After six months of early retirement…

Published July 3, 2017   Posted in In Retirement

I retired from full-time work six months ago. Imagine that, a whole half year. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but I’m damn near half way toward the anniversary of another year gone by since birth without a job. Amazing to think about if you ask me.

Me and the pee

Let me plainly state that I find blog posts that only talk about the rosy side of virtually any lifestyle – early retirement or otherwise – to be wholly unhelpful at best and flat deceptive at worst. Early retirement is still life. There’s still shit that you gotta do. Shit that you hate. Early retirement isn’t some magic pill that transports us straight into the land of fairies and sunshine. Life still happens, work or no work. The main diff is happiness.

This post is about that. About everything I’ve found to be true after six months of early retirement. Is early retirement all that it’s cracked up to be?

Oh my gosh – yes.

I do not miss work

…like, not even a little. I don’t miss the presumed socialization of working a full-time job. I don’t miss the structure or the tasks. I certainly don’t miss the performance reviews, all-staff meetings or listening to mission statements or project managers stress the importance of tight schedules that are “out of their hands”, but still need to be adhered to for the good of the project.

I do not miss the intellectual curiosity that apparently surrounds many people’s full-time jobs. I suppose it was there for me at some level, but I never appreciated it because I absorbed very little satisfaction out of my work. My job was something that I had to do to fund my chosen lifestyle. That was it. Nothing more.

Not once did I find myself wandering aimlessly through the forest pondering the uselessness of life because there was no J.O.B. structure to keep me pointed toward some end goal or meaning – giving me “direction”. No job has ever defined me. I don’t extract meaning out of life from the corporate structure, client meetings or unrealistic schedules that jobs drill into us.

The fact is I love the freedom ingrained in controlling what I do with my time. I get up in the morning whenever I damn well please. I blog. I record video. I work on projects that interest me, and I certainly don’t worry about money. Money worries have no place in ER.

I enjoy saying “I’m retired”

I admit it – I enjoy the look on people’s faces when I say that I’m retired, which is invariably followed up with “You’re too young to retire”.

Umm, no I’m not.

Sure, I could say that I work in information technology or some other more common please-don’t-ask-me-questions job function, but quite frankly, I am proud of what my wife and I have done. I am proud of the fact that we are retired, and I am definitely not afraid to tell people about it. In truth, some of the most intellectually-stimulating conversations that I’ve had since retiring early has been with folks who appreciated the financial discipline it took to retire early.

Virtually everyone appreciates the tradeoff we made. We live in a 200 square foot Airstream and travel for a living instead of hunkering down in a 2,000 square foot palace. Our homes in first world nations ARE palaces compared to other parts of the world. We have it damn good in the United States and countries like ours. Damn good. Many of us don’t realize how good we have it.

“I’m retired” opens up a whole other dimension of conversation that we would never otherwise get. We talk finances, but more than that, we talk about dedication and meaning. Happiness. “What made you choose to retire early?”

Ah, flood gates open. I can literally talk for hours about my desire to retire early. I can’t stand the burden of a full-time job, and I never truly appreciated how much of our productive life spans that full-time jobs ruthlessly steal from us.

We don’t miss being stationary

Charlie beneath the Nevada sunset

While there are some people who love the thought of owning a piece of property, we definitely aren’t one of those people. We don’t need a “house to come back to”. We have a house and it happens to have wheels. It’s always with us. Nearly 100% of our possessions are with us all the time, which makes things simple. And cheap.

We can’t buy things on the spur of the moment. Everything we buy we consider to be a replacement for some other item in the Airstream. Something IN means something OUT. It helps keep our lifestyle fundamentally easy and light-weight.

We miss nothing about our stationary home. The property taxes. The yard work and other maintenance. The square footage to clean. Nothing about our sticks and bricks home do we wish we still had. Most of the time, we are out in the middle of nature.

