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The 2 most surprising parts of retirement, according to a man who left work at 65


Bill Brown

Bill Brown, 67, in his woodworking shed at home.
Courtesy of Bill Brown

  • Bill Brown was surprised by two things when he first retired: how negative people were when he told them he was retiring, and how much time he started to spend with his wife. 
  • The central South Carolina resident says that he and his wife now have found a rhythm that works for them, one where they spend more time apart. He took up woodworking as a hobby.
  • In the year and a half that he’s been retired, he’s enjoyed several vacations with his wife and has kept busy, despite what people predicted.
  • Business Insider is looking for your retirement stories. If you’re in or nearing retirement, email [email protected]
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It’s no surprise that retirement changes everything.

But when Bill Brown decided to retire at age 65 in the spring of 2018, there were two things in particular that caught him off guard. The first started before he’d even left work.

“Instead of saying, ‘oh boy, great!’ It was all, ‘Oh, you’re not going to like that,'” Brown told Business Insider. “I would have much rather heard people say, ‘Well there you go, buddy, I hope I can do the same myself!'” 

He said his coworkers’ and friends’ lack of enthusiasm dampened his spirits about retirement. He describes himself as a “type A” personality, and has always had a full life and career in an IT department of a trucking company. “Even if you think someone’s not going to like retirement, don’t tell him that,” Brown said. 

His next surprise didn’t come until a few weeks into retirement: He realized that he had underestimated the amount of time he and his wife would actually end up spending together. After years of having their own careers and lives outside the house, there was suddenly more time together than there had been for years. “I know that sounds rude, but that caught both of us off guard,” he said. 

“When we worked, we saw each other sometimes daily, but sometimes only on weekends because I traveled,” Brown said. In fact, he said, they were having so much together time at home that they had to change their post-retirement schedules.

To spend some time apart, his wife filled up her calendar. “She increased the volunteer activities that she undertakes, and she sought out or friends that were her age so that she could go to breakfast or lunch with them,” Brown said. Brown himself took up woodworking in a shed in the backyard to have his own hobby. 

However, they both enjoy having some time together. “It’s good to know when you turn the TV on at home that somebody sitting there with you,” says Brown. 

Over a year post-retiring, Brown says that he’s far from bored. When not woodworking or doing occasional consulting work, he now spends time traveling, often with his wife. He’s done anything but dislike retirement, as some people predicted, and he and his wife have found a happy rhythm of living together at home. 


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