top of page

Early retirement - what's next? Take 2

Early retirement - what's next? Take 2

Last week, after I shared my ideas of "what's next", my wife, Sally, muttered something about mid-life crisis, said I was crazy and turning into a hippy. I'd have taken "hipster", but she definitely said "hippy".

Sally also gave me her ideas for what's next and, no surprise, they aren't the same as mine. We're on different pages. As the saying goes, "Houston, we have a problem".

Having a plan of "what's next" is important to me. I feel fortunate to be early retired, to have the chance to do some memorable things, and I don't want to waste that opportunity. I want to live life, not just settle for normal, and I don't want to look back and say if only I'd tried this or done that.

Early retirement life - Dreams, choices & a few chores

That's not to say that life isn't already busy. At one end, I have my chores, although the good thing is that I can get these done during the "working day" rather than squeezing them into weekends and evenings.

At the other end of the equation are my dreams. Along with things like no more stress and freedom and flexibility, early retirement is a chance to imagine dreams and make them come true. Life's pretty good when you believe dreams can become part of your daily life choices.

Then I have the things I choose to do on a day to day basis. Looking back at my early retirement timesheet, these include things like my blog, keeping active, and enjoying time at the coffee shop. Some dream items have already moved into this section - travelling to Asia and Australia for four months in the second half of last year, and three months in California, Costa Rica and Colombia starting in a few months.

Getting back to what's next for my early retirement? A difficulty is not being certain what my dreams are but, whatever they are, they tend not to match up with Sally's ideas:

Sally's plan - stay in Morzine (French Alps) and work tutoring 8-10 children on a regular basis from home.

David's plan - go to Canada in summer 2020 and convert a van to a camper. Winter 2020/21 in the French Alps. From Spring 2021 travel through North America in the camper for one year. Perhaps do a few van conversions for sale. 2022 onwards, complete round the World trip i.e. Africa, South America and Europe. Continue with blogging and fitness.

Sally surprised me with her preference to remain in France, and to do some tutoring. I thought that working in a school was most important to her, but wanting to live in her own home and be near our children turned out to be higher priorities.

While finding out each other's preferences proved that we weren't on the same page, at least we'd got things out in the open. And by chatting about our ideas, we were able to better understand each other's priorities - the things that lie behind our choices.

We also talked through some other ideas, such as a teaching job in a school for Sally (the thing that I thought she wanted), as well as a flexi-living option where Sally would be settled in one place while I could do some longer travelling alone if I wanted.

Then it struck me. What we needed was a spreadsheet - clearly some of my old accountant traits are still hanging around! So I ignored Sally rolling her eyes, put a bunch of options on a spreadsheet, and marked (✔❌❔) how the different options aligned with each of our priorities. We then each ranked the options, giving a number 1 to our best option down to number 6 for our least desired option.

Early retirement "what's next?" options

Typically, my number 1 preferred option was almost at the bottom of Sally's list of what she wanted to do. And interestingly, the thing that Sally initially said she wanted didn't get her top ranking (it came in second) - I'm not sure how that works!

Next, we crossed out the things that each of us said were our least favourite, so whatever option Sally had ranked bottom (6) and second from bottom (5). After doing the same for my rankings, we were left with two options, Option 1 (Sally's 2nd ranked and my 4th ranked item) and Option 6 (Sally's top ranked and my 2/3 ranked item - I was not being very decisive!). Based on that analysis, Option 6, Flexi-living out of Morzine with part time travel (maybe some of it alone) is what we're now thinking about.

We still have more thinking and talking to do. Perhaps there are some remote teaching/education related opportunities that may suit Sally and increase her flexibility. I need to try to test out what it's like to spend some time in a van to see if it's a workable way to travel for us - if it is, can we resolve the logistical challenges to build it in Morzine?

But I'm sure we've moved forwards in our thought process. A few weeks ago we were on completely different pages and, although we haven't miraculously now got the same ideas, we do have a better understanding of each other's wants, and some initial ideas of how they might be achievable.

Being open with each other was vital, and it was actually difficult. Sally preferred to avoid the discussion, partly because she feels there's still time, but also because she knew that we had different ideas. When pushed, she gave views that tried to take account of what she thought I might want - it's nice that she did that, but it was also confusing because I couldn't figure out what she really wanted.

There are more discussions to have, but we have the outlines of a plan, a base location, and everyone's ideas are still in play, albeit not necessarily in quite the same form or timescales. I'll want to try to tie some more things into a plan, and Sally will no doubt get annoyed about that. We're still a couple where one of us is happy being normal, and one of us feels that he's been normal long enough and it's time for a change. That makes things difficult, but it doesn't mean it can't work.

A final note for Sally. If we stay in Morzine (option 6), this is what I'm thinking:

  1. Sally does her tutoring, but maybe looks into online tutoring/education related opportunities too as they can be more flexible.

  2. Early summer 2020, buy a van and spend the summer/autumn converting it into a camper. There are lots of logistical challenges about doing this in Morzine which need figuring out.

  3. Start with some shorter van trips exploring places in Europe.

  4. Assuming we do a good job converting the van into a camper, could we do conversions for onward sale? Perhaps 2-3 months per van conversion, timing to suit ourselves, and only one or two a year, allowing plenty of flexibility and time for other things.

  5. Over time, complete the round the world trip i.e. Africa, South America and North America, this last bit in the van.

  6. Continue with my blog.

  7. Continue with my fitness activities.

Maybe we'll rent a van when we visit California in September as a test run. Hopefully we like it enough to keep my dream alive, but if not, then I'll have to come up with some new dreams and plans. If Plan A doesn't work, I'll think of a Plan B, and I'll not let life be boring!

What do you think Sally?


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page