What’s life really like after 3 years of early retirement: A journey of FIRE (financial independence retire early), our observations, and our thoughts…

 

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

George Bernard Shaw:  “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”

One of the most frequently asked questions my wife and I get from our friends and family these days is what’s life like after 3 years of early retirement.  Each time we think about the question these days, we have a hard time believing we’ve already lived through 3+ years of retirement!

We still remember the days just before we jumped off the rat race, selling our home, selling most of our stuff, quitting our jobs, then heading out into the sunset in August 2020, during the peak of Covid-19 pandemic.  We remember packing everything left over into our Chevy SUV until 8:45 a.m. the day we were supposed to leave our home of 14 years, getting ready to arrive at our home closing at 9:30 a.m.

We closed on our home that morning right outside (not inside the office as is usually the case) the settlement agency thanks to raging pandemic.  We remembered our closing agent’s remark how our SUV was packed to the brim.  It took roughly 20 minutes to sign off on the mountain high stack of paperwork before we were done with our past life.  

Our 25+ years of working for a living, living with a mortgage, and getting stressed from our work were all a thing of the past starting that day.  It was a strange feeling:  for the first time in our lives together, my wife and I were homeless, and we were trying to figure out this early retirement thing together.   

With mixed emotions (joy, freedom from work, uncertainty) flooding our minds, we headed off to North Carolina to our brother’s place near Raleigh, to start a new chapter in our lives.  That day was memorable for so many reasons, kind of like buying your first home, getting married, or for me at least, traveling.  

Starting from that jumping off point, we started that new chapter in our lives, getting ready to tackle early retirement journey head on.  Since that August, we’ve been doing lots of traveling and spending time with our family.  There have been some minor adjustments to how we’re traveling these days since our beloved Pomeranian Toby went to doggie heaven last March, but otherwise, we’ve been living about the same way since that August, meaning living like nomads, using AirBnB for the most part, while adding hotels bit by bit since we lost our dog.

These days, we’re focused on doing travel that is further away than we’re used to do when we had our dog.  Last winter, we embarked on an epic cross country trip to Southern California from our home base in North Carolina, and this winter, we’re planning a road trip that covers Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and our home state of North Carolina.

The way we’re traveling may have changed, but the rest of the things we’ve enjoyed from day 1 of our early retirement still remain.  Here are some of those things that haven’t changed after 3 years of our early retirement journey!

  • Getting up without an alarm
This is one of the biggest perks of early retirement:  not having to get up for work!  Our waking up pattern hasn’t changed much since day 1 for the most part.  Generally speaking, we usually go to bed around 11 p.m., then get up around 7 a.m.

On nights when we’re binge watching a show/movie, we may sleep later, then get up later the following morning.  Not needing to work made our sleeping schedule very flexible.  We like to keep a regular routine but we can (and we do at times) change that routine to suit our needs.  Very cool.
  • Not needing to work!!!
This is in our opinions the best thing about early retirement!  We both hated going to work especially on Mondays!  Weekends were never long enough and they always ended way too fast. 

Gone are the days of sleepless Sunday nights worrying about work, dragging our bodies to get ready for work, and the dreaded Monday blues every Monday morning!  After 3 years, this never grows old.
  • Comfortably growing into our routine of traveling then spending time with family 
We really like the idea of splitting time between our own needs to be free and travel on our own, then spending time with family.  This has worked well and we still see ourselves continuing that routine.  

After traveling for few months at a time, we miss our families, and vice versa.  It is an ideal balance for us right now.  

Like I’ve always said, our time with loved ones is way too short.  We must all try to spend as much time as we can to make memories, hopefully good ones, but realistically sometimes not so good ones as well.  

What’s important is that we’re spending time together, eating together, sharing stories together, and having fun together.  This to me is priceless.  It’s something that is so fleeting that we must try to make time as much as we can…

We already lost too many friends and families just within the past 7 years:  my father and mother in-law, our good friend Eric, Mark, Tracy, and our Toby.  It makes us realize how short life really is.  We’re enjoying life right now, always grateful for what we have…
  • Having plenty of time for whatever…
Since day 1 of our early retirement journey, we’ve been doing things we always wanted to do when we dreamt about retirement.  Such things are: binge watching shows/movies, getting up whenever, sleeping whenever, listening to plenty of music, talking together for hours not worrying about the time, deciding to do grocery shopping on a weekday when it’s so much quieter, etc.

Retiring means we’re no longer bound by time, or more correctly, by the lack of time.  We never seemed to have enough time on the weekends or on vacations.  No matter how long the vacation, we always felt we needed more time.  

