Why I’m Not Planning Out My Retirement

Thailand Trip Ko Lanta

What do you think of when you think about retirement? Do you think of those ads with an old couple sailing off into the sunset, toasting over champagne? Do you think of your grandparents playing backgammon with their retired friends? Do you think of living an entirely different life on a beach in Thailand with your significant other, no cares in the world besides deciding what to eat for dinner?

When I think of retirement, I think about all of those things. Retirement to me is influenced by the ads I see all the banks push out, how I see my grandparents live out their lives, and a fantasy of ditching everything to spend my twilight years with my HB in paradise. So, what will my retirement actually look like? Besides making sure I regularly contribute to my RRSP, I honestly haven’t really thought about it.

I actually broached this subject with my HB this weekend as we tried to unplug and talk about anything besides work and the chores we had to do back at home. When I told him I fantasized about us living in a hut on some remote island, he said our retirement plans would probably change as soon as we had kids. We could totally live like some of the ex-pats we met in Thailand and enjoy a life consisting of reading, eating and sleeping in Thailand as a kidless couple. But if we ever have a family, we both can’t really see that happening.

I’ve even suggested my parents do something similar and live someplace hot and more affordable when they retire, but they always say they wouldn’t want to live that far away from their kids (and possible grandkids). I guess that wouldn’t be an issue if myself and my sisters all lived in different places, but so far I’m the only one who lives outside of Vancouver. And considering I’ve only lived in Toronto for less than two years and have had a really hard time with my homesickness, I’m not sure if I’d last more than 6 months in Ko Lanta as retiree, so they make a valid point.

That being said, let’s scratch this paradise idea and look at one that’s a bit more realistic. Say my HB and I eventually move back to Vancouver and decide to retire there. Lord help us both if real estate continues to climb into eternity because even if we’re lucky enough to snag property there in our 30s, by the time we’re in our 60s or 70s we’ll definitely be forced to sell and move someplace cheaper. Knowing my non-existent children, they’ll want to live in the city which is definitely somewhere my HB and I won’t be able to afford to live. We’ll probably have to move a couple hours away, and again, knowing my non-existent children, their lives will be so busy they’ll only have time to visit us a few times a year.

Why aren’t my HB and I moving to Thailand in retirement again? Our kids won’t be visiting us that often in the Okanagan (another one of my retirement fantasies — living near a bunch of wineries). And why am I planning my life around my busy city kids anyway? This is my time to finally enjoy my money and not work unless I want to! Why can’t I live however I want to live without having to reorganize everything so it won’t be inconvenient for my kids to drive out to visit us on Christmas and Easter (if we’re lucky). Why am I even talking like this, I don’t have any kids and maybe if I do have them they’ll become sea captains who rarely come home or famous actors living it up in Hollywood!

Is it smart or totally irrational to have a plan for retirement more than 30 years before it’ll happen? Right now, I’m thinking a bit more of column B than column A. Who knows how the world will look like by that time. I’m really hoping holograms and hover boards exist, but otherwise it’s anyones guess what the future will look like.

I guess all I can really do is continue to make automatic payments into my RRSP and hope for the best. Or just wait until my parents retire and see what they end up doing. If they moved to the Okanagan, I’d definitely visit them more than twice a year, that’s for sure.

How do you picture your retirement? Do you have it all planned out?