31 Replies Latest reply on Aug 13, 2013 2:44 PM by tmb325

    Why retire early?

    RBinDC
      I understand that many people want to retire early.  Not me.  

      I'm 75 years old and still working part-time as a self-employed consultant and love what I do.  My income is way less than half what I made when fully employed but I still manage to net (after expenses) around $100K per year working one or two days per week. 

      What bugs me is that my marginal income tax rate is about 50% because I have to pay both sides of the medicare and FICA taxes.  In return for that $15,000 payment my social security benefit is increased by maybe $18 per month.  At that rate I will have to live past 100 to get back those contributions with no interest earned on them.  This is a serious flaw in the social security system that undoubtedly acts to discourage people from working past 65.  In contrast, earnings from investments ("unearned income") are not subject to the Medicare and FICA taxes.  Talk about stacking the deck in favor of the well off!!!!

      I'm thinking about moving to California where real estate is sky high and the cost of living is exorbitant.  As long as I can work that's not a problem.  If I were to retire there today, I estimate my savings would last for about 10 years.  Assuming I live longer I can take out a reverse mortgage on my condo and live on that for 10 more years (a very low probability event).  

      I am not interested in leaving my children a big estate.  I just want to live out the rest of my life in a pleasant and rewarding way. Whatever is left over for my children will be good enough. 

      I know my retirement planning is not exactly "prudent" but at this point I want to enjoy to the maximum what's left of my life. 

       Comments?
        • Re: Why retire early?
          JerryD
          Your income is very generous. We live on a fraction of that. You don't mention a spouse. Providing for one is less expensive than two.
           
          You complain of taxes but your situation has ways of sheltering lots of income as a self-employed person. Have you ever figured out what your actual living costs would be if you eliminated the costs of working and had your home paid for? Have you considered moving to a lower cost area that is close enough to where you want to be but accessible using the time you have to travel via car, train or short plane trip enough times to keep you happy?
            • Re: Why retire early?
              RBinDC
              JerryD said...
              Your income is very generous. We live on a fraction of that. You don\'t mention a spouse. Providing for one is less expensive than two.
               
              You complain of taxes but your situation has ways of sheltering lots of income as a self-employed person. Have you ever figured out what your actual living costs would be if you eliminated the costs of working and had your home paid for? Have you considered moving to a lower cost area that is close enough to where you want to be but accessible using the time you have to travel via car, train or short plane trip enough times to keep you happy?
              There is only so much income you can shelter legally and it is not worth trying to cheat IRS.  If you are caught the penalties are too high.  Even if you are not caught, do you really want to have to worry about it?  

              I have considered (and still am considering) living somewhere cheaper, yet still desirable.  Seattle, Portland and Vancouver Canada are in the running.  But none have California's great weather.  Also, I don't know anyone there, whereas I have friends in the San Francisco Bay Area (though not many).  

              I have also considered living in Marin or the East Bay.  The drawback is that making the effort to go into the city is just enough to discourage going very often.  And the older I get the bigger the disincentive will become.  Living in downtown SF allows walking to most places of interest, or taking public transit.

              I'm single (again) which is depressing at 75.  And at this age I no longer have the energy to go out beating the bushes to meet an interesting, attractive woman.  Hopefully that will change with time.  
               
                   
                   
                   
                  • Re: Why retire early?
                    JerryD
                    Didn't mean to imply that you should test the patience of the IRS. Not that I am in any way an expert, but I always thought that consulting allows one to use a SEP account to shelter 25% of one's income for later retirement.
                    • Re: Why retire early?
                      Carlos

                      I read your post and I thought it was interesting that with California being as tax laden as it is that you would consider it.  I live in southern California in Orange County. I really do love it and yes the weather is great year round. However, there is a cost for this weather. 

                      San Francisco is nice and depending on where you live you could walk to places. They have a great transit system that I love. However, it is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.  I am not saying that you cannot afford it, but health care is expensive and it is one of the most expensive places for long term care in the country. Also, being a huge city it may be more difficult to meet some nice ladies.

