In Ms. Janochoski’s case, “retirement looked good” after all those months of working from home, she said. “I wasn’t going to go before April, when my stock options vested,” she added. “So I picked the end of May, and we ran through the numbers. It made sense.”
Jesse Coffee, a wealth adviser at True Private Wealth Advisers, said that before the pandemic, it was generally clients around age 62 who were initiating pre-retirement talks with him. In the past year, that age has dropped to 54 or 55, he said.
“People have realized what’s really important,” he said. “If you want to just go out and hike, it doesn’t cost a lot of money. If my lifestyle isn’t going to need all that much money, maybe I can move somewhere less expensive, have some low-cost hobbies and retire early. That and, frankly, the market has been great over the past 10 years.”
An adviser’s job is, of course, to do the math on whether retirement is even possible and what it may look like. But leaving a career, particularly for people who have risen up at a company doing work they enjoy, is not an easy decision to make. Working from home in the pandemic gave some people a taste of what retirement could be like, something they would not have gotten if they had kept going into the office or traveling for work.
“It’s allowed them to reset and take a step back,” Mr. Leverty said.
He said there was no question that retiring early would reduce wealth, but that’s a trade-off for what could be more time — to spend with family, explore activities like charitable work or pursue new interests.
A life-altering event four years ago got Mark Nagel thinking about retiring as soon as possible. When he slipped on ice and pulled a muscle, what seemed like a minor injury would result in the amputation of one of his legs.
“Early retirement became a requirement at that point,” said Mr. Nagel, 55. “You just never know when something is going to happen. So why wait until next year?