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!
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!
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!
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.
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!