The First 9 Months of Semi-Retirement: The Excellent, the Unhealthy, and the Unpleasant


fire week


By way of Dr. Anthony Ellis, WCI Columnist

Whoever stated “Time flies while you’re having a laugh” could have been newly retired. The previous 9 months as “semi-retired” (running two days every week and lengthy weekends on a quarterly foundation) have handed by way of as though we have been fast-forwarding advertisements on a DVR.

My spouse says it’s because we’ve got been touring often. I say it’s because I grew to become 59 in April.


Promoting Our Dream House and What We Did with the Proceeds

We moved into the house we purchased for our retirement on our mountain in North Carolina in August 2022. Our kids had long past ahead of us, having landed jobs downtown ahead of they arrived. My spouse and I have been nonetheless putting off 30 years of accrued stuff with an “property sale” at our Michigan McMansion that netted a whopping $1,200 after public sale charges and ended in a 16-foot flatbed trailer of residual junk being carted off to charity.

That was once a GOOD factor, but it surely was once additionally one of the crucial toughest issues we had ever completed. We were in our dream domestic that we deliberate and inbuilt 2003 for roughly two decades, and we raised our kids there. The McMansion was once stuffed with reminiscences. But it surely was once additionally stuffed with 20-plus years of accrued issues. It took months to head thru these items and get rid of many pieces we appreciated however had no room for within the downsized house in North Carolina. A minimum of my kids is not going to need to do what we needed to do over a number of years with my spouse’s oldsters’ property and their 50-plus years of accrued property. We realized so much concerning the issues we purchased that turned into storage sale fodder. As they are saying, “One individual’s junk is . . . neatly . . . someone else’s junk.” I counsel eliminating maximum junk each and every few years.

Promoting the McMansion in Michigan inside every week of striking it in the marketplace and downsizing was once GOOD, and the timing was once, too. In some spaces, actual property costs have dropped 10%-15% since loan rates of interest ticked up from 3%-4% to six%-7%. The sale supplied an enormous chew of non-taxable fairness that crammed out the retirement nest egg. The method, on the other hand, was once onerous and UGLY. The ones few months from April to early August 2022 have been worrying.

Whilst we have been throwing issues away, donating others, and packing the remaining in two PODS six weeks aside, I used to be shutting down my place because the CMO of the local people psychological well being middle. Quickly, I used to be going to be “a dude within the basement seeing sufferers on a display” as an alternative of being on the apex of my profession and profits. Pronouncing good-bye to coworkers and a few sufferers and transferring clear of lifelong pals was once emotionally draining. My spouse and youngsters have been leaving their early life pals in the back of for the brand new dream, and there was once no going again. My youngsters stated, “It is bizarre to consider anyone else residing in our space.”

We bought the McMansion and positioned 60% of the proceeds in high-yield financial savings, first of all at about 2.5% and now at 4.25%. An extra 30% went into non permanent notes, structured notes, and provide chain financing at an combination yield of 6.5%. About 10% went to a small personal REIT allocation. Those price range are both wholly or incrementally liquid and constitute a two-year emergency fund, which is GOOD. The primary two chunks additionally yielded an combination of five.3%. The REIT (Fundrise) has been BAD in that with losses in 2022, in spite of paying quarterly dividends, the account was once down total ($397) from 2019 to the current. That small a part of my portfolio made no cash in the ones 4 years. I liquidated the account and reallocated the ones price range. This is BAD, however I’ve noticed 2022 actual property losses discussed by way of others on WCI. You can not win at all times in each and every asset elegance. Once I liquidated this place, I didn’t really feel industrial actual property was once where to be in 2023-2024.

I wrote up to now concerning the resolution to NOT repay the two.5% loan at the downsized retirement domestic with the McMansion proceeds. The loan fee is best $921 a month. This is GOOD (if truth be told, it’s impressive). The valuables taxes have been recalculated for 2023 with the preferred belongings (space on 10 acres and the vacant numerous 5 and 10 acres on each side), and this new evaluate popped the taxes up about 10%.

