Category Archives: Semi-Retirement Defined

Eight Items to Consider If You Want to Semi-Retire

The most important piece of advice to building a semi-retired life is to embrace flexibility.  Try something, and if it doesn’t work, try something else.  This article covers several variables for you to consider.

Here are some of the questions and conversations you will need to have with yourself, your families, and/or anyone else impacted by your decision to modify your work lifestyle. Don’t worry about ordering these yet – just ponder each of them.

Where do you want to live?

Where you are?  Somewhere else? Nowhere in particular?  Part of the year one place and the rest elsewhere?  Do you want to expatriate part of the year or at all?

What is your “enough?”

This is a critical one.   What constitutes enough of anything in your life?  Do you need opulent living quarters, or are you happy in a tent or camper?  Do you want to have no-deductible health insurance with extensive access to care?    Do you still have a mortgage?  Do you want to take one on if you don’t?   What do you like to eat – is it expensive?   Medications you need?   Types of insurance besides health – auto, hazard, life?

When do you like to “work?”

Are you an early bird or nocturnal?  Do you like putting in a long day, or more short ones?  Office?  Outside?  With others? Alone?   How about time of year?  Do you prefer a summer environment or a winter one?   Do you want a structured schedule?

What about healthcare?

Yeah, you knew this topic was coming.  How healthy are you?  Could you get healthier? How risk averse are you?  How much healthcare do you consume now?   If you currently have employer provided health insurance, do you have any idea what the cost of insurance is these days?   (There will be entire posts devoted to this topic, FYI.)

What do you want to do with your time off?

Travel?  Visit family?  Contemplate your navel?   Do you have an agenda?  (You don’t have to.  “Sleep” is a perfectly acceptable answer)

What kind of work can you or WILL you do?

One big question is going to be whether or not you do work that makes you stressed or unhappy in order to have the time off you want.   Would you like to do two or three different jobs a year, each for 2 – 4 months?   Are you a planner setting things up in advance, or do you want to finish one job or season then decide what to do next?

When do you want your time off?

For example, I do not want mine in the summer.   Ideally I would be “off” from about Nov 15 until March 1st.     But I am flexible on that.  Two six week gaps would work for me too.  Maybe.

What skills and or experience do you already have that you can use in this new life?

Certifications, practical experience, great attitude, quick-study? Don’t overlook little things like being able to touch type, read out loud, translate, teach.

Don’t start out trying to order these in importance.   At this point we are doing what can be called “Blue Sky Planning.”  If there were no other obstacles, nothing to keep you from creating the semi-retired life you want…what would it look like?

The sky is the limit.



Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

When Three Years Becomes Three Weeks

I started this blog a year ago, with the idea that I would take readers along on a three-year plan with me toward The Semi-Retired Life.

At the time, my company was in a precarious state, starting to come back from operational meltdowns, but not there yet.   With contracts expiring in three years, and me showing early signs of burnout, three years seemed like a reasonable time frame to use.  It also lined up with when youngest child would graduate high school.

Six months ago I moved to a new position internally, and the company began staging a dramatic performance improvement with our contracted partners.  It gave me new hope, and quite honestly, I let the blog languish as I dove into my responsibilities and renewed interest in my work.

Just a couple months ago, it became apparent that my continued work out of town was taking a toll on my teenage son that was unacceptable.   After agonizing over what to do for several weeks, things came to a boiling point, and I requested an opportunity to speak with my boss.  Bottom line, I needed to choose between my company and my child, and it wasn’t even a contest.

I cannot BEGIN to tell you how wonderful the company was to me.  After 11.5 years, I was two weeks shy of being retirement eligible on my fifty-fifth birthday.  I had three weeks of vacation not taken for this year, and almost two accrued already toward next year.  The decision was made to let me take my vacation immediately and retire at the end of it, literally getting me home to my child the next night.

He asked me to come kiss him goodnight – my 5’9″, 200lb, baby – and as I was rubbing his head he said, “Mom, thank you so much for coming home to me.”  Then he fell asleep for 13 hours, the most he has slept in months.  Yep, did the right thing.

