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49 year old pofessional wondering retiring at 50
Old 08-11-2008, 12:59 PM   #1
Confused about dryer sheets
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49 year old pofessional wondering retiring at 50

Hi there,
I'm a recently widowed lawyer and the mother of 2 adorable daughters, both will soon graduate from college. Following the unexpected death of my late husband this past April (and my former husband in July), I begin to see life at a totally different angle. After working continuously for 24 years and having experienced through different phases of my life (wife, mother, divorcee and widow), I am planning to live life in my own term and start getting new visions and experiences. Early retirement is therefore high on my agenda.

Financially speaking, I guess I am doing fine. I have been investing in the stock and real estate market (plus the family estates that I inherited from my late husbands) for years and that should ride me over for a reasonable period of time. But what puzzle me most is whether I could really slow down and adjust to the relatively quiet life that I was hoping so long for. Since I will be selling my law partnership before I retire (I plan moving to New Zealand afterwards), there is no turning back on my decision. I last thing I want is to making a decision that I'll regret later on. I just wish to get some advice from forum member who had already made the decision and I would appreciate some experience sharing. Thanks
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Old 08-11-2008, 06:58 PM   #2
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Welcome, Phase3.

First off, my condolences.

I haven't done a 180 degree turn around as you are suggesting in your life, but from the description of all the changes and stress you must have experienced in the recent past, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to go a bit slower and adjust to the losses in your life, while having the stability of the same people at the office and the diversion of the work.

Do you have plans to keep you busy in New Zealand? Going from 80 hour work weeks to adjusting to "no responsibilities" might be a bit shocking!
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Old 08-11-2008, 11:19 PM   #3
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Welcome to the board.

There are some things about ER that you have to get used to. It's a different experience for everyone, some find it difficult to replace the structure that work used to impose because they have difficulty finding things to do in their unlimited free time. Others take to it like ducks to water. If you are asking questions now, it might mean that you should think through your post retirement life and how it will work. Not reconsider your plans to ER, but, to echo a phrase frequently used here, "just what are you going to do all day?"

I retired at 45 after years of a total 24-hour-a-day stressful thrill ride of a job to being Mr. Mom and Leo the Investor. Most days I don't miss making those life-or-death kind of decisions, but some days I do. Partly because I was good at it and also because I got used to doing it - it was my life. Now, a tough decision might be - do I want to go grocery shopping in the morning and the gym in the afternoon, or vice-versa. There have been some adjustments that had to be made.

Anyway, I was curious about the move to New Zealand and wondered if you would explain your motivation. After reading your post I did some research and found that my former career field is one of several that the NZ government is looking for foreigners to come ply down there. Not that I want to go back to work, but it was nice to see that if I really wanted to go I would be high on the "we want you" list.
There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it. - Andrew Jackson
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Old 08-12-2008, 01:58 PM   #4
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periods of deep grief are the worst times to make life altering decisions.
"off with their heads"~~dr. joseph-ignace guillotin

"life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."~~mark twain - letter to edward kimmitt 1901
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Old 08-12-2008, 04:41 PM   #5
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Welcome , I'm also a widow and I would suggest you take at least a year and a half to regroup and deal with the grieving !
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Old 08-12-2008, 05:07 PM   #6
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Welcome to the board. You'll usually find someone here who has been through similar situations.

Assuming you are financially independent (a few sessions with firecalc should help you answer that) and that you have access to family coverage health insurance, the only red flags I can see with your plans are possibly underestimating the emotional impact of quitting work, having your kids leave home (it can get lonely without them), being 6 months out from losing your husband, and moving half-way around the world to a different culture.

Wow - any one of those qualifies as a biggie in my life. Add them together and ... well, you get the idea.

By the way, if you do have health insurance, does it cover you in New Zealand?

Good luck however your plans unfold. Glad you found us.
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ESR'd March 2010. FIRE'd January 2011.

As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 08-16-2008, 02:55 PM   #7
Confused about dryer sheets
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Thank you for your condolences and all valuable advices but I am still leaning over the ER option but with modifications. Following your suggestions, I think I will delay my ER plan for another year or so to get over my grief as well as to settle the recently surfaced complication over my late husband's estates. Here's my compromised plan:

1. Find myself another law partner and to gradually lighten up my workload. Give myself two years transition before going full ER. Keeping my partnersip for a few more years just in case
2. Extend my stay in New Zealand to give myself adjustment time on ER. I realize that staying a week for vacation is quite different from staying for retirement especially in the absence of my husband
3. Try to get my qualification to practise using my free time in the next two years. I don't intend to go back to full practice but planning using the qualification for volunteer works over there
4. To spend more time with my daughters and seeing them settle down before making my own move. After all, my mom is saying that I should at least finish up unveiling of my husband's grave before I leave. That's my family tradition that I intend to comply anyway.

New Zealand, by the way, is always closely connected to me. My great great grandmother was migrated from New Zealand. So was the great grandfather of my late husband. My best friend moved over since 1987 after she got married (she was also widowed in 06) while my eldest daughter stayed there for almost a year through student exchange program. I went there regularly during winter times (their summer) staying at our summer house not far from Auckland. It was now part of my inheritance which I plan to renovate as my retirement home. To me, New Zealand is one ideal place for retiremet. It is a beautiful country with stunning scenery, good social system and having reasonable tax rate. The air quality is excellent and you'll see green grass all over the country. The living standard is high and even the cities are safe (provided to remember to drive on the left hand side of the road). But unfortunately, U.S. lawyer still needs to go back to law school and passing the Bar exams before allowing to practice. That is something I am not too keen on doing again but I think I'll try.

Please advise if there is anything I still need watching out. Thank.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:22 AM   #8
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As the others have suggested, go slow with big life changes. We retired and moved to a different area within the time frame of two months. It was a much bigger change than either anticipated, and frankly DW adjusted more easily than I did. Not to say that it was all bad, overall we are better off than when we were intensely involved in work, but retirement is still a huge change that for many is best taken slowly.
When I was a kid I wanted to be older. This is not what I expected.
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Old 08-17-2008, 08:38 PM   #9
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Hi and welcome to the board. I am sorry to hear about your loss. I found myself widowed about 5 1/2 years ago and the best thing that I did was to take small steps. I went back to work after about 6 months and adjusted to my new life. My son is about to turn 16 and my daughter just turned 25 and just finished law school. I have been cutting my hours back a bit each year and I am now working 4 mornings a week. For me the work place was also a place to socialize. I never realized how important this was. I am slowly making new friends out of the work place and my life is changing.

I still have a son in High School for the next few years so my part time work schedule is perfect. I too see life differently now. The office will always be there tomorrow, with a new day of problems. The main reason I continue to work is for the health insurance and to continue to fund my 401k. I don't need to work, however, the work is easy for me (computer programming) and the people in the office are friendly.

Best of luck in what ever you decide to do.
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