Start planning early

We started planning for our retirement at least four years before the earliest date that either of us could possibly have finished full time work – or so we thought! As things turned out, we later realised that it might be possible from a financial perspective for us to retire earlier than this. Because we had already done so much of the thinking and planning this turned out useful in helping us make one of the most difficult decisions of our lives, deciding when to retire.

Even in those early stages we realised that we needed to have a plan with variations depending on how things turned out. Our Plan A was to live aboard for six months of the year, travelling around the British coast, then to live ashore for the winter. But there was already a Plan B which was less ambitious – only long weekends away – and a Plan C in which we voyaged to Norway and the Baltic, then sailed south to winter aboard our boat in warmer climes. Although we knew that Plans B and C might never be come to fruition it helped us to think about the alternatives so that we were more prepared when things didn’t go quite as planned.

Looking back now, it was possibly because we had given so much early thought to what we wanted for ourselves that made the decision to retire early even easier. We couldn’t wait to get started!

The big question that arose before us was ‘Can we afford it?’. Early retirees can usually expect to pay a financial penalty in the form of reduced pension or other income in retirement and it was important for us, therefore, to calculate how much living aboard a sailing boat was going to cost. This aspect will be dealt with in the subsequent pages.

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