Planning for early retirement means figuring out how to minimise your cost of living while maximising your passive income. Anyone who has started to think about how this might be achieved will realise that there will need to be compromise, but not necessarily sacrifice.
It is not possible to retire early and keep your current lifestyle – Except in the unlikely scenario where you are generating as much passive income are you used to earn when working full-time. I say unlikely because in order for you to be able to do that, it would mean that you have a very large amount of investment capital. If that is the case, well done!
However, the majority of people will need to make some lifestyle changes in order to achieve early retirement. While that doesn’t necessarily equate to a decrease in quality of life, it does require some adjustment.
Early Retirement Activities
There are a lot of early retirement blogs. In most cases, the blogger claims no longer to work, when in fact s/he is running a website full-time: Writing posts, publishing e-books, organising seminars, etc…
All they have managed to do is successfully switch from a corporate salaried job to a home business. That’s great if you enjoy that kind of work, but it’s not necessarily what most people have in mind when they think about early retirement.
Of course hobby blogging can be used to generate passive income (if you’re going to do it anyways, you may as well generate some income from it!), but you need to be careful not to swap one set of shackles for another! If your goal is to retire and be independent, then don’t go out and create new dependencies.
People have very different plans for their post-retirement life – The key is to ensure that you include some physical and intellectual activities. If you have the intelligence and conviction to go through the process of achieving financial independence, you are probably smart enough to know that you need to continue some engagement in these types of activities in order to maintain your well-being.
While our core aim for “retirement” is to spend more time with our children, to focus on a healthy diet and lifestyle, and to build up a hobby farm, we also aim to join clubs and volunteer for charities. Life is about giving and taking!
Hobby Farming and Homesteading
Part of our plan is to become as self-sufficient as possible. Once we quit our jobs, we aim to use our passive income to pay for things that we cannot make or grow ourselves.
Things like property taxes that can’t be escaped or items like clothing or furniture that are too difficult to make. However, one of the things that we can gain more control over is our own food.
We thus want to lead a homesteading lifestyle. Hobby farming or homesteading is increasingly becoming popular with people looking to become self-reliant. Why? There are various different reasons: food security, financial independence, lifestyle choice, etc…
People simply like the idea of living off the land, growing their own food and harvesting sustainably, using natural and renewable resources like rain water or solar energy.
In some cases, people go to the extreme and use homesteading as a way to go “off the grid”. That’s not our personal idea of happiness – We still want to maintain close ties to the community and stay connected with friends and family.
Instead, we see growing our own food as a way to reduce our grocery bill while also giving us full control over what we eat. So, although one of our key objectives is to save money, we also like the idea of witnessing the whole food chain: From dirt to plate.
We also think the quieter pace of rural life will suit us better than the city. Having said that, we are realistic about the amount of time and effort needed for such project. Farming is one of the most difficult jobs you can have.
We’re not going in with rose-tinted glasses. We know that it will be hard and take time, but we also know that it will be extremely rewarding and something we can do as a family. We aspire to a life where the things we do have a meaning and a purpose. So, wherever we end up physically, that is our true destination!
Is it Work or Not?
Some may argue that I will not really be retiring if I take up the job of becoming a hobby farmer. Indeed, growing vegetables and taking care of animals is a demanding task. Yet, some people spend their weekends and holidays gardening or fishing. They don’t generate income, so they call it a hobby. But they’re doing what they love.
That is the ambition here. The aim would be to apply permaculture principles in order to reduce our workload. We will focus on high value, low effort produce. There is no plan to make this a full-time job. Still, any gain will enable us to offset our cost of living.
It’s also important to note that we don’t plan to grow food for profit. If we produce more than we can eat, we would aim to trade the excess against different foods or goods. For us, homesteading is a mindset and a lifestyle choice rather than a business opportunity. It just fits the economical and ecological aspirations we have.
Having lived in big cities with stressful jobs, we look forward to a simpler, slower, more genuine life centred around our family and all the outdoor activities we can do together. If you feel this way and are interested in the idea of homesteading, I would recommend reading a couple of books that I found inspiring and full of good advice.
They are targeted at people with no prior farming experience or homesteading education, who want to start becoming self-sufficient. So if you are interested and are looking for good reading material, try the following:
- The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour – The classic and must-read guide for realists and dreamers
- The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan – A comprehensive introduction to homesteading
- The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery – One of the most complete book on homesteading
- Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual by Bill Mollison – Reference book from the co-creator of permaculture
- Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway – Another great book on permaculture