…,Please read Part 1 first. This is the second part of the post….
5. There are free stuff in Singapore, if you know how to get them
The library is still free. I spend a lot of time there browsing the books. It is also crowded with students and retirees.
I attended a few free dinners as well, courtesy of land banking companies. They offer free meals to entice people to attend their seminars. The experience can be pleasant, especially if I go with someone. And so far, I have not bought anything.
There are bank lounges that offer free usage of newspapers, coffee, snacks and even wine. But these lounges are open only to the banks’ higher tier customers. I find these lounges great for chilling out.
Lesson learnt: there are free stuff in Singapore. They provide important basics like newspapers and coffee. But to get them without the crowd, I must be able to retire with wealth. More money does make it easier, more enjoyable, and actually cheaper to retire. But it is always a balance to decide when enough money is really, enough.
6. Most people here walk too fast
Singapore is a stressful city. When I was working previously, I drove. There were the jams, the loud honks, and the ugly behaviors displayed by motorists.
When I was out of work, I took the public transport system. On the roads, in the malls and almost anywhere, I was walking slower than most people. There was no need for me to rush. But I get the feeling that everyone is rushing somewhere. Are Singaporeans really that busy?
I had no deadlines, and do my errands during off-peak hours. The trains are emptier, and the crowd lesser. Singapore, during non-rush hours, can be a pleasant place to wander.
And during off seasons, travels to other countries can be a lot cheaper. Flights and hotels are more affordable and there is no need to squeeze with the tourist crowds.
Lesson learnt: life without work is really slower, less stressful and better for the health. No wonder work is called the rat race, with all the competition and office politics. Out of this mad rush, life can really be a lot more pleasant. This is another big incentive to get off the hamster wheel faster.
7. There are many people who do not work regular hours
Despite off peak hours meaning a smaller crowd, surprisingly, there are still many people who do not work regular 9 to 6 hours.
When I play my badminton games in the mornings, there were always a good crowd of working adults. Many of these people are doing sales, with flexible hours, or doing shift work. Some are self-employed, homemakers or retirees. And surprisingly, some of these retirees were young, maybe in their 40s and 50s.
Many of these people are not locals. I am guessing that shift work is not attractive to locals and these jobs are generally taken by the foreigners.
Lesson learnt: there are many people who don’t work regular hours. It is an interesting world for office employees like me, who have been holding 9-6 jobs all my life. There is indeed, not just one way to live or work. There are alternatives.
8. People thought I was ill!
When I returned back to work after a year, some colleagues who haven’t seen me for a while looked at me with surprise.
I realized that it was because I had lost substantial weight. The loss was enough for some of them to think that I must have been sick, and had been attending to poor health for the period I was away.
I smiled and told them that my weight loss was because I had been exercising regularly, eating well, and having little stress. In fact, coming back from the break, I have never been healthier.
So I actually went back to work looking younger, fitter and better. And I had better hair. It was like a time reversal for me!
Lesson learnt: it is good to take a break. The path to financial freedom is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking a breather helps very much. This 1 year allowed me to experience how retirement can be like. The benefits of taking the time to rest were so great that many people saw a big change: I became healthier, fitter and happier. My batteries were recharged again for my next lap.
Working by choice, and working because I have no choice, is vastly different. Even when I can retire because I have achieved financial freedom, I might still work if I enjoy what I am doing.
And it is important to enjoy what life offers. The media had just reported the deaths of a 35 year old billionaire’s nephew, and a 41 year old public media figure. Regardless of how much money or fame, we never know how long more we have left.
Life is fragile and precious. I pursue financial freedom because I want to spend my time meaningfully. And not to be tied down doing things I don’t enjoy, or answer to bureaucracy and mindless authority.
And why 8 reasons? Why not 10? Surely there must be many more lessons learnt in my year of not working for a living?
Well, I have to stop somewhere, and 8 is a prosperous number for the Chinese. And this little trial at being retired prepares me for my eventual departure. And hopefully, these 8 lessons will bring me more luck when I next become retired for good.
With discipline, preparation and luck, that dream may not be far away anymore.