Episode 40 – The Perfect Retirement with Bryce Buchanan


Episode 40 - The Perfect Retirement with Bryce Buchanan by Astra Financial

Ready for some retirement inspiration? Listen to this tale of The Perfect Retirement with Bryce Buchanan!

I want you to hear this. I haven’t been this excited about one of my podcast episodes in a long time. Why you ask?

Because I sat down with Bryce Buchanan to talk about retirement and he is telling me all about his dreamy post-career life in Fernie 😍 Seriously, I follow him on IG and it’s all drool-worthy. He’s talking about what inspired him and his wife to move there, how they planned for it and how they’re enjoying it now.

This chat meant so much to me and I can’t wait to share it with you. 

If you’re ready to get inspired to start planning your own dream retirement and take a page out of Bryce’s book!

Show Notes for ‘The Perfect Retirement with Bryce Buchanan’:

Zena Amundsen (ZA): Hey there and welcome back. This is episode 40 and today I have a special guest. I’m going to chat with Bryce Buchanan. I’ve been following his Instagram page and drooling over his retirement fun. He’s probably rolling his eyes right now. He’s retired in my most favorite spot in the world – Fernie. You’re playing outside every day.

Thanks for agreeing to sit down inside this morning and chat.

Bryce Buchanan (BB): Thank you very much. It’s my honor. It’s great sharing Fernie with people. I’m always willing to talk about it. It’s a great place to be.

ZA: Oh, I love watching your Instagram. We have a mutual friend that connected us and I’ve been watching it and the fun that you’re having is incredible. So I wanted to have you on today just to share and also ask those questions, what led into it because you’re now retired. So tell me a little bit about yourself.

I mean like your career before retirement. Tell just a brief little story there.

BB: Sure. I’m married. I have two kids who are now 30. I’m going to actually be a grandpa in a few weeks. So that’s exciting. I was a teacher. I taught for 31 years and when I was about 42. I went back to school and got my Master’s degree in educational administration.

And so the last 10 years of my career I was an administrator in education, a principle in my last five years. I really enjoyed a great career. When I finished teaching, I actually got casual positions with WestJet and worked for WestJet for five years and then retired from WestJet. It’s almost two years ago to the day that I retired from WestJet.

So I’ve got to retire twice.

ZA: Cool. So you had a fun job after.

BB: Exactly. Yeah. The reason I applied for Westjet was I just really liked the company model. And I also was looking forward to doing something outside of education. I wanted to see what was out there right now.

I am retired, but I work so that term might be used loosely. I work two days a week from July, August, September into October, a little bit at a fly shop here in Fernie. It’s awesome. It’s a great company – The Elk River Guide and Company. It has wonderful people.

So basically, I sit around and talk fishing all day. It’s awesome. I’ve been able to connect with fly fishing, which is one of my passions and it’s one of the reasons we moved to Fernie. Fly fishing, mountain biking and skiing – it’s all literally outside our door here.

ZA: So now tell me if your wife’s on board. Have you shared those same passions. Has it been there from the beginning? Did you guys have the same path when you were thinking about retirement?

BB: We both have always enjoyed the outdoors. Linda, my wife really fell in love with mountain biking a few years ago and I think that kind of sealed the deal for the move here. She just loves it. We talked about it a lot. It was one of those things that kind of it’s been on our back burner. We’ve been coming to Fernie for probably 35 years. Most of our holidays were spent in the mountains and it was one of those things where you start going, “Maybe we need to be there full-time”. So we made that move.

It’s been about two years now. We built a house here, which we said was our forever home. We’ve learned that using the term forever home is very dangerous. But here we are, so it was planned. It kind of evolved loosely, I guess you could say.

ZA: I guess it sounds like you guys had the same vision. You had an idea that you knew you wanted to be in the mountains, so that just started to unfold. Now, do you remember some of the emotions right around retirement? Was there worry or excitement or was there stress around building a house? Do you remember if there was any big emotional kind of excitement or breakdowns that happened?

BB: Probably more, certainly more excitement than anything else. I’m very lucky in that, like I said, fly fishing and skiing I’ve got a lot of passions. Bored is not something I’ve ever really been. So retiring I wasn’t worried at all about being bored. The money piece – I think everybody wonders how that’s going to unfold. I remember I was actually in Fernie on a holiday just after retirement and my first retirement paycheck, I remember going to the bank here and going into the automated teller and I remember thinking, “What if there’s no money there?”

Then when I saw it, I was like, “Whoa, okay. This is cool.”

We’re both fortunate, both Lynn and I. My wife is a nurse. We both have pensions. We also have both worked with the financial consultant for over 30 years so we’ve also got a safety net there.

ZA: Hey, I love to hear that. So the path was already made and then confidence building came. That is so common when that first retirement income pension hits the bank, I’ve been told that there’s disbelief, like every, it takes about three or four months of, “Okay, just making sure like it’s going to be in there.”

