Hobbit Business Review

An Ex-Googler Retired at Age 40 on a Friday. By Monday, She Regretted It.

Nupur Dave thought her decision to retire at age 40 in 2022 was an easy one.

At the time, she was living in Bengaluru, India. She had worked at Google for 10 years in the company’s Atlanta, Mountain View, and Bengaluru offices. In addition to that, she had worked for startups, was secure about her finances, and was confident a corporate 9-to-5 was no longer for her.

“I quit my job on a Friday,” Dave told Business Insider.

“By Monday evening, I was just bawling,” she continued. “I was crying my eyes out because I realized that I need to be with people.”

Coworking spaces weren’t inspiring

Woman cooking at Google offices

Dave during her time working in Google. Nupur Dave via BI

Dave had her post-retirement life planned out: She would write her third book, hang out with her old colleagues, and network with founders and artists at coworking spaces.

But the reality of retiring early turned out quite different.

She quickly realized she would no longer have the same relationship with her former colleagues.

“The loneliness of the coworking space actually hit me when I physically went in there and sat down — it was completely empty,” Dave said about her first day as a retiree.

She spent the next few weeks “coworking-space hopping.” While some of the coworking spaces she visited were sold out, some hardly saw any traffic because they were used as placeholders for companies that were largely remote, Dave said.

“I was not making friends, and I didn’t feel inspired by the physical surroundings of the coworking space,'” she said.

Too much independence was also scary.

“Even though people say, ‘I like that I’m on my own terms,’ sometimes being completely untethered is scary,” Dave said about her retirement. “It felt like doing a space walk.”

Savings and financial independence

Woman standing in front of a financial services advertisement.

Dave on her last day at a financial services company in front of an early retirement advertisement. Nupur Dave via BI

By retiring at 40, Dave became part of the FIRE — financial independence, retire early — community.

For her, the decision to retire early came from a place of financial security.

Working in the U.S. for 11 years allowed her to build savings that went a long way in India, where the cost of living is lower. Dave was earning about $100,000 a year in San Francisco when she left her job.

Before retiring, she worked with a financial advisor to ensure her savings were enough to cover her expenses, and sales from her previous books and consultancy would help pay day-to-day bills. The critical part, however, was her location.

“Everything is much more doable in India, and you can still maintain a life of luxury,” she added. Dave said she had a helper coming in to help with cooking and cleaning, which cost from $100 to $200 a month.

Challenges of retiring early

While Dave’s problems with retired life were social in nature, some in the FIRE community chose to rejoin the corporate world for other reasons.

“Early retirement is not for everyone,” a financial planner, Jovan Johnson, previously wrote for BI. He wrote that those who plan to retire before the age of 60 would fall into the minority of workers, and those keen to pursue the lifestyle should have a clear sense of what they’d do in retirement, be aware that the lifestyle could be isolating, and create passive income streams to make their money last.

Gwendolyn Merz previously told Business Insider that she went back to her corporate job nine months after retiring. For her, it was financial.

Merz retired at 28 in northern Illinois after tracking her expenses and savings to the penny. But she ran into unanticipated problems soon into her retirement. She couldn’t access parts of her savings that were tied to retirement accounts, she wasn’t earning enough from her side hustles, and she was paying a lot more for health insurance.

Michelle Jackson wrote for BI that she was once enticed by the FIRE movement but realized she didn’t want to wait years to live her best life. She was in debt and was professionally exhausted, and it didn’t make sense to invest more than 50% of her income.

Not long after retiring, she landed a role as the head of special projects at an electric vehicle infrastructure firm in Bengaluru.

“I am in corporate right now, but my goals are different,” Dave said. “It is not to build a career or make wealth out of this, but to see people every day and make sort of a predictable routine for myself.”

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