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Cover image for Is anyone planning a full or partial "early retirement" from software development?

Is anyone planning a full or partial "early retirement" from software development?

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

It's not that uncommon for folks to move into other careers after working as a developer. It can be a demanding job and the pace of change can be hard to keep up with.

While there is plenty of space to keep doing this forever, is anyone here thinking they will move away from this life before typical "retirement" age?

Discussion

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I guess, in a sense I've already done it, since my day to day these days involves very little code (I'm CEO of a growing company we bootstrapped 3 years ago, and spent years before that as a consultant and executive/dev manager).

My goal is and has been kind of actually the reverse of what you might expect for retirement, though. I'm hoping to be able to retire/semi-retire in the next few years to make it so that I don't need to work to pay the bills, and then go back to building software simply for the love of the game, so to speak. I miss making things.

 

Pretty similar (without the CEO bit!) here.. paid work stops next week, and I get to choose if/when I write code, or do something entirely different for a while, then come back refreshed and ready to contribute where I can make a difference or just 'cause it's fun (have you seen my Github??)

 

That's pretty similar to where I see myself going, though teaching CS at a university is also a potential path I may take. I love teaching

 

Oh, that's interesting. I could envision a life teaching as well.

Me too. Though I am yet to land on my first full time job. I am still working as a freelancer. So my plan my still take time

 

I honestly don't see myself retiring anytime soon... Wanna be active ... But running a software development company , and as CEO i do codes like my employees or even work much more hours than they do... But overtime, I'd look at delving into areas and code a lil

 

I am absolutely retired of this hacker shit called development... has nothing to do with engineering, complete everything in a hurry to "just work", introduce shitloads of bugs or even exploit them. I am rather into art even if I starve to death.

 

You are not alone with this kind of experience. In my until now 7 years experience as a profession i was 2 times on the point to completly throw my passion away because of that.

Everybody is talking about TDD, Clean Code and so on, but the reality is something complete different. It often seems that only the golden polished companies or open source projects are doing it well!

 

I tend to interleave periods of work with periods of non-work. I took 1.5 years off twice so far, and some shorter periods too. I prefer these mini-retirements in between, as it means you get to experience them at different ages.

 

1.5 years off.... That sounds like either life-goals, or what you thought you want, that results in boredom. What did you do for those two 1.5 year periods?

 

First time: 10 months of travel, then self-education (online courses, books) and some part-time work (couple hours per week) in a non-tech field I was curious about.

Second time: 15 straight months of travel, plus a bit of time to prepare for the trip before and some time to prepare for my move to Thailand after.

what you thought you want, that results in boredom

Only boring people get bored 😉

Haha I'll take note that I'm boring. Enjoy

It was tongue-in-cheek of course, I read that quote somewhere once and whenever I'm about to complain that I'm bored I try to remind myself that it's up to me to change that.

I was being tongue-in-cheek too. I did solve it by going back to work. I just don't think I'd enjoy doing nothing, or not coding most days.

I was coding plenty in the second half, but FOSS.

 

Financially, I hope to work hard to save money and invest (get into real estate, stocks etc) so I'll reach financial freedom someday--at least for the lowest standard I can realistically live on (ie. enough for simple food, shelter, utilities, health care, etc). Formally this could be considered "retirement" I guess?

Then I'll still do dev/programming/coding projects: part professional work, splitting the income to grow my investment and for tertiary needs (vacations, eating out, hobbies, etc); part pro-bono / charities / causes I care about or just plain fun. I genuinely enjoy working in this field, so don't see any reason to stop until I'm really unable to code.

 

This is exactly the type of life I’m looking for as well. I’m just starting on my programming journey (our of school) and I don’t plan to hit my goals soon (I still want to live) but this is exactly what I’m looking at as long term goals. I love to code and explore ideas without being tied to a single one for every hour of every day like being a cog in the wheel at the large large companies.

 

I've been already 13 years in the industry. I'm tired of Jira-driven development and daily standups where everyone just tells their current ticket numbers. I'm tired of organizations where everyone just comes to do their 9-5 job and nothing else.

I started writing a book about developing e-commerce, financial and payments software. I'm going to share all my knowledge and experience. Actually it's going to be a series of books dedicated to different languages I've been working with (Java, PHP, JS).