                      If you are going to come to California because that's where you just have to be. I suggest coming to San Diego. It is a great city of seniors. Has great healthcare. It's clean. Has lots of activities and attractions. The weather is great year round. Has lots of arts with universities close by all over the city. The housing there is cheaper than San Francisco. There are a lot of senior citizens there as well. For that matter there are a lot of seniors close to me at a place called Laguna Woods. You may want to check it out. They have a golf course and all types of amenities at Laguna Woods. I would google it and see.

                      I am only 52 and I think about retirement and plan for it. The biggest concern has been how to stretch my retirement. I keep coming back to California. Like you, I love the weather. There are no bugs, there is not extreme cold or heat and I am a ten minute drive down the street to the beach.  I want to downsize to a smaller house but my wife won't let me.  California is a great place. I would visit for a few months if you can and scope it out. I believe you would meet people quicker than you think.

                      • Re: Why retire early?
                        jkom51
                        I've lived in the SF Bay Area since 1969. I'm wondering if you have seriously investigated living in SF. It isn't the city it used to be. The transit is a mess - and dangerous to boot, even on the formerly great #38 Geary (we lived in the Richmond district for 17 yrs).
                         
                        It takes a lot of $$$ to buy even a small condo in the SoMa area. The current price for a new 1bd 1ba condo is in the $600K range - roughly $700/sq. ft. Zoning issues have pushed condo developments into SoMa. Thing is, it's a Millennials hotspot. We felt out of place there at 45 and it's worse now.
                         
                        Where would you be walking to? Mind you, it's a great walking town, one of the best. But downtown, what are you going to do? Do you shop a lot at Macy's and Neiman Marcus? SFMoMA is the only noteworthy museum downtown: building is great, collection is hideous (but I don't care for modern art). Downtown/Union Square is being torn up for the underground light rail that will run through Chinatown; traffic is a mess now and will continue to be for the next five years or more it will take to complete this boondoggle.
                         
                        Baseball? AT&T Park is in SoMa, if you follow the Giants. Ferry Building Plaza? Not many can afford to shop there, altho it's a lot of fun once in a great while. Just kick the homeless out of the way and hope they don't kick you back. The problem's bad, and getting worse everywhere, not just SF.
                         
                        I also lived downtown for seven years, in the No Man's Land between the Tenderloin and Russian Hill. They're all rental apartments, condos, or commercial buildings, no single family homes there. Great exercise walking straight up the hill and down again to the Wharf, but that was when I was twenty-five. My knees couldn't take it now. Muni access north-south is not as good as it is east-west.
                         
                        On the positive side, good food and wine is everywhere, although downtown at night pretty much empties out except for the "in" places. Your downtown grocery markets are Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. It's easier living without a car if you stick to your own neighborhood, but if you want to go anywhere or visit friends, you either rent a car, sign up for ZipCar, or suffer with the expense of garaging your own and struggling with the parking issue.
                         
                        Newest culinary hotspot is the Mission, but I wouldn't recommend living there. Marina is a nice compromise, expensive to live in but mostly flat with all that gorgeous Bay views, the lure of the Presidio National Park, and great restaurants with easy access to Marin Cty (but it's a bear to get to SFO from this area). Studio apartments run $1300/mo w/o parking (a retired friend lives in the Marina and has been renting for the last three years).
                         
                        Have to say you are more likely to find a "nice lady friend" well away from SF downtown. Marina, Lake Merced, Telegraph Hill, West Portal - those SFH neighborhoods are well away from the cockroaches and homeless of downtown. Senior centers in downtown/SoMa areas cater to the high number of poor elderly - On Lok Health Services is being studied by Medicare for their success in keeping elderly seniors out of nursing facilities (of which there aren't many in SF, real estate being as expensive as it is).
                        HTH.
                          • Re: Why retire early?
                            SL65
                            Why would anyone want to live there ?  Move out of California , there are so many wonderful places to live in the U.S. with NONE of these problems.  Go visit the city once in awhile and get your fix.  I moved out of CA  after college and have never looked back !
                              • Re: Why retire early?
                                jkom51
                                I have lived elsewhere. I happen to prefer the SF Bay Area. Geographically gorgeous, great weather, liberal politics, diverse racial population. And if you're a retired foodie as we are, it's hard to imagine a better location to be centered.
                                 
