early retirement

  • Early retirees need to plan how they’ll build human connections during early retirement, says a former early retiree who went back to work partly because he missed social interaction.
  • Volunteering, working out, and joining a club are a few ways early retirees can socialize.
  • If you spend your early retirement fulfilling its true purpose — helping others, according to an author who popularized early retirement — you can build human connection.

Life can change in unexpected ways after retiring early — and some of those changes aren’t without their downfalls

Just ask early retiree Tony, who prefers not to reveal his last name. He retired at age 37 with a mid-six-figure nest egg, but decided to return to work part-time a year-and-a-half in because he felt early retirement lacked three things.

Aspiring early retirees should brace themselves for one of those things in particular: lack of human connection, he said in a recent podcast with early retiree Brandon of The Mad Fientist.

“If I had to pick one thing that I would have people ask themselves or prepare for, it would be building human connection into their life after they retire,” Tony said when Brandon asked for his key piece of advice. 

Read more: An author who studied more than 10,000 millionaires says those planning to retire early often overlook a crucial step

A typical nine to five forces you to socially interact with your coworkers five days a week. Take work away, and the automatic human connection goes with it; socializing becomes much more of an effort during early retirement.

“That might mean volunteering helping kids or elderly people, just being around people that you can talk to, really,” Tony said. “And it almost doesn’t matter what venue that’s in. It might be going on MeetUp.com and meeting some hiking buddies, it might be volunteering.”

Early retiree John of ESI Money also suggests volunteering, as well as joining a club, going to a gym, visiting a church, and being more neighborly. Retiring often severs relationships (especially those around work) which is quite hard for many people,” he wrote. “And much of the research above will back this up — loss of social interaction is a bad thing.”

A desire for more social interaction and camaraderie is partly what caused Sam of Financial Samurai to go back to work after seven years of early retirement.

I miss the friendly banter that develops with work colleagues,” he wrote in a post published on Business Insider. “It feels great to work as a team and accomplish a mission. It’s fun to talk to other adults about random things such as parenthood, new restaurants, home remodeling, cars, investment opportunities, movies, sports, and the latest news.”

But if you spend early retirement fulfilling its true purpose, it should be easy to find human connection. Early retirees shouldn’t focus on themselves, but should use their position and independence to focus on helping others, Vicki Robin previously said in The Wall Street Journal’s podcast “Secrets of Wealthy Women.”

Read more: A best-selling author who popularized the idea of financial independence 20 years ago says the purpose of retiring early is not to focus on yourself

Robin co-authored the best-seller “Your Money or Your Life,” which has inspired young Americans to retire early since it was first published 20 years ago. Her take on early retirement aligns with Tony and John’s emphasis on volunteering.

“Whatever human connection means to you, make that automatic,” Tony said. “And it’s going to be different for everybody. Some people are really gregarious by nature. But I think for people like you [Brandon] and me, that’s a requirement for a fulfilling life … to have meaningful human connection.”

He added: “Figure out what that’s going to look like for you.”

SEE ALSO: A software developer who retired in his 30s says he went back to work less than 2 years later because the free time didn’t make him any happier

DON’T MISS: People retire early for 2 reasons, and neither of them is money

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