What If We Didn’t Retire Early?

We are pretty certain about our path to early retirement and getting there in approximately six years (though we definitely have our doubts).

However, occasionally, I wonder what our lives would look like if we had no plans to retire early.

Poopsie can attest to the fact that occasionally I get frustrated when I see someone I know who appears to be in a better financial situation than us, even though I know for a fact that they’re not saving anywhere near as much as we are. After I have vented at him a little bit, Poopsie reminds me that they’ll be working until they’re 65 and that, if we want to work until we’re 65, we can have what they have as well.

Usually, this calms me right down as I definitely don’t want to work until we’re 65!

I have always thought that a good goal post to know you’re living your best life is if you wouldn’t change anything if you were handed a ridiculous amount of money- say $10 million. By this, I mean changing things like your house, your car, your clothes- not changing how much you give to charity or family in need. If we suddenly got given $10 million, there’s only one thing we’d buy for ourselves.

But is this thing important enough to us to keep working until we’re 65? Probably not.

The thing I am talking about is a house, in the suburb of our choice in Newcastle.

Is the address one retires at really important enough to delay retirement?

We recently stayed with friends who’ve just bought a house in this suburb for over $1 million (a fair bit over). We love their house. It’s beautiful and ideally located.

I felt a little bit of jealousy that they could afford such a place. Now I don’t know their finances, so can’t judge how they have been able to afford it. They may very well be comfortably affording it and will still be able to retire earlier than most (if that’s even a desire of theirs). But I can (and did) reflect on our own situation and what we’d need to do to be able to afford such a place.

If we purchased a similarly priced property, we definitely wouldn’t be able to retire in six years. Admittedly we probably wouldn’t need to work until we’re 65 (or at least I wouldn’t as my younger age means 65 is a long, long way away), but we’d need to work for longer than we currently plan to.

And therein lies the choice that we all get to make: what is more important?

For many, it’s more important to buy the house they love in the suburb they love.

For others, it’s retiring early, even if they have to live in a less desirable (but still perfectly nice) suburb.

I can’t say that we have quite figured this out. We admit that we have quite a bit of envy for our friend’s place, mainly due to the location. We really, really want to retire in that suburb.

So we know what we want. But what are we willing to give up to get there? Early retirement, or at least the early retirement date we had planned for?

We’re not sure yet.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this subject! Is there something that you’d push back your early retirement for? Do you think we’d be crazy to delay early retirement to live in this chosen suburb? Or will the suburb a mere 10 minute drive away be just as nice, even if we have to drive to the beach? What’s a 10 minute drive when you’re retired and don’t have a job?

Please, share your thoughts and wisdom below!

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15 Responses to What If We Didn’t Retire Early?

  1. Mrs. ETT says:

    I feel like this a lot. I don’t even actually want things, yet I still feel jealous of what others have, on occasion. Most people appreciate beauty – I suspect with your love of art, you might be even more susceptible, especially as it is in a place you miss.

    Seeing what they have is in the here and now, whereas early retirement is still far away enough just to be a hypothesis. It doesn’t exist except as some firing of neurones in our brain, and the slow, slow, steady increase of numbers on a screen.

    When I feel this way, I also tell myself that it will all be worth it to be able to retire early, that we will have freedom to choose while others will probably still need to work.

    Honestly, to me it almost sounds like you’ve hit the equivalent of a stock market crash. Things aren’t great, you want to do what everyone else is doing and pull out. Stick to your plan. That’s why you made it, to remind yourself of what you really wanted, when things get tough.

    If you really, really want to consider it, then commit to not making any moves for 12 months. Use the time like the Frugalwoods, to get to know real estate there inside out. Pay for flights down to look at houses. If you still want it just as badly in 12 months, then you will have done your due diligence. Hopefully the house prices may have stalled in that time too!

    • I’m glad to hear you have these feelings as well, Mrs ETT!

      Probably one of the hard parts is that early retirement does seem a long way away. I wonder if it gets any easier the closer we get?

      Your words proved very reassuring to me, particuarly your stock market crash analogy. We should stick with the plan and in the meantime, do plenty of research into where we want to live- perhaps even renting in the area first to get a feel for it.

      You consistently give me plenty to think about! Thank you for your ongoing support!

  2. What an honest post! I think most of us eill relate to this one. As you know, we are looking into buying a house – this time to live in rather than to invest in – and we are still looking at outer suburbs because that’s where houses are cheaper. We’d like to be able to pay our house in 10-15 years and not 20-30. Sometimes I do feel sad when I think about how we can probably afford buying in the suburb we like, but this will mean we’ll have to work until we’re 65. We don’t have concrete plans of retiring early but we do know we don’t want to work beyond 60.