What this means is that my three-year plan is now a three week plan.  I still feel the same way – I don’t want to pursue or accept full-time year-round work.  I don’t mind working full-time for periods of time, such as one or two quarters, but I hope to build a life where I can take 8 – 12 weeks off every year for travel, artistic work, and just relaxation.

I want to make this blog THE resource for how to do that when you are over fifty.  I hope you will re-engage with me and come along for the ride.  Best case, you get inspired to do it yourselves and join the tribe.

The Semi-Retired Life just got real.


P.S.  If you sign up in the upper box left, you’ll get any blog posts delivered directly to your email instead of having to come back here and see what’s new.  Some things I will post only to subscribers, such as “Dream Job Alerts” and open-mic calls where I will take questions and brainstorm ideas.

Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Is Semi-Retirement for You?

Would you love to only work eight to nine months a year, and have three to four months a year to travel, take up a hobby, create art, or write that novel?

This  quasi-retirement option holds appeal for many older workers who want to spend more time enjoying life and less time toiling at the office. But, between being heavily hit with job loss since the 2008 recession, or being sandwiched between young children and elderly parents, many people over fifty cannot afford to stop working. And some do not want to stop – they just want to work less.

Either way, the same two questions arise. The first is, “How to afford it?”  Second, “How  to get the time off?”

There are many ways to approach the affordability of this work lifestyle, and many specialists and resources available for gathering knowledge and ideas for money management, debt-reduction, and development of residual income. The bottom line is finding a way to live for a year from income generated in eight or nine months.

But it is harder to find good advice and ideas on the second part of the equation. That is, how to get more time off than weekends and two weeks vacation a year?

For starters, if you are not interested in changing professions or your current position, explore the availability of taking an unpaid Leave of Absence for two to three months a year.  (And a future article detailing the things you need to consider with this choice.)

An additional option if you want to stay in your current line of work is to independent contract your services back to your former employer. Ideally they pay you more, but often will not include any benefits. Nonetheless, you contract for a specific task for a specific period of time that works for you. The money might be a wash, but you will have gained control of your time.

If you are open to doing different work, there are four industries that routinely utilize employees for part-year positions:  Teaching, Tourism, Treatment, and Taxes.

Starting a small business is another choice, particularly if you can tie it to one of the four industries mentioned above. For example if you live in a tourist area and are an avid photographer, you could start a business leading photography tours that only operates during those months. Offer tutoring services during the school year, or personal fitness and weight management right after the holidays. The list really does go on.

Does taking a few months off every year appeal to you? If so, the next question is how do you get there from where you are now?


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Three Job or Career Models for The Semi-Retired Life

Are you fifty or older and really wish you could get two to four months a year completely off from work?   Begin by identifying which of the three work models fits you best.

The Something to Do Model

This model is for those of you who have whatever amount of retirement income or assets that you consider to be “enough.”  You do not really need to work for the income, but you do really need something to do.  However, you don’t want to commit yourself to year around work, and volunteering just doesn’t meet your need to be productive.

Congratulations!  You can choose whatever combination of working and time off you like.  Why not try the things you always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of work?  Teach English abroad for a few months, then sell art on a cruise ship.  Spend your summers in the U.S. and winters down-under.  You have lots of choices.

The Supplement Model

This model is for people who have some assets and/or retirement income, but are concerned it’s not enough to last their lifetime, or not enough to enjoy their activities and interests.   Bottom line, in order to take two to four months work free each year, some additional money needs to come into the coffers.

This still gives you a great deal of freedom in your choice of working options, and also the ability to do something different every year.

Additionally, you can work with a financial expert to see where you could downsize or cut expenses.

The Support Yourself Model

This model is for the person who is perhaps too young to access retirement accounts or collect social security.  This is also the model for those who simply did not have the ability, for whatever reasons, to save for retirement, but still want to get at least a couple months a year free from work to enjoy life.

