I'm going to make a confession. I live in a home that is 4,000 square feet. There. I said it. If you read a lot of blogs of other retirees or want-to-be-retirees, you may find this shocking. Now you know my secrets, I sometimes watch the Fox News Network, and I live in a big house.
I just finished reading this great post over at Early Retirement Extreme. Don't buy into society's value system, and you are much more likely to achieve the dream of early retirement. It's true.
But all is not lost if you bought in a little.
If we still lived in our first home, a 1,500 square foot Victorian in San Francisco, I would not only be living in the city that I love, I would probably have been able to retire about five years earlier. But I wouldn't have been able to grow tomatoes and make pizza in my back yard, and my husband would be complaining to me every day about city noise.
I was talking to a new acquaintance a couple nights ago and he asked me how it was that I was able to retire at such a young age. I know he was looking for a simple answer, I won the lotto, a rich relative had died, I had a trust fund, something like that. But since the real answer would not fit into a sound bite, I told him a little bit of luck and a lot of obsessing.
The real answer is, it's all about choices. If you want to retire at 35, you have to make choices that will enable that to happen. If you decide to live in a home with 4,000 square feet, you may need to retire a bit later. If you choose not to have children, you can buy a bigger home in a not-so-great school district, maybe even invest in a second home, and still retire young.
One of our cars has over 150,000 miles, the other, over 100,000 miles, and smells like mildew. If you choose to drive new BMW's each year, you may have to retire a little later. I get my hair cut at Supercuts these days, trim it myself between cuts, and do the color myself. I clean my own house, maintain my own garden, and paint my own walls. If having your hair done at a fancy salon, or having a housekeeper and gardener are things you can't live without, that too will effect your retirement date.
If you like to take luxury vacations and wouldn't dream of swapping your home, that will have an impact on your retirement date. If a big diamond engagement ring is something you cannot live without, that will have an impact on your retirement date. And if shopping at Old Navy is not your thing, and only Nordstrom will do, well yes, that too will impact your retirement date.
Indeed I did have a job that paid me the kind of money to enjoy a balance of some extravagances and an early retirement. I could have opted for more extravagances and no early retirement, or fewer extravagances and an even earlier retirement. It's the the same deal for most people, no matter what their job is. It's all about choices.
And yes, I still do choose to occasionally tune into Fox News. Please don't hold it against me.