Also I'm in a heavy metal band and starting to sell more and more merchandise.

I'm happy to have my girlfriend as my business mentor (she's been running her successful wedding business for over 10 years). It's not easy to jump from highly paid day job to an uncertain entrepreneurship, but I'm sure I can make it some day! Already got enough savings for 8 months of living :)

 

I am now over 50 years old and I'm trying to find out how to say in technology without becoming a manager. I don't really want to retire; I'd like to stay active into my 70s.

 

I’m right there with you. 50 and DevRel - always wonder how long I can keep it up as a manager and community organizer while continuing to ship code. At least the travel has reduced now!

 

I try to pile up as much cash as I can. My ultimate goal is to buy a small cottage in the wood, with a good internet connection, 3-4 dogs and my family. I will retire as soon as possible and I'm very lucky to live in a low cost area.

 

Yes it is true that the software job is very demanding but it is highly paid job as well.

I am planning to retire early. Retirement as in where I don't have to trade my time and I should be owner of time as well as I should be able to work at my own convenience. Retirement would mean flexibility for me.

 

I plan on working hard enough, living frugally enough, and save enough so that I can retire early, and start my steampunk coffee shop in a bus. Slinging espresso shots, and traveling around the US... Now that is a goal worth working for in my life

 

Not really. I can see myself quitting hands-on software development but still working with code as a teacher, consultant or in some kind of mid to high management position.

However, if for some miraculous reason I end up stupid rich in the next couple of decades, I'd definitely drop out of web dev and become a full time cook. 😄

 
 

I always say to mi job partenrs that i hate the profession but i love development. I´m an spanish developer, our professing is plaged of stressing deadlines (with repercussions in software´s quality). Legacy software is everywhere, without test oviously. Don't forget about the tests: "Test doesn't bill" is a common phrase here. So, i will retire, yes but from sotfware consultancy. I dont know my future job but perhaps freenlace developer and having a orchard in my grandmother´s home.

Forget the freenlace dev, only i want my fucking orchard and being happy.

 

From a career working for someone else? Yes.
From home-grown projects you love and are passionate about? I wouldn't wish that upon anyone.

Starting your own business might count as career but I am going to claim it under the banner of "home-grown projects you love".

 

yes if i got 1 million dollar before 40 i will retire for sure to papua indonesia precisely in mamboramo and pray eat healthy run everyday like a healthy man no programming no electricity just me and nature and i hope i can find some cendrawasih there also

 

Do you realy need one million dollars for that? If thats your dream, do the math of how much you realy need and go for it :)

 

yeah its a just random number i throw actually i dont know how much i just want to get out to forest and play with cendrawasih

 

I've been thinking and reading about this but it seems most of the earnings you have to make on the stock exchange or other investments.
I've calculated my number roughly (by 4% rule) and it was around 1m euro which is really hard to earn on the day-to-day jobs especially outside of the US. But it's interesting to try with investments somewhere in the future.

Currently, I'm thinking about a similar move as early retirement but I don't know the term for that. When you have some savings for a year or two and you quit your job to try to start your business.
Right now it sounds real and interesting for me.

 

Well I guess it depends on what you call a full on early retirement.

As of right now, I have no plans to fully move away from the industry. Now that could mean that maybe later on I move into a different role, where I'm not so hands on creating software. Maybe some teaching roll or something like that.

I love this industry, and the fact that it is always changing is one of the things I enjoy so much.

 

No. I love building stuff on a computer since I'm very young, and I never really stopped loving it.

What I would like to do is having enough money to sustain myself and have the time to do whatever I want, aka helping other developers as much as possible.

As you said, it's a demanding job. We need to help each other.

 

What would I do instead. crosswords, I just cant imagine it.

 

Like a lot of person here, I would like to retire from working for someone's business, and salary work, and move to crafting my own projects, living in a calm and great environment and using my skills for art, building thinks that I am proud of, and helping people with it

 

In some sense I also retired from my previous management accounting job, now I'm a self-taught developer/consultant for the same company, working 2-4 hours a day on various finance tools to automate their workflow. I am much more relaxed and healthy now, I even have time to read books.

 

I'm making a career transition into writing full-time and wrote a long post for FreeCodeCamp on alternative career paths for devs recently: freecodecamp.org/news/alternative-...