This is no longer an issue these days.  We can take our time doing anything which is a huge thing.  I used to get stressed out when I had to go back to Pennsylvania after spending time with our family when we both worked.  Heading back home on a Saturday was ok, but if on a Sunday, I would be rushing/speeding/weaving in and out traffic to get home faster.  We wanted to be settled back home for the inevitable work week that’s about to begin.  
  • Finding a creative outlet
This is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.  We all need to find something that makes us happy.  For my wife, it’s painting and drawing.  She gets inspiration from all the travels we do.  For me, it’s writing this blog and creating videos on YouTube.  I like to have writing materials which is perfect as we’re traveling so much.

Both of these creative endeavors are not about money.  We’re doing them because we like to do them.  If this was a job, we may not like doing them as much.  Sometimes, life isn’t just about money.  It should always include showing a side of us that’s creative whatever that may be.
  • Still traveling but with a twist
Since Toby’s passing, we’ve rediscovered hotels and how convenient they are!  Many of the hotels we’ve used during our cross country trip provide free hot buffet breakfasts which is a huge deal.  Sometimes, we would even bring up a bowl of oatmeal with walnuts so we can eat that for dinner on days when we feel like eating something light.  This probably saved us good chunk of change during our trip.  

Other advantages of hotels include close proximity to major attractions, safety, and no need to do chores when checking out!  AirBnB is still the cheapest way to travel when booking a month or longer, but we find it hard to justify spending the money when we can get a nicer hotel room with free breakfast for about $100 more! (Typical Choice Hotels cost roughly $2400 for a month when traveling off-season.  $80 x 30 = $2400.  We can probably get 3 free nights, breakfast probably saves us $300, and sometimes dinner (oatmeal) $60.  

$2400-$240 (3 free nights)-$300 (free breakfast every morning for 30 days at a value of $10 per day)-$60 (free dinner, we’re putting a value of $20 per dinner, we had oatmeal for dinner three times)=$1800

As a comparison, we spent just over $1700 in Vermont last August via AirBnB with no breakfast, and it was in an area that was out of the way from major attractions like Burlington, Stowe, and Lake Champlain.  On top of that, the air conditioning was abysmal.  There was only one small air conditioner in the master bedroom for a 2 bedroom unit!  It was always hot inside the unit.

In conclusion:

It has truly been over 3 years since our early retirement and we’ve enjoyed the ride!  We’ve traveled to places we’ve never traveled to, and we’ve also revisited places we’ve always loved.

We’ve lost quite a few loved ones along the way, but I always believed that life must go on.  It’s called adapting and we’re doing the best we can.

Our journey has been awesome:  just enjoying our time doing things we love, or doing nothing at all, is one of the greatest things about early retirement.  We hope to continue to enjoy our journey as long as we can!

Thank you for reading and good luck on your own journey of FIRE (financial independence retire early)!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 



If you missed the post ‘What’s it like to hand in your resignation...’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘How to retire early...’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘We sold our home during the pandemic...’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘What is the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement...’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Magic of compounding interest...’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Our minimalist update…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Dangers of entitlement on your path to happiness…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Get rid of debt to reach your goal of financial independence…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Thinking of moving to Pennsylvania…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Learn to say enough to be happy on your path to financial independence and to retire early…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Why is downsizing/minimalism so difficult…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Is America still a land of opportunity…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Learn a skill that pays you well to retire early…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Invest and not save for retirement…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Learn to enjoy the moment for life and for FIRE…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘The correlation between consumerism and early retirement…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Retire on $200,000 (200k)…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Adapting to change for life and for FIRE…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Thinking of moving to Hawaii…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Tough childhood leads to success in later life…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Thinking of moving to New York City…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Importance of finding purpose in early retirement…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘What is the rule of 72…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Retire on $100,000 (100k)…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘The importance of a significant other’s role in your path to FIRE…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Save for retirement or pay off debt…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘How much do I need to retire…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Early Retirement Manifesto…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Pros and cons of early retirement…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘How to save money when traveling…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘What is the average 401k balance…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Doing a garage sale during the pandemic…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘First few months after early retirement…’, please click here.

If you missed the post ‘Not caring too much equals happiness…’, please click here.


Please check out our YouTube channel ‘Wandering Money Pig’ showcasing our travels and our Pomeranian dog! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3kl9f4W9sfNG5h1l-x6nHw



Popular posts from this blog

AirBNB horror story: How we got a refund from AirBNB due to a noisy neighbor…

Review of Vdara Hotel, Las Vegas, NV (Nevada): Pros and Cons

Review of Falls Lake Dam Recreation Area, Wake Forest, North Carolina