How I Plan To Spend My Time In Retirement
The series of posts that I’ve been writing so far on this blog have been focussed on planning for retirement because I believe that preparation is key to successful retirement. Planning what I’m actually going to do once I retire is less important though since retirement is all about freedom to do what I want and I certainly don’t want to close down any options now by fixing my mind set too early. I do want to gradually transition to my retirement lifestyle though over the next few years, so I want to practice some ideas to see how much I like them and I want to be confident that I know what I’m letting myself in for. The last thing I want to do is have some idealised retirement concept that is a big disappointment in reality. Five years of practicing ideas seems to be a pretty good test of whether I will get bored and should generate a good range of additional ideas. Unfortunately I won’t be able to practice all of my ideas until actually retire because I don’t have the time and energy to do them while I’m also working.
In previous posts in this series I’ve worked through the basic ingredients that I think make up a good retirement, the types of activity and the things I’d like to learn so I’m not going to repeat those here. This post is about the broad structure of how I see my life in retirement. One of the challenges in writing this post is that while my current working life is quite similar all year round, I’m expecting my retired lifestyle to vary considerably through the year and from one year to the next. I will do my best to make sense of this change in this post.
The best way to think of my retirement lifestyle design is as a daily pattern of activities interspersed with big events, challenges and holidays to add variety. The events, challenges and holidays will be tuned to the season of the year. As well as describing the lifestyle ideas I’m also going to make some attempt at working out how much it’s going to cost, over and above my basic cost of living.
First up the daily pattern that gives structure to my days at the moment, this pattern has served me well for the last ten years and works well in most weather. Whilst there’s some variability I expect my typical days go roughly like this:
I will be waking up early and having a nourishing green smoothie before setting off for a walk or cycle ride to a cafe where I will read for a couple of hours before heading to another cafe about an hour away for brunch and more reading. I will then walk or cycle home and have another smoothie. My afternoons will be spent doing housework, gardening, DIY, learning, creating or volunteering with some more exercise and meditation thrown in. I’ll have dinner with my wife and then spend the evening with her and/or my kids. If the weather’s bad I will probably spend time in the health club rather than walking/cycling.
My guess is that I will probably spend about 150 days a year like this, it’s a relaxing way of life, chock full of healthy habits that keep me fit and rested. A day like this costs about £12, so that’s £1800 a year and I will treat myself to a cake every few days and replacement cycling, walking gear etc. so in total that’s £2400. Once a week my wife and I will go out for a meal and the movies so that will cost an additional £20 a week or about £1000, giving me a running total of £3400. Since Debbie will be working she will cover her own pocket money and car costs.
At least twice a week I will go on a day hike or longer cycle which means some additional travel costs but the food costs will probably be the same. I will assume an average drive of 80 miles which will cost £28 so that’s £2800 for 100 days of day hikes and £1200 for food, making a total of 250 days and a running total cost of £7400.
I currently take a 5 day holiday each month and I’m expecting to continue that, although some of these holidays will include walking and cycling challenges. I will probably skip these breaks in winter which means I will go on longer breaks in the spring and autumn. A 5 day holiday averages about £250 in accommodation, £100 for travel and the same £12 for food. That’s a total of £6000, making a grand total for 310 days of £13,400.
Finally we will probably go on a 4 day (3 night) short break every month, these trips will include shows and conferences like TEDxSalford. These are likely to be pretty low cost for travel and accommodation since we will use low cost coaches and Premier Inn type accommodation. I’m assuming £30 for travel and £120 for accommodation and £15/day for food. So the total will be £2500. Giving a grand total of £18K for the year, assuming that Debbie covers her own food, travel to work and clothes etc. These costs include her holidays with me.
Since our basic cost of living is about £14K this makes a grand total of £32K per year which is what I consider to be my maximum lifestyle cost of living. I can scale back these costs quite a bit if I need to.
In summary this means I will be spending about 40% of my time in St Annes following my daily routine, about 30% of my time I will be on day trips hiking, cycling or learning and the remaining 20% of my time I will be away from home on a mix of short and longer breaks. That seems about the right mix of home and away, stability vs. variety and low cost vs. medium cost, with no extravagant costs.
The photo is of Windermere from the eastern fells, for me it’s walks and views like this that will hopefully define my retirement!