What Retiring Early Is Actually Like

retiring early

When you mention that you’d like to retire you get a lot of strange looks. They imagine that you will be rolling in cash and looking to sip mojitos on the beach in the Caribbean. Everybody has their own ideas of what retirement should be like, but often, the people that look to retire early aren’t going to fit the mold of expectations. 

Most people that retire early are doing so in their 50s that are financially literate and have a retirement plan that is more active than what their parents likely were looking to do in their retirement. These people are more interested in financial independence than fading away into a boring retirement. 

The interesting thing about retiring early is that it is rare for people with gobs of money that they can’t even spend in a lifetime. This is why it pays to think about what early retirement means and what it would actually be like. In this article, we will go over the reality so you can get some ideas of what early retirement could mean for you. 

It’s about being active

Some people dream of the day when they hit their mid-60s and can finally take a break from the hard work. They dream of doing nothing all day and not needing to ever set an alarm clock. 

Those types of people are usually ones that worked their fingers to the bone during their career. It makes sense that they would want to really just rest and relax. The type of person that dreams about retiring early isn’t necessarily trying to slow down. In fact, many are dreaming of how much more active they can be. 

This is why many people consider retiring early but after the age of 55 in one of the many retirement communities in Arizona or elsewhere. These types of communities are built for people that are not looking to not do anything in their twilight years but are keen to stay active. The complex is what allows them to do so. 

Many are built near natural areas that will provide opportunities for things like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and golf, among many other outdoor activities. They often have events organized for socializing with the other residents as well as workshops for adult education.

This is a lot different than what people used to expect from retirement communities in the past that were places for people to while away their time in quiet without much to do. 

It’s not about not working

While there certainly are people who enjoy their careers and work, there are many more who bristle at the thought of needing to work for decades more doing what they hate. It could be the career, the people they work for, or they had a dream that they shelved to make sure they could pay the bills. 

Those are generally the people that retire early. They aren’t looking to never work again. They simply want to do so on their own terms. Many of these early retirees end up starting their own small businesses, or they create a new job for themselves doing something that provides more fulfillment. 

This is only possible when you achieve financial independence. It isn’t that you have so much money that you can live for the rest of your life without ever having to worry about money. Just that you were smart enough with the money that you made throughout your career that you are able to make decisions based on what you’d like to do over what you need to do so you can continue paying the bills. 

It means living frugally

To really retire early without being born rich or having made a fortune in your career, you’ll need to get used to living frugally. This doesn’t mean that you have to eat rice and beans every day and sleep on a bed of straw. It means that you have to be very thoughtful about all of your purchases so you have money that can be used to make more money later. 

For instance, you shouldn’t buy that brand new car when you haven’t finished paying off the old one just out of boredom. The money you will be wasting with that purchase could have been put into index funds and brought a return that would help you start your retirement a year or two earlier. 

Since you are likely working an ordinary job and making an ordinary salary, you have to be smart about how you spend your money. You can definitely retire early even if you have a simple job. You don’t need to be born rich. Yet, you can’t spend money wildly and be able to get through a couple of decades without having to worry about money if you do. 

You have to be adaptable

Things can change very quickly in life. You have to be ready to roll with the punches if you want to retire early. The best-laid plans can easily come undone by something out of your control. An illness, a drop in the stock market, or some other outside factor is inevitable. 

These things shouldn’t derail your early retirement plans but certainly can if you are very rigid in your approach. There are times when you have to be flexible. You may need to continue to work for another couple of years if things change and create conditions in which you’ll need more money or have to take advantage of your work’s health insurance if you are sick, for example. 

Make sure that your plans are guidelines to follow but not set in stone so you can react when needed. 


Just about anybody can retire early if you are well organized and have a solid plan of action. It will take some sacrifice in the short term to make it work, but you can certainly achieve anything with the right mindset and some grit and determination.

One thought on “What Retiring Early Is Actually Like

  1. If you are going to invest in building a home for your retirement, you might as well think about the long-term plan. You can either be inspired by an existing design or develop your own. Knowing where you want to live and how you want to use available space will help in the overall planning. The power of dreaming will guide you toward a patio, garden or both in your backyard.

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