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My expectations for early retirement

Sep 24, 2018

What will happen when we finally make the jump? I have lots of expectations for early retirement. Some are good, some weird and some challenging. I’ve listed a few in this article, and my plan is to get back to it once we have moved to the next phase of our plan, and update it based on what I’ve learned or done in the meantime.

I’m sure some of these expectations will materialise, and others (maybe the majority?) will be completely off. I sort of doubt my ability to predict events anyway, given I’ve been playing the lottery for years and I’ve never won anything :/).

Sleep more.

Since I started working, I have always slept too little. Not exactly a coincidence! Work has been consuming so much of my time that I have been forced to use the evening/night hours to do what I actually wanted to do. Once we reach early retirement, we’ll obviously be free to use the day to do stuff, and so at night we should have more time to sleep. I expect this to happen ‘naturally’ so don’t plan to do anything specific about it.

Spend more than we expect.

We live in London but see our early retirement in the south of Europe. Although we track our expenses very carefully, estimating how these will translate in a new country is quite complicated: not just because costs are different, but also because it’s very difficult to predict lifestyle changes. For example: will we eat our more or less than now?

The most ‘scientific’ thing I could do was to open and use their cost of life comparison tool. I put in our current costs in London, selected the city I would like to compare against, and it gave me an answer: 4,500€ per month.
This is around 1,000€ above our monthly target. During the first year this shouldn’t be a problem, as we are planning for at least one of us to continue working remotely. However, it’s clearly something we need to keep an eye on in the medium/long term, when we will retire properly!

Exercise more.

This is a specific goal for us, and one I will work on from the very beginning. I have a natural tendency to skip gym and so I will need to be very strict with what I do lest I fall back into the same lazy pattern. What do I mean by exercising more? First of all, running and/or cycling every day. Second, achieving more flexibility, for example by doing yoga. Third, if possible, play tennis or another sport regularly.

Eat healthier.

A pepper that tastes like a pepper!? After years in London, I can’t wait to be able to eat tastier vegetables and, in general, better food. I can see myself going to the food market, buy local produce, and then cook it at home. I am also looking forward to being able to plan our meals and take on the challenge of reducing food waste and costs.

Lose weight.

This won’t be a specific goal, but I think some natural weight loss will happen as a byproduct of our healthier lifestyle (ie. exercising more, eating well, less stress etc)

Enjoy the light

South of Spain? Italy? Greece? We haven’t made a final decision on where we want to early-retire to, however one of the criteria for making the decision is the Sun! We want to get a lot of natural light. After years in London, full of grey cloudy days, we truly feel the need for better weather. But not just sunny days – we want the warm sun of a southern city. It’s amazing how much better you can feel in the morning just by having the right light around you – and I look forward to it!

Lie about our situation.

I did say some of our expectations for early retirement were weird, didn’t I? Well, this is one of them: based on the initial reactions of people who we told about our plan, I think it’s easier to make something up rather than telling them we retired early.
While (classic) retirement is not a surprise for anyone, the concept of early retirement is ‘alien’ to people, and in their minds, if you don’t have to work, then you must be rich. And most people change when they think you’re rich. They develop some “financial jealousy”, they somehow want a share of it, or at least want to comment and have a say on how you use your wealth. Lottery winners are typically advised not to tell anyone about their winnings, and that’s because of the same reason.

Lie about our situation, part #2.

Another reason why I am not inclined to tell anyone about our retirement, is that I would hate for people to think our time is less valuable than theirs.
I saw this happening to my mum, when she retired from her job. She’s always been a very busy person (especially once retired), and yet many of her friends keep asking her to do something for them just because they are working and she’s not. Are they talking about going out for dinner? The follow up is usually “Can you please call and book the restaurant? You’ve got time“.
I totally don’t want for this to happen to us. We have worked to retire because our time is precious, and we want to use it the way we want.

Spend more (and better) time with family…

This is obviously a goal (our entire decision to retire early is based on this) and our setup will make sure the time we spend with our kids will be not just more, but also of better quality. At the moment, it is not unusual for us to multi-task when the kids are around (eg. play with them while we are also checking our phones, talk with each other, or do all sorts of household chores), and I can’t wait to be able to give them proper, uninterrupted attention!

…and with each other

Kids are not everything of course – we (me and H.) want to enjoy our time together as a couple, just the two of us. I hope the additional time we have will naturally allow that!

Need time to define who we are.

We are defined by what we do, and unfortunately that typically means our jobs. Accountant? Dentist? Project manager? For years, our job title has been the standard answer to the typical party question: “What do you do?”. Anything else about ourselves (hobbies, passions, interests etc) was never mentioned.

So, once work is out of the way, how will we ‘define’ ourselves? Of all our expectations for early retirement, this is potentially the most challenging. Don’t get me wrong, for the big part this is very exciting, but I imagine it will be at times frustrating and unsettling. We will probably have to try a few definitions to see how comfortable we are with them. Not just how others respond to them, but how we feel about them.
I hope it won’t take too long to get to that answer, but at the same time, I’m expecting it to take at least one year!

How about you? What do (or did, if you have already made the jump) you expect from early retirement? 

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