Just how many baby boomers are there? How many are retiring and/or gearing up for retirement? Ready for this? “…Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that there are 76.4 million baby boomers.”
That’s a lot of boomers! It’s fascinating, isn’t it, to think of all of those boomers retiring. I can’t help but wonder how it will impact the work force and the economy in the coming years. I went looking for a few tidbits on retirement to share in this post and I came across an article titled, Ten Good Reasons to Retire Early and to balance it out, Ten Reasons Not to Retire. I guess, like all things in life, it’s a matter of personal perspective.
“I need to retire from retirement” Sandra Day O’Connor
To continue on from our last post, On the Path of Redefining Retirement: Part 1, it’s time to share 3 more inspiring stories.
Meet Roxanne & Darrell:
For us, retirement is the gathering of less stuff and the gleaning of more experiences. At this point in our lives, no, we don’t feel as if we’re retired. We love to get up every morning knowing we have something to do.
Our retirement has kicked our creativity into high gear. Because we have the time, we can accept offers, invitations, and opportunities to create for ourselves, as well as our loved ones. We were invited by our local literary club to give a lecture on our Tahoe Rim Trail hike, something we had never before considered; speaking to a group of people. We had a lot of fun organizing a talk and creating a power point presentation. We were given the opportunity to spruce up our home base when our landlord gave us permission to design and remodel the kitchen in our rental house. Now, we are seriously scheduling some interest in accepting an invitation to join cousins this spring in Europe to celebrate their milestone birthday. It’s an offer we can’t refuse! Life, it just keeps getting better.
It took us 10 years to position ourselves to pull the plug. In the early 80’s we graduated from the university of lost income. Fortunately, at barely thirty we had this earth shaking wake-up call. As painful as that experience was, it made us seriously study, learn and read about money. Our spending and saving habits became a science. Today, we still sit down on Sunday mornings and have what we like to call a “Fat Wallet” meeting. We open the ledger in which we hand write all of our expenditures and we tally, refine, and implement efficiencies. It’s still a great tool. We support ourselves with what we earn on our savings. Also, Darrell is the ultimate handy man so we save a lot of money on repairs because he can build and/or fix anything.
I guess you could say Mexico called to us. Actually, too many margaritas on a visit put us in the mood to fall in love with Mexico. And timing in a love affair is everything! The timing was perfect as we had no loose ends and we were free to move south of the border. It was a most excellent retirement experience. What we learned from our 6 years in Mexico, is that less is definitely more! Also, what we took away from our lives as expats was a sense of being global. Traveling to other counties has become approachable for us.
We don’t have a plan per se, but what works for us now is renting, rather than owning a home. Renting allows us the freedom to take off on a whim, if we so chose. And we find renting allows us to be liquid and in position to transition to whatever we decide is the next step. Our ultimate goal is to be self-reliant for as long as possible.
Meet Tom & Kristin:
Retirement describes that stage of life when one is free to decide, from day to day, to do whatever they want to do. This isn’t the first time we’ve retired. We sold our business back in 1997 and were ‘retired’ for a few years before starting up another company. Then we retired again. There are people who do this cold turkey, but I think it’s more cyclical. Pretty soon, in retirement, you start taking on responsibility, maybe part time work, volunteering, and before you know it, you have a job on your hands. Then it’s time once again to think about return on investment. Or, more accurately, “Am I enjoying doing what I’m doing, because I sure ain’t getting paid a living wage.” So yes, we are serial retirees.
We were in our 50s in 2008 when we phased out of our business. (We went from publishing a monthly magazine, to publishing online only, to calling it quits.) It was two years later that we sold our home and started to travel. In the meantime, Tom got his CELTA certificate for teaching English, and I spent quite a bit of time with family. Once we decided to move on, it was only a matter of about four months to sell our house, pack up, and leave.
We first lived in Ecuador for several months, then decided we’d be happier getting out of Quito and seeing the world. We’ve been on the move pretty constantly ever since; the longest we’ve been in one place is two months, housesitting.
At that time in our lives, we were suddenly without the responsibility of being employers, our children were out of college and on their own, and also, having just lost several family members, we were not feeling the need to remain available to others. So we basically grabbed the chance to be a little selfish and go where we wanted when we wanted. That’s the essence of this sort of extended travel: supreme self-centeredness.
In our case, it’s a pretty simple trade-off to be able to afford travel: we sold our house in Minneapolis, and we get by on about what we were spending on property taxes, utilities, cars, insurance, and general upkeep. About the only fixed expense we kept was our health insurance, and a storage unit. We know how to travel on a budget, and we know how to splurge, and we do some of both. Going home to visit family is usually rent free.
We talk about re-entry, but we don’t arrive at any conclusions. We have no timeline, and we have no idea where we might end up. Likely it will involve renting, not home ownership. Possibly it will include a couple home bases, because this going to and fro can get addictive. We thrive on regular changes of scenery, and we hope to keep that in our lives.
Meet Richard & Anita:
When I used to think “retired,” I pictured people like our parents and grandparents who, if they were healthy enough, kept busy tending their homes, gardens, and had plenty of time to enjoy their hobbies and socialize with friends and visit with family, going on an occasional vacation or traveling for short periods of time. Now while I definitely think of ourselves as retired I think of it mostly in the context of having no commitment to pursuing a paycheck or earning a living. To us retirement means the ability to engage in a totally new lifestyle, go in any direction that interests us and redefine ourselves.
We started researching early retirement options when Richard was 62 and I was 54. Once we realized that we could retire earlier than we’d thought by living out of the US we made the decision to simplify our lives as much as possible by selling or donating everything and, after leasing our house for a couple of years, we decided to sell that too last year. This gave us the freedom of not maintaining or worrying about our possessions and also freed up income that we use for our some of our traveling expenses. Shedding our things took a year from the decision to “go for it” to the last day of work. We left “home” to travel full time almost a year to the day we decided to retire early.
We began our travels in September, 2012 and spent over 2 years traveling in the Yucatan area of Mexico, all of Central America and many countries in South America as well as some of the Caribbean Islands and Curacao. We headed to Europe in May, 2015 and decided to check out both Spain and Portugal with the idea of applying for a long term residency, setting up a home base once again and exploring the rest of Europe at our leisure. We totally fell in love with the Algarve Region of Portugal for many reasons including the mild weather, the beaches and inland countryside, the food, culture and history and the amazingly friendly people. At the time of answering these questions we’ve been in Lagos, Portugal for less than a week so the whole “Portugal expat” experience is still very new to us.
Richard receives a monthly social security check and we draw the rest of our income from savings and investment plans. We really don’t plan to live in the US again as we’ve enjoyed the whole experience of traveling, meeting new people and learning about other countries. It doesn’t take long to become a part of any community and make your home if you actively participate in the local expat community, engage in conversation with the local residents and even volunteer (we taught English in both Guatemala and Nicaragua). We’ll visit friends and family in the US but, for us, the concept of home has been redefined as well as the idea of our retirement.
Hopefully, in reading the journeys of our profiled couples, something in their stories resonated with you. Each of us will reach the point in our life when we make the decision to retire, or not. As corny as the saying is, retirement truly is a journey, not a destination. With a game plan and the willingness to embrace change, retirement can be the best and biggest chapter in our lives.
To learn more about our thoughts on redefining retirement, click over to our permanent page where you’ll find updated tidbits: Redefining Retirement