The dream of residing at the mountain was once born in 2015. It took virtually 8 years of proudly owning and paying for 2 properties to in the end convey it to fruition.

north carolina mountains

Here is my view of the North Carolina mountains.

Additional information right here:

A New Manner of Doing Trade (and Saving Lots of Cash) in My Retirement

Early Retirement and the Chance of Be apologetic about


Geographic Arbitrage and Touring All Over the Global in Retirement

It’s been GOOD that our authentic 2016 North Carolina space and land purchases had grown in price by way of about 50% within the 8 years since we purchased where. It was once inevitable that the taxes would move up along side the valuables values. In our county, tax reassessments are completed each and every 3 years. The North Carolina taxes are nonetheless about half of the tax quantity we paid at the McMansion on 4 acres in a fancy “most commonly docs” subdivision in Michigan, which is GOOD. The North Carolina circle of relatives anti-apocalypse compound additionally prices one-third as a lot to warmth and funky. We don’t have any water invoice and no backyard to mow, and we had no lasting snow to talk of this iciness, which was once additionally GOOD because it used to price me about $1,250 a yr to get the snow plowed in Michigan and $2,000 a yr for backyard care.

This geographic arbitrage has been GOOD and has many transferring portions, however issues are simply more cost effective in North Carolina. Auto insurance coverage, belongings taxes, the overall price of residing, and effort prices are simply some of the spaces with price financial savings. The state tax price was once upper by way of 1% in 2019 and prior, but it surely has been lower a number of years in a row from 5.25% to 4.75% in 2023, so it’s now nearer to Michigan (4.25%). North Carolina does now not (these days) tax Social Safety advantages, and there aren’t any native taxes due as there have been in Flint, Michigan (1% for Flint citizens and nil.5% for non-residents), which is GOOD.

It’s arduous to place a worth at the availability of lovely mountaineering venues and superb native vineyards in all instructions. That was once GOOD. We hike a number of days every week, as much as 5 miles at a time. Two of the native vineyards have been voted No. 1 and a couple of within the “highest new vineyards within the nation.” The eating place possible choices also are GOOD, and we’ve got two dozen “favorites” that we experience, often after a pleasing hike. There are adorable little cities in all instructions, and Asheville is just a 30 minutes pressure away. After all, there are dozens of superb eating places and extra mountaineering venues close to Asheville and all alongside the Blue Ridge Freeway. The world has grew to become out to be GOOD for us and fits us completely as opposed to the BAD angle of a unprecedented “native” towards “Yankee” transplants in search of to retire right here. Fortuitously, they’re most commonly trolling social media and are avoidable.

Touring each and every different month has additionally been GOOD. We’re these days coaching for a 75-mile hike throughout Spain from northern Portugal at the Camino de Portugues. This marriage ceremony anniversary go back and forth were given canceled by way of the pandemic, however it is now deliberate for our thirtieth in Might 2023. I’m studying some Spanish and Portuguese, and we’re entering into form for the 12-mile-per-day walks within the Iberian nation-state. Up to now up to now 9 months, we’ve got long past on 3 circle of relatives holidays. My spouse and I’ve long past to Costa Rica, returned again to Michigan 3 times, and brought a excursion of the Nationwide Parks in Utah and Arizona (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Monument Valley, and the south rim of the Grand Canyon).

There have been bills now not accounted for totally within the North Carolina finances, together with Christmas and birthdays that I forgot to place in and a brand new warmth pump. I budgeted 1% for upkeep. However the warmth pump was once two decades previous and went BAD, so it was once due. We had changed the entire home equipment, the roof, exterior paint, and the water heater in prior years (2018-2021) after we “visited” the home quarterly to verify we surely appreciated the realm. It grew to become out to were a GOOD concept to do lots of the paintings within the position whilst I used to be nonetheless working towards full-time. The warmth pump price an UGLY $12,500, put in after appropriate rebates. It’s meant to ultimate till I’m 74. The salesman instructed me it was once half of that quantity pre-pandemic, which I didn’t wish to know.

