Life After Early Retirement

Life After Early Retirement: Two Years Later

Life After Early Retirement

It’s funny – it really doesn’t feel that long since I was voraciously reading other people’s blogs about their life after early retirement. Absorbing everything, fascinated with people who had actually achieved FIRE. It was hard to imagine at that point that one day, over ten years later, I’d be here writing my own version!

But here we are! Last week was two years to the day since I walked out of the London office and took my last ever commute home. What a memory that day will always be. We’d hoped, dreamed and planned, made it happen – and then taken the plunge.

We spent a decent amount of time thinking about what we wanted our early retirement lives to look like. Areas such as travel, health, friends, family, hobbies, lifestyle as much as the financial side of things. So now, two years on, it seems a good place to take a look back and see just what we’ve done with our first two years of life after early retirement!


Slow travel backpacks

Waiting at our local train station to start our first ‘slow travel’ after retiring

Brand new shiny backpacks….

..they’ve taken a bit of a beating already now!

If you’ve read our bio you will know that travel was one of the big motivations of retiring early for us. Plenty of time to make the most of our physical health and explore the world at a pace that suited us.

We had big plans and a long list of places we’d been ‘saving’ until we quit in order to have enough time to do them justice.

But a lot of people have dreams – and then when they have the opportunity to make them happen, fail to do so. What would we do?

Well, this one I think we can truly say we’ve nailed it. And more. We gave ourselves a head start by sorting out our first trip whilst still working. We saw it as part of planning the transition into life after early retirement. And besides, I may have mentioned I am more than my fair share of a travel research nut…

So two weeks after retiring saw us waiting at the train station heading off to North Tenerife to start our longest ever trip away. This one saw us enjoy some awesome hiking around Mount Tenerife and the surrounding area before catching the ferry over to our second ever house-sit on El Hierro – one of the very much less visited Canary Island. From there it was on to Seville, before heading over to El Puerto de Santa Maria and finishing up in an old favourite – Granada. 

We have absolutely fallen in love with the slow travel lifestyle. Having time to unpack, settle in, really get to know the places we stayed in. Find a favourite watering hole, talking to the locals, long hikes exploring the area. It just suits us down to the ground. Our first adventure was about six weeks long and it still flew by.

In the two years since retiring early we’ve since gone on to;

  • Two months in SA, exploring Cape Town, Franschhoek, Hermanus & Montagu
  • Eight weeks in our first ever trip in SE Asia, exploring Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Hoi An, & An Bang
  • Granada & Prague for a “short” break of a week each, twice
  • North Wales for two weeks
  • Couple of weeks in Olvera, rural Spain
  • Back to SA again for another couple months
  • Longest trip ever with ~ten weeks back in SE Asia covering Krabi, Ao Nang, Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, Langkawi, George Town, Kuala Lumpar, Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh City, Cam Tho & Phu Quoc. This one ended a little abruptly as Covid hit…

The point of sharing this list isn’t to travel brag – it’s actually just quite inspiring to see how much we’ve done that we just wouldn’t have been able to whilst still working. It would have been very easy not to but we made it happen. And we’ve loved it.

Travel: Lesson Learned;

It wasn’t until much later we learned much about independent travel. When we started out, there was very little information apart from Lonely Planet books. The normal thing was to find an interesting/cheap package and go flop out for a couple weeks exhausted from work and de-stress in time to return.

It was only in our later years & as the internet became a real source of information that we started doing our own thing, cramming in adventures & maxing out my 5 weeks of holiday. 

We’ve since learned how much more we enjoy the independent style – it would be impossible to go back to a package now, it feels way too constraining. They have their purpose for sure – but it’s no longer what works for us.

Likewise with slow travel – it now feels short if we go anywhere for under a week. Slow travel just suits us so much better – far prefer getting to know a few places really well than running around ticking boxes!

Travel: Summary;

Even though travel was one of our main goals of life after early retirement – I think we’ve still surprised ourselves just how much we’ve done. So many things so far outside our comfort zones. We’ve learned so much about the world and ourselves.

The other surprise was how much less it cost us than we’d budgeted for. If you’ve read our budget planner you’ll know we included a very healthy travel budget but despite travelling for ~6 months each year, we still only used 50% of it. Bodes well for the future as/when travel starts to open back up!

So all in all – a big resounding pat on the back for this one!


Thailand Happy Hour

Oh no – another beach bar with an awesome happy hour…


Oh, go on then…


What harm can one more do…?!

Health was an interesting one for us when thinking about what we wanted from our lives after early retirement. The one thing we were clear on was that we wanted to keep ourselves in good shape for as long as we could. There’s a lot of things we want to do still and being healthy makes them far easier.

At the same time, we are both lovers of good food, beer & wine. And all other things fine. You get the idea. So it was always going to be interesting where the balance fell once the restraints of a daily job were removed.

Time Vs Health

One of the major reasons why I struggled to exercise was time. When you get up at 4:30 am to start your working day and usually not back until 8 pm, it’s difficult to spare any energy for anything apart from eating and sleeping! Exercise was restricted to whatever I could manage to squeeze in to my lunch-break and the weekends.

After retiring – I’m so proud to be able to say I have a whole new routine. One that involves between 1 – 2 hours of exercise every week day. Our weekends will see us out on the bikes or hiking when the weather is with us. We balance our diet with at least three “healthy” days a week – meaning no alcohol and food that is outrageously good for us.

Now that we have the time for it, we’ve never been in such good physical shape for us. I’m never going to be a supermodel – but I’m happy being fit and healthy

And whilst it may vary a little with special occasions, Christmas etc – the habits are now pretty much ingrained.  So much so that when travelling, we’ll stick to the same type of balance. Once you are away for more than a few weeks a year you can’t really have the same “holiday” mindset as we once did! 