    I allow myself to be sad and jealous. I even allow myself to feel that I’m missing out, but I always go back to my why’s and start picking myself up. And I think that’s what you’re doing too. 🙂

    Great stuff, as always!

    • Wise words, J! And I am glad you have been through something similar, only because it shows my uncertainty is quite normal. At the end of the day, what will these suburbs we like offer us that the slightly further out ones don’t? That needs to be the question we ask and if it’s small, trivial things- while they certainly shouldn’t be dismissed, they may not be worth delaying ER for.

  3. LadyFIRE says:

    I’m constantly overwhelmed by friends with nice things – which is quietly and occasionally followed up with them envying my confidences in my finances. And an admission from them that they’ve picked up extra work just to afford the kids school uniforms this year.

    This doesn’t come from someone working a minimum wage job either. This conversation was had with someone who is only 1 step down from a CEO. She drives Uber so she can afford getting her kids clothes.

    When finances happen, what you see is not what you get.

    • This is a very poignant point, LadyFIRE. I am sure many people would be impressed or enviable of our financial position, I forget that sometimes. Not everything is always as it seems. In this day and age, with social media especially, it can be hard to remember sometimes that you don’t know the full story, particularly when it comes to finances. I need to remind myself of this!

      • LadyFIRE says:

        This actually happened over the weekend. My derby league just jumped up to 51 in the world, which means getting invited to the States to play in Champs.

        All the people who have nice things were stressing about affording flights and talking about maxing credit cards for this once-in-a-lifetime. I mentioned I wasn’t sure about it because of the cost, and the response was “Carn, we all know you have a few grand buried in the back yard!”

        I was offended! Buried in the backyard, what a waste. Clearly it’s in index funds 😀

  4. Miss Balance says:

    Eventually I’ll have to make a decision about spending way too much money on a place to live near family and friends OR moving far away and spending a much more reasonable amount. Obviously option 1 will push back any ideas of early retirement but it is likely that I will choose it because decisions like this are emotional and not always about the maths.
    Mrs ETT has some great suggestions about exploring the area and feeling like you made the best decision possible. At the end of the day you need to be happy with the path you choose for now.
    I don’t think I ever really want to do no work at all, so I’d be happy if it meant I could semi-retire and choose my work as a freelancer or contractor. Everyone is different though.
    Best of luck and let us know what you do. if you do end up moving to Newcastle let me know, it isn’t too far 😉

  5. Wow this one hits exactly home for us right now. We have been feeling the itch of wanting a place to call our own, to have a dishwasher, be able to install airconditioning.. Having a baby on the way seems to really be pushing that feeling for long-term roots and security (and those extra comforts in a home).

    We even have a similar article in the works of our contemplating of this desire – the push and pull and trying to balance of all the things we want for ourselves, the nice house in the perfect suburb? a nice house in a less than perfect suburb? a tiny box in our favourite suburb? Any of these options take away a tiny bit (or a lot) from our FIRE plans, I guess it just depends how much we are willing to extend/distract ourselves from FIRE to join the ranks of homeowners…

    I also like the mental game of “what would you change about your life if you came into $10m” – Before IVF was successful I would have said to use as much as was needed for a baby/family of our own – hands down, a house doesn’t even compare. But that house is definitely creeping up the list now that we are becoming a little family. I feel proud to say that I love our little car and our clothes, I wouldn’t change almost all of our furniture either.. And we were so lucky with our IVF… I guess we have things really great when I truly think about it :).

    Mrs DDU

    • Interesting to hear that you guys also have these thoughts. A lot of Australians seem to, and the umming and ahhing is almost always to do with housing! Hopefully we see some price adjustment that makes it easier to deal with.

      You’re right- we have a wonderful life and we need to remember that. This article is the very definition of “first world problems”.

  6. Kat says:

    I know I’m a bit late commenting on this post, but this may help other late-comers).

    We had a similar situation last year. We were fortunate to have the option of a great suburb, or spend less in a cheaper suburb which wasn’t as nice. I was concerned that we’d be less happy in the cheaper suburb with a longer commute and not as nice house.

    I remembered a Ted Talk on hedonic adaptation. This gave me reassurance that whichever choice we made we’d be equally happy, so may as well spend less money. So far it’s been a good choice.

    Related wiki article here:

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