Early retirement, not all sunshine & rainbows
Early retirement can be a chance to do some new and exciting things. For me, that includes some longer travels (like 4 months in Asia & Australia or 3 months in California, Costa Rica & Colombia), moving to a new country, learning to ski, changing to a vegetarian and then a vegan diet, starting a blog, buying a campervan, and just generally have a change in mindset.
Another person might think these things aren't exciting at all and will have a different list of things new and exciting to them. As my mother used to say, it would be boring if we were all the same, it's our differences that make us interesting.
But there are also the more mundane parts of life, the stuff that is less sunshine and rainbows. In fact, and admittedly it's a little sad, I've twice kept a timesheet of my daily early retirement life, once in November 2017 and again in April 2019.
After a month in the UK, I've arrived back in France this week and made a list of things to do yesterday and today. On my list was:
Arrange ski insurance ✔️Done
Get my ski touring boots widened ✔️Done
Send Airbnb check-in instructions to our arriving guest ✔️Done
Collect package from Post Office ✔️Done
Contact plumber about broken shower door ✔️Done
Write a blog post ✔️Done
Appeal against a Swiss traffic fine ✔️Done fingers crossed🤞
Figure out Carte Vitale for access to French healthcare ❌Still to do
Try to understand French tax and social security payments ❌Still to do
Clear snow from the terrace ✔️Done
So, what do I make of the more mundane parts of early retirement life? My answer is that I still feel fortunate because...
If I was working, having to sort out ski insurance and getting my boots fitted wouldn't be required because I wouldn't be skiing at all. I'd be working instead. It's therefore a good chore to have. And now these are done, I can hit the slopes and enjoy the winter wonderland.
The package to be collected contained some replacement parts for a broken drawer runner, and contacting the plumber is because the shower door needs fixing and I can't find the part online. It's nice to be able to deal with these things during the day without having to rush around during a work lunch hour trying to get them done. Clearing the snow and sending the Airbnb check-in information can be done at a leisurely pace, instead of squeezing them in during a busy work week.
Retired or not, a traffic fine is never a good thing. The quick and easy way would be to pay the €330 / £280 /US$375, but I genuinely feel the fine is unfair. Completing the appeal has taken some time, but I'm glad I've done it, even if they don't find in my favour. If it appears in my monthly costs, you'll know I didn't win the appeal.
My blog is a hobby, something I enjoy doing. Of course, I could have blogged when I worked, but I know that I wouldn't have (something proved by the fact that I didn't!).
I haven't got around to figuring out how to get a Carte Vitale so that I can access the French Healthcare system, finding out whether the amount they say I have to pay is correct, as well as trying to understand the other French tax and social security payments that we are having to make. It's actually important that I do this, but I keep putting it off as they're not my favourite subjects. At least I have enough time to do it and aren't having to try to squeeze it in amongst a working week - I must get to it next week, no excuses!
The reality is that early retirement can't be non-stop excitement - I'd be worn out if it were. But when day to day tasks or chores need to be done, they feel a bit easier when they're not being crammed into a busy working life.
To me, early retirement continues to make sense, the sunshine and rainbow parts or course, but also that when there are chores to be done, I have the time to do them without having them compete with the pressures of work.