I’m starting to think of myself as on the “ten years more or less” plan. Meaning, I’ll probably retire in ten years (more or less) and so am settling in for at least that long. I suppose I could try for an even higher level position in five years, but that would entail moving again and starting over, and I’ll be close to fifty at that point. And I’ll have moved up the pay scale and accumulated significant vacation hours, so I’ll have even more incentive to stay put.
So here I am. There are several reasons I’ve been struggling. Moving again in my forties– not easy. Taking a high-level post that requires me to be more guarded, political, and circumspect. Spending more time with higher-ups in other fields that generally attract more conventional/conservative personalities (and being the only childless/single one amongst them). Living in a region that is more conventional and less culturally interesting than the places I’ve lived in the last two decades. Working with colleagues who have been living in this region and working for my employer for fifteen years and upwards. And on top of all this, going through a midlife identity crisis.
It’s interesting how “done” I was with L.A. when I left. I was fascinated by the region the first time I moved here and spent tons of time exploring and reading about it. Now I find myself disinterested, although I do some small amount of research on the new area in which I’m living.
I’ve continued to enjoy being a hermit. In all honesty, it’s made my friendships much easier, as I have zero expectations of people. When they call, it’s nice, but I never feel angry when they don’t, as my “retreat time” from socializing has become my greatest solace.
I do have plans almost every week to get out and socialize and a trip planned over Christmas (yes, I’m doing it my way this year) that will put me in close contact with people. So, we’ll see. A decade is certainly a good chunk of time to give things my best and then to move on if nothing sticks.
One might be bitter about having no children, no significant relationship(s), no permanent relationship, but that same person sees herself able to retire relatively comfortably at 50 (give or take). Another (speaking for myself) may have (now adult) children to enjoy, have had one or two significant relationships (where all was not rosy in any event), but is now single, and who cannot conceive of retiring at 50, indeed is half a decade beyond 50 and cannot conceive of retiring in 10 years, if ever.
Whenever I have been caught, by a friend commenting on my envy of someone who seems to be better situated than I (as my friend catches me focusing on one aspect of that person’s life in which aspect I find a lack of fullness in my own life) [and which friend, by the way, is no longer present in my day-to-day life], my friend has pointed out the great tribulations such other person is facing, and that invariably is a sobering observation.
Realistically more like mid-fifties, barring unforeseen circumstances, but I do realize that’s a privilege and the upside of my situation.
Yes, being mid-fifties now, with a “lifetime of work” ahead of me, I acknowledge your hard-won privilege. And yet, my lot is not without its own, too.
Agreed. I feel like I’ve ended up sacrificing a lot, so hopefully this early retirement thing will pan out! I wish it was easier to have kids and still retire early.
Without going into specifics you don’t want to go into, how have your worked out this timeline? Is it just based on expected value of a traditional pension? Or is it a combination of assets e.g. also living off rental income from your apartment in your previous location?
I think I might go to a financial advisor in the coming months, as I really need advice on where I’m at and how to get to where I want to be.
Pension plus dipping into a certain amount of savings (or perhaps interest, depending) for X number of years before Social Security kicks in. I would have to live in my (inexpensive) former condo or sell it and buy something similarly inexpensive. Don’t know of course if I’d want to return there, but there are advantages to the location– it’s within walking/biking distance of grocery stores, farmer’s markets, a library, places to swim, yoga, and public transportation. That’s important as I might need to go without a car.
this is a big topic for me at the moment and others have mentioned it in other comments. what do you think about a discussion post for talking about retirement options?
I’d love it if you want to do a guest post! If so, just let me know on here when you’ve sent it to my email.
I found a webpage a few weeks ago discussing early retirement (in one’s fifties) complete with a calculator of how much money you’d need for it. If I can find that again I’ll link to it here.
