Visible on the Horizon

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Five years ago I wrote a piece that reflected on the difference of thinking between East and West in regards to estate planning and being prepared for unfortunate events. At the time of that post I was residing in Mongolia; now I have been living in Türkiye for nearly five years and find myself going through the process of updating the aforementioned will. I have a new niece to consider, as well as a change in my memorial wishes. With a trip planned home to the U.S. this summer, when I can easily sign and notarize said documents, the time is now.

In addition to updating my will and the wishes for my remains, I have also worked with my financial planner (kindly provided for free through my credit union back in Colorado) to check in on those individual retirement accounts I have. While some years I have done better than others, I have money put aside–thanks to the ever present voice of my father chanting in the back of my mind to save–for the day when I retire. I can say that for the first time I can see that day on the horizon. Until now the thought of “retirement” was this ambiguous and nebulous concept that was so far away I couldn’t imagine what its shape or design could be. But that is no longer the case.

In conversation with my financial planner I learned that I can begin to withdraw from my IRAs at the age of 59 and a half–which is 10 years from this coming summer. Social Security is available a little later–at age 62 and up, with an increase in the amount paid out with additional years delayed in the withdrawing. Knowing that retirement *could* begin 10 years from now is, I admit, quite thrilling, whereas it hadn’t been before. What caused this change, you may ask?

I can envision what I want my retirement to look like, that’s what. For the past three summers I have vacationed in the village of Dalyan, Muğla, Türkiye. Last summer I spent seven weeks in Dalyan and felt it was a snapshot of retirement. Now I am on a mission to save money to purchase a small apartment in the village, a place to call my own for my summer holiday, weekends, and other breaks. I hope to find something this next winter or spring and have it in place and ready for the summer 2024. I already have my summer rental sorted for this year. Over the past few years I have made an increasing number of friends in the village, both Turkish and foreigners. My newest foreigner friends are Doreen and Hubert and they reside in Dalyan full-time in their retirement. I can say that meeting and getting to know them, and seeing how they live in the village, has helped me to see that I want something similar for myself.

With my dear friends, Hubert & Doreen

I am in no rush to retire–I love my work with students and faculty at the American Collegiate Institute. It gives my days purpose and meaning in addition to putting money in that savings account that will need to keep growing. But I AM excited to begin walking towards my dream of a simple and quiet life in Dalyan with friends and my cats in a little place of my own where I will hopefully write the book(s) I dream of penning.

What about you…do you know what your retirement looks like? Are you making plans for that day in the future when you will no longer have to work? And does it have you returning to a place close to where you are from, or an entirely new frontier?

Heather Caveney
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