BB: Yeah, exactly. I remember going, “Well because you get your estimates, you know what you’re getting.” But until you actually see it, you’re wondering if it’s going to be there. So yeah, it’s certainly a little bit of anxiety but much more opportunity. I think one of the things I tell my friends that are looking at retiring, is that one of the things that I’ve found most interesting was being from Saskatchewan, I was pretty traditional. It’s you got a job, got married, had kids, you worked at that job – what I’d call a traditional path and then you retire. And all of a sudden, instead of knowing what you’re going to do for 30 years, you’re like if an opportunity knocks, you can just answer the door.

I think initially I thought it was when you retire you get an easy chair and you put it in front of the TV. I’ve found retirement to be full of so many opportunities, both with what I do recreationally and also shocked at the job offers and job opportunities that come your way, if you want that or not.

Talking to friends who are retiring, they’re people that are adamant that they don’t want to work another day. And then there are people that want to supplement or just try different things. I’d put myself in to try different things.

ZA: Because you like to stay busy too.

BB: Yeah, I do. For example, in my job at the fly shop now it’s really rewarding to just be part of something. And I really enjoy that and at the same time I don’t work a whole lot and there’s flexibility built into that.

ZA: It’s unique when you are retired and if you do take on a job, if it doesn’t pan out, you can step away from it quite easily.

BB: Yeah. And so I guess I can really evaluate, do I enjoy this because you want to enjoy it, but it’s also giving you some social factor.

ZA: I can imagine you seem like a social guy. You probably have a lot of company coming to the mountains to want to come and play with you outside.

BB: I couldn’t imagine moving to a new place and actually not having that social network. Even that part-time job, that’s probably been helpful. We spent a lot of time in Fernie over the years and meeting people, so I certainly wouldn’t say we did it blindly in the sense – that we knew.

We had a good idea of what we were getting into. I think that’s an important aspect too. The fact that Linda and I talked about it as a couple, a lot, really helped. So it didn’t just happen by accident.

ZA: By visiting there, you and Linda had the conversation of, can you see yourself retiring here. Is this where we want to go?

BB: Yeah, absolutely. I always say to people asking about this, sooner is better than later. That’s my only piece of advice for that. And we really haven’t had one minute where we’ve regretted our move.

ZA: I bet you probably have a long stream of visitors coming in and planning their vacation with you in retirement.

BB: We do. I laugh. We probably had more company in the first month staying with us than we did in 50 some years in Regina.

ZA: I have a girlfriend that just moved to Invermere and they’ve had company nonstop and I’m like, “Okay I got to fit myself in the schedule and we actually do that. We said next summer we are going to plan a week or two vacations for ourselves where we’ll basically do the same things we do every day.

It’s just that we’ll be committed to other people.

So you both have defined benefit pensions, which is amazing. And so that’s that pension – just for listeners – that pays a life annuity each month, gets paid no matter what, and the beauty of it too is that you can retire anywhere and they still have to put it into your bank account.

Same with CPP and OAS. You can actually go overseas and they still have to put it into your bank. We don’t have to stay in one spot anymore, but I think that the key that I’m hearing is that you also tested it out, meaning you visited a lot and you knew and built relationships ahead of time.

Could you have seen yourself picking somewhere and going in blind and not knowing anybody or spending time there?

BB: I don’t, but it could work out great. The thing I find interesting here is I knew the lifestyle would be different from the lifestyle that we lived in Regina. It is just the nature of the environment here. The lifestyle here is so different in a great way. That, just you live in a ski town, like I’d get excited about skiing. People are trembling here already. The first snowflake brings incredible joy and the fact that we are just outside constantly here, including the winter. The fact that we knew that coming in has really helped and we intentionally picked Fernie. We had connections here. We spent time here and it had what we wanted. A key part of that was Linda and I talking about it and chasing our passions.

One of the things we were very lucky about is that we were already mountain biking. We fly fished. We skied. So the transition to that was easy. I’ll sometimes hear people say, “When I retire, I’m going to start mountain biking”.

You certainly can, but the sooner you start, the more you’ll be able to enjoy retirement.

ZA: Oh, I love that. And I’m a firm believer of that, and I’ll be honest, I’ve got many years until retirement by choice, but I’m already trying out hobbies and I think that’s that key piece is, keeping yourself busy. What do you enjoy doing? And then carrying that on. Starting something in retirement might be great, but it’d be really hard to stick to it. So I love that.

BB: And I think having passions, I think like you said, trying stuff, having passions, I think that’s critical not only for retirement, but for everything that you do. I think that busy people will enjoy retirement more, if that makes sense. If your passion is quilting and then you retire and you get the quilt more, that’s fantastic. You know exactly how you spend your time.

