Make life awesome by living off peak

Published August 12, 2015   Posted in How to Retire

Let’s face it, virtually everything about life is better, cheaper and less stressful when lived off peak.  Doing things when everybody else isn’t.

Lines are shorter, traffic is lighter and even the cost of electricity is lower.  Not only that, but finding some damn peace and solitude is much more easy to achieve!  As a working adult, I like quiet time.

Make life awesome by living off peakNote to my future early retired self – write another article in a couple years bragging of how wonderful it is to spend the weekdays being productive and the weekends home and away from crowds.

Often, crowds and long lines form in the areas where you probably don’t want to be.  Every year I watch a strange robotic ritual of seemingly intelligent, successful people sleep on sidewalks and stand for hours in line to drop hundreds of dollars on cheaply made Apple “stuff” – and are evidently happy for the privilege of paying the price!

Equally strange, back when I used to commute into an office, I had the distinct honor of driving by a Starbucks and witnessing the drive-through line backup into a lane of traffic to enable those drivers, unwilling to employ the use of their perfectly functional legs, to procure their over-priced fancy-shmancy coffee.

In Vegas, young 20 and 30-somethings will stand in line for hours to pay an expensive cover charge for the frilly privilege of entering a prestigious night club, fully prepared to kick back over-priced drinks while inadvertently rubbing ass cheeks with the majority of the people in there.

Peace and solitude - Spokane, WA

Peace and solitude – Spokane, WA

And speaking of rubbing ass cheeks, I will never understand why hordes of people assemble in Times Square every year to watch some brightly-colored spherical object slowly descend down some mechanical apparatus at mid-night on New Years.  People standing for hours, holding in their bathroom necessities, pretending that this is just something they “need to experience”, just for the privilege of watching something that’s over in just a matter of seconds.  Good lord, why?

Move away.  Just…move away

More times than not, when you notice people lined up, turn around and get the hell away because you are most likely in the proximity of others paying good money for stupid things.  Even when no money is involved, have crowds ever, in the history of the universe, made your enjoyment of something any better?

How about sporting events?  Don’t the crowds of people neatly sitting around a large venue watching absurdly over-paid athletes enhance the excitement of the game?  Hell no!  Most of us know how to cheer and yell at our televisions by watching the game at home, though I’m sure being repeatedly kicked by the guy behind you who’s getting trashed off of cheap alcohol is a wonderful experience.

Or even worse, rock concerts.  What better way to enhance your joy and wonderment of your favorite band than by uncomfortably standing in an over-crowded arena listening to the band lip-sync to their own music, which could otherwise be heard in the comfort of your own home – headphones optional, at far better quality, comfort and enjoyment?

Isn’t this why private sky boxes and exclusive club seats exist at large, crowded venues?  Stadiums are giving people the inane opportunity to avoid crowds at crowded events.

We all get to experience a little of this off-peakiness on vacations, don’t we?  We hate visiting national parks and other beautiful areas of our country on the weekend because that is when everybody else is there.  When work drains 5 days a week out of your life, the weekend is your only real chance to escape.

Take our trip to Glacier National Park.  We hiked pleasant uncrowded trails during the Thursday and Friday of our trip, but once Saturday rolled around, traffic was noticeably heavier, trails more packed and parking lots were akin to watching ants clumsily bang into each other as they aimlessly wander from place to place in some sort of confining container for scientific study.

Not only are parks and trails more crowded over the weekend, you gotta be flat insane to set foot in a shopping mall when the majority of the population is out of work and ready to spend that hard-earned cash.  Or how about going to a popular movie on opening night?  What makes a movie popular, anyway, before anyone has seen it?  Oh, right…clever marketers.  But I digress.

A 5-minute trip up to the damn grocery store during rush hour traffic turns into a 20-minute obscenity-laced, fist-pounding death-defying activity.

Of all the benefits of retirement, this might be the sweetest of them all – or at the very least, the next best thing to avoiding spending 8 to 10 hours a day in a fluorescent-lit box – otherwise known as the “office” – full of managers dropping by to figure out why you forgot to put the new damn cover sheet on your TPS reports.  The company sent a memo, you know. Your manager will make sure that you get another copy of that memo.

I want nothing to do with the peak.  I want to hike at 10am on a Tuesday, dammit.  I want to run out to grab another head of lettuce mid-afternoon in a mostly-empty grocier.  I want to hit the gym in late morning, after the early risers and before the lunch-break crowd.

Work or no work, we’re done with crowds and on-peak living.  We hate the stress required to navigate the maze, the noise, the time, the expense.  After retirement – and to some degree, NOW – the weekend will be our time to stay away from the crowds, stay off the streets, and just relax.  Come Monday morning, we’re at it again, exploring our beautiful world in peace and relative quiet.  We will quickly learn to hate weekends and holidays, much preferring the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest…while the rest of the world is at work.

