Life after retirement is easily stereotyped, with jokes about slippers and walking frames the norm. However it’s a brave new world and today’s retirees are more often than not living the best version of their lives so far. Especially the baby boomers who, although in theory should be around the traditional retirement age right now; in actual fact retired more than a decade ago and are busier than ever with a couple of decades worth of plans and projects still ahead of them. Downsizing your home and your old life does not have to be a time of painful adjustment, especially when it is so filled with opportunity and possibility.
The kind of retirement activities each of us choose will be wildly different – one person’s knitting and whisky group is another person’s rock climbing group after all. There are plenty of options that will suit most people, whilst providing support and sustenance. One of the benefits of taking up new activities in retirement is that you can make choices that support you, both personally and financially, as you live out the final chapter of your story – from here on known as ‘the best days of your life’.
Many retirees underestimate the sheer amount of valuable knowledge they have to offer the next generation. Teaching is a great way to ‘softly retire’, for those struggling to leave the fast paced world of full time employment. It’s not only intellectually stimulating and something you can spend decent time and effort on, you can also choose to teach things you are passionate about which may reawaken your long dormant interest in those topics. From cabinet making to singing lessons, European history to digital photography or business marketing, there are numerous ways your skills can be used at local community centres, TAFEs, universities or even from your spare room. Establishing new routines and having things to be excited about and look forward to is important once you leave the workforce. Teaching is a great solution as it gives you time out of the house, time being productive at home and a nice bit of extra pocket money too.
You may have existing connections in your local community, but if you have been heavily entrenched in the workforce you may not. You will need to create new routines in your life now that you have so much extra time on your hands. Volunteering is a great way to tick both of those boxes and offers plenty of other benefits at the same time. Giving back to your community is just one of them. Volunteering can provide flexible regular work, to keep you physically and mentally active, without the obligations of a traditional job. Volunteering does not just mean selling cardigans in an op shop anymore either. It could be dropping off library books to the elderly, planting trees, running community arts and cultural festivals, or organising fundraisers such as quiz nights or sporting matches. The added bonuses are you’ll get to meet new people, make new friends and have people you can rely on in your times of need too.
3. Become a property tycoon
Despite no longer earning an income, you now have a different set of resources to manage, related to your financial future. From the sale of the family home to superannuation, payouts, pensions, insurances and more, the total sum of cash you have at your disposal can be terrifyingly under expectations, or more than you had dreamed possible. Property investment is a great way of securing capital and establishing income streams, as well as enjoying regular windfalls if the market behaviour is in your favour. Plus, becoming a retirement property tycoon keeps many a retiree fully engaged with life. It may have been something you never had time for before, but now you have all the time in the world to focus on your interests. You can start by making friends with a local real estate agent, who will gladly hold your hand while you learn, or do some local property investment courses to get up to speed on the possibilities.
4. Become your own personal travel agent
Guess what! One day is finally here and you can finally go and see the Pyramids of Giza, or the Eiffel Tower, or the Sahara Desert! Those things you’ve looked longingly at on your bucket list for all these years, are now firmly within your reach – as long as you plan and budget well. Say goodbye to squeezing 2 weeks of fun into 8 days of leave – you have all the time in the world now to go where you want, when you want. So why not get out the calendar and schedule your travel for the whole year? It not only means you get to see and do what you want at the best time of year, it also means you can budget for everything and book well in advance for better deals, if you know ahead of time where you plan to be.
Put family obligations into your schedule first, such as birthdays, Easter, Christmas and weddings. Then educate yourself on what happens when, as your bucket list dictates. You may want to be in Adelaide for the Fringe and WOMAD in March, or in Sydney for Vivid in June. Major international attractions that may be on your wish list include Chinese New Year celebrations in Asia (January/February), Carnevale in Venice (February) and Rio de Janeiro (before Lent), Holi in India (March), St Patrick’s Day in Dublin (March), Cherry Blossom season in Japan (April to May), White Nights Festival in Russia (May to July), Burning Man in Nevada (August), Oktoberfest in Germany (September - yes really) and of course summer in Australia (December to February).
Though the inclination may be to spend up big and make your dreams come true, the challenge of trying to get the best deal possible can quickly become a passion. Finding great travel deals, researching destinations and working out ideal budgets for all of your annual travel (and each individual trip within that) will fill hours and hours and HOURS of your retirement, we promise.
5. Join a club and keep fit
One of the most important things you can do for yourself in your retirement is to stay active. We all have our own personal relationship with exercise and though some of us can’t be without the daily burn of a jog, there are as many of us who think changing channels is exercise enough. However, whatever level of fitness you have and would like to achieve, there is some kind of activity for everyone. Joining a local club can help get you into the swing of things – the Heart Foundation has free local walking networks around the country, or become a regular at your local pool for some aqua classes or just a gentle swim each week. You’re never too old for the gym, with many clubs offering specialised classes for older members now and there are plenty of seniors leagues for many sporting codes too – just check with your local council. Joining a club is one of the most popular retirement activities. It keeps you socially and physically active which in practical terms means you won’t die alone, and hopefully not for a really long time.