Nature, though, has its downsides. It’s bloody dirty. Within a day or two of everywhere we go, a nice coating of dust and dirt gets on everything. Not just the interior of the Airstream, but literally everything. The outside. All the stuff we keep in our truck’s bed – basically, our “garage”. It all gets so damn dirty, so damn fast.

That’s the price we pay for living scott free out in the middle of the wilderness. And solar, but that’s also pretty bad-ass.

Our rise and shine is much more normal, too

We generally get out of bed at a normal hour now, too. Back when we maintained full-time jobs, we were up by 5:30 am and in bed around 8:30 pm. Now, we generally crawl out of bed between 7:30 and 8:00 am after a complete night of sleep.

We still rise with the sun, but not the minute that the sun cracks the horizon.

Breakfast is at 9 instead of 7. Bedtime is between 10 and 11 pm instead of 8:30. We lead lives with a schedule closer to the schedules of the rest of us, which means the timing is much more conducive to socialization. Happy hours no longer send us home tired and exhausted as they once had. We can keep up with you people, now.

In fact, I’m writing this post at 11:00 pm on a Tuesday night, well after the sun has gone down and our part of the world settled in for the night. No job to wake up to tomorrow morning. Amazing.

Is there a downside to early retirement?

I gotta be honest with you people – I thought about this question long and hard. We just don’t miss a lot from our previous life. Yes, I love going out to eat…especially at breweries. We can’t do that as much now because we’re on a budget. Yet, we’re making money hand-over-fist in the stock market, but we all know that’ll change one day because the market ebbs and flows.

We don’t miss the commutes. We don’t miss the stress. Hell, we don’t even really miss the money. My job never did define who I was, and thus, it served as very little loss for me after I called it quits.

Of course, we also completely changed our lifestyle too. We sold both of our homes and the vast majority of our possessions and live full-time in an Airstream. A hell of a lot changed in our lives over the past six months. I miss daily hot showers. I don’t especially enjoy all the dirt.

But hey, it is what it is.

There isn’t much of a downside, thus far, to our lives post-retirement. We love the freedom. It’s an incredible feeling to not have that constant draw of full-time work over your mind and body. Living off peak is pretty bad ass.

We track our net worth using Personal Capital



Comments

68 responses to “After six months of early retirement…”

  1. Kristin says:

    I read a lot of FIRE articles whose authors give a lot of emphasis on making sure you have a whole system ready to replace what that J.O.B structure presumably gave you. And maybe that is true for some people – people that lack hobbies, people who are less disciplined about life, or people whose natural personality style craves affirmation from others. But I’m aligned with you Steve. I’m not going to miss any of the corporate life bullshit. I don’t need that to define who I am or how to spend my time. And I will absolutely enjoy saying “I’m retired”!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Kristin! Yup, the J.O.B. definitely didn’t give me much in the way of a sense of direction, so it was no great loss once it wasn’t there. I can find other ways to provide for my happiness, thank you very much! 🙂

  2. MyStrategicDollar says:

    Awesome post! So glad you’re enjoying retirement! Congrats on reaching that goal and enjoying yourselfs.

    I agree with Kristin’s comment above. If you can design a system that helps provide structure and an outlet for work and entertainment, you should be set!

  3. The part about sleeping and rising at normal hours sounds great.

    Out of all the parts about having a job, I’d say that’s the part I like the least. The unnatural hours of waking up really throw my body out of whack.
    I’d much rather prefer to wake up with my body’s own alarm clock than a digital one.

    • Steve says:

      Amen to that! We find that we naturally wake up around sunrise – maybe a little after now, so it’s been much more natural. 🙂

  4. Congrats on six months. The real surprising for me is you knew the day of the week. I’ve found on the few times I’m away from work I lose track of which day it is since my days don’t follow a day of he week routine. Do you have kind of a weekly cadence or do you play it by ear?