Besides the obvious choice of primary or secondary school teaching, which just isn’t for everyone, there are ways to earn a twelve-month income in eight to ten months.

The best way to do this is to perform independent contract work or temporary work in a field where you have experience or credentials.   The federal government, for example, sometimes hires workers into temporary positions that pay high five or low six figures.  Many industries have a constant need for subject matter or project management personnel for limited time periods.

Finally, talk to your previous employer.  You would be surprised how often you can get your old job back on a contract basis at twice the pay, without benefits.




Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Part-Year Work Options – Temporary versus Seasonal

Are you considering joining the semi-retired lifestyle of working part of each year, and taking the remaining months off to pursue your interests or passions?  If so, and you are seeking employment during your working months, knowing the differences and similarities between seasonal and temporary positions can be important.


Most people think of seasonal employment as it relates to either tourism or to the Fall retail season.   Without a doubt, summer in the the United States is a seasonal hiring opportunity throughout the country.  In fact, demand is so high in some areas that employers offer additional job perks such as housing or transportation allowances.

You can find summer jobs doing everything from camp counseling to cooking to driving a tour bus to house-sitting for families spending the summer away.     Many of these same positions exist during winter season in ski areas.  Or, in the southern  hemisphere during North America’s winter months.

The Fall selling season is also an opportunity to capitalize on retail positions, as well as those in delivery and shipping.

Because these employers have need of increased staffing every year during their “high” season, many offer bonuses or additional benefits to employees who return year after year.    Occasionally, positions offer benefits all year.

One of the largest employers of seasonal positions is the federal government.   While you might expect to see seasonal positions at the IRS, you might be surprised to learn that they exist at many other agencies such as the Forestry Service as well.    And not all the positions are for an hourly wage. Some require very specific education and experience, but pay salaries in the high five figures  for six to eight months of work!  Google “federal jobs” to find the central employment website, and then check the button for seasonal jobs to see what is currently available.


With both the federal government and private employers, the term “temporary” usually means the position is for a designated period of time and no guarantees are provided beyond that.   Sadly, these positions frequently do not offer additional benefits such as health insurance.

While this can be a negative if you are seeking a regular “gig” year after year, it can be an excellent opportunity to try something that you are not sure you want to commit to long-term.  It is also a great way to both gain and have different experiences for your resume.

And, many temporary positions can lead to full-time if that is where your interest lies.


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Three Industries Offering Part-Year Employment

Part-year, or more commonly known as seasonal employment,  has been a staple of these industries for years.  For many this is a lifestyle that blends long hours and hard work for a group of months, with a corresponding break of time off once the shoulder, or off-season, begins.  This article touches on just a few of the employment positions available in these industries.

Tourism and Travel

This is the one that most people think of when they hear the term “seasonal” work.   In North America, there are numerous locations that have a high season where the influx of visitors demands a corresponding increase in workers to serve them in many capacities.   With most schools out during the summer months, opportunities abound.

Since several of these areas have two high seasons – one in Winter and then again in Summer, employers from resorts, to touring companies, to airports, to the traditional restaurants and bars, offer employment for both seasons, with six to eight week breaks in between.

Examples of positions include: Hotel and restaurant serving, cleaning, and front office, tour guides, tour bus drivers, cruise ship staff and management, trainers, event managers, adventure guides, airline ground handling, and local information experts.


If the only inevitable things are death and taxes, then the only inevitable seasonal job is tax preparation.   Many Certified Public Accountants who do primarily tax returns only work through September.  If you have not done your taxes by then, they might not want you for a client!

These accountants frequently need support staff for detail work.  Large national tax preparers also hire extensively during tax season to staff tax prep locations that are only open part of each year.

In addition, the Internal Revenue Service also hires temporary workers nationwide during tax season to do everything from data entry, to phone support, to actual tax calculations and return reviews.


Many facets of the practice of medicine also offer temporary, seasonal, or traveling options.   Once again, cruise ships are often staffed with a doctor and a nurse.  Public primary and secondary schools still offer an  onsite nurse in some areas.

