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One Year into FIRE – What it’s really like! Guest Post from Living Dubois

Good morning everybody! Today we have a guest post on what it’s like actually living your FIRE dream! This comes from Lois at Living Dubois and that’s pronounced “Dew-boys” not “due-bwah” as you may have assumed. She’s got some great posts and awesome pics about living post-retirement life in Dubois, WY.

Downtown Dubois, WY

Downtown Dubois, WY

She writes about what it’s like living in Dubois, WY as opposed to where she lived her entire adult life, New York City. Yep, she went from big city, and big sky scrapers, to.. well, just big sky (I know that’s Montana, but if you’ve never been to WY, it fits there too!).

Downtown NYC - no comparison

Downtown NYC – no comparison


FIRE One Year In: Living Out Our Paradigm Shift

While packing for our latest road trip, I was amused to notice that this time I hadn’t bothered to give the house the usual top-to-bottom cleaning before our departure. And I didn’t really care.

What changed?

Once, I thought of it as a dream house, and I was preparing to return to my dream. Now it is just home. Our dream has become a satisfying reality.

Back porch view from the dream/reality home

Back porch view from the dream/reality home

We have spent a lifetime working for financial independence–working two jobs, saving money, and spending only prudently. As a result, I was able to retire early last June, several years after my husband did so.

The “retire early” element wasn’t necessarily part of our original plan, but I have no regrets about it Quite the opposite.

Getting to this place required us to take a step that seemed wildly impractical at the time (and may still seem wild to some friends and family). While living and working in New York City, we bought a log house thousands of miles away in remote Dubois, Wyoming.

Given our lifelong habit of financial prudence, this felt like a crazy leap. But we were both in love with the small town and its dramatic surroundings. We had visited a guest ranch there when our children were small, went back several times, and eventually realized we just didn’t want to stop being there.

We figured we’d work it out somehow.

Luckily, the Internet service in Dubois is even better than in New York, which allowed me to telecommute to my Internet-based job before retirement. For eight years, we traveled back and forth twice a year, spending ever more time in Wyoming and ever less in New York. Importantly, from the outset we decided to fully integrate ourselves into the life of the town.

Gradually, we realized that the city we called home had little appeal for us, now that we weren’t part of its ladder-climbing mindset. And our Wyoming home has all of the factors we wanted for our retirement.

Climate: When we first moved here, we didn’t understand how important the weather would become as aches began to set in to our aging joints.

In the “banana belt” of Wyoming, the weather in Wyoming’s Wind River Valley is so temperate that the prehistoric Shoshone natives made it a habit to winter there. The winters feel milder than those we experienced in New York, because the snow tends to blow away and the dry atmosphere moderates the temperatures.

We have also traded the humid summer storm cycles of the east coast for a dry high-mountain desert  atmosphere that tempers the heat. Nights are very cool and so are the days in summer.

Community: I thought I was a dedicated city dweller, but (like my mother before me) I discovered that city life can lose its appeal as you mature. Our neighborhood of 30 years has become very hip, hot and cool at once, and I feel out of place there now.

View from her old place in NYC

View from her old place in NYC

Besides, I’ve seen it all so often before. The sight of the playground always made me miss my now-grown children. The sound of revelers made me weary, not jealous or nostalgic.

Retired to Wyoming, I’m enjoying the new experience of life in a small town that both welcomes newcomers and takes care of its own. I love the fact that a car will stop for me as I’m crossing the highway to the Post Office, and that I will recognize the friend who’s at the wheel. We enjoy new friends who share our enthusiasm for these surroundings. There’s more to enjoy about it than I have space to tell here.           

Ice cream social - so many people just hanging out, having fun!

Ice cream social – so many people just hanging out, having fun!

Cost of living: An important economic factor is that Wyoming has no state income tax. But a great deal more makes this a frugal place to live.

For one thing, we’re in an environment where others don’t have a great deal to spend, or if they do they don’t flaunt it. There is no Fifth Avenue with expensive shops, not even a shopping mall. There aren’t many dress-up occasions where you feel the need to trot out an evening gown or showy jewelry.

You can find what you need here, and there’s a well-stocked grocery store, but only a few restaurants. We enjoy doing things for ourselves anyway, including cooking.

Many of the favorite pastimes around here – hiking, quilt-making, painting, and photography, musical jam sessions, book clubs and card games—are free, or nearly so.



Quilting even!

Quilting even!

There simply aren’t that many attempts in Dubois to separate us from our money, and most of those are for good charitable causes.

Geography: Our new home is in the center of the great American West, a region I took little opportunity to visit back when I was a working woman with children. We’ve spent plenty of vacation time in the last 8 years exploring, and now we have the liberty to discover even more.

Activities:  Retirement means the liberty to do what you wish. I love to keep busy. So except when I’m out hiking with my dog, which is my main diversion here, I enjoy spending my time at volunteer work. This supplants my paid career with equally meaningful work that gives back to the community. It also allows me to continue working as part of a team, in this case people in the community who share my goals. I’m content, and happy to get out of bed in the morning (although now I can often ignore the alarm).