    • Steve says:

      We generally play it by ear. Half the time I don’t know what day of the week it is…but you can generally tell by the level of traffic on the roads, or crowds in campgrounds! 🙂

  5. The Green Swan says:

    Love the honest view! Especially considering that is one thing I give a lot of thought about… Life after the JOB and how it’ll suit me…

    Great point in intellectual curiosity… You definitely don’t need that from your JOB, you can get that elsewhere.

    Also love how you have no shame in saying you’ve retired early. You inspire me to do the same and carry that pride once I’ve achieved it. It is one hell of an accomplishment!

    Thanks for the update, Steve!

  6. Money Sloths says:

    Keep the updates coming; love hearing how people in early retirement enjoy their stress free lives.

  7. Thanks for the update Steve. Sometime I need reassurance like this to keep on – keeping on.

  8. TheRetirementManifesto says:

    Steve, I’ve been looking forward to retirement for a long time. After reading your post, I’m looking forward to it even more! 341 more days to go, then 6 more months and I’ll replicate your post. Make a note – it’ll be out in Dec 2018!

  9. Huzzah for six months of freedom! Glad to hear that you aren’t holding back when people ask if you’re retired. I’m not sure I could be that brave since I know how aggressive people can be when it comes to asking about money. They don’t seem to take too kindly to people managing their money more successfully. Imagine that. 😉

  10. DadsDollarsDebts says:

    Ah…I read this as I go to work with a full clinic schedule. Why do so many people want to see me the day before a holiday I ponder? I would rather be out enjoying a California day instead of going to a clinic.

    Another great post. Keep them coming Steve!

    • Steve says:

      Good question, Dads! I’m sure the day after holidays and weekends is pretty busy, too. People waiting until after the fun ends before they get checked out?

  11. I FIREd in 2012.

    The only thing I missed about the J.O.B. were the people I worked with. We were a tight-knit, fun team. I honestly don’t miss that anymore because I’ve found other people to hang with. Like you, I HATED the commute.

    I felt weird say I’m retired. I was 52 in 2012, but people looked at me like maybe I’ve been unemployed for a long time and can’t find a job. Lots of people in their 50s can’t find a job and eventually become “retired.”

    Another weird thing – I actually like weekdays now more than weekends. On weekdays, I can go out for groceries, exercise, or whatever and nothing is crazy busy or crowded.

    I’m very thankful that I’m not a Wage Slave grinding out another day at work. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      I can see missing the people. It becomes like a community after a while. And I totally like weekdays better than weekends as well. There are more people on the roadways it seems, but less people in campgrounds and other areas that we like to hang!

  12. Maarten says:

    I was passing an airstream yesterday and thought, hmm I wonder if…. congrats on the 6 months. I too love the faces I get when I say “uhm, I’m retired”.

  13. YellowWLS says:

    You know better than anyone else that “You’re too young to retire” really means “I’m jealous I didn’t do this myself.”

  14. It’s so refreshing hearing that you don’t miss work at all! I strongly suspect I’ll feel the same. I’m getting closer to my midway-point solution of going freelance and at least ditching most of the more soul-deadening components of my job, like pointless meetings and presenteeism pressure. I sometimes wonder if I’ll feel guilty when I can finally set my own schedule, so it’s great to hear from those who’ve truly made it to the other side of work!

    • Steve says:

      I bet you won’t feel guilty. Retiring early will be a decision that you made and actively worked hard to achieve. Absolutely no reason to feel bad about that. 🙂

  15. I was in Jamaica last week. Both traveling TO and back FROM the customs people pressed my for an occupation. I got funny looks when I said I was retired (since I’m in my 40s). The US guy actually pressed and made me tell him what I “retired from”. Not sure why they care, but apparently they do. Anyway, I also enjoy answering “retired!” when someone asks what I do. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      We are going to Puerto Vallarta in January, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I get the same sort of thing going on there. What am I retired from? How about full-time work? 🙂

  16. Love that dirt is one of your biggest problems right now! Certainly could be worse! People think I retired last week – and I did, but they are all assuming I hit 55 and retired *which is the earliest educators in our state can draw a pension). I’m finding myself defending my age a little. “Just turned 50 and yep, I retired – well, left work…) it gets a little confusing for folks! Maybe I just need to let the age thing go!