Too many people think careers have to be this set path of X1 => X2 => X3, but you can make lateral movements to increase your skill surface area and try new things.

Having a basis in technology just gives you a solid way to bring in income even if you don't do it full-time.

 

Yes! I have a plan to retire early period and expatriate to Argentina or Chile. I can't imagine that I won't get bored with nothing to do so I may do some work as an English tutor or something else to keep me busy. I plan on buying some land, maybe going full hipster and having some goats and learning to make cheese I don't even know haha.

 

I've often thought about embracing an engineering manager role in a 5-10 year roadmap, where day to day programming stops being the day job. It's not that I don't like it, just that I strongly feel I have a good feel for the role and can be the kind of manager me and tons of my peers would have wanted to work under.

 

Not retiring (mid 40s), but I've moved away from full time software development (especially professional services) and now develop training courses for software developers.

 

I've been considering moving into the field of engineering in the (far) future. Although moving up to a dev management position in the future may change my mind a bit.

Weirdly enough, it's usually mechanical engineering students switching to programming. I guess I'm the outlier!

 

Getting into software is one of the most rewarding things ever. I love it so much I could never see myself retiring. That being said. Will I do what I am doing now forever? It is hard to say. I want to keep pushing my skills and growing and developing. Right now I am doing machine learning and I can improve on that a ton. I honestly would like to do this my whole career but I think my specific job functions will change.

 

When I was 20, I contemplated working as a developer until I was 30 and then join the Peace Corps.
In my late 20's, I decided to code until 35 and then do something "less stressful".
A few weeks ago I turned 40. I live in Cyprus, but right now I'm working remotely a 5 minute walk from the beach in Croatia. Think I finally accept I've got a "retirement" plan worked out.
Sample the manager, CTO/C?O, principle/R&D engineer, educator, and greener-pastures career paths and decide what's best for you.

 

Let's face it. Professional software development sucks. The methodologies for SDLC are terrible and the developers are often happy to join in the communal chucking somebody under the bus in a stand up. Anything you do well, like saving the day is immediately forgotten.

I described agile scrum to a friend who is a psychologist and they said it reminded them of the famous 1960's prisoner and warders experiment. Like a form of torture.

More developers are finding themselves trying to be freelancers which leads to its own set of challenges. I have a limited company website but that will be highly unlikely to pick up given how larger solutions providers hog Google's Search algorithms.

It is sad, as I am pretty good at now building applications - never been better. The strangest thing is, these applications are far easier to build because of not following SDLC's and middle managers.

I won't retire from professional development but will use it to do things I want to be done commercially. If the contracting market picks up then I will get a contract but I prefer to build software as part of a commercial effort. One is my property platform findigl, and another is a trade analytics solution for assets such as cryptocurrency and stocks (note, I have no plans to market the analytics solution).

 

I would like to eventually, but I keep getting pulled back into it because it's satisfying to put stuff out into the world and have it used, and the $$ is as good as I can get. But I've been mostly working part-time for the last five years so I can keep the flame of passion projects alive, and I haven't figured out what the next step is yet.

 

35 years in so far - I don’t see a reason to stop soon :)

 

I have as a goal of my life, in some point on the future to change of career, but it doesn't means that I hate my development life, actually, I love it (most of the time), but at the same time I think that another career that represents a big change in my life could make me happier. Am thinking in for example, put a kind of coffee shop, a hostel, or something like that, but I'm wondering if I will able to completely leave the development

 

I love programming/coding/creating interesting/useful/useless things, learning new technologies, languages etc. Been doing it for ~30 years now, but I'm quite tired of "developing".
Real intellectual challenges are rare, usually come down to "how to implement this feature in this badly designed software X without breaking Y, Z, W".
So there are plans but right now, without reality anytime in the near future.

 

Well, I haven't started to work full-time in software development, so it's not really a retirement, but my vision is:
1) Don't have full-time (40h/w) work, not even multiple works combined.

  • I want this to allow me to work on some programming hobby-projects or side-projects, or on other hobbies, family, friends. It may change, depending on the kind of work and other circumstances, but for now, it seems like a good (and possible, thanks to high pay) idea. 2) Combine programming/IT with teaching/lecturing work. These are my two main passions, and each fulfills some role in my life. Also, they balance each other quite nice I think.
 

