For most, retirement is a phase of life, a chapter near the end of the book, a distinct change in lifestyle. Social security age requirements may influence the target (retire at 62 or wait until full benefits kick in, or somewhere in between), or the status of one's 401K or retirement savings plan, or perhaps one's health condition. Any way you get there, hopefully you can enjoy it.
My father passed away from a stroke at age 55, and he had had huge retirement plans that he never fulfilled. My wife's mother became ill just about when her father retired, and he put aside their retirement travel plans. When he passed away, she was still too weak to travel. That inspired both of us to retire and hit the road running as soon as possible, I did postpone my exit as a manager a few months until I could help train my replacement, but was still 62 and Nadyne 63 when we pulled the trigger, selling our house and moving into our fifth wheel.
We had planned our escape for five years and could hardly believe when it finally arrived. Downsizing was far more difficult than we expected (as you can read about here), and leaving friends behind was equally disheartening. Social security only pays so much and we have resisted using savings, so Nadyne is still working about 40 hours per month and I am writing, along with getting a few book sales each month, so that we can be more comfortable in our travel.
Since retiring and moving to the highways and byways of America, we have had good times and bad, the bad mostly having to do with our RV repairs, losing Lucy, our beloved dog of 12 years, and COVID restrictions. However, the sights we've seen, the experiences we've shared, the awe of nature, the splendor of the night sky, the interesting differences in landscape and community among the different sections of the country, all of these have made our lifestyle much more than satisfying. As an added bonus, we've been able to visit, in person, our six kids, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and ten siblings and their families, scattered across the country. This would not have been possible if we weren't able to retire and travel freely like we do.
I did not experience a culture shock when I stopped getting up at 4:45am on weekdays. Instead, I began to "sleep in" until 7am and stay up as long as I like. Sometimes I even stay in bed until 8:30! Before the pandemic, we were able to experience the local night life and regional restaurant favorites wherever we happen to be and I have now sung karaoke in about 20 states. We are anxiously awaiting for this entertainment to become available (safely) to us again. I now have photo galleries posted from 35 states and our two cruises (Alaska and the Caribbean), much of which has been taken since we hit the road. We return to Colorado every summer to catch up with friends and do the doctor and dentist routines, and to tour one of our favorite states.
And then there are the myriad of friendships we've made, some due to our membership and activities in RVillage (now 300,000 RV members strong), and some are people we meet along our journeys. The RV community is an usual bunch in that members have much more in common that not. Almost everyone has stories about a black tank experience or a particularly bizarre campground, and they can't wait to share experiences with people who haven't heard them yet. We see a few of our RV friends in multiple locations, which is always fun. One couple has crossed our path in Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and in Ohio, and another in California, Florida and Oregon.
None of this would have been possible without our retiring while we still had our health. Sadly, like both of our fathers, some never get the chance. I highly recommend it!
I received several comments from friends, fans and followers about retirement, a popular topic. Here are a few of those (some have been edited or paraphrased):
A32Deuce- I retired at 59 in 2008 and haven't looks back. Get to do what we enjoy -- we bought our RV in 2012 and started to travel more. Time is short, so enjoy it while you can. I started planning to retire in 1968 to go out at the age of 55.
Hank and Shirleen- We retired after our 2nd careers in 2007. We had an RV for five years already. We took off for Alaska in May and have never looked back or were afraid we made a mistake. We stayed up there for three months. We are now on the road for 4-6 months every summer. We belong to two RV clubs and are gone two weeks out of every month all winter (in Texas). We still have our sticks and bricks (!) but we love our RV lifestyle. We have met sooo many new friends doing this and will keep on as long as we can!
Outofsightadventures- I retired last year and being a type-A personality all the way, nobody we know thought a) that I would retire and b) that I would make it past six months without running back to corporate America. Pfffft! I haven’t looked back once and definitely don’t miss it... at all. Livin’ the dream!
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- I retired at age 55 as we had met our retirement savings goal. Although I have enjoyed my job, once the goal had been obtained I didn’t see the point of working any longer. First thing I did was to go back to community college and take all the courses I never had time to take the first time around. I took about two classes a semester for nine years until we went full-time RVing, accumulating about 132 credit hours. I enjoyed sparring with the instructors (as I was often the oldest, wisest, most experienced person in the room). I always did my homework and unfortunately, raised the bar for the entire classroom (mostly 19-year-olds). I was also able to teach around 500 people in traditional methods of preparing whole, real food. Both of these activities really gave me purpose and meaning. But now it’s all about traveling and adventure, which I enjoy just as much.
Tom and Trish- I retired 1.5 years ago at age 64. I'm enjoying it and wish I had done it earlier. My wife plans on retiring in three years when she's 62. We moved from Durham, North Carolina, to the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau. Our new home is in the country but close to town. We built an RV Port and fenced in the nearly one-acre lot. I thought I would have more leisure time, but no, my wife bought me a fixer upper cabin on a lake. My time is split between our main property and the cabin. I've lost 20 pounds after leaving my desk job and much healthier, but, sadly, there's not enough time to enjoy RVing yet. I did sort of talk my wife into our first snowbirding trip to Alabama and Florida this fall and winter by making reservations. She still works (from home). I offered to head south early and set up camp; she'll join me a bit later.
Sharon M.- I took early retirement at 60 to start breeding horses, something I'd wanted to do since I was old enough to say "horsie". I'm still managing to do that, though I've had to downsize from the big warmbloods to mostly ponies... and a lot fewer numbers as well.
Nadyne H.- I'm only semi-retired as I still work for a couple of clients. I hope to someday be able to fully retire... I would love the absence of work stress, deadlines and concern about Internet running my life.
Mary Lou C.- I am disabled, so not really retired. I was running a service dog school and I truly loved it. But, between financial and health problems, I had to close it. Currently I am making masks and accessories. S ome of my previous students are reaching out to me because of their inability to use of the off-the-shelf masks. So, I am now enjoying a fun and rewarding hobby and looking forward to a true retirement!
Kat C. Hds- I was in the Aircraft Industry for years as a Buyer and MRP Controller Supervisor. I tired of the constant stress and overworking. In my late 40's, I took a voluntary lay-off, moved in with my sister while I went back to school full time. I got licensed in Massage Therapy and opened my own Day Spa. Going on 14 years now and couldn't be happier. I'm working less hours, hired independent contractors to allow me to manage the spa and take only the clients I want. Best decision ever. I'm not retired, but moving closer to my goal of only managing and at some point hiring a manager, then I will retire.
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.