Start Retirement With A Sabbatical


A favorite topic to write about is alternative retirements like going to live in another country for a few years or all of the many ideas I've chronicled in the past. Alternative retirements can help make retirement feasible for people who are undersaved, can open the door to a very interesting chapter in your life and where the possibilities are limitless, people can solve their own retirement dilemmas (to the extent they have one).

One related topic is downsizing into a tiny house or very small house. Darrow from the Can I Retire Yet blog did a variation on this when he and his wife sold a typical sized house in Tennessee and relocated into a rental about half the size in Santa Fe, NM. His latest blog post assess what went to plan and what didn't after five years. They started out with a long road trip in an RV before settling down in Santa Fe.

Behaviorist Shlomo Benatrzi had an article published at the WSJ that averred for taking retirement for a test drive to figure out how you wanted to spend your time and your money. That may not be possible for someone whose back is up against a financial wall. I might instead focus on optionality.

The post from Darrow explores any regrets like things sold that they wish they had kept, or the adjustment of going from two cars to one (they bought a second car subsequently). He said that regrets were limited to things that could be easily replaced like tools, nothing that couldn't be replaced.

This is along the lines of moving to another country for a few years (the context I've been writing about this where you rent out a paid for house, living overseas off of that rent while the portfolio and Social Security continue to grow untouched) but still having the optionality to come back. Selling out of a housing market might mean not being able to get back in. You may end up not needing to get back in or may not want to get back in but I as I have said in many other contexts, you never know what the future you will want to do.

A few months ago I wrote about retiring in Nicaragua. On paper it is an appealing destination in terms of being inexpensive with some incentives for retirees. Since then there has been some upheaval and it is certainly plausible that some expats might want to come back rather than see out the current events play out. Where this has happened once, it would be logical to think that it could happen somewhere else in the future.

One other context I have touched on before is some sort of gig at a national or state park. I stumbled across a website that lists National Park jobs. There is a wide range of jobs. If you look you will likely see that some look pretty good and some don't. Often room and board is provided. Where moving to another country could be a five or ten year gig, maybe working at one of the parks might be a one or two year situation. It is real work but the idea of living, even for a short time, in Grand Tetons NP or Rocky Mountain NP (both parks had a lot of job openings) could certainly be an interesting experience. If you're collecting rent from your paid for house while working at a national park getting room and board, you don't necessarily need to earn a lot of money, the key is that your not dipping into what savings you have accumulated and letting Social Security grow. Once you move on from that gig or come back after a few years overseas and you still have your house you still have optionality. After a few years the house could have appreciated a little bit more and maybe at that time you can follow Darrow's path and downsize into something smaller and cheaper (I don't know the story or why he and his wife have chosen to rent).

If you think you're in a situation where you think your hand could be forced to doing something alternative for a few years or longer, you need to start learning about this now. This could difficult to admit to yourself psychologically but you have to get over that hurdle and look at it as an opportunity for an exciting and interesting period in your life.