Way back in 2007, I sat in a classroom taking real estate courses through JY Monk, and, among many other bits of wisdom, I remember Kim Stotesbury telling us once we get our real estate license, no matter how long we may go on inactive status, to never let it expire. She said something to the effect of "Even if you're in a coma, make sure someone pays your license renewal fees every year".
After taking time off from real estate before my son was born in 2010, I did this. For several years, even though my career went in another direction and I worked in digital marketing and then automotive sales, I continued paying my yearly dues.
Then, in 2018 a combination of ADHD, forgetfulness, and figuring I'd finish out my career working at the family-owned car dealership I found myself at, I let my license expire. I didn't figure I'd have a need for it again because I liked the car business and it didn't leave much room for another job. Besides, I could still take some CE classes and get it back without too much trouble as long as I did so within 3 years.
About three years and 6 months after I let my license expire, the dealership I loved working at so much was sold and brought it more in line with the norms of the car business - working 9 to 9, no more early days off on Saturday, and removing the flexibility I'd had for my son's appointments and meetings with the school. I realized that what was best for my family did not fit with the norms of that business, so I decided to leave the dealership world and return to real estate.
Of course, I let that darn license stay expired too long, so I had to go all the way back through real estate school, pre- and post-licensing courses, and taking the exam all over again. It probably was helpful, because it was a very in-depth "refresher course" on the current laws and business, and a lot has changed in 15 years.
But I hope anyone reading this saves their future self a lot of time and money and, once you have your license, never let it expire because it is a beast to get back.