After a decade of saving and investing more than half of their income, Justin and Kaisorn McCurry built a portfolio of $1.3 million, enough to support their modest lifestyle in retirement. Justin quit his engineering job in 2013 and retired at age 33. Kaisorn joined him in early retirement in 2016 at age 38.
"Neither of us ever reached a six figure salary, with my salary topping out at $69,000 and [Kaisorn's] at $74,000," Justin writes on his blog, Root of Good, which explains how he saved more than $1 million in 10 years to retire early. "No winning lottery tickets or inheritances, either," he says. "Just steady saving and investing in our low cost index fund portfolio year after year."
Now, the Raleigh, North Carolina, couple are living their best lives.
They have no regrets: Their situation "was pretty great five years ago and it's still really great now," Justin tells CNBC Make It.
That said, retiring early — and retirement in general — can be a big adjustment. The hardest part might be adapting to more alone time and less structure. "When you leave your full time job, you leave behind a lot of social interaction," Justin says. Plus, "work keeps you busy, so you're not sitting around at home thinking, 'How do I fill my days?'"
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?
"And I think a lot of the answer to that is to do what interests you and find people who have similar interests in these activities that you do."
Early retiree and founder of FinancialSamurai.com Sam Dogen has mentioned a similar challenge. As he writes on his blog, one of the "dangers of early retirement" is that you can "lose touch with friends and family," who will no longer be on the same schedule you are.
"It's nice to have all the time in the world to do whatever you want," he writes. "But, if your friends and loved ones are busy working all day, they can't join you on your midday hike or adventure to Bora Bora. They may also have a family to tend to during the evenings and on weekends.
"If you've ever taken a staycation by yourself, you'll soon realize how lonely it is when others are busy leading their own lives."
Justin and Kaisorn are lucky in that they've been able to retire early together. Though they've had to adjust to their new realities, they 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," Justin says.
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!