Retirement – One Year Later

Lunch at Johnny Rocket’s aboard Symphony of the Seas

May 25 marked the first anniversary of our retirement.  And boy, what a year it’s been!  What we most wanted to do in retirement was to travel, and I’d say we did a pretty good job of it.  Looking back over my Lightroom catalog provides a visual history of our adventures, starting with an amazing trip to Italy, shorter trips to the NC mountains and NC coast, a road trip to Ohio and Virginia and a month at the beach in Hilton Head.  And that was just in 2018!  So far in 2019 we have been away 61 days out of 151.  We’ve taken two cruises (29 days at sea, including two back-to-back 7 day cruises and a 15 day cruise through the Panama Canal), made a road trip to Florida, another to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and we just finished another Ohio-Virginia road trip.  But we’re home for a while, I think.  Frankly, we’re a little tired!  The next scheduled trip is a trip to the beach in August, although there is a pretty good chance that something will come along in the interim!

Our visit to the Colosseum in Rome
Altesino winery near Montalcino, Italy
Aboard the train from Florence to Rome at the end of our Tuscany photo tour

One of our neighbors asked us the other day if we were trying to spend all of our retirement money in the first year!  We’re not, of course, but we obviously have done more than our financial advisor might prefer (sorry, Steve!).  But travel is what we do – we don’t have other expensive hobbies, our kids are self-supporting, and we have very reasonable monthly expenses.  We are very aware of how fortunate we are to have started the savings habit early and to live (mostly) within our means for the last 39 years (our 39th wedding anniversary is in October).

Sunset Beach Bar at Maho Bay, St Martin
In Nassau, Bahamas aboard Symphony of the Seas
First Cocktails Aboard! Symphony of the Seas

Here are some of the things we have learned and experienced in our first year of retirement:

Expected (good & bad)

  • LOTS of time to do whatever we want.
  • We really like being able to come and go as we please, without having to check vacation schedules and “request” time off from a boss.
  • We especially like not having to stick to a week-to-week or weekend routine.
  • We love to cook, and having time to shop for good ingredients and be creative in the kitchen has been fun.  As a result, we rarely go out to eat any more.
  • Less going out to eat has meant that we’ve both lost weight and saved money (to spend on travel!)
  • We manage to get in a good walk just about every day, continuing a habit we had established at work.

Unexpected (good & bad)

  • Lots of time means it is easy to get lazy.
  • We didn’t expect to miss work, and we really don’t.  At first, we missed the people and were really good about checking in.  We still miss the people, but the farther away we get the less often we seem to make contact.
  • It’s hard to keep track of what day it is!
  • We’re even more laid back and relaxed than we thought we would be!
  • We’ve gotten a lot more reading done, although we read more at home and less on the road.  It used to be that we needed to go on vacation to read!  Now our vacations are busier and we’re more relaxed at home with more time to read.
  • We can go for days without getting in the car.  Other than going to the grocery store or visiting the kids we rarely leave the neighborhood.  We need to make a point of getting Kathy behind the wheel periodically so she won’t forget how!
  • Our monthly expenses have gone down, due mostly to not eating out as much and not using as much gas, but also due to just not buying stuff.
  • Without an alarm every morning, our sleep schedules have diverged.  I like getting up early in the morning and don’t mind going to bed early.  Kathy is just the opposite and our schedules can some days be a couple of hours different.
‘Tween Waters Resort at Captiva Island, Florida
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunset on the beach, Palmetto Dunes Oceanside Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, North Carolina

So what’s in store for the next year?  We’re telling ourselves that we need to do a better job spacing things out.  The first 5 months of this year have seen a lot of travel, partly because of the last-minute addition of the Panama Canal cruise but also because of the January road trip immediately followed by the two cruises.  We’re anxious to continue checking off states as we try to get to all 50, so there will undoubtedly be a few more road trips.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find us on another cruise or two, and there will most certainly be visits to the mountains and the beach.

US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

Bus tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Jungle Gardens in Avery Island, Louisiana
Lunch at Johnny Rocket’s aboard Symphony of the Seas
Outdoor display area at Homestead Furniture Company near Mount Hope, Ohio

So watch this space!  I’ll do my best to keep posting articles and photos – when I have time!

US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

8 thoughts on “Retirement – One Year Later”

  1. Love this post – nice to see you two are enjoying retirement and keeping busy. You look happy and healthy – what more could want in life? Cheers to your one year!

    1. Thank you, Mila! You’ve got it right – this is exactly the best we could have hoped or asked for. And we’ll take year two just like year one, maybe just a little bit easier!

      Hoping to see you and Summer the next time you are in the Queen City!

    1. We get that a lot, Ken. I’ll be 61 this year and Kathy 62. But if you don’t have to rely on a pension or Social Security there is no “retirement age” any more. We’ll be happy for Social Security when it comes, and especially happy for Medicare, but we factored that into our plans and it should work out okay. And yes, it’s a wonderful life! 🙂

  2. Tom and Kathy – so happy for you to enjoy what you planned and worked for many years. I have been doing some traveling myself with my fiancée. How would you rate your cruise to the Bahamas? Did you leave from Charleston?

    Happy and safe travels!
    Donna

    1. Hi Donna!

      The only port we’ve been to in the Bahamas is Nassau, so it’s hard to say too much about the Bahamas in general. Our experience in Nassau is based primarily on what we’ve done when we were there. As a port city for walking around, it’s pretty much like any other cruise port. We did a food tour once with one of the ship’s chefs and it was a great experience. The last time we were there with friends we visited a Greek restaurant (of all things) and it was good, but then we went straight back to the ship. I would not choose or not choose a particular itinerary because it did or didn’t go there. We have never sailed out of Charleston. Shoot me an email or give me a call if you would like to talk more. Thanks!

  3. Wonderful report on the past year and its retirement. I knew you were traveling a lot but did not know just how much. You are experiencing what many people dream of doing. My sister and brother-in-law have really enjoyed their retirement traveling. Looking forward to seeing all that you continue to do. And, maybe connect if you make it back to Colorado.

    They just remodeled the Armstrong Hotel. I looked in the lobby this past week and they have doubled it in size. Not sure what they have done with the rooms.

  4. We were a bit surprised also, when we looked back and realized how much we’ve done. We ‘say’ we’re going to go easier in the second year, but something tells me that we won’t!

    And don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten Colorado! We’re working out plans now and will let you know. We’ve been talking about driving out but also need to use a couple of unused plane tickets. Decisions, decisions!

    We also noticed that the Armstrong had remodeled and it looks really nice. We’re also considering the new Elizabeth Collection Marriott downtown (pricey!) or the Hilton out your way. More decisions! 🙂

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