Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Year One of Retirement is Done; Thoughts on Being Part Timers

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

Mindy and the grands left us after a week of fun, frolic and good food. We already miss them, as the house is now disturbingly quiet and yes, a bit lonely. As I write this, a clock on my desk is making a muffled click at the passing of each second. This sound has been completely inaudible for the past week, mercifully drowned out by the wonderful cacophony of laughter punctuated by squeals and shrieks of the boys at play. To say that we miss that is an understatement.

However, the quietness facilitates reflecting on my first year of retirement; it hardly seems it has been a year since that blessed event! In a post to this blog on July 7th, 2013, I mentioned that Sandy and I were likely going to be part timers rather than full timers and, sure enough, that's how it turned out. It doesn't look like that's going to change, barring some unforeseen calamity. Here is a little insight to our considerations, concerns and evolution as we look back on retirement year one:

We were financially prepared, after all.  I guess most people who retire wonder about this before they finally pull the plug. I suppose most RVers' decisions to go full time are largely driven by their budget. For many, shedding the expense of maintaining a stick and brick house is the only way to free up the required funds to wander freely about the country. Looking back at our first year's financials gives me some confidence that we will not have to do that, although the costs involved in maintaining our stick and brick home and traveling in a motorhome are somewhat daunting. (Because of my upbringing, I am not comfortable in sharing actual money figures, but suffice it to say that the expense is formidable, at least for us. Culture alert: In the south, discussing one's personal finances is generally considered unseemly, unless one has had a few mint juleps.)  

As part timers, we sacrifice some freedom and peace of mind. If I were asked to name the best rationale for jettisoning one's house, this would be it. When we are away in Phannie, there is rarely a day when I don't think about the house and perhaps take a look at the perimeter camera feeds on my cell phone to see if all is as it should be. The burglary we experienced a couple of years ago didn't help in my worrying about the place. I'm not even comforted by the new state-of-the-art security system, knowing that even if instantly notified by e-mail of a tripped alarm, there is nothing I can do from halfway across the country except watch the thieves look into the cameras as they steal our stuff and leave before the police can respond.

On a positive note, I don't have to worry much about the yard or the household systems. The yard is xeriscaped, so there is no upkeep there and, since the house is relatively new, the need for maintenance is almost nonexistent. I'm not sure what more we can do to secure the place.

The bottom line: We don't like our constant fretting over what's going on at home, but I suppose we'll just have to deal with it. (Fulltimers are entitled to smile smugly when reading this.) 
We still have excess 'stuff.'  When we downsized from the big house to our now smaller one, we got rid of a lot of stuff--so much so that we still have some empty cabinets in the new house! That being said, we still cannot imagine how we would pare down enough of what's left to live solely in Phannie's 350 square feet. I know it is done all the time, but I'm afraid we would need a degree of inspiration that we don't currently possess.

We don't think we would do 'loss of community' very well. There are some folks (Sandy more so, me less so) who cannot imagine being "homeless." For them, an RV could never be thought of as a home. They'll tell you that homes do not move about the country; they must remain in place so Santa can find them! For people who love a routine in their lives, it is especially difficult to abandon the familiar and embrace the unfamiliar. For them, the prospect of wandering around the country and making exciting new discoveries does not outweigh the loss of belonging they would have in the social structure of home, family, friends, church and all that constitutes their roots. I get that, and I must confess that I enjoy it too. (Sandy, however, thrives on it; I think that's why more people like her better.) 

We are all about compromise. As our lifestyle is now, I get the extended trips I love without a detailed itinerary or restriction on length of stay and Sandy--who also enjoys our travels--gets to come home and plug in again. In the past year, we were actually at home more than we were away. So, I would call that a nice compromise. (Usually, my compromising means  just doing it her way, but I'm not complaining; it has worked wonderfully for 38 years.)


  1. Pithy and to the point as always Mike.....

    Part timer status works well for you and Sandy and that's all that matters.

  2. What I think is so wonderful is that you found out early on what works for you. So many folks jump in head first, get rid of everything and then find out they really aren't cut out for full timing. Thank goodness there is not just one way to enjoy retirement.

  3. It is a good thing that you found your comfort zone. For us, we just did not want to maintain a house, five acres with two barns. We love the freedom to travel and visit family that is scattered about the country. Our investments are intact and growing for the day we need to plants roots, once again. Truthfully, I'd just rather die on the road than establish a "home place" again.

  4. Happy Anniversary! This retirement "gig" certainly agrees with you! As newbie "part timers", we consider y'all our mentors. Thanks for showing us how it's done. As much as we loved fulltiming, there is a lot to be said for enjoying the best of both worlds. (And, how did you know we like Sandy best? ;-) ) Congratulations!

  5. Good discussion. We went full time for almost six years even though it took us over two years to sell our home. We did check up on it every summer and our Realtor looked after it for us. There was no thought to keeping it since after the kids left home, we did not intend to live in that area any longer. We have since sold the full time rig and live in FL near one of our daughters and grandchildren. I guess that everyone has different reasons for how they go about their travels. As long as they are enjoying it, it is all good:)

  6. Sounds like you are loving life, and that's all that matters!

  7. When I was reading about your upcoming retirement earlier, I was curious to see how the transition would go for you. Based on the last year's worth of posts, it's obvious that the transition was an easy one and you and Sandy have continued to work together to meet your individual needs and desires. Knowing what lies ahead, I had to laugh at the line, "we still cannot imagine how we would pare down enough of what's left to live solely in Phannie's 350 square feet." Oh, ye of little faith! This was an extremely thoughtful and well written post, Mike (as are, truth be told, all of your other posts). Looking back and looking forward, it's easy to see that your and Sandy's attitudes and willingness to adjust your sails to adapt to changing situations and priorities have contributed greatly to your happiness in retirement. Good for both of you!

  8. As I read this again, I couldn't have known then how our mindset would change and how Sandy would actually be the key. It's fun to reminisce, and your comments make it all the better. Thank you, Mary.


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