6 Months of Early Retirement... We’re Now HomelessI left my management job in IT at the end of 2018 at the age of 43.  The goal was to reach early retirement with my family so we could live a life of freedom and adventure… and now we’re homeless.

This might sound unexpected, but here’s the thing – that was exactly the plan.  Being homeless is something we’ve been working toward for a long time now.

For those of you familiar with our path, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  But for my new readers, you might be a cringing a little bit.

No need to fear though, we’re not homeless in the sense of sleeping on the streets.  We’ve just decided to spend about a month and a half without a place of our own.

After six months of early retirement, I thought this would be a great opportunity to fill you in on how this transition has gone.  Additionally, I’ll get you up-to-speed on where we’re at and what’s in store for us.

 

Adjustment to early retirement

Having the freedom to choose what to do with your time – that’s generally the idealistic vision of early retirement.

And I can’t argue that.  Eliminating a 9-5 job from your life opens up a lot more of your day.

However, it was quite an adjustment for me over the first couple of months.  I’m a man of structure and I struggled to find my place for a while when I left my job.

It wasn’t that I had too much time on my hands, but rather I felt like I didn’t have enough.  It took me a while to realize what was going on, but I can clearly see it in hindsight.

I had so many things I had built up in my mental “things to do when I get the time” list.  For some reason, I just anticipated that I’d get quickly them all knocked out as soon as I left my job… yeah, not so much.  Unfortunately, we each only get 24 hours in each day whether we have a 9-5 job or not.

I actually struggled to get a full night’s sleep for weeks because I had too much on my mind.  I couldn’t figure out how to get everything done or just to get a little bit of balance in things.

 

Rock and roll – the early retirement rhythm!

But after a couple of months into early retirement, I started to find a rhythm and things are rolling so much smoother now.  I’m spending a ton of time with my wife and daughter, having loads of fun, and I’ve been able to make a little progress on my favorite project – this blog!

And then there’s working out.  I ain’t gonna lie… I hate it, but I still do it.  It’s the right thing to do and now I have the time for it.  I really love going on our walks every day when the weather’s good, but I don’t look forward to the rest of the workout when I get back.

But the results are looking pretty good.  I’m not quite to the level of Terry Crews, but I’m noticing that I’m getting in much better shape than I’ve ever been.

6 Months of Early Retirement... We’re Now Homeless - Terry Crews
Once I can pull off the pec-bounce, life will be good!

One of the interesting changes is in regards to sleep.  I figured I’d get enough sleep once I retired and I was right… just not in the way I thought it would be.

I still have plenty of nights where I can’t clear my mind and fall asleep at “bedtime.”  I’m guessing that’s because there’s been so much on my mind with every detail of the impending move to Panama.

But here’s the thing, if I can’t fall asleep, I stay up later and maybe read some more.  If I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep, it doesn’t matter – I just sleep in a little later.  I’m still getting enough sleep, it’s just that the hours slide around a little bit.

Here’s the beautiful thing – it doesn’t matter.  I don’t have a 9-5 getting in the way to interrupt my sleep.  I’m still getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep every night and that’s a great thing for the body and mind.  I’m someone who doesn’t function well on much less so this change has been wonderful for me.

 

Making Panama the next adventure

When we set out on the path to financial independence years ago, I couldn’t get there fast enough.  And initially, we planned to leverage a lower cost of living in a place like Panama to reach FI even sooner.

Then my wife, Lisa, brought up what should have been an obvious point… “What if we don’t like it there?  You’d be forced to go back to work if we wanted to come back to the U.S.”

Ouch.  Good point – that would suck.  So I worked a few more years to save up enough that we could afford living here in the U.S.

But… I still had this desire to move to Panama.  Not only would this be an awesome adventure, but the low cost of living would still stretch out each dollar even further.

We discussed it and decided as a family we’d make it happen.  So, on August 21, 2019, we’re flying to Panama with just two suitcases each.  Crazy, but exciting!

 

It got complicated…

Then things got more complex.  When we first thought about the move to Panama, we just thought about packing up and leaving.  That wasn’t the case at all.  We’ve been busier than ever trying to get ready to go… so many things to do!

Things have been crazy busy (such a retiree thing to say!), but that’s because we’ve been spending a lot of our time getting rid of most of the things we own.  We sold our house last October and downsized into an apartment.  Now we’ve eliminated most of our belongings and moved out of the apartment.

Fortunately, the hard part is over, but here’s a sneak peek at what our apartment looked like just last week while we were still living there…

You may have noticed that the beds were in the living room.  Ok, what was left of the beds were in the living room.  We made a weird deal with Faith to put our mattresses together for the last week in the apartment.  Kind of odd, but she loved it so that’s what matters, right?

