Early Retirement - how is it for you?

I took voluntary redundancy two years ago and set up my own small company thinking I’d do bits and pieces from time to time but found myself busier than I expected. I’ve got to the stage now where I think it’s time to call it a day; I’m 58 and in good health. I think I can afford a comfortable retirement so there is no financial motivation to carry on.

I’m struggling with making the final step though partly because none of my friends are retired, and also because of the magnitude of the decision.

Hence my question to those of you who have taken this step.

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My advice - at 58 don’t do it, I would think you may well regret it

Keep going and enjoy it, we are living longer, you may well have 30 years up your sleeve.

The key is to cut down to part time work. I’m 71 in 2 months time and work 3 days a week so 4 day weekend. Now have plenty of time for music and other interests, and I’m healthy. Financially I could give up work but I like keeping up with the new generation, they learn off me and I learn off them.

Especially if all your friends still working, you might get isolated

But each to their own, if you have many interests outside of work then might work for you

Haven’t answered your question directly I know I was in your position 10 years but I took the step to keep ploughing on

Cheers

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Some of my peers retired at 55. Most at 60. When I was in my late 30s I planned to retire at 55, to enjoy my leisure time. Money didn’t work out, some useless schemes and a couple of disastrous investments, so I will be retiring this year - when I’m 67.

There are so many things that I want to do that I wished I could have afforded to retire when I was indeed 55-60, but it wasn’t to be - however I have been lucky in having an enjoyable job (most of the time), so it hasn’t been a pain.

I would say retire as soon as you can afford to - but only if you have things to do to keep yourself mentally and physically stimulated and fit for many decades. I think the worst anyone can do is live for their work and have nothing to replace it to fulfil them - that seems to lead to rapid decline, so if it applies, start finding interests and activities comfortably before retirement.

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Having said all of that weekendwarrior you will know deep down when to push the button to say it’s time

For me probably in year or so as want to travel more ( COVID stopped that in its tracks ) and go further into some interests I have

I know what you’re going through, it’s a very tough decision , if we can all help keep in touch

Cheers

Bevo

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I wouldn’t hesitate…I retired at 56 and have not looked back. A couple of things to consider though:

  • As Bevo said I think you sort of know when you’ve had enough, if you still enjoy work and would rather be working then doing something else then carry on
  • You do need things to keep you occupied when you retire, so if you got plenty of hobbies and things to do then get on with it :grinning:
  • None of us know how long we have on this earth, do the things you enjoy whilst you can
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I took early retirement at 53, having been in full-time employment since I was 18, and haven’t done a day’s work since. The phone doesn’t ring now as I think everyone has got the message! I just turned 59.

I prefer to set my own agenda; I don’t need other people to give me work to do. I’m a bit of an introvert, inherently lazy and early retirement was designed for people like me. My only regret is that upgrading to a full 500 system is going to take another 1-2 years because we can’t put a pool in, ski, and do such an upgrade at the same time! On a more serious note, I don’t think early retirement is for everyone and could actually be detrimental if you are someone who needs ready-made socialisation of the sort that most workplaces offer.

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So hard to generalise with our widely different personal circumstances (and I am ignoring money in this answer) I retired in Oct 19 just short of 54 and have no regrets.

It was a planned and positive choice. Once decided I relished my last year of work. I worked hard and long hours then stopped, personally I did not want to just taper out but that doesn’t work for everyone.

My wife, who is 7 years older, finished work at 55. I think it was good not to retire at the same time, she had fully adapted to her new life when I stopped. We don’t have kids.

I retired fulfilled and satisfied with my (demanding) career. I left while I still enjoyed it, and I think it is good to be able to say that. I did not want to work on becoming exhausted, frustrated and miserable; I have seen it with colleagues.

I had a few important plans already in place, and even with COVID some have worked out! Crucial to keep brain and body busy. You do need to work at it, but also learn it is OK not to be rushing around some times. I have never been bored, even in COVID times.

I am not a very social animal but if lots of your friends are in your workplace you do have to make an effort to keep in touch, however I think the important workplace friendships endure even when you stop working together. I have also spent time with other friends that I was just too busy to see that much before. I do get more quality time with my best friend too, who I married.

