Being Retired

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.


10 responses to “Being Retired

  1. It is a huge decision to make, to move to a different country. Like you, I don’t regret it, although my reasons were different to yours. I have a small pension and it goes a lot further here than it would in the UK. I’m pretty sure it would have been difficult for me to survive on so little if I’d still been living there. The people and the lifestyle here is so different, but in a good way. Somehow even when I have stress here about some problem or another, I can shake it off far quicker than when I was living in England. All in all, the best decision of my life.

    • I agree the money goes a lot further here, but I think the improvement in quality of life counts for so much more. As you say Turkey is different, but in a good way.

  2. . . so many similarities to our situation. 16 years ago I was told my condition was inoperable and I’d be in a wheelchair within 5 years – not exacrly life-threatening but it amounted to the same thing! Like you, we did the sums, burnt our bridges and decided to go live the dream for as long as we were able. 7 years ago the ‘wheelchair moment’ arrived, but thanks to the skill of an Iranian spinal surgeon practicing in Turkey I was given my life back. With care (not trying to lift heavy loads) I’ll be walking our lovely mountains for years to come.
    Like you, J and I eat healthily, lead enquiring lives that are full of interest, travel lots, want for nothing that matters, and even have more money than month these days. Every day we wake up, look out of the window and say ‘Oh no! Not another beautiful day in Turkey!’
    Making the decision to retire was actually the best days work we never did!

    • I regularly hear good things about health services here in Turkey, good to hear your experience was positive. I hope we will never need to make use of them, but of course, at some stage we will. At least I no longer have TB.
      More money than month is a very good position to be in but waking up to another beautiful day is equally good. Yes, a good decision for us as well.
      Take care of your back, unlike kidneys you only have one..

  3. Snap! We live entirely on my UK state pension and a rather smaller pension from the DSS, a former employer. We also make a small profit (sadly diminishing) from property in UK. My husband was unable to work before we left, he had both hips replaced and pelvic reconstruction. All of his benefits have stopped, and his state pension is over 2 years away. But we have a pleasant home here, good Turkish friends. We both find our health has stopped getting worse, may even be improving slowly. When Malcolm’s pension starts I intend to have a catamaran built here (my nautical equal to your bike). It’s either paradise here, or sitting on Plymouth Hoe in a mac, scarf and wellies. I don’t regret our choice.

    • We both have to wait for the UK state pension but the NHS pensions are enough to get by on. Like you we have a pleasant home and are forming good friendships here. Hope the dream happens and you get the catamaran.

  4. The food is so much nicer in turkey,I miss it when back in England ,it’s just being brave enough to make the move to turkey,we have a home there and now we are on pension living here we still need to work ,may be one day.

  5. Glad you’ve both settled in so well to you new lives in Turkey. We’re younger than you and still have decisions to make but like you, we love the fresh foods (we also don’t eat anything processed and only use our little freezer for cooling drinks quicker when guests are here – we no longer freeze food). We also love the way of life and now know that the speed and structure of life in the UK is something neither of us want anymore. We’ve been on plan B for the last nine years and we’ve come this far – we know we can continue somehow. 🙂

    • We are still on plan A which is a good thing since we don’t as yet have a plan B. Like you we have no desire to go back to the rat race. We do have another use for the freezer box other than cooling drinks and ice cubes. Hilary makes stock, boils it until very concentrated, and then freezes it in cubes – great for soups and a few other recipes.

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