Also, I don’t know if I would *completely* retire, but given my most recent experience, whatever part-time/seasonal work I might be able to rustle up would be at the low-end of the scale. But that might be okay by that point.
oh just saw your reply now Ranty re the guest post. i was thinking more along the lines of a discussion thread but will think over the guest post and come back to you. thanks.
more on getting a job in retirement: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/brooks/2013/08/26/retirement-encore-careers-age-discrimination/2693259/
Sinead. Ranty works for California government. They are the best jobs around because their unions pay our government (secretly) for higher wages/salaries in return for political power. Government jobs in CA earn much much MUCH more than their private sector counterparts and they get retirement, vacation accrued, healthcare to boot. I have several girlfriends who work in government here in CA and they are all planning on retiring in their 50’s. It’s an amazing deal.
Ranty, this is no disrespect to you. I am sure you are a hard worker and have put in your hours…however you must know you are privileged in this regard. There are tons of others who have also put in hard hours, worked all their lives but cannot retire so early and do not have any pensions. Just clarifying for the reader. It’s just the truth.
The reader needs to know the difference between public and private employment. If he doesn’t he may feel he is lacking when it’s really just the realm one works in.
Depends on how you look at it. What seems like a well-paying job here doesn’t come close to allowing one to buy real estate here (same as in NYC). 80k anywhere in Middle America– 50k even– allows one to buy property, whereas even six figures doesn’t allow one to buy property here, and a lot of that also gets eaten up with the higher cost of living. If you inherit a family home, however, it’s a good deal.
You can, of course, retire elsewhere, but you miss out on decades in the property market (unless you buy and hold on to property in another state).
Dear Ranty. I get that. Real estate is expensive here. If I may you have a habit of comparing your situation to only the very well off or extreme wealthy. You forget that you make more money than the vast majority of Southern Californians and have a pension, totally paid for healthcare, other benefits, vacation accrued time (this can add tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to ones retirement), and all holidays off which adds about $20,000 annual worth to your job. Please understand that the private sector does not offer something even close to the average worker even though they work as hard, or harder than you do. I am not saying this to make you feel bad, I am saying this to PLEASE get some perspective! Hearing you bemoan your job and financial life when so many people get by and are happy with less…is well, you know. It’s not pleasant. It’s like talking to someone who does not have a clue. It makes you sound entitled. It’s sort of like listening to a friend bemoan all her dates that she is not happy with to a friend who isn’t getting even a date. Please get some perspective. If you always compare to the top, of course you are going to feel aggrieved! I make much much less than you. I will never earn what you do and I have to pay for my own healthcare AND I have to deal with the ups and downs of the economy (unlike government employees who don’t have to worry about this so much). Oh, no retirement either….that I provide myself. So please at least be grateful for your position especially since it’s paid by taxpayers who earn much less and get much less than you. Thank you.
Lastly, what is stopping you from buying a condo? A young nurse down the street used to live in a very cool part of town. She wanted to buy a condo so she bought in Signal Hill. Not as “cool” but she got some property. That is what most people have to do. Start there and then move on from there. I don’t see why you can’t buy something with your income.
Life is not a cakewalk Ranty, not for any of us. Some have it easy in some areas and some have it harder. That is life.
Actually I’ve been very grateful to have found a job after a year of fruitlessly searching and have said as much in this blog. But I have also written posts before comparing the cost of living to different parts of the country. In California, if you are lucky enough to find a good job, you may make 20 or 30k more than elsewhere due to the “cost of living,” but since the average home price is about 400k more, that doesn’t make up the difference, which is why I left the state in the first place. People who have family homes here or spouses to share a mortgage with can do it, but a single person is better off elsewhere making less but being able to afford a home. That said, I’m happy to have landed a good job, even if it meant moving back, and have said as much (but regardless I have always wanted to retire early and am happy this job may allow me to do so).
In short, I have not been bemoaning my financial situation since accepting this job… that is an inaccurate leap of judgment.
