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Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Old Oct 23rd 2017, 6:46 am
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Default Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Dear all,

I have previously seen on this forum threads on the merits of retiring in Malaysia and specifically Penang but I would like the views on the broader aspect of actually retiring early.

Nowadays I appreciate the age of retirement can vary but traditionally (in UK) it was anything below 65 so let this be the threshold.

When I was younger thoughts of hitting the fairways everyday, when I retire, was my dream but I also remember being a young Manager and guys aged in their 70s coming in to see me asking for a part time job just to fill their day.

At the time I thought they were crazy but now I can see they just wanted to regain some daily structure that they lost when they retired (plus some beer money).

These guys told me of friends and colleagues who had (of course this was after 65) who had "fallen off the perch as soon as they retired" and they wanted to stay active.

It is a big decision and of course finances dictate potential options but this question is mainly aimed at those not rich enough to occupy their time with a lavish lifestyle.

Now I am at the stage of whether to take that step and (again) I appreciate this is a subjective matter but please any thoughts on those who have taken the plunge and has reality met expectations?
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Old Oct 24th 2017, 5:14 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

The prospect of retirement is of course a worrying factor. As I approached that milestone each promotion caused greater worry as I would be losing an even greater sum of income when I left work. To get ready I started saving a decent sum each month to boost what I thought would be a vastly diminished income, and still lived a comfortable but by no means lavish lifestyle. My epiphany came when I realised that my company pension had reached a point where my pension after tax would match my living costs. I would no longer be a saver and could start to draw down on the savings for an even better lifestyle. That was the point where I decided it was time to take early retirement.

Of course I worried abut how to fill the extra time and arranged with my boss to do some ad hoc contract work from time to time. It took less than 2 months in Penang before telling him not to bother contacting me. Join a few hobby groups and it is surprising how quickly the time gets filled up.

If I could afford to live in the UK, living in Penang was going to be lavish. Apart from alcoholic beverages most things in Penang are much cheaper that the UK. Being free of UK taxes means that my tax relief pays for my rent and utility bills are a fraction of what they cost in the UK. So I have more disposable income and the cost of living is lower.

Sure there are some downsides, traffic, especially motorcyclists, has no respect for the rules of the road, some things are bogged down in bureaucracy and I still get annoyed by the skin tax but overall not only has moving to Penang met my expectations, it has significantly exceeded them. I just wish I had realised earlier that I could live comfortably in Penang on less and I would have retired earlier.
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Old Oct 24th 2017, 8:15 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

One needs to prepare for (early) retirement. Until then is most of your daily routine filled by activities at work. You need to replace that: you need multiple hobbies and activities to give meaning to your daily life if you don't go to work/company any longer. Finding these activities needs to be done already before retirement starts.
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Old Oct 24th 2017, 9:08 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

I think it is also going to depend on what your work currently entails. If it is intellectually stimulating and an easy commute then you will miss it more than a stressful job located at the end of a 60-minute train ride.

There is also the loss of "value" some people feel after retirement- what they do and say aren't so important outside of the professional environment.

Finally, it's also about the people you spend your time with in retirement - often this is with other retirees who, perhaps, don't make the transition very well or maybe it's baby-setting the grandchildren (handy that Penang is 6,000 miles away )

So finding a bunch of friends who don't dribble and a pastime that challenges the brain are both high priorities - good luck with that
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Old Oct 24th 2017, 10:12 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Originally Posted by InVinoVeritas View Post
I think it is also going to depend on what your work currently entails. If it is intellectually stimulating and an easy commute then you will miss it more than a stressful job located at the end of a 60-minute train ride.

There is also the loss of "value" some people feel after retirement- what they do and say aren't so important outside of the professional environment.

Finally, it's also about the people you spend your time with in retirement - often this is with other retirees who, perhaps, don't make the transition very well or maybe it's baby-setting the grandchildren (handy that Penang is 6,000 miles away )

So finding a bunch of friends who don't dribble and a pastime that challenges the brain are both high priorities - good luck with that


I retired on a whim, it was financially about tine and i was 56 but i did zero planning. However, i do like warmth, and am married to the caribbean so i now spend more time on a small rock north of venezuela, and am loving most of it. Better lifestyle, more healthy, better food, dangerously cheap booze, even the airs nicer. However the posting above is right, its about who you spend time with, keeping moderately active, learning new stuff and keeping moderately active, and avoiding mental decline [yes it was deliberate...]

Thing that surprised me - how much time it takes just maintaining a house and cooking everything from scratch in the tropics. I find myself reasonably busy at least half the tine which is enough :-)
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Old Oct 24th 2017, 3:12 pm
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Even without engaging in various activities I feel that it is more fun to be bored in Penang than in my home country (Sweden)
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Old Oct 24th 2017, 3:40 pm
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Is early retirement only available to the rich or people with company pensions? I need $1mn for every $4000/month of income assuming 30 years of retirement. What happens if retirement lasts more than 30 years? What if the returns on the money is less than expected? Also the $4000 does not increase with inflation.

