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'How I retired early'

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Moved to a cheaper area

Weary of Chicago winters and 60-hour workweeks, Sheri and Bill Pyle dreamed of spending their days in warmer climes. She managed the accounting department for a food manufacturer; he worked at a family-owned heating and plumbing firm.

“We wanted to quit while we’re still young enough to enjoy our lives and give back,” says Sheri.

So they sold their three-bedroom Cape Cod outside Chicago for $185,000, paid cash for a $128,000 four-bedroom ranch in Tennessee, retired a home equity line and car loan, and added $30,000 to their savings.

And though their income is less than 40% of the $126,000 they used to earn, their cost of living is so low that they can get by on their Social Security. Their property taxes plummeted from $7,000 to $500 a year. Milder winters mean their heating bills are a third of what they used to pay.