WHEN I TOLD MY WIFE a few years ago that I wanted to retire by age 50, she was supportive from the get-go. The memories of her dad passing away soon after his 52nd birthday played a role in her snap approval. But it took us a while to sort through the full financial implications.
I figured that our lifestyle, including our foreign travels and occasional splurges, would be the same even if my paychecks stopped prematurely. On the flip side, we wouldn’t be able to upsize to a bigger house—a dream my wife had cherished for some time. Still, she insisted that I move forward with my early retirement plans.
All we needed in a new home was a little bit more space and privacy than our current house offers. But we live in a high-cost area where home prices are roughly four times the national average. At the time, local houses that met our criteria were approaching $1 million. The upsizing cost—the price difference, real-estate commissions, moving expenses and, most important, the increased tax and upkeep costs—seemed out of reach.
Ironically, thanks to this year’s red-hot housing market, we apparently now live in a $1 million home. Neighborhood houses, some identical to ours, routinely sell at lightning speed for seven figures. The recent mania revived our unfulfilled wish.
Could we afford to move to a bigger place? I realized that, since my initial decision to take early retirement, things had worked out better than I anticipated. How so? Instead of quitting my job at age 50, I switched to a part-time role that gave me needed personal time but still kept a paycheck coming in, even if it is somewhat smaller. On top of that, my previously earned stock grants continued to vest every quarter. Fingers crossed, our dream of a bigger house may soon come true.