    • Steve says:

      Yup, certainly could be worse! 🙂

      Age is nothing but a state of mind. If you act and feel young, that’s all that matters. I act like a 5 year old…so… 🙂

  17. TSR,

    Thanks for sharing this article. I bet it’s tough missing those local craft brews, but hey if it means less stress, less forced commitment of time to tasks that you don’t enjoy, then it’s definitely worth the trade off. Looking forward to a one year article, that’s for sure, to see if anything has changed.

    -Lanny

  18. Congrats on making it a half a year into early retirement! I couldn’t imagine I will miss anything about my job when I no longer need it. My co-workers offer up excuses to continue their careers like they would be bored if they retired early. Ha! What a laugh and a half. I would never be bored without a job. Like you, I get very little satisfaction from my W-2. I get way more satisfaction from writing my blog than I do from completing a project for my employer. I just like the freedom of it. I’m sure early retirement will come with challenges of its own, but I’m willing to tackle them 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Yeah, you’ll never find a perfect situation, but you definitely can find ones that are more suitable to your desired way of life – that’s for sure!

  19. This is the first summer that I’ve not taught summer school. And I miss it a lot less than I thought I would. I know I’m a bit of an outlier in the sense that I really do enjoy teaching, and I really do miss it when I’m not. But that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate all the other ways to making “teaching lite” a fine substitution — like tutoring a few kiddos every week and teaching an online PL course. I could get dangerously used to this!

    So glad that you’ve always been so candid about your journey. It’s been great to follow along on the blog and through all of your photos!

  20. Mr. Tako says:

    Congrats on a successful 6 month Steve! My first 6 months almost seemed like a dream. Of course I was taking care of our baby son at the time, so the lack of sleep might have had something to do with it!

    Like you, I don’t miss the J.O.B. for one second. Life is WAY better after retiring.

  21. Kirk says:

    Steve,
    You’re my Hero! I’m 50 and have enough liquid assets to retire now myself, with the exception of this….HEALTHCARE COSTS! I am a type 1 Diabetic and my monthly prescriptions are costly if it weren’t for co-pays with the insurance provided by my corporate job. What a dilemma I face. I’m postponing early retirement until we have a definitive repeal/replacement of ACA. What good does it do for me to pay off my mortgage, only to spend same amount of money each morn of health insurance for my family, UNAFFORDABLE insurance I might add.
    Regardless Steve, I live your life story and today’s blog posting. It inspires me….
    Kirk

    • Steve says:

      I hear that, Kirk. Health insurance is pretty unaffordable for us, too, since we are on the move 100%. Traveling health insurance is tough to find for a reasonable price. “Affordable” Care Act? Hmm…perhaps for some.

  22. Ben says:

    Hi Steve,

    It’s nice to know that you have enjoyed your early retirement. Frankly, I think that everyone can retire early. It’s the matter of giving up the material enjoyment.

    Ben

  23. Both pictures are great. They should the awesomeness and reality of RV life.

    To me, my JOB still brings joy to me. Maybe that is because I quit the golden corporate handcuffs job Nd no work in a small structure. Time will tell

    • Steve says:

      I always enjoyed working for smaller companies too, but even then, there was just too much “jobiness” in it all for me to truly enjoy it enough to stick with it. But if it works for you, I say keep doing it until it doesn’t.

  24. Steve,

    I love reading your posts about how life is after retirement, and I become even more set on my own goal of achieving early retirement every time.