I’m starting to think software development doesn’t have a “retirement”. Liken to being an artist, sometimes you just feel to urge to create things and accord it commitment.

 

I think the only way I will retire is when they or my wife force me haha. I love programming and what I do. I feel like I haven't worked a day in my life since I graduated from college.

 

It's a dream of mine to retire early through consulting and side businesses and then help poorer kids learn programming.

Maybe one day :)

 

I aim to achieve financial independence as soon as I can, but when I am still required to work full-time, I would love to do so writing software.

 

From software? Perhaps. Retiring in general? Nope. That's when you get senile and die. I'll be doing something at least part time until I finally do croak.

 

Not really, I just love what I'm doing and I think that I will do it forever. Even if it's not a full-time job I would 100% work on side projects and open source stuff.

 

I'd love to 'retire' into open source community enablement. Once I'm done writing code I'd like to advise others so that they might write better code.

 
 

I have seriously considered going back to school and becoming an academic, and not necessarily a computer science academic. I'm still not sure how I feel about doing that!

 

let's put it this way:

If I suddenly got $boatload of $cash

I'd still write code!

I guess it's in my blood to make things, to hack things, to learn things; nothing I can do about it.

 

I am working and trying to get into a PhD program next year. hopefully I can keep working while I get the degree. once I graduate Iplan to teach, mentor, and do research until I die

 

I'm 21 now I started freelancing at 15. I wanna travel the world and do enough work to take a break at 30 and reconsider all careers xD
Pretty far fetched but it's a plan

 

Personally, not really but you never know. I definitively see myself moving into something other than web development, software is a pretty broad domain.

 

It's not healthy, get out if you can.

 

Sort of. I have aspirations of being a teacher/professor in this field - does that count?

 
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I honestly can't imagine someone working as a developer for 15+ years without going completely insane. All old-timers are super weird if you think about it. Programming does that to you

 

Maybe profesionally but I can definitely see myself doing open source software development for decades to come.

 

Open source is a meme, but suit yourself

Because no one can support it for long enough. It relies on individuals and their enthusiasm which means that it is unreliable in the long term.

Projects like Gratipay (now defunct), Bountysource, and OpenCollective all tried to sprout up as a way to fund these angels who make our lives as developers less frustrating, but the generosity of other developers and million-dollar companies (who are built on these free technologies) is virtually non-existent.

Open source isn't sustainable. It's a meme big corporations are cramming down people's throats because it generates slave labor for them.

The only relevant open source anymore are these overengineered frameworks Google and Facebook release every now and then.

How about Bitcoin? Pretty impressive open source project?

Impressive, but Bitcoin wasn't built in Open Source. It was created by someone (Satoshi) and then the working codebase was released to open source.

I'm not saying that Open Source is useless. I'm just saying that most of the libraries and frameworks are not sustainable in the long run if they don't have a huge corporation backing them up. There are exceptions, of course, like, as you mentioned, Bitcoin.

You're missing the point big time. All code starts closed source. Why, because it sits on our machine if we want to be pedantic about it.
However, I have lived through and sure you have many new versions of operating systems and frameworks which renders proprietary code incompatible.
Don't even know why we are arguing over this, probably we are both right.
Happy Thursday.

 

I have mixed feelings about what we call open source today. I love it, but many large corporations have outsized influence that crowds out newcomers that can't afford to compete...making many liberally licensed projects more like faux-pen source.

 

Been in this industry 20 years...am I weird? Maybe. But I also enjoy it and I think it might stave off the Alzheimer’s...😎

 

I love the work but I'm starting to feel like I'm yesterday's news, from a different time etc. A lot of what I'm seeing now is making things that seemed simple before quite complicated under the guise of doing things "correctly". Like having pretty code and using the latest and greatest is maybe more important than the thing we're building.
I can keep up for now, but am I going to be able to keep up with 20 year olds developing the newest coolest thing when I'm 50 in ten years' time? Who knows.

 

Who said you need to work on open source projects made by big corporations? There are many successful open source project which do not depend on corporations (Rust, Firefox, even dev.to is open source). GIMP is a hugely successful open source project which does not depend on corporations too.

Also, I was talking about personal projects. I don't plan on making anything huge but to do what I love even after I leave professional field.