How much time and money do you think can be saved when enjoying your life…off peak hours?

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12 responses to “Make life awesome by living off peak”

  1. Last year was my first year living in NYC for New Years, and I actually left the city and headed back to my home state since I didn’t want to deal with all the nuts funneling into the city to see the ball drop. I totally agree with you on the crowds. It’s so much easier running errands during the week, during 9-5, since most people are at work. Once I hit FI, the weekends will not involve running errands 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Hey Fervent! Yup, if I lived in NYC, you could bet that I’d probably do the same thing – if I had anywhere to go during New Years, I’d probably make that trip if I lived close enough to Times Square. That whole scene seems just plain horrible.

      I’m definitely with you on the weekend comment. I’m gonna try my best to stay in, where ever I happen to be, on the weekends and holidays. 🙂

  2. Maggie says:

    While I mostly agree with this sentiment (weekends especially), I do live in Alaska, where it’s pretty fun to come off-season for the Iditarod, etc., but you miss out on a lot of things in the winter. Everything is pretty closed up and the glaciers are covered with snow! 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Indeed, I can definitely see where both off and on-peek up in Alaska offers a welcome change. I’m definitely not a cold weather kind of person, though. I’d have a rough time up there in the winter. 🙂

  3. Retire29 says:

    Awesome Post, Steve! I’m envious at the thought of grocery shopping in the middle of a Tuesday, when the store manager is actually there and customer service actually has a person behind it.

    It certainly sounds appealing to me. It’s almost like there’s this alternate universe living alongside our own 9-5 universe. Except, in the alternate universe, there’s a whole lot less stress.

    Thanks for posting,

  4. Stockbeard says:

    I’ll slightly disagree here. although I tend to hate crowds, waiting in line, etc… there are some events where being a part of something bigger than oneself makes you feel good.

    This is a random and stupid example, especially since I’m not a huge soccer fan, but I still vividly remember the excitement of being part of a huge crowd in my city when France won the world cup in 1998. That one day made me understand why people like to gather at… well any event really. There’s a strong feeling of being part of a united community. Even when it lasts only for a few hours, this is some very powerful feeling here. I assume people who go to the church, etc… have the same kind of feeling going on.

    I wouldn’t categorize “waiting in line for the next iPhone” as the same kind of feeling though, because I assume when people wait in line for that kind of stuff, they must hate the 100 people in front of them, and secretly laugh at the 100 people behind them.

  5. Your story about Glacier NP reminds me of every trip we’ve taken to Smoky Mountains NP. Every trail is packed with daytrippers, section-hikers and thru-hikers since we tend to travel in the peak season making it difficult to stop and enjoy the surroundings.

  6. Gira says:

    I agree with Stockbeard. I have been to festivals and concerts where I have really enjoyed connecting with other people and crowd-watching in general.
    For everything else, I will take the off-peak hours!

  7. Jason says:

    I do think that you are right to an extent, particularly traveling. For example, my wife and I have been to Iceland a couple of times, but have gone over Thanksgiving. We dont’ have to deal with all the people around here and it is much cheaper to go. I think exploring Europe and other places can be nice during the winter and much more expensive. However, there are some events that do require a large crowd. For example, Times Square at midnight on NYE. I think there is something magical about that. Or when I stood in line for Star Wars tickets to the Phantom Menace in 1999 (yes i am a geek). Even though it wasn’t the best Star Wars it was great to be among other people and see a bit of comraderie. I think this also comes with the idea of whether or not you want lots of people around, is someone more solitary, etc. I thrive on those situations. I am not talking about crowds to get an Apple product, but to see a sporting event or be in bar with a huge crowd during the Super Bowl is much more enjoyable to me than spending watching it at home because of the atmosphere. But to each his own.

  8. Hear, hear! Though we won’t be giving up live music anytime soon, and comedy movies really are funnier in a crowd. 🙂 We live in an area that gets lots of tourists, so we live the whole peak/off-peak thing in a big way. You’d have to be out of your mind to go to Safeway here on a Friday or Saturday unless you go at 6 a.m. (no exaggeration). And the difference between crowds on the ski slopes — it’s a BFD. We’re completely with you in *aspiring* to live off-peak, but we can’t quite swing it just yet. Once our early retirement gets here, though — different story! Nothing will make us happier than never skiing another Saturday again in our lives. 😉

  9. Tre says:

    I’ve been lucky to work remotely for the last couple years. I have taken advantage of hitting the gym late morning and the grocery store when everyone else is at work. It is wonderful!

    • Steve says:

      Hi Tre!

      Yup, I work from home as well and love going up to the gym around 10am. That seems to be the sweet spot in the morning between the am and lunch crowd. Good call. 🙂

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