We opted to exchange the worn-out and UGLY entrance door, construct a brand new prolonged prow to give protection to it, and upload a small porch. This grew to become out superbly. Those two huge bills constitute the one drawdown in our price range as my two days every week of telepsychiatry and an occasional lengthy weekend in Michigan have totally lined all our different bills, as deliberate. That has been GOOD despite the fact that our winery and eating place bills are robotically over finances. The quarterly “work-a-long-weekend” visits to Michigan serve a 2nd goal in that lets spend time with our pals in Michigan. Since I paintings telehealth from our basement, I don’t have any shuttle apart from after we trip to Michigan quarterly . . . and it’s deductible pre-tax, as is the accommodation.

front doors anthony ellis

My previous entrance door (left) vs. my new entrance door (proper).

Additional information right here:

Practical Longevity: What Use Is Retirement If You Can’t Transfer and Suppose?


Our Well being Insurance coverage in Retirement

One UGLY finances merchandise was once circle of relatives medical health insurance. Dr. Dahle has discussed that circle of relatives medical health insurance often prices up to the per thirty days grocery finances. I budgeted $1,000 a month but it surely has been $1,150 a month, and the insurance coverage isn’t excellent, leaving a stack of unpaid expenses after the paltry and spotty get advantages quantities. I purchased it thru a medical health insurance dealer, and I needed to get 3 other insurance policies. I could not get a fairly priced Obamacare coverage as a result of I had level 1A melanoma got rid of in 2021. So, my “restricted get advantages coverage” prices about $6,400 a yr.

My 22-year-old daughter could not move at the major coverage with my spouse and two different kids, as a result of she was once running an opening yr to make money for PT graduate college and was once “now not a pupil.” She has her personal Aetna coverage (which I pay for). My partner and different two kids (ages 16 and 18) are on a tight Aetna circle of relatives coverage. To make certain that I had now not made a mistake, I contacted a 2nd medical health insurance dealer, and he priced out a couple of insurance policies and may now not give me a greater deal. I do pass over my loose HMO coverage from my prior employer that I misplaced once I dropped all the way down to half-time. The possible OBRA protection packet arrived after the date that choice expired. No kidding.

One UGLY instance: I had a four-millimeter polyp on a gallbladder ultrasound about 18 months in the past, and it was once really helpful that it’s adopted since polyps that change into larger than a centimeter have a ten% possibility of being cancerous. Fortuitously for me, the newest follow-up ultrasound confirmed no polyps. The sanatorium would now not let me pay as an uninsured individual since I’ve insurance coverage. My coverage advantage of “$50 for any X-ray” left me the remainder of the UGLY $850 insured value and the majority of the radiologist’s charge. The uninsured value was once $450, much less the $50 “any X-ray” allotment from the insurance coverage corporate, so I’d have paid $400 as an alternative of $800. I’d were in this deal uninsured, however one can not “move naked” or possibility precise monetary smash.

I’m quickly going to get an opportunity to peer what different protection holes I’ve in my “restricted get advantages coverage” as I had a BAD mishap at the path whilst mountaineering right here in March. I stepped on an embedded rock, rolled, and injured my ankle in the similar means I injured the similar ankle about 15 years in the past. With a torn ligament and a small avulsion fracture of the distal tibia, I used to be reminded of a lesson that I had forgotten which can also be summed up as “by no means take your eyes off the path.” I’m guessing that my pressing care discuss with, ankle sequence, a couple of crutches, and the ankle boot will probably be about $1,000 and that my coverage will duvet half of of this quantity.

Additional information right here:

Well being Insurance coverage in Early Retirement


The Excellent, the Unhealthy, and the Unpleasant of Early Retirement

In abstract, the ultimate 9 months have most commonly been GOOD.