I think this thread will show it is not for everyone. In my job I met plenty of much older people who were entirely content working to a very good age, and others who really struggled mentally after retiring young. My father basically became an old man the day he stopped working and my brother was bored within weeks after retiring at 58. For both of them retirement was loss of status, identity and purpose.

So my advice; only you can decide if it is time for you and your family. Plan it, and don’t start looking for stuff to do only after you have stopped. Some structure is good and it does take a while to adjust. Think of retirement as a beginning not an end. One of my volunteer ‘jobs’ is responsible and challenging and I hope will give me satisfaction for many years. I could not have done it when working.

You don’t live for ever. My wife had a serious health issue twice in her fifties and if it comes back again things may not go well. We are lucky enough to be able to have retired now and we both savour that opportunity.

I have no idea if this waffle helps you, or anyone else!

Bruce

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Although I said I go back to work after leaving nearly 7 years ago at age 55…I haven’t…apart from a part time job at Tesco filling the wine aisle. I enjoyed that.

I left a stressful job with a charity which had caused me some years of pain.

My wife later the same year (a year older) was made redundant.

We did some travelling, did some house sitting for strangers, did more travelling, did diy, did travelling.

However my mother in law who was in her 90s needed more support than her son, who she lived with could manage, so my wife stepped in. This often included long stays with her. Eventually we moved closer. MIL died two years ago and a few months before she died our first grandaughter was born. We subsequently spent 6 months and more supporting with babysitting whilst our son and partner worked (odd hours).

For us, stepping away from work has enabled us to spend more time together, we had demanding jobs and often worked weekends and evenings but at different times, so didn’t always see each other.

Since retiring (I say that now) life events meant we were able to support our family when they needed it and that would have been so much harder if there was work involved.

We are fortunate that we have an adequate amount of income, not enough to splash tens of thousand on hobbies, but enough.

I thought I’d have more time to enjoy music…even without lock down…that hasn’t really happened. The time I have is often taking up doing other stuff.

My kids say I am happier than I was working, as does my wife. So result.

My friends that have retired, is for similar reasons to us, including ill health. I’ve known plenty to die before reaching 55. They all worried about occupying time, money etc…in the end that hasn’t really been an issue.

Good luck making your choice, only you can decide.

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I took early retirement at 55 and it’s the best decision i ever made. Plenty of things to occupy myself with. By contrast my cousin took retirement at 63, trying to buildup his nest egg, all his ducks lined up in a row as he kept saying.
He too was fit was a fiddle, or so he thought, he lasted a year into retirement before covid took him last month. I think if he had known the future, he would have retired earlier.
Sorry if thats a grim scenario…but alas a true story.

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So, so true. And that is the singular most significant fact that should guide decisions where there is the luxury of choice.

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Your description of yourself perfectly fits me!

Unfortunately one does need sufficient available resources for certain pastimes and desires…

Another ‘early’ retiree here. Retired 9 years ago at 58. I sometimes think the term is a bit of a misnomer. All it meant for me was I no longer had an employer who could tell me what to do!
There are those who need employment as a reason and motivator to get out of bed every morning, those who enjoy the challenges, status and financial rewards it brings.
Then there are the others, like me, who view it as a release, bringing the freedom to enjoy hobbies, friends and travel to the full. The old adage of ‘I don’t know how I ever had time to go to work’ couldn’t be more true!
The only caveat I would make is to make sure your budgeting has been done carefully - my wife (retired 2 years after me at 60) and I are both fortunate enough to enjoy public sector final salary pensions. Those, plus our state pensions, have given us the means to indulge our interests and hobbies. One or two of our friends are not so fortunate, and have had to return to part time work to supplement pensions which have proved inadequate.

Good luck with whatever you choose!

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I set the line in the sand at 55 - gave my boss 18 months notice so he could sort out a plan to replace me. After years and years of travelling up to the City up at 5.30am each morning with a round trip of 150 miles each day mostly with British Rail! it was time to call it quits in 2016.

Best thing I ever did - booked up a bricklaying course (as you do) and sailing course in Holland.

My top tips are:-

  • If you are busy at work and love work don’t retire.

  • When you retire you better have the day, the month and year planned out. You can’t play golf every day and if it rains for weeks on end you need to keep busy - the horror when you hear people who have taken early retirement saying i’m bored.

  • Beware of the body, all those aches and pains that the body has been suppressing to allow you to work at full throttle over the years can hit you like a freight train when all the work place adrenaline goes.