Sometimes it strikes me as a classic case of the miserable being unable to count their chickens (or blessings …) and being reluctant to let them hatch …
Sinead…I think it’s more of a world view that is adopted and becomes a habit.
they are all planning on retiring in their 50′s.
I know two acquaintances who did this, one a retired fed and another a retired union official. Both draw pensions in the 80k range plus Cadillac health care plans. Neither could have been fired absent egregious circumstances ergo enjoyed almost total job security for decades, and were able to bankroll elite college educations for their children who graduated debt-free (and are all highly confident, of course).
Both these men are smug, arrogant, and brag incessantly about frequent international luxury travel, and maintain “anyone cold have done it” (meaning obtain similar working conditions) They have zero interest in hearing about the vulnerability of masses of American private sector worker in his 40s or 50s who fears his job will be outsourced to a third-world country, or debt-ridden graduates who, if they are lucky enough to be working at all, are working part-time at Starbucks.
This is “capitalism” absent a social fabric – winner take all and eff everyone else.
The 1% is made up of private sector/trust fund folks though.
Autumn…I don’t think that capitalism is to blame for the disparity of public employees vs the private sector (who has to pay for them). It’s actually the opposite of capitalism. Under capitalism the theory is that you are paid what you are worth. For public employees that is not the case. It’s more about their union power giving money to mostly Democratic representatives. In return for that money, these Democrats reps would promise them higher and higher benefits, salaries, wages, perks, etc. The taxpayer who is on the hook for this is never represented as this is done in secret behind closed doors. CA now has about 90 billion in pension liability it cannot afford from this corruption. http://www.pensiontsunami.com. It used to be that government employees were paid less than the private sector but in return they get awesome benefits, retirement and job security. That was a fair deal but now they get everything. Massively higher incomes AND all the benefits and perks.
This is not capitalism…it’s corruption that has caused this.
Ranty you do seem to have an obsession with the 1% and trust fund folks, though. Do you not see how others see you and your union as taking from them? Do you not see the unfairness of your situation? At least trust funders don’t take from tax payers! They are not the cause of this. It’s public employee corruption that is the cause of this. I think it’s patently unfair that public employee unions get so much more off the backs of those who earn so much less. Why do you ignore this? Why don’t you focus on this? This is more of a problem for our state than the 1%.
San Diego is the worst. I have a friend who lives down there and he was speaking to a public employee. This public employee was very decent. In response to all this union bullying of state money…he told my friend “I am sorry”. That is the correct response.
I actually totally disagree with you, but economics is not the main theme of this blog, so I don’t want to get into it….
Fair point. I agree with you that the public employees are an elite class. It is corruption (individualism and greed) run amok. European civil servants are in the main similarly entitled, and Joe Bloggs taxpayer is becoming more annoyed every day, particularly since so few of us have pensions any longer.
One more point about the public sector. I also know people who did very well in the private sector (in some cases a small business but also long-term employees of large corporations or firms). They also have gold-plated pensions and were rarely if ever worried about their job security. They are now retired with massive pensions similar to the two public sector men I mentioned earlier. Their attitude toward the average American worker is identical. One literally laughed in my face when I told him about the effect H1B on American tech workers. These guys are also enjoying their foreign holidays and shopping sprees, and think their financial security is a reflection of their superiority.
I do think the individualism and sense of entitlement is evident throughout the American economy, both public and private, although it expresses itself differently in the public sector as you have explained.
Also,when the middle class is completely destroyed in America (and we are well on our way to this) who will fund these massive public sector entitlements? Moreover, who will be able to afford to buy all the products in Wal Mart the profits from which fund the coffers of Wal-Mart Senior Mgt? Hmmmm….
