Retired and Rewired: The 5 Stages of Retirement

Adventure beckoned. After living in Chicago for 23 years, we made the decision to retire early and move to a new city. Plans were set in motion and rapidly took on a life of their own. Many Excel spreadsheets later, we realized that devising a strategy in preparation for this undertaking made all the difference.

From our experiences, here are the five stages of the retirement process:

1. The Analytical Stage- aka the dream and scheme stage: Could we? Should we? Where? When? How?

Start at the beginning
List all the attributes that you are looking for in a new city. Any city that did not meet our criteria was removed from our list:

  • No harsh winter weather
  • A city with an active downtown and a great vibe
  • Ease of airport travel
  • Lower cost of living

Check out the weather
Research the weather, then plan a trip to visit your chosen cities in summer and winter. We traveled in July and checked out the summer weather of our finalists. If the city passed muster, we planned a second trip in the winter months.

2. The Physical and Emotional Stage- aka the cry, why and say goodbye stage

It was time for a serious de-cluttering. This was a huge project, but we tackled it in stages. Once we experienced the benefits of being “lean and mean,” we knew we would never regress.

Rent first
Be smart, slow down and decide what will work for you in the long run. Renting allows you the freedom to leisurely get your bearings and explore different neighborhood options before settling down.

Plan your exit strategy
Our to-do list included putting our condo up for sale, job resignations, contacting friends, family and business associates, planning goodbye dinners, change of address notifications, planning for the move, initiating services in our new home, etc.

3. The spring break Stage- aka the Yahoo! stage

We found ourselves in a new, exciting city and we were free: no alarm clock, no responsibilities! We don’t know what came over us; we ate too much, drank too much, stayed up too late and smiled when we’d pass the Tylenol to each other in the mornings.

4. The Settling in Stage- aka the where are we? Stage

Fitting in
Recreating our daily lives took time and research. In the end, we were pleased with our choices of new doctors, dentist, hair salon, grocery store, church, etc. Next: volunteering, joining a group and taking classes will help us to meet people and connect to the pulse of our new city.

Two peas in a pod?
We were not used to seeing each other every second of the day. We soon settled into a rhythm; we would spend mornings on our own, then at lunch, we would plan the rest of the day.

5. The Search for Adventure Stage- aka the sustainable version of the spring break Stage

Now that we’re here, what should we do? We chronicled all the restaurants and events that we do not want to miss out on and noted near-by destinations that would make for great road trips.

It’s been eight months since we moved to Austin, Texas. We enrolled in Spanish classes at the University of Texas. I found free yoga classes and a free neighborhood pool. We volunteered at the “Keep Austin Weird” Festival. We now know how to do the Texas Two-Step. We played Chicken S*** Bingo and won! After walking the Camino, we joined the Austin chapter of the American Pilgrims. I started this blog. Oh, and Tylenol intake has decreased considerably.





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