So, except for our suitcases, the only crap we now have left is what’s in our 10’x10′ storage unit…

6 Months of Early Retirement... We’re Now Homeless
Faith should help give you a scale of size… we added about 6 more crates after this pic was taken. The cases of water and box of liquor will be making its way to Kelleys Island with us!

We’ve now got everything done that we needed to here in Ohio for the most part.  The next step is making Texas our state of domicile, but we won’t get there until the very end of July so we get a little bit of a break.

 

Too much beer and bar food will kill you

The health kick started out strong when I left my job, but we’ve hit a bit of a snag over the last month and a half.  I call it a snag because it’s only temporary.

The issue is that everyone wants to say goodbye to us before we head out to Panama.  This is a good problem to have, of course, but it’s also caused us to spend a lot of evenings heading out to meet friends and family.

A lot of those evenings revolved around bars, beer, and bar food.  And those ingredients tend to put a kink in a good night’s sleep as well.

I would have thought that Panama would have been our party-time, but I think we’re actually in the middle of it right now.  I now think that when we’re in Panama, our days will be us together as a family and our days of drinking and eating bar food will drop dramatically.

It’s been fun seeing everyone and pretending that I’m in my twenties again, but it’s taking its toll and I can’t wait until things calm down with our move.  Not only will the vices be a lot less prominent, but we’ll also have more time to just be outside enjoying the beautiful weather and landscapes Panama has to offer.  That means more exercise to add to the healthy living formula!

 

We’ve just entered the realm of even MORE freedom

Early retirement’s been busy for us.  We’ve spent a lot of our time preparing to get to the point of owning little and being able to float around as we want.

But we’re there.

Now that we’re homeless, life has just become very free.  The hard work is behind us and it’s time to have even more fun than we’ve been having over these past six months (hard to imagine!).

We’re now starting our July adventure which should be wonderful.  On top of all the fun places and activities we’ve got planned, I’m also planning on meeting the infamous Mr. Tako.  He’s enjoying his early retirement as well and our paths will briefly cross in Texas at the same time.

Then we’ll spend a few weeks living in Texas with my brother and sister-in-law while we establish that as our state of domicile.  It’ll be fantastic to be able to spend so much time with them – maybe I can even convince him to cook up a delicious brisket he’s known for on his Big Green Egg grill while we’re there!

6 Months of Early Retirement... We’re Now Homeless
It’s good to have family with an outdoor kitchen!
6 Months of Early Retirement... We’re Now Homeless
Mmmm, brisket!!

After a few weeks there, we’re off!  We fly out to Panama on 8/21/19 to start an even bigger adventure!

We’ll then have a place we can call home for a short bit.  We rented a house through HomeAway in Boquete, Panama for a month until we have a chance to find a long-term rental we want.

So maybe we’re homeless now, but that’s the best thing that could be happening for us!  It seems like the countdown’s been going on forever, but we’re officially free and ready to start this next chapter in life!

 

Becoming homeless might not be the early retirement start that everyone envisions, but we’re excited!  What’s your early retirement dream?

 

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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6 Months of Early Retirement… We’re Now Homeless

18 thoughts on “6 Months of Early Retirement… We’re Now Homeless

  • July 2, 2019 at 10:58 am
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    Your version of homelessness looks fantastic 😉 It’s also fun to see some of your adventures. Maybe the sleeplessness will subside once you are out of transition without as many unknowns to think about? Great that you have the flexibility to get sleep when you need.

    Reply
    • July 2, 2019 at 2:31 pm
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      The irony is that once we move and settle in a foreign country, that’s probably when I’ll get back to sleeping normally… strange to think about!

      Reply
  • July 2, 2019 at 11:18 am
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    Nice progress report. Early retirement is a big transition so it can take a while to get used to the new “schedule.” It sounds like you’re adjusting well, though. Good job with working out.
    I’m struggling with that a bit in the summer. Our son is out of school and I don’t go to the gym. I just workout at home and it’s been sporadic…
    Also, nice job fitting your stuff into the storage. That’s pretty amazing. I’m pretty sure we can’t do that. Mrs. RB40 is too attached to her stuff.
    These updates are great. I really enjoy them.