Autumn I share most of your concerns. In fact people of both parties dislike the importation of cheap labor and sending jobs overseas. No one who is fairminded likes that. Almost everyone wants real opportunity for all and fairness…whether it’s public employees or CEO’s. I happen to care at a very personal level about workers. I work with contractors and handymen…people who truly work with their hands and actually know how to do things. Without them we’d be lost and living in huts. : ) I don’t like how so many devalue labor, including most of my liberal friends who are either indifferent to those who labor or have an elitist attitude towards them. Not me. I adore these men and in anyway I can I support them (contractors in particular were hard hit during the economic downturn). I show them respect and appreciation for what they do because I sort of want to lead the way in a new attitude. I never dicker with them, I appreciate them, I pay them fairly and try to promote their businesses. People in business are heroic…it’s hard! It’s hard to keep the business coming, hard to please customers and deal with those helping you. People don’t realize how heroic business is! Interestingly enough…two middle aged women I know who are public employees, who are both going to retire in their 50s, have shown the most disrespect towards these guys. It’s like they are clueless as to what it’s like to be them. We share many of the same concerns, believe me.
I don’t like how so many devalue labor, including most of my liberal friends who are either indifferent to those who labor or have an elitist attitude towards them.
Starcatcher, you sound lovely. We seem to share a lot of the same values, experiences, and beliefs. It is rare for me to come across someone who feels this way.
Thanks Autumn. : ) I wasn’t expecting that! I am very much an independent thinker or I like to think I am. : ) My views are all over the map sort of like a checkerboard. : ) Yes, I care deeply about people who work and especially those at the lower rungs. It upsets me when people devalue them or put them down when these people can make or break our day! Also, it’s about basic respect and fairness which is missing in our society on many levels. There is a great book on this called “Malled” the story of a middle aged woman (childless!) working in retail. Also there is a man who is creating a documentary right now to promote appreciation of labor…meaning those who work with their hands. I wish I knew the name of it…I’d post. But I want to support his efforts. Have a beautiful day.
Yes, Sinead, I had been curious about this in BB’s previous post “Endurance”. BB, you said, in response to my query, that you thought you’d need $24-$30K, depending on roommates and car options. I take it from what you’re saying here that you won’t need to be paying rent or mortgage out of that – which is a crucial consideration of course.
Good idea Sinead. This topic has been on my mind continuously in the last year or so.
There are crucial differences between the U.S. and Europe to consider, however, specifically around health insurance and property tax, so I just thought I would highlight that.
Is anyone interested in the topic of co-housing? I was researching the Beguinages (sp.?) the other day. These types of arrangements disappeared in the West when the nuclear family and/or the individual emerged as the measure of all things.
i was on the waiting list for a room at a women’s community in the netherlands autumn and also starting to set up a shared house in amsterdam but am now moving back to ireland, so these won’t be going ahead. shared housing is quite popular in the netherlands and there are plenty of buildings that suit this purpose. i will be keeping my co-housing cap on though, as it’s still the way i’d like to live. will investigate what’s available in ireland when i’ve more time.
I own a modest place in which the mortgage is paid off, so I would only be responsible for repairs, taxes, insurance, and a modest homeowner’s fee (all of which adds up but is less than the average rent in the area).
Sinead, house prices in Ireland have started to rise again in cities and the Irish media is trying to convince everyone that house prices have started to rise outside cities again (they haven’t).
Co-housing is an excellent idea but it hasn’t caught on here yet. As you know, people in Ireland are slow to take on new ideas, especially anything that goes against the family model.
No way will I be thinking of buying a house in Ireland when I get back, despite what the Sunday newspaper advertorial supplements are pushing.
1. I’m going back to study so won’t be working for the next 4 years and don’t know where I’ll be after that.
2. I can share a nice house with one or two other students a few minutes cycle from my campus (UL) for e250 per month. It’s not the exact meaning of the word co-housing but it’s a start.
3. Irish housing design is to a large extent based on the often ugly 3 bed semi – what would a single woman like me be doing with that space? It’d be like getting a dress made four sizes too big and paying for the extra material.
I am thinking about buying some land near my aunt and uncle’s farm to plant an orchard … that’s another days conversation but a dream worth having!