22 Early Retirees Describe What It’s Like To Be Retired

Reading Time: 6 Min 

The hard work we are putting in this year has a goal: to get us closer to the freedom of financial independence. So what exactly does that freedom look and feel like?

 

This was a question I asked myself at the two year countdown to my retirement. I could envision what I didn’t want in my day, but determining what each day would look like was a little harder. I had some ideas, but they all sort of jumbled together into what felt more like a single perfect tableau than a 3-D progression of days and weeks.

 

To help you with your own path forward, I’ve compiled a giant list of accounts from early retirees who have ridden off into the sunset. These are specific snippets from their days or specific thoughts they are tackling as part of early retirement. And they include the good as well as the bad.

 

The most fascinating part to me is how different everyone’s Happily Ever Afters (or Not So Happily Ever Afters) look like. Still, there were a few takeaways for me when  I read through all these accounts.

 

Some Takeaways

  • Retire To Something, Not From Something: Folks generally seem happier with their results if they have retired with concrete ideas of what they want to spend their time doing, not just a list of  things they want to escape.
  • Work Detox Is a Real Thing: The first 3-6 months is generally a detox phase where you will experience anxieties as you confront what activities should be viewed as valuable. Eschewing major decisions during this period is probably a good idea. I actually had read this before I quit and it was the single best piece of advice I got. Post-work brain is crazy, yo. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the crazy.
  • Less Accomplishing Still Leads To More Happying:  You will probably not accomplish as much in a given day as you expect. And you’ll be happy anyway.
  • Mundane Activities Become More Fun: Tasks which may have seemed like chores may become enjoyable due to lack of lines, stress, time crunch. This may lead you to require less expensive activities to give you an adrenaline/serotonin boost than you think.
  • Describing What You Do All Day Is Really Hard: You may be on an international adventure, in which case it doesn’t really sound like a typical day, or you are at home and genuinely enjoying extremely mundane things, which makes you seem like you are being deliberately vague in your answer (i.e. I Netflix, surf the web, make lunch, hang out with friends, and read).
  • Travel Add-Ons Happen Frequently: Your trips may include more destinations than before due to spontaneous add-ons. With time being a less scarce resource, you may find yourself saying “As long as we’re in the area already…” These add-ons often get tacked on en route or as the result of a single conversation while traveling.
  • Death To Alarm Clocks: You probably guessed this one already, but not waking up to an alarm clock is awesome. So awesome that several folks explicitly mention it in their accounts.
  • Really, No Alarm Clocks: Deserves two bullets. It’s that good.

 

Take a look for yourself. Hopefully these will give you some ideas for your own Happily Retired After.

 

The List

The Money Habit

The Money Habit Retirement Series: I should probably start with my own series of posts on the subject. This is a series of vignettes from different days. In short, I’ve learned that the lack of scheduling and stress have created a ton more happiness for me, and having more time has made me enjoy things I previously thought of only as chores. My favorite is this one.

 

Retired Syd

How To Be Lazy Without Even Trying: What actually gets accomplished in a given day. RetiredSyd is one of the most detailed blogs I could find describing what early retirement actually feels like. And it just so happens Syd is an amazing person, too.

 

GoCurryCracker

So You Want To Sail Around The World and So You Want To Be A Farmer: GCC and his wife are travel bugs and talk about their various experiences traveling around the world in early retirement.

 

LivingAFI

Detoxing and Done Detoxing: Two part series on how things have changed since he retired. Part 2, Done Detoxing, is particularly good and true of my own experiences. TFB is real.

 

Root of Good

One Thousand Days of Early Retirement: A reflection post on RoG’s first thousand days of retirement, including a sample hour by hour calendar of a typical week.

 

 

Mr. Money Mustache – Guest Post

The Man Who Thought Early Retirement Sucked: Brandon Turner’s guest post on Mr Money Mustache. The importance of retiring to something and not away from something

 

JLCollinsnh

Wild Turkeys, Motorycyles, Dining Sets, and Greed and My Plan for 2013: A mix of high-level goals and day to day experiences.

 

Where The Coconuts Grow

Tis the Season, For Hurricanes That Is…: Jody and Peter sold everything and now travel around the world on a boat. Yes, I said a boat!

 

Brave New Life

Bored in Retirement? I Don’t Think So: BNL retired at 36 and lives in Colorado with his family.

