We talk about investing, budgeting, finances and taxes a lot here at Investor Junkie. We focus on these topics in order to make our lives more comfortable in the future, and to provide ourselves with the freedom to pursue anything that our wallets can afford.
As an early retiree, I enjoy the ultimate freedom of not having to work at a traditional job.
I set my own schedule, passionately engage in hobbies or pastimes whenever I want, and explore the world when the mood hits me. Early retirement is that phase in life where you get to reclaim what’s lost: the freedom and autonomy over how you live your life.
If you’ve been thinking of bucking the norm in exchange for retiring early, here are some crazy but fun advantages to this lifestyle.
Taking a Loooong Walk
At the risk of sounding like I’m completing my profile on a dating website, I’ll admit to enjoying long walks on the beach and watching the sunset. Since I live 100 miles inland without any beaches nearby, I have to make do with long walks around the neighborhood to the park, library, restaurants or shopping.
Instead of treating a trip to the library to return a book as an errand, it’s a journey for me. An adventure through the fabric of our urban jungle. With the luxury of unlimited free time, it doesn’t matter if walking 20 minutes to the library takes ten times as long as the normal two-minute drive.
Now that it’s spring, I get to enjoy the birds chirping from the rapidly blossoming trees and take in the wonderfully scented perfumes of flower beds and gardens along the path. Maybe some of the drivers zipping past me feel sorry that I have to walk to my ultimate destination.
Little do they know it’s a matter of choice to enjoy the trip instead of treating it like a check box on a to-do list. The auditory, visual and olfactory experiences on foot can’t be rivaled by the smoothest ride in the finest luxury vehicle (at least from my pedestrian perspective).
It’s always possible to squeeze in some lazy walks after work or on the weekends, but there’s something special about walking around in the middle of the week on a random Thursday morning while everyone else is at work.
Stores are empty, streets are quiet, and you know you’re indulging in a unique experience that cube dwellers covet every time they say “I wish I could sneak out of the office and spend the rest of the day enjoying the outdoors!” In early retirement, you can. Every day.
Trekking Across the World
I like to travel, to really get to know a place. That’s hard when vacations come in one or two week chunks of time while working. After flying to your destination, getting to your hotel, sleeping off the travel fatigue and jet lag, and finally figuring out the local scene, it’s time to pack up and head back home to another 50 weeks of working before your next two week jaunt abroad.
Sure, you probably saw everything on your tourist checklist, but did you connect with it on a deeper level?
In early retirement, you still have the vitality to satisfy your wanderlust plus a total lack of time constraints on how long you can travel. This permits wandering at a slower pace and getting off the beaten trail (if that’s your thing).
If you fall in love with a town while on your adventure, stop and take a rest. Rent an apartment for a month and take it easy enjoying the local life. When you get restless, move on to a new phase of adventure.
If you have school age children and want a hand-crafted educational experience that differs from traditional public or private schooling, early retirement leaves you with plenty of time to homeschool your kids. With the internet, there are more quality resources than ever to facilitate the transition to teaching kids at home.
Most homeschool families have a single stay-at-home parent being the primary instructor, while early retiree households have the benefit of two parents who can share the educator role.
The true magic of homeschooling in my mind comes from enrichment opportunities like exploring nature, visiting industrial sites, touring museums, and working on in-depth multi-disciplinary projects that incorporate everything the student is learning about.
Going beyond the standard course of study to really learn and apply what’s taught in the curriculum could set a student apart from their traditionally-schooled peers.
Though we haven’t chosen to homeschool (yet), it would remove another major constraint to our early retiree lifestyle — the traditional school year. Right now our globe-trotting is limited to June, July and August, when the kids aren’t in school.
If we choose to homeschool, we can travel off-season to skip the crowds (and high costs) while often enjoying better weather at our destination. The kids could work on their lessons wherever we find ourselves, whether it’s in the middle of the ocean on a Transatlantic cruise to Europe or a quiet village in Mexico.
As an added bonus, learning a foreign language would be easier if everyone around them spoke it and all the signs and restaurant menus forced them to read it. I would love to say, “Sorry, kids, no helado for dessert unless you can read it on the menu and order it yourself.”
Freedom From Work Enables Lifestyle Design
Going for leisurely walks just because you can, traveling the world on a whim and radically altering the delivery method of your own children’s education are just a few things that become possible in early retirement. The list of what you can potentially do is nearly endless once you remove the time constraints of work.
The only limiting factors are your creativity, energy and budget. Although once you remove the time constraints from your schedule, costs often drop because you gain the flexibility to take advantage of all kinds of deals and bargains that don’t fit into the schedule of those still working.
What would you do if you could retire early now?