                                We travel 6x/yr on mid-week, multi-day stays to Napa and Sonoma counties, 2x/yr same for Carmel and Monterey, and once a year up to Mendocino. We go out to eat 3-4x/week within the immediate area. Not counting repeats, we've eaten at over 300 different restaurants in the last 3-1/2 yrs.
                                 
                                In the last two weeks we've eaten Mexican, Indonesian, Pakistani, Ethiopian, Korean, Brazilian, and Japanese. The first week in May we're returning to Sonoma and Napa for the second time in 2012 to indulge in more French food (our favorite cuisine).
                                 
                                In under two hours we can travel in almost any direction to reach great restaurants and renowned chefs. This is an area crowded with culinary talent. Instead of one or two or even three superb French restaurants, for example, here there are hundreds to choose from.
                                 
                                In the SF Bay Area you can have Chinese dim sum for breakfast, Portugese bacalhau for lunch, and nuevo-Moroccan for dinner. In 15 minutes I can be walking along the Bay in a cotton Tee with scenic views of water, sky, and mountains. In less than 4 hours I can ride a sled down a snow-covered hill. We can shop at Bloomingdale's in SF or watch the creation of hand-blown glass at Nourot Glass in Benicia.
                                 
                                People come from all over the world to visit this place. I live here, and love it. One just has to be aware of the disadvantages. The OP can certainly find what he wants, but he needs to be much more specific about what it is he wants from a CA lifestyle, and find the area that fits it. That is one of the greatest attractions of the state - anyone can find a place to fit one's heart and soul, because there are so many different lifestyles one can choose from here.
                                 
                                It's challenging and exciting to live in the SF Bay Area. Definitely not for everyone, and we wouldn't want it to be. Like Oregon, we like people to come and spend their money with us, and then go away and let us enjoy the wonders we have in our own front yards.
                                  • Re: Why retire early?
                                    JerryD
                                    Jkom, food is certainly one of the big attractions of urban areas. We left the Chicago area and miss the restaurants and shopping. But we are not, and suspect many others are not too, as dedicated to eating out as you. We watch very carefully for local gems and eat out at least once a week. Recent dietary restrictions has limited the choices but it is still fun. Our experience from unemployed times has allowed us to look at less than top-end choices.
                                     
                                    Long road trips in the last 2 years has also opened up food and experience choices in areas of the country we have never seen. Although we lived in one of the largest urban areas for decades, we are originally rural people and there are things from that experience that allows us to appreciate non-urban areas too.
                                      • Re: Why retire early?
                                        jkom51
                                        I'm from Chicago originally - born in Hyde Park, high school near Wrigley Field (when it didn't have lights, LOL)! I still miss the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Field Natural History...gorgeous, gorgeous places. Beaux-arts architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright, my two great style loves.
                                         
                                        I think people tend to try to return to what they're familiar with. I'm a city rat and always 'lean' towards them. DH is from Hong Kong so he is also more comfortable in the city than the country.
                                         
                                        The great thing about the SF Bay Area is that you can eat as well for $30 as you can for $300. You don't have to compromise on quality of ingredients, healthy cooking, or travel distance. It's foodie heaven, even if the top-end does tend to lag behind NYC and LA. Locals reserve conservatism for a few favored culinary old-timers, and IMHO it tends to hold us back from the real cutting-edge stuff that takes a while to filter in.
                                         
                                        To us the attraction of a city is the services. There are multiple transit systems (such as they are, but at least they exist) so there are generally several ways to reach a destination, which is useful. Two major hospitals are within 15 minutes of our home - in fact that is one of the major disadvantages of SF. Most of the hospitals have closed and the biggest, SF General, is not where you want to go into Emergency on a Saturday night. It pushes you to be a Kaiser HMO member, because Kaiser's got a massive presence in SF. The other hospital chain has no emergency center in SF any longer; it closed years ago.
                                         
