5 Things Federal Retirees Wish They Knew Before Retirement

These are five things retired federal employees have said they wish they would have known before retiring.

“I wish I would have known!”

These six words are never fun to say, but after today, you won’t have to say them (at least when it comes to retirement).

Here are 5 things federal retirees wish they’d known before retiring.

You are Only 63 Once

Age is a funny thing. Sometimes we feel our age and sometimes we feel much younger. But eventually, it catches up with all of us. 

One regret I hear all the time from retirees is that they wish they would have taken more advantage of their “young” retirement years. 

Your retirement may be 30-40 years long but the first half is often much fitter and healthier than the second half, so if you’ve always dreamed of doing that hike across Spain, schedule it!! We simply don’t know how long opportunities will be around. 


Across the board, new retirees express to me how much freer retirement is than they even expected. They are no longer accountable to a boss and have nowhere to be on Monday morning. 

And often, they didn’t realize how much stress they were under while working until that load was lifted. Many retirees wish they would have known how free retirement would be. 

Let’s Talk

Do you want to retire and move closer to the kids? Or retire to Panama to go kitesurfing every day? The kitesurfing may sound great to you, but is your spouse ok with it?

Most retirees express that they wish they had more serious conversations with their spouses about their retirement dreams and expectations. This includes the fun parts of retirement like the trips/cruises but the harder topics as well like:

  • Which side of the family do you want to live by?
  • Will your aging parents need your support?
  • Are you both comfortable with the retirement budget?
  • How much time do you want to spend together during the day? 
  • If something happened to either of you will the other one be okay financially?

Addressing these sorts of questions before retirement (even if you don’t know exactly what things will look like) will help you have a smoother transition to your new stage of life. 

The Joneses are Dream Killers

What would my sister think if we sold our house and moved into an apartment on the cheaper side of town?

Everyone’s dream retirement looks different and if you are too worried about what people may think then you’ll never have the courage to have the retirement you really want. 

I’ve seen all sorts of retirements like living 100% on a boat, retiring to Colombia, and even just staying home and writing a novel, and if you give too much weight to other people’s preferences then you simply may not have enough time/money/resources to fully support your own dreams as well. 

Your Community

The last thing that every almost-retiree should know is how/where they’ll make friends in retirement. For most people, having a social life is a major factor in mental/emotional health and just being happy. 

Fortunately, there are all kinds of groups like churches, clubs, service groups, and retirement communities that you can get involved with to build a community, but it will be up to you to take the initiative to forge new friendships that you can enjoy through your golden years. 

Final Thoughts

This article is certainly not exhaustive when it comes to things retirees wish they would have known before they retired. After all, everyone has different circumstances and challenges in retirement. But hopefully, it will give you a start in crafting the retirement that you dream about.  

About the Author

Dallen Haws is a Financial Advisor who is dedicated to helping federal employees live their best life and plan an incredible retirement. He hosts a podcast and YouTube channel all about federal benefits and retirement. You can learn more about him at Haws Federal Advisors.