- Name: Cynthia T.
- Location: Innisfil, Ontario
- Age: 59
- Retired At: 58
- Marital Status: Married
- Profession: Fire Chief
Cynthia decided to retire early from her job as a fire chief in 2021. It was fast-paced, high-stress, and thoroughly rewarding, but she felt it was time to “do something else.” She was the first woman in Ontario to become a full-time fire chief, and only the third in the country at the time. By all accounts, it was a very big deal, many hard-fought personal achievements, and years in the making. But it was time for a change. We talked to Cynthia about her retirement.
Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?
Cynthia: The “something else” turned out to be writing about retirement and that’s what fills my day now — writing. I’m still up by 6 a.m., habits are hard to break. Then I work at my new job, writing, until 5 p.m. It’s just easier now to throw in a load of laundry or grab a sandwich than it was before.
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Cynthia: This was essentially my plan when I decided to retire. I love working, I just needed to “do something else.” After 35 years of full-tilt emergency service and an original career as an ER/Trauma unit nurse, time has taken its toll.
Best Part About Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?
Cynthia: Sleeping! After decades of being on-call, and the last 8 years I was literally on-call 24/7, having an uninterrupted night’s sleep is retirement’s greatest gift!
It’s easy to enjoy retirement when you have something else to do! Build your own new purpose.
Challenges In Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?
Cynthia: Making new friends can be a challenge, especially having worked with mostly men for the last 3-plus decades. I had very few female peers.
Cost Of Retirement
Retirement Awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? Do you have a budget, meet with your advisor on a regular basis, etc?
Cynthia: I am blessed with a good pension, my husband is still working, and I have stopped buying shoes! For us, retirement costs are the same as non-retirement costs. We will downsize and move when my husband decides to retire. Until then, status quo. No, we do not meet with our financial advisor on a regular basis.
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire?
Cynthia: I have two pieces of advice. One, find several hobbies or get a fun side hustle. Two, be flexible, stick to your plan, but don’t be afraid to pivot if something interesting comes your way.
Things I Wish I Would Have Known
Retirement Awaits: What are a few things you wish someone would have told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?
Cynthia: Be prepared to go from hero to zero, no matter what your job was. People judge other people by what we do for a living, by what their purpose is. And society tends to overlook or discard all things without an obvious purpose.
Best Retirement Vacation
Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?
Cynthia: Nosara, Costa Rica! That’s also where we will retire. Why? No snow, great environment, surfing, fresh food year-round, and better healthcare.
For more stories like this one, check out our other Retirement Diaries: