Justin, 38, and Kaisorn, 40, McCurry have a lot more free time than their peers. After saving more than $1 million in 10 years, the Raleigh, North Carolina, couple retired in their 30s: Justin quit his engineering job in 2013 at age 33 and his wife joined him in early retirement in 2016 at age 38.
Their daily lives are now "pretty wide open," Justin tells CNBC Make It, and that flexibility is one of the biggest perks of retiring early.
"We get out and about more during the day now," he says, adding that, instead of going into the office, they spend much of their time hiking, biking, playing tennis, reading, watching Netflix and volunteering at their kids' school.
"It's a nice feeling to have that freedom of time. What a lot of people do on the weekends, we do that seven days a week, more or less, now."
The McCurrys, who have three kids, also have more time to travel. "Every summer we take usually a month or two to go on vacation somewhere internationally, like the Bahamas, Mexico, Europe — this coming summer we're going to Southeast Asia for eight weeks," says Justin. "So it's a big shift from the normal vacation of one or two weeks for most working people."
The freedom of not working makes it easier to jump on good airline deals and keep travel costs low, Kaisorn adds.
The hardest part about settling down early might be adjusting to less structure and more alone time. "Work keeps you busy, so you're not sitting around at home thinking, How do I fill my days?" Justin says. You may no longer have as much regular contact with your peers, and that can be an adjustment, too: "I think the social aspect is an area that people sort of overlook when they're going into regular retirement or early retirement. How are they going to get out and meet people? How are they going to stay busy and stay active?"
Still, he and Kaisorn are very glad they made the choice they did. "In terms of the constraints on lifestyle and requirements to show up every day at 8 a.m. and do things and be on a schedule and have deadlines, I definitely don't miss it at all," he says.
Overall, retiring early "was pretty great five years ago and it's still really great now," says Justin. "We're sitting on the couch or outside walking around or going shopping in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. I still get a smile on my face when I sit back and think, Oh, this is our hard work — we put this together and now it's really working out for us."
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