Health: Lesson Learned

Funnily enough it was some of the skills and habits we’d ingrained on our journey to financial independence that helped us the most here too. E.g. delaying gratification of that juicy burger unless we’d put in the treadmill miles was just second nature stuff by this point.

I have learned just how much of a difference having time makes. Growing up, exercise was not a big part of family life. So it’s something I’ve taught myself and surprisingly come to enjoy. Whilst I’m always going to prefer to spend the day hiking out and about – I know that if that’s not possible then putting in the time on our treadmill (so worth the money for us!) is worth the time investment for feeling fitter.

Health: Summary

Honestly, I’m surprised but pleased how we’ve done here. You read a lot about retirees who end up watching TV & playing games, surrounded by beer and snacks. We’ve managed instead to ingrain some really healthy habits that (mostly!) stick with us wherever we are.

So based on our first two years of early retirement, it looks like it’s going to be very helpful keeping us in shape for all the hiking & living we’re looking forwards to yet!

Life After Early Retirement - Part Two

So that’s travel and health covered off as to how we’ve fared in the first two years of early retirement. I hope you found it useful as food for thought for building good habits for your own early retirement plans.

Next up I’ll be taking a look at work, finances, friends & family and relationships but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for that as it was way too much to fit into a single post!

In the meantime feel free to drop me a line about how you see your own early retirement looking!

Until next time then!

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13 thoughts on “Life After Early Retirement: Two Years Later”

  1. Michelle,
    Well orchestrated trips indeed. I myself just retired and see the beauty of slow travel at own’s pace vs tour. However, for countries with notorious for high hassle factor (India, Egypt, etc), it is so much more relaxing taking a tour. Who wants to pay 20X the local for a Tuk Tuk several times per day? I’m wondering about S Africa as I never have been if you think a solo female traveler would manage well traveling independently? Do you have a post on this trip?

    1. Thanks Amy and congrats on the retirement!

      I think everybody has a different level or tolerance for what they consider hassle and it’s really helpful when you understand what your own is. I’m not a fan of tours myself but I understand what you mean, especially for the trickier countries. Funnily enough one of the best things about tech is how it’s levelling out that kind of local/non-local behaviour – in SE Asia the Grab app is amazing for example!

      South Africa is a fabulous place and one of my absolute favourites. I’ve only gotten as far as writing about our safari trip there in three different styles – all amazing in different ways. I’ll write about the rest at some point though.

      In the meantime, few thoughts. It’s one of the easier countries to organise things independently. Safety is a concern still for anyone tbh and it’s defn one place I’m more aware of not walking just anywhere. A bit more research and use of Uber, especially at night. True for all though. I think it’s perfectly doable as a solo female traveller but I personally felt much safer in the small towns/villages we stayed at than the larger cities. I actually found the poverty side harder to deal with than the safety aspect.

  2. Pingback: Is House Sitting Really A Free Holiday? Our Honest Answer & How-To Guide » Fire And Wide

  3. Glad to see you guys are really making the most of your freedom!

    Like you mentioned, it’s all too easy to envision a life filled with things like travel, volunteerism, or other pursuits….just to find yourself lounging in front of the TV simply because it’s easy.

    As enjoyable as something like going on a foreign trip is/can be, it does take work to plan it out and of course, there are some difficulties along the way.

    Thanks for sharing your takeaways so far!

    1. Hey Chris – great to hear from you here & even better to hear that you enjoyed the read.

      Exactly – early retirement will be as good as you make it. Fortunately, anyone on a FIRE journey tends to be pretty good at understanding that & the habit is well-formed by the time you get there!

      Cheers – appreciated!

  4. I enjoyed the read, as usual, I think it comes back to really understanding what you are looking to do. When you are driving towards a goal you can focus your actions. “Retirement” can be a really scary thing if you don’t know how you’re going to spend the time.

    Sounds like you’ve had some great slow-cations. Where is the next long trip?

    1. Hey Matt,

      Thanks for stopping by & taking the time to comment, love hearing from you guys.

      I think that’s true – the more you understand yourself, the better your “retirement” (/life!) is going to be.

      Yeah – the pandemic is making things a bit more difficult with all the constantly changing rules but we are still hoping to get away and explore somewhere warmer & sunnier than the UK in winter. Thinking Portugal but we will see how that goes!



  5. Ahhh … I can only dream …

    Your two years of retirement so far seem perfect! Yes, time or lack thereof is the signuficant factor – as I grow older, I find that rest and rejuvenation play a more important role in my life.

    I can’t wait to retire to enjoy slow travel. And maybe improve my woeful exercise regime. There won’t be the excuse of not having enough time then 🙂

    Looking forward to reading more posts on your life in early retirement – helps keep me motivated

    1. Awh – cheers Latestarterfire – I’m so happy to hear it helps with the motivation! I know you are going to get there too.

      But yeah, exactly – once you have time there’s no more excuses!

      I’ll do my best to get the next post out sometime soon….!

    1. Hey Alan – thanks for taking the time to read it. It is a great feeling to be able to look back & see we’re making the most of it. Still plenty of dreams yet!

      Absolutely on SA – we’re pretty sad we won’t get to go this year what with the virus situation, it’s one of our favourite places in the world.



  6. I love to hear what people do with their time when they have complete control of it. Sounds like you are using it wisely and enjoying life! I’d love to know more about house sitting, maybe a future post? 😉


    1. Hey Jim,

      Great to hear from you. Well, we’re doing our best! It is interesting how it really is what you make of is.

      House-sitting post is in the mix for sure. Although usually it’s financially driven – I really like how you get to stay in some really local places, off the beaten track. I will get to it…..promise….!



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