I officially stopped receiving a paycheck in early May of 2016. My wife and I were in a house with a big mortgage, large real estate taxes and no significant income. We had a modest amount of money in the retirement fund and a plan, sell the house and move to Florida.
It was a scary plan since we had spent a total of 9 days in the city to which we wanted to move and a lot less in the retirement fund than we planned. We also had some big expenses to deal with to get to our “Promised Land”. In retrospect, I’m glad that we did this in our early 60’s. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. Packing and downsizing is a very difficult and emotional process.
The sale of the house took longer than planned and wasn’t quite as lucrative and we had hoped. Moving was less expensive than we thought and we had a nice time exploring the east coast on the trip down to Florida. Living in an apartment after 40 years of owning homes was an adjustment. Finding some friends and people with which to play tennis was a lot easier than I expected. Getting doctors to replace the ones left behind was easy and they are better than we had. The biggest concern was, “Will we be happy?” It’s not perfect, but Sarasota and Florida have been a good choice for my wife and me.
We recently closed on a home and the plan is taking shape. It’s a nice Florida villa, a single story duplex in New England terms, in a maintenance free home owners association. The pool is a few feet from the back door and we’re surrounded by oak trees and golf fairways. We have begun to find a community around us. I found a tennis club and YMCA for my workouts very quickly. My wife found a church and book club after a while. Our pool of acquaintances is beginning to yield some friends and part of the family has found us. We have uncovered some interesting music venues and joined some great local museums. The basics of good food, comfortable shelter and great weather are in place. The rest is a work in progress.
We continue to fill in the blanks and find it a happy place to be. I can see how some have difficulty getting over the feeling of loss when your career comes to a close. Everyone is motivated by something different. Not needing a job to feel a purpose was difficult for me to come to grips with. I still struggle with the concept of purpose but can accept that it will take some time to sort it out. In the interim, I write and hope that my journey can shine a light on a happy path for others.