Came across a neat, thought-provoking post about how to define retirement titled the Five Minute Retirement Plan on the The Financial Philosopher blog. His definition - doing what he wants, when he wants, within reason - has a lot of merit. It isn't age-dependent, it doesn't rely on a specific level of wealth or income. And his admonition not to blindly accept his, or anyone else's definition, to make up your own, has even more merit.
Indeed, these days, I wonder what to answer on the immigration arrival cards when flying back and forth between Canada and the UK because I have not been working in a job but don't rule that out. And what would happen if thousands upon thousands of people defined retirement as our friend above does because they do what they want when they want? Would travel statistical systems go haywire (what do they use that information for, anyway?)? At some point, would authorities get concerned and charge people with providing false information - immigration officer: "retired, huh? let's see, you also checked that the purpose of your visit was business, how could that be? please step aside, we'd like to ask you a few more questions, if you don't mind." ... tasers ready! shunt to suspicious person queue.
So what is my definition of retirement? "The time when I rely on various passive sources of income (government payments and private investments), as opposed to active work (though that may still occur, but by choice), to pay my living expenses with the confidence that I will not run out of money till I am at least 120 years old doing my current activities and pastimes." Unlike The Financial Philosopher I prefer to define retirement directly rather than indirectly in financial
terms. His definition is a little too general, too much of a philosophy of life, albeit a good one, that can apply at any age and under any circumstances. If the definition doesn't provide a distinction between retired and not-retired, then it isn't too useful.
What's your definition of retirement?