – when you consider getting ready in the morning, commuting, lunch hour, etc.
We have already used the extra time in a variety of ways:
- New hobbies
- Spending more time on existing hobbies
- Exercising and getting into better shape
But is early retirement without any downsides? What might be some of the challenges?
What is your foot print?
One of the things I have begun to think about a bit lately is the topic of purpose. Being bored has not been a problem at all so far. The days are flying by and there’s really never a shortage of things to do. “How did I ever have time to work” seems to be a common theme I hear from other retirees. But being occupied is not the same thing as having a purpose. What is the foot print I want to leave in this world? Do I need to add activities that provide more meaning?
An interesting question is whether the jobs I held previously provided that purpose, or if they simply kept me so busy that I didn’t have time to ponder the question. I haven’t figured that out yet. In general, having a job makes dealing with these questions easier though. After all, paid employment is an activity sanctioned by society, and is often seen as synonymous with purpose.
Almost everyone else is working
Let’s face it. Very few people retire early. That means that your friends are likely at work when you’re looking for someone to go hiking with at 10 in the morning. And they’re probably still at work when you get back, and are now pondering a visit to your local brewpub’s patio on that perfect summer afternoon. Those are the logistical challenges.
But you also need to be comfortable with the fact that you’re living a lifestyle that is different than that of most of your peers. If you’re not comfortable living a bit outside of the mainstream, then early retirement could be a challenge.
All in all, no question, early retirement has been great so far. It has truly been a privilege to be able to leave our jobs early and gain more of that most precious commodity – time.
But as it is with most things in life, early retirement also comes with its own set of challenges. There are things to be prepared for in order to maximize the overall experience.
What are the best or worst things about early retirement that you have experienced or anticipate experiencing?