                                        Despite SF's small size (7 miles across its widest point; you can walk it), the hills, traffic patterns, and street design make it very difficult to go "across town". It's one of the reasons SF has such vibrant neighborhood life, ironically - it's too hard to get to, and to park, in other neighborhoods more than a couple of miles away.
                                         
                                        Compare this to living in the Oakland hills, where we are as likely to go 20 miles into Contra Costa County for dinner or 10 miles the opposite direction into Berkeley/Albany for lunch - both of which take the same amount of time, or even less, than it takes to travel 5 miles from downtown SF to the mid-Richmond district where we used to live.
                                         
                                        The downside, of course, is that you need a car, preferably two. OTOH, it's hard to keep even one car in SF, as many older apartments have no parking for residents at all. We were reluctant to leave SF, but after 20 yrs in the East Bay have no regrets. The weather's better, the neighborhood is friendly, we have six massive county parks within a 5-minute drive, and although the senior services are more spread out than in SF, there are more of them since we have easy access to three separate counties instead of just one.
                                         
                                        There are other downsides to living in CA. For most Boomers and Millennials, friendships are made through work, so the OP is fortunate if still working, even part-time, as it makes social networking much easier. People move around a lot even within the region, so we're accustomed to keeping in touch via email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It isn't uncommon to go without seeing your friends for several years even if they only live less than a hour away.
                                         
                                        Also, it takes time and money to travel around the area. There are inexpensive things to do, but you can rack up expenses very quickly here. Living the good life here does take a higher-than-average income, no doubt about it. Our taxes are high, gas is costly, etc. etc.
                                         
                                        But when you're sitting in the Meritage restaurant/Claremont Hotel's panoramic view dining room, with palm trees and old oaks framing the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge, eating Tournedos Rossini....well, not surprisingly we want to stay here forever!
                                         
                                        (And to the OP: the higher end version of this is dining on the patio [only 4 tables] at Auberge du Soleil/Rutherford, north of Napa, for lunch in early spring - stupendous view clear across the entire Napa Valley, superb service, magnificent food. The veal and lobster sandwich on brioche is as divine as the scenery! One of those 'perfect CA moments'.)
                                          • Re: Why retire early?
                                            JerryD
                                            jkom51 said...
                                            I\'m from Chicago originally - born in Hyde Park, high school near Wrigley Field (when it didn\'t have lights, LOL)!
                                             
                                            ...
                                             
                                            The great thing about the SF Bay Area is that you can eat as well for $30 as you can for $300.
                                            ...
                                             
                                            Compare this to living in the Oakland hills, ...
                                             
                                            So, you know where Lutz's Bakery is???
                                             
                                            Long ago, drank a bottle of wine and ate cheese for lunch in a Santa Rosa  park that the spouse and I bought at a winery that morning. Then we enjoyed several days in SF at the end of our trip from Seattle to SF along 101.
                                             
                                            Have eaten in Oakland with some Lawrence Livermore Lab folks  that I visited several times while working for a national lab in Chicago. On the way home I drove out to the beach directly from the San Mateo Bridge, ate lunch there and then back to the airport - BEAUTIFUL!
                                             
                                            Spent a week in Palo Alto with 1,000's of hard drinking/eating HP users and especially employees. 
                                             
                                            Love the area. But also think that Chicago is a very nice town even though we were raised on Lake Superior.
                                             
                                             
                                             

                                              • Re: Why retire early?
                                                jkom51
                                                Lutz Bakery - there's a name I haven't heard in a very long time! Yes indeed, I remember Lutz. Wasn't that far from where my mom and stepdad lived, in fact.
                                                 
                                                Chicago's a great town. I remember how shocked I was when I moved to SF and found out that everything closes up at either 11p or 2a at the latest. Wasn't used to 'the sidewalks rolling up' because Chicago, like NY, never sleeps, LOL.
                                                 
                                                Apologies to the OP for going off-topic here.
                                    • Re: Why retire early?
                                      TroutBum
                                      "Why retire early?" I guess each of us has our own somewhat unique situation, our own goals and our own thoughts on how to achieve them.
                                       