ZA: That makes total sense. Do you know anybody that has had a hard transition into retirement finding themselves or their purpose? It sounds like your transition was not hard at all.

BB: No, it was pretty easy. I’ve been retired now from my main career for over seven years, which flew by. It’s amazing, like every now and then I’m like, holy seven years, it’s remarkable.

I have one or two friends I have been watching as they enter retirement. They have had some challenges like health issues. They’ve had other issues, not necessarily financial issues or anything like that, just health issues. I think that your health is the one piece that you don’t know how that’s going to go.

BB: Financially I always kinda thought to myself that money is the piece of the puzzle that I’m most in control of. We’re fortunate now. As I said, we have our defined benefits, pension plans. We also invested some money and do have a little nest egg. And that nest egg really helps us.

It gives us confidence in what we’re doing and peace of mind. And I think that really helped us to do this. So I look at it and the issues that I’ve seen with people who’ve retired have been health-related not financial. And again, to me, that’s just yet another one of those signs that sooner is better than later.

ZA: Yeah, you’re exactly right. Health is our biggest wealth. We feel like in our twenties, we can’t even imagine being 40, heaven forbid even thinking about retirement. In your thirties, it’s the same thing – I’ve got time, I’ve got time.

Then, 45 hits. Oh my God. How did I not think about this before? I really need to amp this up. It’s thinking about it ahead of time because that planning is exactly how you built your nest egg. It doesn’t happen overnight. That’s something that happens over time with habits, great advice and an advisor.

You brought up such a great point that it’s also planning our health, meaning, if you wait until you retire to start to get healthy, it’s too late, so part of that whole planning in retirement also has to include that health piece and making sure that we can stay healthy and fit so that when we do all the right things and plan to retire at a great age. Sooner is better than later.

BB: Oh, that is such a great point that I had completely forgotten in our conversation. Yeah. As part of our pension plan too, we do have medical and dental insurance, which has really helped us too. And again, those things are the pieces that bring peace of mind.

They’re something that you don’t think about because they’re there. Then it’s nice to not think about those. And it’s nice that after your career, you can carry on and convert those.

The opportunities are here. It’s funny. Like me skiing, for example, Some friends here that I ski with that have lived here a long time. You follow them around the mountain a little bit. Last year I skied 63 days and we didn’t necessarily have our best snow year either.

I don’t know if I skied 63 days a year in the 10 years leading up to that. Another unique thing in Fernie is you’re surrounded by people who get up in the morning and will do a hike. For most people, this is the trip they’re going to do in the summer.

These people do it before they go to work in the morning. I can’t get over it. We took my nephews – who are quite young – river rafting and our guide was a young woman. I was like, tell me your typical day.

ZA: I was exhausted listening to it, but you’re in the right place for that, so it’s sure gonna be a good thing. You guys have defined benefit pensions, so sock it to them. If you’re going to live till 100, you’re going to get every penny worth.

BB: I joke that one of my goals is to collect a pension for longer than I contributed to it. It goes by really fast. It’s quite shocking.

ZA: I’ll wind it up. Any suggestions for people wanting to live their best retirement? I’ve already heard some gold here from you. But any last kind of words of wisdom?

BB: I would say the big one is talking. Really sitting down and having a concrete discussion with your significant other, if you have one and also with yourself. Really ask yourself, what do I want to do? The earlier, the sooner you start thinking about that, the better.

When I started teaching, I’ve got to say, I wasn’t thinking about a pension plan. I just wanted a job – so that one was fluky. But starting to build that nest egg, taking a look at what I wanted…it’s also shocking looking at your spending habits. Thinking about the kind of a lifestyle you want, having those honest discussions with yourself and honestly asking what you’re going to need.

Whether it be financially where I’m at, what I’m doing with my significant other, I think just really talking to yourself, to your spouse a lot and to other professionals a lot and other people that have done it. I think talking to financial consultants, getting advice, starting that planning and other pieces that involve putting some money away early has really helped us.

ZA: Yeah. So you didn’t have to dip into your plans.

BB: But just talking about it. I think that and embracing just what retirement can be. It’s really an open book, like you can decide and it’s so individual it’s exciting. Embrace it that way. Like in the, I think the best way to make it exciting is to try as much as you can, as early as you can to get rid of the anxiety.

ZA: Great. The things you can turn control, control them, the ones you can let them go for the ride. Bryce, I love it. You are my retirement goal. Next time I’m down there, I’m going to chase you down in the river and throw a rod in with you.

BB: Please do. We can sit on the deck and discuss this further with some kind of refreshment in our hand.

ZA: That always makes everything clear too.

BB: Thanks, please come out. You’re most welcome.

ZA: Thanks for chatting today. If you want to follow Bryce – I’m going to give your Instagram handle. Is that okay? It’s @bryce_on_tour and you’ve got great photos. I love watching you.