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    • July 2, 2019 at 2:40 pm
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      I’ve noticed that since we’ve left the apartment, I’ve been keeping the workouts simple. I’m just doing a number of reps of push-ups, chin-ups, and planks – along with some longer walks with the family. I’ve found that keeping it simple is the only way I don’t just skip it. Maybe try something simple as well while at home over the summer? Don’t let your pull-up bar go to waste! 🙂

      Reply
  • July 2, 2019 at 11:30 am
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    It was so refreshing to find another family geo-arbitraging their way to early retirement! We move to Puerto Rico at the end of the summer and are currently house-sitting and homeless with plans to visit family in TN, AK, and TX before we settle into life on the island. We’re only taking a mini-retirement, but I have a feeling it will be longer than planned. Having complete control of your destiny is the mind shift of a lifetime. Excited to follow your journey.

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    • July 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm
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      Wow, that sounds so similar to our journey just with different places along the way! Good luck to you – I’ll be checking out your site to learn more about your plans, Nicole!

      Reply
  • July 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm
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    Hey big changes I see, and good luck with the texas road stop I hear its super hot those months. Air bnb and other home rentals will come in handy now that your homeless. Looking forward to the next big update.

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    • July 2, 2019 at 2:52 pm
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      Thanks, EL – with my brother’s pool in TX, we’ll have a nice place to cool off until we make our way to Panama! 🙂

      Reply
  • July 2, 2019 at 5:09 pm
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    Jim, thanks for the continuing updates! My husband and I have had many discussions about retiring early overseas and he’s been set on Boquete for awhile. I found your blog late last year so I’ve been anxiously reading along on your journey. I’m really looking forward to getting your take on the transition to Panama. We’re testing out early retirement right now (we were both laid off in 2018) but pets and parents keep us in Ohio for now. Enjoy the rest of your homeless summer!

    Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 6:34 pm
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    You homeless bum Jim! (Hey, somebody had to say it!) Can’t wait to meet you guys in TX! 🙂

    Your pictures of the apartment look like a disaster struck — which is a great reminder to me how much we really judge people based on “things”. It’s a hard bias to break.

    See you in a few weeks!

    Reply
    • July 3, 2019 at 8:38 pm
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      So true that we have a tendency to judge folks on material things. It’s crazy to realize that we got rid of most of our stuff, but so far, I still feel like we have too much… weird, right?

      See you soon!!

      Reply
  • July 5, 2019 at 12:33 pm
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    everybody needs a box of liquor for a real road trip. good luck with all the travel and be safe.

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    • July 8, 2019 at 7:47 pm
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      Haha, that might be the oddest thing we packed, but I will tell you that about 1/3 of it got killed while we were at Kelleys Island over this past week! 😉

      Reply
  • July 6, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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    I can definitely see myself in the same shoes as you once we are able to leave our jobs. My to do list keeps growing and with two small kids I can only get to a small fraction of it. My dream right now is to just have a month off work so I can finish up projects!

    Reply
    • July 8, 2019 at 7:49 pm
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      I know exactly the feeling you’re talking about Derek! I hope you win some cool prize and get a paid month off sometime soon to work on that list! 🙂

      Reply
  • July 8, 2019 at 7:10 pm
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    Hi Jim, congratulations to you and your family for working hard at and being able to take early retirement. I am very interested in reading more on your blog about your move to and adjustment to life in Panama. I just retired from teaching at 56, and as my wife and I have lived and worked extensively in Mexico, the Pacific islands, and Southeast Asia, we will be doing something very similar to what you guys are doing in the next few years. So again, interested readers!

    I do want to comment though on your use of the term “homeless” to describe yourselves. I feel it is way too cavalier a usage, as your situation is entirely elective. As all of us are only too well aware, the term “homeless” is an extremely charged one, and the vast majority of those who are in that state wish desperately that they could get out of it as soon as possible. So my fear is that people in the FIRE community will start to adopt it, thus muddying its meaning and even inviting negative blow back from people who wish to criticize this movement. I don’t have a good alternative phrase to offer, but I am sure that you, being such a good writer (and now with time on your hands, lol) could come up with one. Don’t mean to be negative here, just trying to give you an objective comment on how that term struck me.

    Thanks again for all the good posts you have been sharing, and looking forward to more of the same,

    Tom

    Reply
    • July 8, 2019 at 8:09 pm
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      Congrats on the early retirement, Tom! Whereabouts are you guys thinking about relocating to? I know a number of folks in the personal finance community have talked about Asia as their retirement destination.

      As far the homeless part goes, I can’t argue with that. I didn’t mean any offense with that word and that (along with hunger) is actually one of the biggest philanthropies I believe in. I’ll actually be talking about that in another post in the near future. I’ve used the word “vagabond” previously as I’ve been discussing our plans and maybe that would have been a better route to go on this one.

      Reply

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