 

Retirementally Challenged

“ As Long As We’re Going…” Travel: How travel planning changes in early retirement.

 

 

RetireBy40

50 Year Old Goal: Enjoying a  form of early retirement similar to his ordinary life before quitting his job.

 

Financial Samurai

What Does Early Retirement Feel Like?: Sam, the Financial Samurai, had a career in finance and is now retired in the San Francisco area. He goes through the pros and cons of early retirement.

 

Reddit

Retired Early, Now Bored: A bunch of Redditors weigh in on their own early retirement experiences. Suggestions around scheduling out the day, hobbies that focus on creating/producing things, volunteering, and the occasional digression into profanity and other subjects.

 

Our Next Life – Guest Post

What They Don’t Tell You About Retiring Early: Guest post from Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks. What it was like selling his business and retiring early.

 

The Escape Artist

Gap Years For Grown Ups: The Escape Artist shares snippets about a year off the job.

 

 

Money Boss

Taking Control of Time and Life: You may know JD Roth from his previous website, Get Rich Slowly. After selling that website, he and his wife became financially independent and now split their time between Portland and travelling around in their RV. This is a snippet from their day to day experiences.

 

Lacking Ambition

Slacking Away: LA was financially independent at 30 and generates income from landlording activities. Almost all his posts are incredibly thoughtful.

 

To Simplify

Walden: Glenn is a minimalist composer and musician who lives out of a Volkswagen and has adventures around the country.

 

Satisfying Retirement

So, You’re Retired: What Do You Do All Day?: Bob is a former Rock and Roll DJ and researcher for radio stations, now retired in Arizona with his wife. A slice of life from someone with kids, grandkids, and plenty of sun.

 

Mr. Crazy Kicks

What It’s Like 6 Months After Quitting My Job: MCK worked as an engineer for 14 years and is now retired on a suburban homestead in Connecticut. His hobbies include home renovation, brewing, and traveling.

 

 

Quora

What Does It Feel Like To Retire Extremely Early?: More than half a dozen thoughtful responses from early retirees. Some positive, some negative. Scroll towards the bottom to get to the account from folks who have actually retired.

 

Millennial Revolution

Let’s Go Exploring: London: Kristy and Bryce retired in their 30’s, crediting their decision not to own a house with a significant role in achieving their financial independence. They now travel the world.

 

Conclusion

Know of any other posts that should be on the list? Leave a suggestion below and help make this a go-to resource for the community.

 

 

 

 

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9 Responses

  1. I’ve been having a lot of the same takeaways as you. I feel like I’m finally getting through the work detox and settled in. Not being a morning person, I also love not having an alarm clock wake me up anymore 🙂

    Great list, and thanks for the mention!

  2. NOVAgal says:

    Thanks for the great post, JP!
    A somewhat unrelated question. I know you and several others have advocated a 100 percent stock portfolio for someone who is realisticllay looking at another 10 years before retiring. Do you or others have an in-depth explanation / rationalization of such strategy? I totally agree but I am having a tough time making the case to my husband. He is uncomfortable going away from about 5-8 percent bonds …

    • JP says:

      So glad you asked this question. It’s actually an article I’m working on right now – dead simple explanation for how to allocate your investments and why. It’ll be up next week if I can wrangle the words on the page, or it’ll be the following week if it continues to kick my butt.

      The short answer is if you look at the historical year to year performance of each asset class you will see clearly what the pros and cons of each strategy is. Mixing your portfolio is meant to help you achieve whatever your stated goals are, so we’ll explain who needs bonds and why, and it’ll become clear why having bonds doesn’t make sense for most people trying to accumulate quickly. Especially 5-8%…it doesn’t give you enough safeguard in a downside scenario, and it drags you down during growth markets. Just a very quick off the cuff response. I hope to get more in depth in the post itself.

  3. Stockgal says:

    Good post! Thanks for sharing other blogs that you read.

  4. Thanks for putting together the list! Fun to see how other people live and feel after early retirement.

  5. Thriftygal recently wrote an interesting article about her surprising finds about early retirement here: thepowerofthrift.com/surprising-finds-about-retirement/

    Reading posts like these always makes my mouth water. Thanks for putting this together. I now have a one stop shop for when I need motivation and feel like I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  6. Joe says:

    Thanks for sharing! It’s not easy to figure out how to retire early, but the result is really worth it.

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