We have both in our own ways been thinking about being retired, why we retired early, what being retired means and the changes it has made to our lives. This is my take – Ashley.
I went through a long and serious illness, almost died, was on medication with horrendous side effects for almost a year. It raised all manner of thoughts around mortality, what I wanted to do with my life and what I would like for Hilary. Wishes started to be made. I wanted to enjoy my life more, I wanted the same for Hilary and I did not want either of us to work until official retirement age. Life and being able to enjoy life together became far more important than work.
When we started thinking about early retirement I knew that taking would mean a huge hit on the NHS pensions, a hit that would have implications for the rest of our lives. No matter what we would never have the sort of money we had got used to in the UK, we’d move from comfortable NHS professional salaries to pensions less than the UK minimum wage. As we looked at the money and assets it slowly started to look possible, we would have to cut our cloth differently, but we could do it.
It worried me we would drink too much, we don’t. It worried me we would be bored, we are not. It worried me that being in a foreign country we would feel very isolated, like outsiders, away from friends and family. Of course we miss seeing family and friends and would like to see them more often, but communication is maintained. We were making massive changes to our lives, and despite all the planning it was very much like jumping of a precipice.
Now it has been a little over a year, we have made the transition, not so much from the UK to Turkey, but from employment to being retired. Being retired is not about being on holiday all the time, we are not. Equally it is not about doing nothing with our lives. We keep ourselves pretty busy, we both have creative projects, and we have established a fairly good and healthy routine. We can still have holidays, I think this is important and emphasises that our normal life is not a holiday. We can still have a motorcycle, do many of the things we enjoyed and continue to enjoy, I think it is good not to lose these, to maintain hobbies and interests.
We are a lot less stressed. It took some months for us to really let go of the stress from the UK and the many worries around making the move. In particular I worried about the financial plan, had we got it right, now I am far more relaxed about this, I know that our resources are sufficient. Work stress was very high at times, and increasingly I was finding that I no longer wanted to put up with the increasingly insane bureaucracy of the NHS and objectionable government policies. Stepping away from work was a very good thing.
Our quality of life is far better. We have both lost a little weight, a good thing. We keep ourselves reasonably fit, no fixed routines, some walking and swimming depending on the weather and season of the year. We have started to develop some good social contacts here, this said I think we do need to widen our social contacts, and I need to improve my language skills. We eat fresh food every day, almost everything comes from the local market and local butcher. I doubt the eggs, cheese, yoghurt and the rest are pasteurised but they are incredibly fresh. We don’t buy or eat processed foods. We eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, a little meat, and way too many olives. We are able to do a lot more of what we want when we want, I know this sounds selfish, but there is something really positive about not being tied to a work routine.
We took two huge decisions to take early retirement and move to Turkey. In a sense they go together, we could not have taken early retirement and stayed in the UK. I think for us they were very good decisions.