    Keep us updated on your retirement 🙂

    Onwards,
    Carl

  25. Miss Mazuma says:

    “My job was something that I had to do to fund my chosen lifestyle.” This is a key take away for me. Luckily my chosen lifestyle doesn’t cost to much!
    I also appreciate you mentioning that you don’t miss it at all. There are so many people who talk about how weird it will be to not go to work one day. They feel they will lose their identities because their job is so much of who they are. To me, it’s preposterous! Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but to think I won’t be of value because I am no longer a flight attendant is silly. Even if you have a high paying high power position, do you think less of yourself when you were on your way up? I suppose some do and that, to me, is tragic.

    I am counting down the days to FI and then to actual retirement. I have to say, knowing that I HAVE to work makes work a bit less enjoyable than it was before I learned about early retirement. Back then, I figured I could continue this job until the cows came home (never been a farmer so that might take awhile!). Knowing what I know now makes me feel somewhat enslaved until I can financially stand on my own two feet. That being said, I am grateful to have a job that has me living semi retired. The 20 days I can wake up on my own sure beat the 5 or 10 times a month I have to set an alarm! 😉

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate the insight, Miss Mazuma. Being a flight attendant sounds like a very unique opportunity. Get to see new things. New people. Not just the same light gray/blue cubicle day in and day out. That’s definitely a perk! 🙂

  26. Alex-FiftyWeekVacation says:

    You guys are an inspiration! I’d never given it much thought that things would get that dirty in the airstream, but to take care of that rather than a TPS report? Yeah, we would both get our hands dirty!

    Keep up the awesome work, you rock!

  27. […] of my favorite writers, Steve at Think Save Retire, discusses the 6 months he has lived in an RV. While there have been some hiccups, he would do it again in a heart beat. I personally am debating […]

  28. Joe says:

    Time flies man. Pretty soon it will be one year and then two years, etc… I’ve been out for 5 years and it still feels like a dream. I can’t imagine going back to work now. It’s awesome that you don’t miss much about your old life. That’s an affirmation of your choice. I don’t miss working at all. Life is so much better now. Enjoy!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Joe! And yeah – I’m right there with ya about my previous life. If I don’t miss it, that means we definitely made the right decision. 🙂

  29. SteveK says:

    I share your attitude toward the JOB. It’s a tool for living. If you can build a great life without that tool, then you’ve figured out something that most people cannot figure out – or don’t want to figure out.

    • Steve says:

      I think it’s a little of both. It’s just standard operating procedure I guess in our society to work the majority of your life, then retire when you’re 65. Most don’t give it a second thought.

  30. So. Damn. Jealous. 🙂 Congrats on the six months! Will you do an update on your net worth or are you over that?

    I’ll never tire of your sunset photos…well any of your photos.

    Thanks for keeping it real Steve!

    • Steve says:

      Hey Amy – yup, I’ll probably do net worths every now and then. I certainly don’t hide that info, but then again, our net worth isn’t all that important to me, either. We are at about $915,000 right now. 🙂

  31. Steve, my man, you are having the time of your life. Keep enjoying retirement and the open road.
    I just discovered your blog so I will definitely check in and read your latest postings about your RV life.

  32. […] Steve from ThinkSaveRetire has now been retired for six months and reading his thoughts and reflections on how it is to be retired makes me so motivated to continue the journey […]

  33. caseywsj says:

    As Jon Stewart so eloquently put it, “You can never retire too early bro!”

  34. Mark says:

    Just came across you blog – Very Impressive. You are living my future dream. Late starter on early retirement. My wife and I are in process of massing as much cash and wealth to provide income so we can retire early. We basically want to do the same as you sell or rent the house, live out of an Airstream and travel the country. Since you are so very young what are you doing for health care? That is a big cost, I would imagine, coming out of your pocket yearly.

  35. TinaP says:

    What is your workout routine like now that you aren’t in one place to be the gym rat you once were? I know you mentioned in a previous post you don’t spend hours in the gym like you thought you may when you had the time, but I’m guessing you still find a way to lift….

  36. […] Steve @ Think Save Retire gained his freedom half a year ago. How’s life? Answers After Six Months of Early Retirement. […]

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