How different it all is than the retirement I imagined for myself! When I was younger, I assumed that retirement meant loss: Losing money, losing work, losing friends, losing contact. I never guessed it would bring so much adventure, fulfillment, and delight. Of course it all began with those two important words: Financial independence.


Thanks again Lois for the insights into FIRE and what its like in Dubois! And be on the lookout for a follow up look into how her finances have been affected by this change.

20 thoughts on “One Year into FIRE – What it’s really like! Guest Post from Living Dubois

  1. Brian @ debt discipline

    Sounds like a great transition. I think so maybe people fail after leaving their full time jobs they don’t replace it with something else. That doesn’t seem to be an issue here. I love the back porch view. That would never get old.

  2. Mr. SSC

    It just sank in that you’re in a log home, and that was something we ahd thought about as an option for our long term retirement home. Mrs. SSC’s dad keeps going on and on about the maintenance involved, but everything I’ve read about doesn’t sound any different and maybe less thatn regular homes. What are your experiences with your log home and any maintenance or issues you have encountered?

    1. Lois Wingerson

      So far the biggest problem is dust collecting on the logs inside, which has to be swiped off every once in a while, as well as the flies that seem to breed in the logs and die on the windowsills (house flies, not nastier kinds). Also it can be difficult to find a place to hang pictures, because of course the walls aren’t flat.

      The outside of the logs do need to be refinished every 8-10 years or so. Some people say they should be refinished every 4 years or so; it all depends on the sun and wind exposure. I’m not sure how this relates to repainting a wood house. It’s complicated, and also the cost would depend on the size of the house and the quality of the previous job.

  3. Matt @ The Resume Gap

    Wow, very cool! I’ve toyed with the idea of small town living for a while now. I’m still so attached to city life, but it’s great to hear that the transition can go well even for a NYC dweller. Good food for thought. Congrats on reaching FIRE!

  4. Elephant Eater

    Nice guest post. We’re also east coasters looking to move west and are attracted to WY physical beauty and lack of a state income tax. We really like Jackson Hole and the Tetons but not the outrageous cost to live there so have been looking hard at Driggs, ID on the other side of Teton Pass. Just curious if you’ve looked at any other towns in that region when buying/moving out that way that were closer to Jackson that were both in WY and reasonably priced?

    1. Lois Wingerson

      No, we never looked elsewhere. Fell in love with Dubois, and never looked back.

      Other towns in WY such as Afton and Hoback are close to Jackson but we can’t speak to their qualities. We never looked at them from a perspective of settling there. Dubois drew us in.

  5. Prudence Debtfree

    I think it’s great that Lois and her husband had a period of 8 years in which to make the transition to their new home. I’m curious to know if they’re geographically close to any of their children now – or it that factored into their decision about where to live. Dubois sounds and looks fantastic! All the best to Lois and her husband as they live out the dream.

    1. Lois Wingerson

      Our children are not close geographically. But we are close to them anyway. We haven’t come to grips with that problem yet, but if we may have to address it later.

      One factor is that we don’t (yet) have grandchildren. We’re still at the stage where our children are focused on being independent, as would be many people who want to retire early.

  6. Stockbeard

    This makes me reconsider my choice to move back to Tokyo. I think while we have young kids I want to be in a big city, but the photos are extremely compelling…

  7. Olga

    Our plan, exactly, only with a move to Colorado. 3 years, laser-focused mind. Beautiful pictures and life! (not sure why my original comments was not published, so trying again).

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Sorry,ni missed seeing that they were awaiting moderation since you’re a new commenter. Oops, sorry for the delay. Anymore from here on out should go up immediately. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  8. Dividendsdownunder

    Very interesting to read about your move away from the city. We do like the country/side and like visiting smaller towns when we leave our large Australia city. I’m not sure where our ‘forever’ home will be, it will definitely be near the water though.

    It warms my heart and motivates me when I read about people who have achieved their FIRE goal. Well done :)


  9. Financial Slacker

    Picking a location with a low cost of living and lots to do outdoors is great for financial independence. Your retirement fund goes much farther in Wyoming than NYC.

    Great photos.

    Thanks for the post.

  10. Freedom 40 Guy

    Sounds like bucolic bliss. Something I’m looking for someday, probably moving from the east coast to out west as well – I think the massive change of pace might be a little more difficult for me though…I guess there’s only one way to know for sure!

    1. Lois Wingerson

      Wait a while. As we got older, the change of pace was more welcome.

      I said to someone just this morning that I’m always aware in NYC if someone is behind me in line at the cash register as I’m counting out my change, breathing down the back of my neck. It’s not so in Dubois.

  11. Our Next Life

    What a cool guest post! I love learning about other city people who moved to the west! Sounds like Dupois, WY, is a bit more remote and less well stocked than where we live, but I could definitely pick out a lot of similarities. It really is amazing how small town dwellers just gravitate toward activities that are more about the community and the outdoors, not about money. :-)

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