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I reckon you’re top tips are spot on Andy. I’ve kept working and dropped down to part time about 3 years ago, and at 71 I still love the industry I have always worked in. I wouldn’t like all the travel you have done as I’ve always lived 5-10 minutes from the Sydney CBD where I work

But time moves on and I’m planning for retirement in a year or so. Funny really, most of my friends around my age are still working part time along with their partners ( if they have one !!! )

Each to their own, whatever happens one need heaps of time for music

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Good to know I’m not the only model then! I took out insurance against the financial shortfalls of early retirement by marrying a younger woman who now earns more than I was on when I left! As an aside, I think the follow-up thread needs to be ‘Advice to my teenage son on career choices so he can retire early like the old man!’ Sadly demographics and economics suggest he will not have the same breaks as I have which suggests Andy’s 1st bullet point is especially prescient.

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I retired at age 57, that was 12 years ago and I haven’t regretted it for a nanosecond! I am as busy as I want to be with sorting out my old cottage and large garden, as well as restoring vintage motorcycles (which has turned out to be a nicely lucrative side hustle).
Two things that I have found which may be relevant to your decision: you need much less money to live on when retired than you did when you were in full time employment; and you realise that what you did at work was really far less important than you thought it was at the time (and my job was University senior lecturer/medical researcher which is arguably more worthwhile than some).
Go for it!

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I have seen hundreds of people go through retirement in my career, I can’t remember any of them saying they regretted it.

Everyone who wanted to keep busy did so, one way or another. I believe everyone who wanted to enjoy their lives more did so.

I think the key difference for most people is whether you have control of your daily life or not. Working for someone else is very different from working for yourself and your own benefits, whatever they may be.

One more point to add, I do know a number of people working well into their sixties and beyond, usually running their own business. Without exception, I would categorise them all as being very, very focussed on their biz. Many of them, in fact I think most but not quite all, are no longer with the partner I originally saw them with years before and even pre-covid, when we discussed what their life was like just now, their answer generally started with how their business was going. When the subject of stopping comes up, their response is usually along the lines of ‘…yes, but what would I do?’.

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I have been officially retired a few years now, leaving work in the summer of 2016 aged 58. I had not intended to go then but retirement was definitely on the horizon and I was thinking about and planning my post-working life. Over the previous 2 years to this, I had been diagnosed, treated for cancer, returned to work for about 6 months, gone off sick again, broke my collarbone after agreeing with my GP that some cycling would help me regain my energy levels. I had a job I really enjoyed, I was a manager who had managed to fit in doing a bit of clinical work every week. Returning to work after the treatment I discovered the hard way that I could no longer do all that I used to do and foolishly struggled on. After a second period of sick leave during a reorganisation senior management reluctantly agreed I could take early retirement, so I went back very part-time to tidy up loose ends and broke my collarbone again due to a tyre blowing out whilst cycling. This meant that I left work in a very messy manner and rather than go straight into retirement mode I felt that I was still “off sick”

Looking back, I think this final misfortune helped me adjust better to taking earlier than intended retirement because being sick allowed me to feel that I didn’t have to jump into retirement mode and helped with getting used to having less money coming in. So I slowly transitioned to be retired, getting involved in various voluntary roles, making new friends, taking longer holidays. My retirement is very different to how I imagined it would be due to a combination of health issues and the impact of Brexit on my plans. That being said, I have found contentment and life whilst not exactly lively at the moment thanks to covid I feel it is a pretty good life.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, so my perspective is that the best-laid plans often need to be discarded once they meet reality and that the route to a good retirement is to be flexible and find enjoyment in all that you can, however small, look for the silver linings to what is thrown at you. For me, one of the results of Covid is that I am spending a lot less so money, some earmarked for holidays and socialising. Rather than having all this sit in the bank, some of it has been spent on other things including a 250, so another silver lining and probably something I would not have done without Covid.

Would I have chosen my route into early retirement, no! Do I regret it, no! It is what it is and I have made the best of it and life is much more than just OK which I think is very fortunate.

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Words of wisdom - well said.

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Say goodbye. Retirement is the best job I’ve ever had. (lol) If you are OK financially…yup. Get the hell out. Life is for living, not working. You want to work, volunteer somewhere needed. Counsel. Advise. Generativity baby!

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