                                      I grew up in a conservative midwest home where my dad (a carpenter) and my mom (a waitress) worked their entire lives hoping to retire to "the good life." All seemed to be working for them until my dad, at the age of 51, had a massive stroke that kept him in a hospital bed until he died 13 years later. My mom made it a couple more years before cancer took her life. 
                                       
                                      My wife and I have both been with our current employers for more  than 30 years. Each of us started at entry level positions and each of us worked our way up to managerial spots. We don't make a ton of money but we do OK and have been investing into our retirement programs since the very beginning.
                                       
                                      About 2 years ago my wife was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately it was detected fairly early and, more than a year later, it appears the treatments were successful. But what an eye opener. Since that diagnosis we both have thought a lot about my parents and the retirement opportunities they never got to enjoy.
                                       
                                      She and I have jobs that we like and work with people we enjoy. So why would we want to retire early? Well, there's a whole lot out there beyond what we've been able to experience during our limited vacation time and neither of us wants to leave this world without taking advantage of it all we can. Retirement is a new frontier to us and we fully intend to explore it while we're able. I'll be trading in my 24/7 on-call phone for a kayak at the earliest reasonable opportunity.
                                      • Re: Why retire early?
                                        julieMango
                                        If your life is your work, it is understandable that you would like to keep doing it until they put you in the grave.  However, many people have a number of year they plan to work up to and then retire to be able to to the things they want to.  Often, people drop dead before that magic day or get too sick to do the things they want to.   It would be more practical to decide on your bucket list and start on it now and try living on what you would have if you retired now.  If you can do it, go for it.  You can be dead tomorrow or the next day.  I never heard a dying person say 'Boy, I wished I could work more.'
                                         
                                         
                                         
                                          • Re: Why retire early?
                                            ladyjustice
                                            This is so true. We need to plan and then execute with what we have now. Tomorrow is not promised. You are so right, many people die before they get a chance to enjoy life.
                                             
                                            I often think about my parents who both died too early. My Mother was 51 and my Father was 57 years old. I do know that I do not plan on working full time too long.
                                             
                                            You summed it up well when you said when you said to start now living on what you would have if you retired now.
                                            It is never to early to start planning.
                                             
                                            Thank you for sharing!!!
                                          • Re: Why retire early?
                                            c5ac5b9
                                            Well I plan to retire at the age of 58, I'm currently 53.  Why retire early, well at the age of 48, while walking into the hospital to go to work, I was dizzy and went to the Emergency Department.  Six hours later, I was getting an emergency quadruple bypass.  My life changed at that point.  I made a lot of money, but money is not the answer.  I was invited to go give a medical talk in Australia last summer and then visited Fiji as a side trip.  Fell in love with the simple life and great people, bought 10 acres of land on the Coral Coast and will build a house there in the next 4 years and move there in 2017.  The health care there is not great, but I figure I have at most 15 years left, so I'll never see 70 because of genetic issues and my heart.
                                             
                                            Life's short, money means nothing, but I will enjoy my last several years and leave my family some cash.  Enjoy the smell of the roses, as they aren't there forever.
                                              • Re: Why retire early?
                                                MrBags
                                                Well stated thoughts -have pondered a lot of enough or not enough .Still worry about retiing at age 66 an never getting another pay check for 20-30 years? As important or more so is GOOD Health --   all the things we mentioned are predicated on Good Heath .We swim walk ,work out 4 times a week or more -none of the retirement plans work without  having the health to enjoy it-Lets pray we get to enjoy both.
                                              • Re: Why retire early?
                                                catdaddytn
                                                My husband and I met with a TIAA-CREF rep last week.  I'd love to retire early and like many have said, you never know how long  you will love.  In our situation, my monthly income will vary greatly between ages 59 1/2 and 64.  Though this is not certain, but it looks like I'll work till 64.
                                                 
                                                My 90 year old aunt asked me recently, "When are you going to retire?"  She was able to retire at about 55 with 30 years at her teaching job.  I"m 53.
                                                 
