"We spend more time clicking 'like' than we do planning for retirement."
It was a Prudential investment planning billboard that snapped me out of my head and back to reality—a sad, sardonic chuckle escaping my mouth as I read it aloud. Too true.
Prudential got it totally right, at least for me personally (and statistically, for most Americans): Even as I stare 40 in the face, I've probably spent far more time daydreaming about what it would be like to retire early than I have actually sitting down and saving for it. As a journalist in the digital age, no doubt I spend an inordinate amount of time on social media — and even as a former budget lifestyle magazine publisher, not nearly enough time on financial planning.
According to a recent poll by Business Insider and MSN, millennials aren't saving nearly enough for retirement — and bottom-half-Gen-Xers like me are faring even more poorly — yet more than half of our combined cohort (or up to 67 percent of Americans currently between the ages of 18 and 44) said they want to quit the working world at or before age 65.
Popularized by the "hacking" movement brought on by technology, and best-selling author/podcasters like Tim Ferriss (of The 4-Hour Workweek), the idea of "working smarter, not harder" and getting to a place where you could conceivably find work-life balance — maybe even retire early — has become a sort of modern mantra. It's even seemed potentially attainable at times for a growing number of people around the world.
If you're willing to pick up and move — possibly outside of your comfort zone, to a city where you may not know a single soul — then Forbes has found early retirement isn't so much of a pipe dream.
This month they published a list of the 10 Best Cities If You Want to Retire Early — and the results are pretty much as expected. Nowhere on the coasts made the list, nor did larger, more popular (some might say hipster) cities. With three locations in Tennessee (including the top spot), three places in Texas, plus one each in Arkansas and Mississippi, the South is where it (it being early retirement) is at.
Here's a look at the ones on top:
1. Knoxville, TN
2. Memphis, TN; Sherman, TX; Benton Harbor, MI (tie)
3. Wichita Falls, TX; Jonesboro, AR (tie)
To see the full list of cities, and the methodology behind how they were chosen, head to Forbes.com.