The Golden Geeks

Couple Dancing Aged

Let’s talk retirement, my geeks.

We all slow down eventually. We’d all like to get out of the daily grind, or at least switch to a grind we like. We’re also not getting any younger. At some point the question comes “how are you going to handle slowing down and getting old.”

In short, how are you going to handle retirement?

It’s been on my mind recently with an upcoming birthday, with some medical issues in the family, and with some career changes among me and my friends. This led to me reviving an idea with some geeky friends about handling our retirement – an idea I’d like to share with you. Maybe they’ll provide you some guidance – especially when you start asking those same questions.

A Quick Aside: Retirement And Doing What You Like

Note that when I discuss retirement here it’s specifically “getting older, slowing down, possibly working less, definitely spending less.” Retirement as a catch-all term is nearly useless; some people stop work, some people do less, some change careers, some never stop working. I have retirement plans, but in my heart of hearts I know I’m going to keep working, just at different things.

So this is a focus on an idea of how a bunch of geeks can handle age, slowing down, and spending less together. Fill in the other details yourself, but I’m calling that retirement.

I call it The Golden Geeks. You probably see where this is going.

The Big, Slightly Aged, Idea

The idea I and some friends are kicking around is this:

We’ll be older, some of us don’t have kids, many of us have friends and relatives (and kids) scattered all over, and we’d like to retire in a geek-friendly place where we can afford to live. Oh, and old-person friendly weather and/or locations would be nice.

The Solution?

  • Among the people in my extended group, we determine who has the best social ties, the most friendly area, and determine what we can afford.
  • Everyone rents a house (or moves in with someone who does) or apartment.
  • Everyone moves in together and pools resources. We might not even have to leave friends – they may come with us.
  • The social ties provided, the geek-friendly area, provides the potential for work if needed, and plenty of events and community to help out with.
  • All of the above ensures a saving of money, a maximizing of money gains, and strong social ties.

Or in short, Golden GIrls but probably with more anime wall scrolls you don’t have the heart to throw out at 67.

So Why Should This Work?

This may seem to be an obvious solution to retirement, but there’s a few special features – and features cases that are geek specific I’d like to address:

  • It integrates social ties. Living alone isn’t always pleasant (trust me) but also isn’t always safe, especially when you’re getting up there in years. Living with others lets you look after each other. In the case of some people, good friends may be the difference between living independently or needing assisted living. It also helps that we geeks have some strong social ties and methods of connections that let us draw upon our friends.
  • It leverages local connections. Moving in with the person or persons with strong area ties means people instantly get a support network. That’s great for money, for health, for sanity, for social integration. That makes a big difference on many levels, from finding a job to connection with others.  Some areas have strong local geek cultures.
  • It maintains relations. Moving in with your fellow geeks means you’re maintaining contact directly – which gets a bit harder with distance and age.  Let’s maintain those strong connections we built.
  • It’s cheaper. Sharing a place may reduce privacy, but it’s a lot cheaper than many other options, and gives you more moving options. Here in California, with the insane prices, it’s not exactly a cheap place to retire – but sharing a place and picking the right one can make a radical difference. I notice this every time I pay my rent bill . . . (“If I got a roommate or moved to a studio I’d save . . . oh my gods how much money I’m wasting”).  Sadly some geeky places are pricey, so time to team up.
  • It gives you options. Having social ties, having reduced costs, gives people more options for relocation that they couldn’t have alone.

I’ve already bounced this idea off of a few people and it’s got some minds going – even though my crowd won’t be retiring for 15-25 years. It looks surprisingly doable.

The Challenges

There are a few challenges to the Golden Geeks plan I’d like to address.

First, there’s the issue of if people actually retire. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I want to retire, and even with my frugality, I always have a career backup plan or two in case I need the cash. If people in your crowd are still working, the ability to pull up and leave may be limited (though for some careers may be easy to move).

Secondly, cost. Some of the best areas to retire in my experience aren’t the cheapest as I noted. Look, California is great, medical care is wonderful, but be ready for sticker shock.

Third, someone or someones has to move. Pulling up your social ties is difficult, moreso when retired. People shouldn’t give one set up for an other. Moving in with people long-distance works best when friends go with you, or when your own social ties to an area have diminished or are stronger elsewhere.

The idea isn’t perfect. But I think if you face those issues, you can address them.

Thinking Farther

Me, this idea is pretty much Part Of The Plan right now, even if the plan won’t happen for about two decades. I figure that gives me time to perfect it – and probably share it here.

But it’s always good to think about your life plans into the future, and into your golden years. It helps you avoid surprises and prepare for things.

And we geeks? Well we have a wide network of people to access, a lot of communities to tap, and our love of technology to help us connect and do research. We’re well positioned to pull off “Golden Geek” houses.

It’s not too early to think ahead . . .


– Steven Savage