                                                thanks. 
                                                • Re: Why retire early?
                                                  tgalbright
                                                  I would like to retire early because I expect to have a shortened lifespan, and I would like a few years of retirement while still healthy enough to travel.  I am 59 and have had Type-I (Juvenile) diabetes for 30 years. Paying off the house will not allow me to retire until 62 (yes I could sell the house but I won't in this market).  To retire at 62, I must have health insurance coverage between 62 and 65 until Medicare takes over, that is, unless the Republicans dismantle Medicare.  Between 62 and 65, I could get health coverage between COBRA and then "Obamacare" which is why I like "Obamacare."  People who are opposed to "Obamacare" liken it to "socialized medicine" which could not be further from the truth.  Requiring everyone to purchase health insurance - how capitalist is that!
                                                    • Re: Why retire early?
                                                      smaneck
                                                      tgalbright said...
                                                      I would like to retire early because I expect to have a shortened lifespan, and I would like a few years of retirement while still healthy enough to travel.  I am 59 and have had Type-I (Juvenile) diabetes for 30 years. Paying off the house will not allow me to retire until 62 (yes I could sell the house but I won't in this market).  To retire at 62, I must have health insurance coverage between 62 and 65 until Medicare takes over, that is, unless the Republicans dismantle Medicare.  Between 62 and 65, I could get health coverage between COBRA and then "Obamacare" which is why I like "Obamacare."  People who are opposed to "Obamacare" liken it to "socialized medicine" which could not be further from the truth.  Requiring everyone to purchase health insurance - how capitalist is that!
                                                      I hear you on Obamacare. It is the only reason I can consider retiring before 65. 
                                                    • Re: Why retire early?
                                                      Basing your decision to not retire early on the half-truths and lies flying around from certain politicians makes a lot of sense?  You'll be working forever if you started drinking that kool-aid.  And if you're listening to AARP, good luck with that strategy too.
                                                       
                                                      I will retire "early" from my university but not as early as my father retired from the same school.  He got out at 53.  Mom and Dad have had 23 fantastic retirement years.  They found volunteer opportunities where they could both contribute.  They traveled a lot.  Eventually they sold the fifth-wheel and settled down, keeping a home up north and another in the south.  Over the past 30+ years, I did everything I could to pile money into my retirement account so I could do the same thing.  But now I'm 54 and still working ONLY because my wife is younger than me and has her own successful business and I'd be traveling alone!  We're going to give it two more years and we will both retire - regardless of the political climate and the threats being tossed around!  We will determine our future.  We will not let others decide our future for us!
                                                  • Re: Why retire early?
                                                    cfp1205
                                                    This is a very individual thing, and one that I had spent a lot of time trying to plan for.  In the end it was a simple leap of faith.  To be brief, I told my friends that I know what money and health I presently have.  What I don't know is how much time I have and what will I be able to do with that time.  Maybe to wait for more money and more comfort backfires and you end up with less of everything but money.  I just retired and am very happy with what I have.  Yes it would have been nice to not have to watch my pennies but I am so grateful for the time and money I have to spend with the people I love and to still be able to do what I want.  By the way I am 62.5 and consider myself to be very lucky.  It is all how you look at things.  My glass is more than half full.
                                                      • Re: Why retire early?
                                                        bsox1918
                                                        Your attitude gets my vote.  Sometimes it just ain't about the money.
                                                          • Re: Why retire early?
                                                            jkom51
                                                            Actually, happiness is never really about money.
                                                             
                                                            Two separate surveys have found to their surprise that many financially poor seniors rate themselves as "very happy". It comes down to realizing that it's experiences that make us rich, not possessions.
                                                             
                                                            To be happy in a place, you need connections. They can be social, work-based, church-based, hobby-based, whatever - it is other people that we are connected to, that make a place dear to us.
                                                             
                                                            Retiring early has some real disadvantages. If your friends and family aren't retired, you are left pretty much on your own, and weekends are still the preferred time to get together. You need to have something meaningful to fill your time with.
                                                             
                                                            Some people find it hard to adjust to that. My DH and I have always had hobbies, so for us early retirement was easy. It's been three years and we still haven't finished doing many of the things we want to do. Our hobbies keep us busy and fulfilled, in between social engagements. DH likes to say there's not enough hours in the day!
                                                          • Re: Why retire early?
                                                            TJN
                                                            Right about the leap of faith - it is individual, and in reading some of these boards, there are some who, quite frankly, will never have enough to retire without worry. However, it is unlikely that anyone will have better health as they get older - and if you want to, for example, see the Pyramids, it is preferable to do so while you can still walk.
                                                          • Re: Why retire early?
                                                            lkwsc
                                                            My husband and I will be retiring in the next two years (I'll be 58 and he'll be 60).
                                                             
                                                            This is retiring early, by many standards.
                                                             
                                                            But we only have one surviving parent at this point (my dad at 76), having lost my mom at 62 after 10 years of disability due to a neurological disorder - the cause was not clear (she had perfect health before that)  - and my husband's dad at about the same age with a sudden stroke (he had heart disease).  My husband's mom died at 75 from cancer, so not so unusual.
                                                             
                                                            In any case, we started traveling in earnest on my husband's 50th birthday, and somewhat serendipitiously bought a second house in the mountains of Western North Carolina several years ago, rolling my mom and my husband's mom's house into a family legacy. We thought that they'd be glad for us, which is a good thing.
                                                             
                                                            We'll live in this house in retirement, at least the first couple of decades, hopefully. (It has 3 levels, but is small and energy-efficient and is within walking distance of downtown Asheville).
                                                             
                                                            I enjoy many parts of my job, but I'm also totally aware that life may be short,  you don't know when your time might be up, and (we're blessed and totally grateful to have the financial resources to think about this), so why the heck not?
                                                             
                                                            We plan to be active volunteers (we're both educators by profession) and give back to our community.  I'm looking forward to it. 
                                                             
                                                            • Re: Why retire early?
                                                              mariko
                                                              I'd love to retire right now--in fact, I should. I have fibromyalgia and other health issues, and I work so hard as a teacher that I don't have the time or energy to take care of myself the way I need to. Exercise? When? It's 9 p.m. and I am still at school.
                                                              I've worked very hard for a long time (30+ yrs), but if I retire on disability, I would barely get $800 a month at my current age (58). I am single now, so I don't have a second income to help, or a pension (private schools and graduate school don't provide them). It could take up to 4 years to qualify for disability and you can't earn any money at all during that time! I guess only married people need apply....If I quit, I don't qualify for unemployment. I am at the top of the salary scale as a teacher, so my chances of getting hired anywhere else at my age is virtually nil, despite the fact that I am very good at what I do.
                                                               
                                                              It's so discouraging. I have been researching moving to Ecuador or another close-by "third world country" because I, a well-educated American woman, can't live on what I would have on disability (should I qualify) and would barely be able to live here on my 403b TIAA-CREF funds and Social Security if by some miracle I can teach until age 67. It makes me feel so disrespected, dishonored, and ashamed in some way---what happened???
                                                               
                                                              My 85-year-old mother's generation got the best of the teacher pension, military pension and benefits, and social security. I, as a "junior" level baby boomer, was just not quite old enough to get in at the beginning of the next round---those folks just 5-10 years older than me pretty much swept up the pensions and benefits (along with the "moving up" opportunities in various professions) before my age group got there...I graduated from college into the recession of the 70s, and then the 80s. A dear friend, a talented college professor and successful educator, can't get a job at age 59, is having her townhouse foreclosed on, living on her TIAA-CREF, and in despair about where she is at this time in her life. I know several more single educated women in their 50s who are in similar straits. There is something really wrong here.
                                                               
                                                              My dear son, in his late 20s, is unfortunately in a similar spot when compared to the 30- and 40-somethings who got in at the start of the various tech and housing booms...It's virtually impossible to catch up monetarily when your age bracket starts out with such a disadvantage, and I really worry about him and his opportunities for the basics of the American Dream. Will he be able to buy a home? I barely can, and my house isn't even in the city I work in--I live with my mother so I can get to my job. If I try to sell my house, I won't make anything on it.
                                                               
