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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.