This is a post from reader Eric as part of our retirement series.
When Robb first broached the idea of submitting a write-up relating to retirement preparation and its post-implementation offshoots, my first reaction was that, if he’s looking for an example, I can probably qualify for the role of ‘bad example’.
While I, (rightly or wrongly), don’t consider myself particularly capricious, ‘planning’, (such as that practiced by those with a more analytical inclination), has never been my forte.
At 70 years of age I tell people I’m retired; which from the viewpoint that I hope I never again have the need to be subjected to the drudgery of employment, is essentially true.
The fact is though, the longest ‘serious’ job I ever had lasted for thirteen years, over half of which was spent in Saudi Arabia, and when my late wife & I returned to Canada, (having accumulated sufficient funds), I up and quit at age 46.
But perhaps I’ve started the story at the penultimate chapter.
I was born, at the height of World War II, ( I don’t remember any of it, although I’m sure, as a baby, I attempted to drown out the noise of air raid sirens), in London, England. I qualified, through a nationwide classification examination at age 11, to attend one of the better schools in London.
Not too long thereafter, having been identified as a malcontent, I added truancy to my resume.
End result – expulsion.
Too young to be inflicted upon the world, I was ‘demoted’ to a lower level school; on the first day there I was introduced to another guy, with a similar background, who had also just transferred in.
End result – expulsion.
My ‘schooling’, (if one can call it that), was essentially curtailed at age 12, and I was introduced to menial labor before I was 15.
Not the most auspicious beginning, perhaps. Ah, but things were different then.
From England to Australia
At age 17 I emigrated from England to Australia sans family, whereupon, due to my relative youth, I was nominally declared to be a Ward of the State, (which was the last contact I had with any State representative until I had to apply for a passport a couple years later).
In the interim I (ineffectively) picked grapes, skinned kangaroos for pet food (lasted half a day at THAT one), worked as a butcher in a plant making a ‘Spam’ like product, and saved money as a laborer on a dam in the middle of nowhere in the north east part of Western Australia.
I went around Australia by car, thence England by ocean liner on a six week voyage across the Pacific.
Related: Escape To The Countryside
I didn’t like England any better upon my return, so after working as a butcher to garner a little cash, I took off overland with a couple of Australians back to OZ.
The Long Journey To Canada
I travelled across Europe, through the Middle East, Pakistan and India. I stayed in Sri Lanka, (then Ceylon), for a month, celebrated my 21st birthday there, then bought a black market ticket on a small French ship as far as Singapore, with an ongoing flight to Darwin.
I worked in Melbourne driving truck. I saved some money and caught a Greek liner to Athens……..overland London……applied for Canadian immigrant status in London, and within a couple days was on my way to Montreal. That was April 1965.
I landed a job with Westinghouse in Hamilton. A year later, three of us drove around the U.S., down to Mexico, back to the States, and I flew back to OZ.
I stayed there for three weeks before deciding I preferred Canada. I caught the very same Greek ship back to Athens and on to Toronto.
Circa 1969, after a sojourn in Europe, I went back to Toronto, and back to school where I was ‘awarded’ a piece of paper in Business Administration that enabled me to land a job that I could have done without acquiring it.
A while later I was promoted and offered a position in Saudi Arabia, (serendipity), where I stayed seven years plus, (the first three on single status). We saved our money; this was at a time of high interest rates, and as a designated ‘non-resident’ I paid no income taxes.
We had R&Rs five times every two years. My late wife and a friend sold tickets on our compound for Air France, so our travel was free, and generally upgraded to First Class.
When the Saudi contract ended we bought a place on Salt Spring Island, B.C. and I severed my connection with the workaday world.
At the time we returned to Canada, 5-year GICs were paying in the region of 11.75%. Yes, there was inflation, but as savers rather than spenders we found its impact to be minimal.
I’ve frequently said, (without being asked, oftentimes), that the only reason I worked in the first place was so that I could stop.
We sold our house, (at a profit) and took to full-time RVing after eight years on Salt Spring Island. But in 2001 my wife was diagnosed with cancer and she died in early 2002.
A couple years later I was fortunate enough to meet the lady to whom I am now married – my ‘child bride’, (10 years younger than me) – a software developer then, and a retiree now.
We were in Botswana three years ago, (obligatory package trips to Mexico/Costa Rica in between, thank you TD Visa Travel Card), and next month we’re off to the Czech Republic.
We live off less than our interest income and CPP/OAS combined, and hope never to touch our principal (if those in our wills get the lot, then good luck to them).
Related: Are You Counting On An Inheritance?
We’re not spenders, we prefer to cook our own meals and almost never eat out unless we’re away from home. We’re happy and satisfied.
If there IS a point to relating this story it’s just to indicate that you never know how a turn left or a turn right will alter your life. You’re going full circle regardless, so take the turn – either one.