Is it sometimes more financially stressful to retire, than not retire?
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Old Oct 24th 2017, 4:39 pm
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
Is early retirement only available to the rich or people with company pensions? I need $1mn for every $4000/month of income assuming 30 years of retirement. What happens if retirement lasts more than 30 years? What if the returns on the money is less than expected? Also the $4000 does not increase with inflation.

Is it sometimes more financially stressful to retire, than not retire?
You're probably not far off if you have no pension income, but it depends on numerous factors:-

1. Is $4,000 per month really enough?
2. What investment return are you averaging?
3. How much tax will you have to pay?
4. What will be the average inflation rate?
5. Do you have to self-finance your medical expenses?
6. Will your monthly needs decrease as you get older and by how much?
7. Do you want there to be any capital left to give to your family?
8. Are there any capital expenses such as car replacement during the period?

I think giving up a well-paid job to retire too early will only compound the risk of running out of money.
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Old Oct 25th 2017, 3:08 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Early retirement - was it what you expected?
Nope. Crystal ball broken. I didn't expect husband to pass away during that. I didn't expect to be travelling so much. I didn't expect to meet another nice guy. Hey.... you never know what is around the corner. But that is life !!

Neon has pretty much summed it up. If you can afford to do so and will not miss your job terribly, then just DO IT. Find hobbies, interests, charity work.... or all three. Do some travelling. Enjoy. If you don't have any interests, push yourself. Get out there and join some clubs whatever. Though this thread is not about Penang, Penang is a good place for that. There are other places of course.
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Old Oct 25th 2017, 6:24 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Thanks all for the advice and observations.

Ranging from fully planned to retired on a whim, it's more proof that "one size does not fit all".

Picking up on some points:

Yes SushiFan and NeonHippy pursuing hobbies would be on my list. I am a avid golfer but disc issues put paid to playing everyday but I can certainly "manage it twice a week" (my thanks to "Carry on Doctor").

IVV it would be nice if any new friends don't dribble but after spending my youth drinking with friends who at the end of a weekend boozing duly dribbled then it would feel like full circle.

uk_grenada its sound idyllic but would you advise keeping moderately active?

Gunnar45 yep I agree years ago I lived in Thailand and when I moved back to the UK (in the winter) it felt like my daily life had moved from technicolour to black and white - I'd rather live in technicolour.

"Is it sometimes more financially stressful to retire, than not retire?"

Like you mrken I am considering the actuarial but of course as bakedbean poignantly highlighted you cannot guarantee the time you have so your own risk taking persona has to kick in.

When I was younger I backpacked around the world and a group of us were drinking beer on Copacabana beach and a Aussie guy who joined us had been travelling for 5 years while renting his Sydney house out.

I was in awe that he's been able to do this and I asked "so what's your plan" and he replied "you know I don't have a plan but everything is going to plan".

Sometimes its just best to do things.
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Old Oct 25th 2017, 7:52 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Originally Posted by Macsta View Post
Thanks all for the advice and observations.



uk_grenada its sound idyllic but would you advise keeping moderately active?
I did didnt i? Not heavily active - i swim and walk a lot but here in t’tropics i find it just too hot to enjoy actual deliberate exercise. Eating healthily is important, and is relatively easy here, i’m in an enviable position of having a non lethal heart issue that means i have been investigated for just about every complication that could exist and have emerged as horribly healthy regarding the more common things that tend to kill or damage the enjoyment of the older person, but of course this means i will be run over or eaten by a shark

Re money - i actually live on less than 1k us a month, which is a pension, other pensions havent kicked in yet, but do have serious reserves if needed.
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Old Oct 25th 2017, 9:14 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
I need $1mn for every $4000/month of income assuming 30 years of retirement.
You must be living in a much more expensive location than I am. We (wife and I) don't spend that much in Penang.
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Old Oct 25th 2017, 9:16 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Originally Posted by Macsta View Post
Yes SushiFan and NeonHippy pursuing hobbies would be on my list. I am a avid golfer but disc issues put paid to playing everyday but I can certainly "manage it twice a week" (my thanks to "Carry on Doctor").
So, two days out of seven are covered for. Now you need to define what you're going to do the other five. This is why I used the plural form ("hobbies") as one will not be sufficient.
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Old Oct 25th 2017, 10:00 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Originally Posted by uk_grenada View Post
I did didnt i?
Sorry uk_grenada I meant it jokingly from your original comment "yes it was deliberate" - one of my failings, I am discovering, is reading irony or indeed humour into web postings.

Recently I challenged a replier (in newspaper comments) that surely the person they were berating was being obviously ironic and I was "informed" that on the internet "Poe's Law" is applicable - unfortunately now even acknowledging this net protocol I still get caught out.

Thanks for the update and additional information, it seems fantastic there.
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Old Oct 25th 2017, 10:12 am
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Default Re: Early retirement - was it what you expected?

Originally Posted by SushiFan View Post
what you're going to do the other five.
Thanks SushiFan, I hope to find a Pilates class in Penang to go a couple of times a week as that, by far, has been the most effective treatment for my back and from what others have said Penang seems to have a number of further activities available to explore.
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