The two questions/comments we are asked most often are, “Wow, you are so lucky” and “What do you do all day, don’t you get bored?”
The answer to the first one is yes we are lucky, but there was also a large amount of planning and not exactly hardship, but we did make a conscious decision to deny ourselves and the family luxuries.
The second is more nuanced. While it has been almost 18 months since I was laid off, I only really consider myself retired for the last 2. As an aside i’m still uncomfortable saying I’m retired, to people I don’t know well I simply say i’m taking some time off to re-evaluate options.
The first year was spent planning to determine if we could retire, then getting our house in Houston up to scratch and finally selling the thing. The last few months have been spent physically moving to Oregon, buying a house and then moving in. It’s only really been since the kids have gone back to school that we actually feel like retired.
So what do we do all day? The simple answer, and this is the biggest pro of a FIRE life is, anything we want. We can now work on all those little projects that have been building up for 20 plus years that we never had time for when we were working 10-12 hours a day. Archiving and sorting out all our photographs; becoming better cooks and being able to plan and execute our week’s meals better without panicking on the way home from work and deciding to stop for a pizza again. We are also playing more board games – we’ve had some in our cupboard for years that we never actually learned to play because we just didn’t have time.
Tuffy is archiving and sorting out her parents belongings which is a major task that she would never be able to undertake if she were working. We have a whole new city to explore and we can now visit places during the day that the kids have no interest in. Portland has a huge volunteering scene and we are starting to get involved in that. We have time to blog!
But the number one biggest plus is having more time with the kids. Additionally, over the school holidays we are able to do anything we want with them without figuring out how many vacation days we can take. Next summer we will probably go back to England to see my family, and now there is nothing stopping us going over for 3 or 4 weeks. Later in the summer if we want to just up and go for a couple of days we can without getting anyone’s permission. The freedom is liberating.
However there are cons as well. The biggest is social, by moving to a new city and knowing only one or two people we definitely have to work hard to expand our social circle. We don’t have a new group of people that we know through work. This is definitely something to work at by joining groups or clubs.
The biggest con, for me at least, is that I’m not sure of my place in the world, I feel I have skills that are useful to people and I’m not utilizing them and thus not being challenged. Because of this and especially because I didn’t leave work on my own terms, there is a feeling of failure sometimes that hangs over things, and of not being successful. I still have dreams once or twice a week about work and it usually revolves around a scenario in which I’m being made to feel that I’m not good at my job. I recognize that this is normal for people laid off, but it is still something I am dealing with.
It may be in the future I do feel I need to go back to school or into the workplace to combat these feelings. However I’m hopeful that over time they will go away and our social circle will grow.