What is a mini-retirement?

Long-suffering readers know that I have a bit of a different take on retirement than most. Where others see something based on age or assets, I see something based on control. Where others see a life-stage, I see a lifestyle philosophy.

After all, why should living the life you truly want to live depend on how many birthdays you’ve had or whether or not you punch a time clock?  How in the world has it become acceptable to defer your dreams and push the best things in life to the very end?

The concept sounds great, of course, but how do you do it?  I’ve offered some ideas before (for example, here, here and here), but I’d like to expand on an additional idea that I’ve only briefly mentioned in the past: Mini-Retirements.   What exactly is a mini-retirement?

With traditional retirement, you save up the good stuff for that 20-30 year period at the end of life.

The idea of mini-retirements takes some of that 20-30 year period (say 5 years), breaks it up into 1-3 month chunks and spreads it out over your working years.  A mini-retirement is longer than a vacation, but shorter than…well…retirement.

As you might imagine, there are a number of benefits to taking these extended periods off:

  • You have time to actually experience a place rather than just visiting the touristy spots.
  • It allows you to enjoy some of the benefits of retirement while you’re still young and healthy.
  • It rejuvenates you and can help you come back to work more engaged and more productive.

I didn’t invent the idea of mini-retirements (I was introduced to it by Tim Ferriss), but the concept fits perfectly with my philosophy here at Intentional Retirement.  Namely that retirement shouldn’t be something that is delayed until “Someday,” but rather it should be an incremental process that is incorporated into your life now.

My mini-retirement experiment

Renting an apartment in Madrid or Melbourne and immersing yourself in the culture for a few months sounds great, but there are a number of challenges.  For example:

  • How do you pay for it?
  • How can you get the time off work?
  • Where should you go?
  • What about your spouse and/or kids?
  • What do you do with your house when you leave?
  • What type of planning is involved (e.g. housing, airfare, language barrier)?

To answer those questions, I plan on researching and writing a series of posts and then scheduling a mini-retirement for myself by the end of next year (You may have noticed a few of them on my 50-by-50 List).  As some of you know, I’m working, married and have an 8-year-old daughter, so this will be no small task.  I don’t yet know where, when or how, but I know why and as faithful readers know, why is half the battle.

So follow along and let’s figure it out together.  I’d love it if some of you were inspired to do something similar.  Feel free to email me questions or leave comments in the articles about your own thoughts and planning.    It’s always easier to tackle big goals when you have company.

Hope to see you on the road.

~ Joe

P.S. Have you read the IR Manifesto A Brief Guide to Retirement Bliss?  If not, you can download a free copy over here.

Photo courtesy of Mihhailov.  Used under Creative Commons License.
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