Of more interest may be the traveling positions, where the nurse, physical therapist, doctor, or other practitioner works at a given location for several weeks or months, takes off as long as they wish, then accepts another temporary position in a different location.  These positions often include room and board, and traveling expenses.

There are actually many more positions out there for temporary workers, even in these fields.  To keep abreast of the opportunities, please visit the blog The Semi-Retired Life.


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Differentiating Semi-Retired and Part-Time

Have you considered decreasing your work hours, or the number of days you work each week as you get closer to retirement?  Or, do you think you will not ever be able to “retire,” but you still want enough time to do some traveling or pursue a hobby?

These two options are vastly different, however.  Be sure you take the time to decide which one would be best for you.


Working part-time is generally considered to be any number of hours less than thirty per week.    Keep in mind though, that thirty hours can still take up a great deal of your time.   For example, someone working six hours a day/five days a week adds up to thirty hours.  That is just 8am – 3pm instead of 8am – 5pm.  Add in a commute, and it really is not that much time away from work.

If you can find longer hours for fewer days, it would probably be more appealing.

Part-time work becoming more and more common for several reasons though, and not all of them good ones.   While it can be a great option for students, or for people who just need a little extra income or something to do, it can be very frustrating for people who want to work full-time.

The biggest looming concern is health insurance, as the Affordable Care Act allows employers to opt-out of providing coverage to those who work part-time.   If you have coverage elsewhere, then this might be a good option for you to have more days per week available to pursue hobbies or outside interests.


Most often, this is referred to as “seasonal” employment.”  It definitely is the more appealing choice if you want longer blocks of time off.  A great number of the employment opportunities are the ones commonly associated with the summer or winter seasons, such as summer camp counselors, or winter ski instructors.

Of course, seasons vary depending on where the business is geographically too.  The traditional North American Summer season is June through August, while it is December – February in the southern hemisphere.  And many specialized workers such as ski instructors take advantage of this by working in different parts of the world depending on the time of year.

In general, the variety of positions available where working part of the year is built into the job description seem to fall into four main categories:  Teaching, Tourism and Travel, Taxation, and Treatment.  In another article, I will describe the myriad opportunities available in these different industries.


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Can You Semi-Retire Using a Leave of Absence?

So, you are learning about the concept of “semi-retiring” and you love the idea of continuing to work, but only doing it for eight or nine months a year.

If you have hesitations about leaving your current employment completely, one excellent option you may have available to you is a formal Leave of Absence (LOA).  Here are some questions to ask and information to gather from your Human Resources or People department about this option.

Does Your Company Offer LOAs?

Some companies even require employees to take a leave periodically.  Chances are if you are lucky enough to work for one of these, you already know about that.  But if you have never considered it, then start researching internally to see what is available.

If So, Are They Paid or Unpaid?

Unless you are very lucky, chances are the leave will be unpaid.  You might expect this, but it does trigger a new avalanche of questions about what else might be affected.

What is Your Return-to-Work Status?

For example, one really important question to thoroughly understand is what constraints or situations affect your return-to-work.   Is your job held for you?  Indefinitely, or for a specific period of time?   Does there have to be an opening that you can fill?

Are There Limitations  to What You Can Do During the Leave?

My company does not allow employees to work while on a personal leave without specific written permission from a supervisor.  This could impact you if the goal of the leave is to test out running your own business.  Be sure you know any limitations or restrictions.

What Happens to Your Benefits?

If you, like many, receive your health insurance through your employer, what happens to it during your leave?  Do you keep the coverage, but have to pick up the entire cost?  This can cause some sticker shock as the full cost is often four times what is being withheld from the paycheck while working full-time.

Are there any other benefits that sunset while on a leave, such as discounts with your wireless vendor, or to the gym you use?  In my case, my travel privileges are suspended during a personal LOA.  And, that is the very thing I want the time off to use.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you are in a much better position to see if you can test-drive a short retirement period to see if it might work for you.


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.