                                                              My 2 bachelor degrees, a master's and most of a doctorate sure paid off for me in terms of earning potential! It's too bad I chose education--my calling and passion instead of a money-making career. Maybe I wouldn't feel that I have no choice but to apply for low-income housing and food stamps if I retire in the USA, or move to a country where $800 gets you housing, food and medical attention you can just afford--and be thousands of miles away from my family, child and grandchildren and the other people I love. I wish all of this were exaggeration or a nightmare I could wake from, but unfortunately, it is the reality of my life and of many others these days.
                                                                • Re: Why retire early?
                                                                  JerryD
                                                                  Sounds like the first thing you should do is start thinking about yourself and your health more and cut back the working hours. I can't imagine that it is mandatory to work until 9.
                                                                    • Re: Why retire early?
                                                                      mariko
                                                                      No, it's not mandatory, but with more and more things being required of (private school) teachers, you have to spend the time to keep up with administrative demands or risk being fired, criticized, get a poor performance review, etc. Many teachers just take it home and work all evening.
                                                                      The kids and the parents are great, but nobody seems to know these days when to stop with workload requirements. With all the media and political criticism of teachers, there is more oversight, micromanaging and interference by admin people who are themselves being pressured to show results, look good for PR and marketing reasons...the students sometimes seem like the last item that is considered. Add in that increasing numbers of students  enter with significant learning or behavioral issues, and the number of hours needed to keep up with it all is off the charts from even 15 years ago...
                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                  • Re: Why retire early?
                                                                    cyber888
                                                                    If you are very happy with what you are doing at work - then I understand why you don't want to retire even at 75. 

                                                                    If you are very unhappy with what you are doing - then it makes sense to retire early and do things you are really happy with.
                                                                     
                                                                    Some people don't want to work themselves to death and do the same thing over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over ... for the next 50 years.
                                                                     
                                                                    A lot of people want to experience new things, which you could not do when you are tied up to work and a busy schedule.
                                                                     
                                                                    And if you really look at it, a lot of people think they can live up to 130 years old.  But most of us croak from 70 - 88 yrs old.  You'd be luck to get to your 90s, but at that age - you can downsize to a one bedroom condo. 
                                                                      • Re: Why retire early?
                                                                        JerryD
                                                                        Amen, Cyber. Then there's the frequent reality that your goals and those of your employer are 180 degrees apart. Budget cuts. You're too expensive. Your skills are obsolete even though the employer has invested nothing in saving your company experience with some directed training. Etc. Etc. Etc. 
                                                                      • Re: Why retire early?
                                                                        tmb325
                                                                        I am considering retiring within the next 2 years.  I am 62, and will have worked 40 years in my career field as of next February.  I have built up savings from self-directed contributory plans over the years, which, along with an excellent retiree medical plan from my employer and Social Security, should be adequate to cover my projected financial needs for the next 30+ years.
                                                                         
                                                                        Due to a family history of cardiovascular problems, and my hypertension for the past 10 years, I decided to get checked by a cardiologist 2 years ago.  After several tests it was confirmed that I had serious blockages in 3 coronary arteries. I was completely unaware this was happening, as there had been no prior symptoms.  I underwent a coronary by-pass operation shortly thereafter.  I completed a cardio re-hab program, and since then, I have made major changes in my diet and exercise habits.  I lost 40 pounds, and am probably in as good of physical condition I have been since my 30's.  Even so, I am well aware of the risks due to my family history and my largely sedentary lifestyle with my career. 
                                                                         
                                                                        Retirement to me does not mean quitting work to "do what you want".  I think many of us in my age group are socially programmed to see retirement as leisure time or inactivity, or a time to relax after putting in decades of "work".  To me, this makes a false dichotomy between work (something bad) and leisure (something good).  After working for 40 years in a field that challenges my skills and abilities, I am already doing what I want. Yes, it's a pain to go to the same job every day, to waste time at meetings, and to put up with all the problems that come with any organization of people.  However, those things are part of what life is inevitably about.  To me, retirement simply means to change focus toward something equally as engaging as my work has been.  I love to travel, so "retirement" might mean volunteering or working for the National Park Service, or giving tours of special sites in foreign countries, or several other possibilities I am thinking about.  Regardless of the activity, I see retirement as an extension of my past life, not as a transition away from it.  Just my 2-cents.  I realize everyone has their own view of it.