The Excellent

  • Extra solar, virtually no snow
  • Minimum backyard upkeep
  • No water invoice, no snow plowing prices
  • A lot decrease belongings taxes
  • Extra land and 33% much less space to wash
  • Decrease power prices by way of a long way at about 33% of the prior quantity
  • No native taxes
  • Decrease auto insurance coverage prices
  • Higher native eating place possible choices
  • Glorious native vineyards
  • Plentiful mountaineering venues
  • Trip each and every different month
  • Running two days every week from the basement
  • No shuttle . . . once more I say, no shuttle. This has been nice.
  • Smaller monetary footprint = decrease pressure
  • Time to swim, learn, write, trip, cook dinner, and hike (after ankle PT)

My Happiness Index has larger from 6/10 —> 9/10, even supposing the ankle price me two issues for the time within the boot. One ultimate GOOD merchandise: The pension I’m owed from the sanatorium gadget for which I labored the longest is providing a one-time lump sum payout. This was once sudden and is said to them “shifting the duty to an insurance coverage corporate.” Since I don’t have began drawing this flat quantity till age 60, I’m eligible to obtain about 80% of the advantages I’d obtain from age 60 to age 80 suddenly as an IRA rollover. I feel I will be able to take the cash and make investments it myself. I don’t accept as true with insurance coverage firms, inflation will most probably proceed to erode the ease, and it is not assured that I will reside from age 60 to 80. As well as, getting all of this cash prematurely and keeping the main guarantees that a number of hundred thousand doesn’t disappear if my spouse and I meet an premature death on a global go back and forth or in a motor car coincidence. If we die, the pension quantity disappears.


The Unhealthy

The ankle damage. My very own fault. Lesson realized . . . once more.


The Unpleasant

It is most commonly the medical health insurance prices and the exposed clinical bills. We additionally don’t have any dental or imaginative and prescient protection. Fortuitously, all of us were given glasses and dental checks and cleanings ahead of we moved. We’ve determined to pay out of pocket for dental care, which might get UGLY. It’s GOOD that 3 of our 4 kids have already had braces and feature had their knowledge tooth out (about $6,000 every).


Our drawdown of McMansion proceeds in 9 months of semi-retirement was once about $20,000, because of deliberate renovations, exposed clinical prices, and the brand new gold-plated warmth pump. Which additionally occurs to have a integrated gentle display and performs track by means of Bluetooth . . . simply kidding. The ten-day locum holiday protection at my aspect gig that I’ve coated up for July will put us again to scratch for yr 1. Because of making much less cash whilst nonetheless stoking the entire retirement accounts in 2022, our taxes dropped considerably, and we’re getting a federal refund for the primary time in a few years. Now not having to place price range within the youngsters’ faculty accounts or my retirement accounts after 2022 (apart from for my aspect gig SEP IRA) has dropped our bills additional. Previous to 2022, tutorial bills for personal college, faculty account investment, and retirement contributions added as much as about $120,000 in keeping with yr. That is now diminished to twenty-five% of after-expense benefit, going into my SEP IRA in 2023.

As it’s possible you’ll surmise from the intensive listing of the GOOD and the temporary listing of the BAD and the UGLY, issues are going really well. Essentially the most difficult match in 9 months of pursuing our mountain dream was once my ankle damage mountaineering one of the crucial trails that we adore. My part-time paintings is paying the downsized expenses. My kids have had no drawback adjusting to our new atmosphere. My spouse has a volunteer process in the future every week on the Council on Ageing, which helps Foods on Wheels. My spouse and I’ve been going again to Michigan quarterly to peer our pals, and that has additionally made the transition much less hard.

This summer season, all folks are going again up for every week so the children can see their pals, too. We’ve hosted 3 units of pals right here for as much as every week, appearing them the native facilities. We’re all going to the native YMCA and taking good care of our well being; consuming higher home-cooked meals; and nonetheless playing the outside, eating place, winery, and leisure venues. We’ve loved spending extra time with our circle of relatives within the smaller house.

It has all long past most commonly as deliberate, however however, we practiced by way of coming right here quarterly for years, put in the older kids in faculty in North Carolina as they got here of age, and helped our eldest purchase her first domestic right here in 2021. As soon as my ankle heals up and we discover a cash-accepting dentist, I will save up for my subsequent colonoscopy.

In case you’ve lately retired, how are issues going for you? Any sudden prices or financial savings? How have you ever handled falling by the wayside of the full-time body of workers? Remark beneath!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:


More like this