A few years ago, we were in so much debt that the thought of retirement was as far away as Siberia. We drank the Kool Aid, worked really hard to keep up with our payments, and had distant hope that we’d eventually get to quit the work force, maybe by age 65 if we were lucky. Well, the philosophy that society holds as normal is just bunk. There are many ways to retire early. They all involve what some might call sacrifice, but if living below your means, purposeful spending, and doing without all the latest and greatest is sacrifice, then I’m in 100%. Now that we can see retirement on the horizon, I’m wondering, where is the best place to retire?
When I say retirement, I don’t necessarily mean not working. I will consider us retirement eligible when our rental and passive income can cover our monthly expenses. That should happen in about 5-7 years, depending on how fast we decide to pay off our house. At that point, we’ll probably continue to work, at least until our daughter graduates from high school in another 11 years.
After that, we can choose to stay put or move to a different forever location. With our career choices, I can always do fill in work, and Jim can substitute teach if we want a little extra income boost. We also might want to work in a low paying, but fun job to keep our minds and bodies occupied.
Our retirement ideal might not be yours, but it’s never a bad idea to make plans. I’ve found we do much better if we have a goal in place. Here are some ideas we have about life in retirement. I’d love to hear feedback from anyone who has retired or who has retirement on the horizon.
Staying In Our Current Location
- Southwest Colorado is pretty sweet. Within a two hour radius, we can be high up in the mountains, out in the desert, or visiting one of three national parks. We live close to, but not actually in one of the pricey resort towns. We can be skiing in Durango or Telluride but back home for dinner. I can’t tell you how many tourists have told me how lucky we are to live here.
- Summer and fall are usually spectacular. September and October make me never want to live anywhere else.
- Our house is in a great neighborhood, and we have awesome views of Mesa Verde and the La Plata mountains from our back deck.
- While we don’t have family in the area, we’ve made many good friends over the last 15 years of living here.
- Our property taxes, insurance, and basic cost of living is very cheap compared to much of Colorado and many other places in the US.
- We live in a small town without much diversity as far as culture, entertainment, and shopping.
- Winter is cold and long.
- The closest major airport is 4+ hours away.
- If we have health problems as we get older, the availability of medical care is limited.
- We could never have my dream of being able to walk everywhere without using a car very often.
Several times a year, we think really hard about moving to a bigger city. Raising a kid out in the country is the bomb, but we might not be so in love when we’re empty nesters and able to actually have a social life again. I’d love to live by the ocean with warm weather year round, but I’m afraid that would wipe out too much of our retirement income, and we’d have to get real jobs 🙁 I also can’t see us moving to another country. The logistics seem more complicated that I want to deal with. Since we don’t love humidity or long, cold winters there are a few places that appeal to us that would allow our retirement dollars to go a long way.
I imagine winter in Phoenix is as appealing as fall in Colorado. We’d have a few really hot months, but those would be good times to take a vacation. Cost of living is reasonable, and there would be tons of outdoor things to do with all the city amenities nearby. We are spending several days there this Thanksgiving and plan to check out some of the towns in the area.
I get sick of the Strip in about 2 days, but there are areas around Las Vegas that have good weather, access to recreation, and lots of options for concerts and entertainment. Nevada also has no state income tax.
Grand Junction, CO
Grand Junction is a small city that has most of the amenities we’d be looking for. The airport isn’t huge, but it has many more options than where we live now. The winter is also a bit milder. We’d still be close to skiing, and there is amazing mountain biking in the area. Cost of living there is cheap.
OK, Moab is not a city by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s only a two hour drive from Grand Junction. Jim and I both love Moab. I always seem to feel at peace there with all the wide open views and red rock. Winter is mild, and there would be tons of fun retirement jobs in the tourism industry. Can’t you see me as a park ranger or camp host?
This option is perhaps the most appealing but would likely be the most expensive. Maintaining a home and renting somewhere would certainly add to our housing expenses, but I think it would be amazing to travel around the country, staying a month or two in places that strike our fancy.
Spending September in Maine or November in San Francisco would be amazing. Living in one of these places full time does not appeal to me in the least, but wouldn’t it be fun to spend enough time in a place to really live like a local? We might even find a forever home destination we haven’t considered.
We could sell our house before hitting the road and pick a place to land at a later date. We could also try house swapping or care taking to lower expenses. I don’t know how long I’d want to be a nomad, but it’s something that’s pretty high on our list to try.
Financial Independence Offers Choices
The fact that we have all these choices is not lost on me. I know that if we’d kept living the life of monthly payments and mindless spending, our choices would have been broke and stuck. Financial independence offers tons of options for how you’d like to spend the years after leaving the traditional work force. Whether we stay put, move, or become nomands is really not the biggest point of this post. The fact that we get to choose is worth much more than any material thing I can think of.
Are you planning for retirement? Where would you love to live?