One of my tips for new bloggers is to set a schedule for your blog posts and always stick to it. Sometimes you have to publish shorter or less than perfect posts, but sticking to a schedule is paramount to getting through the early years. Well, today is one of those short post days for me… I’ll keep it short and leverage the FIRE community’s knowledge for this one. After all, we are uniquely qualified to answer this question – is early retirement easier than traditional retirement?
Winter weather advisory
This one is a bit rushed because school was canceled a bunch of times due to our recent bad weather. I’ve been in Portland for 20 years and this winter was the worst yet. We’ve had 3 snow storms and protracted freezing temperatures. Portland just isn’t equipped to deal with this kind of deep freeze. Normally, we only get a few inches of snow each winter which is already enough to shut down the city for a few days.
Last week, the school was canceled for 4 days and all the kids loved it. They could stay home, play with the snow, and goof off all day. We’ve watched Minions probably 10 times over the last 2 weeks and I’m just Minioned out. We had it easy compare to other families, though. The only major obligation I have is to blog twice per week and I can do that from home. Other parents aren’t retired. They have to either take days off or arrange for childcare. Everyone was ecstatic that the kids went back to school on Wednesday. (Yes, there were 2 more days off this week.) Early retirement has been really awesome for me because my schedule is very flexible. It’s been almost 5 years and I still love it.
Is early retirement easier than normal retirement? It seems many people have a hard time transitioning into traditional retirement. They feel restless and depressed. Retirement may sound easy, but it is tough after 40+ years of structured schedules. People have too much free time on their hands and they just don’t feel useful anymore. Anecdotally, early retirees seem to adjust a lot better. I wonder why that is. While the financial aspect is more difficult, of course, it seems like everything else is more balanced.
Early Retirement is easier because…
In this short post, we will need to leverage the FIRE community’s expertise. I’ll ask early retirement bloggers to respond so you should check back and read the comments, too.
Why is it so tough to adjust to retirement? A 2012 study by Elizabeth Mokyr Horner, PHD, found that regular retirees experience a “sugar rush” of well being and life satisfaction directly after retirement. Unfortunately, this feeling of utopia doesn’t last long and a sharp decline in happiness soon follows. Apparently, this rush-crash pattern is quite common in the US and Western Europe. The study found that most retirees have this experience regardless of the age they retire. I bet she didn’t talk to people who retired by 40, though. I’ve met some of these extremely early retirees and they are all happy and well adjusted. What makes us different than regular retirees? Is early retirement really easier than traditional retirement?
Early Retirement is a choice
Here is my theory. I think early retirement is an easier transition because it is a choice – specifically, your choice. On the other hand, traditional retirement is forced on you by external circumstances. Look at these common reasons why people retire from work.
- Stress at work
- Corporate policy
- Benefits eligibility
- Family care
For early retirees, these aren’t our main considerations. Well, sure, I hated my old job and I wanted to spend more time with our kid, but I could have made a different choice. Instead of retiring, I could have looked for a job at a different company or arranged to work from home more. However, I chose to retire early from my engineering career and I don’t have any regrets whatsoever. The freedom to choose is a big deal. I always disliked being told what to do. By the way, I don’t miss the technical work at all. 😀
Okay, that’s all I’m going to add today. I think there are plenty of other reasons why early retirement is an easier adjustment, but I want to hear from you, too.
Do you think early retirement is an easier transition than traditional retirement? Why?