Seniors are trading in their rocking chairs for bicycles and golf carts. No longer content to just live peacefully, today’s seniors demand more from retirement—more fun, more adventure, more meaning, and more chances to thrive and grow. The average retirement lasts 18 years. That’s plenty of time to accomplish a wide range of goals. You’re going to be retired for a long time, so you might as well pick up some new hobbies.
Hobbies are more than just a way to will away the hours. The right hobbies may help you live longer and healthier. Here are 10 great ideas for how to spend your retirement.
Go Back to School
Whether you already had a great college experience or your higher education goals were sidelined by the demands of daily life, your senior years are a great time to get a degree or finish one you started. When you’re working and raising kids, the prospect of going to school can feel exhausting.
Now that you're retired, you have more time. That means you can devote yourself to your studies without stress, and maybe even become a star student. Many community colleges and state universities offer discounts to seniors. Others allow seniors to audit classes for free.
There’s no time like now to see the world around you. You don’t have kids whining in the backseat or a boss telling you that you better not take any vacation time, so pack up and go. Some great options for traveling on a budget include:
- Buying or renting a mobile home and traveling the country.
- Camping in various national parks. Seniors can purchase a lifetime pass to America’s national parks for just $80.
- Trading spaces. Try trading houses or condos with friends in other cities or countries.
- Home sharing. Sites like Airbnb and VRBO offer cheaper lodging options than traditional hotels and resorts.
Now’s the time to enjoy all the outdoor living fun you thought you’d never get around to. You don’t have to be a pioneer to spend some time outside. Some great options include:
- Build a garden, or expand the one you already have. Gardening is also a great social activity. Join a garden club or attend local gardening meetups or sweed swaps.
- Brush up on outdoor skills. Take an outdoor survival class or a course on medicinal herbs, or learn how to fish for the first time.
- Try an outdoor sport. Golf is low-intensity enough for most seniors. You can start with an easy course, then steadily build up to more intense greens as you build skill and stamina.
- Get a pet and enjoy the great outdoors with them. A rescued mutt from the local pound might love hiking and fishing with you.
- Plan a few outdoor activities, such as a camping trip with family, a weekly picnic with the neighbors, or a monthly scavenger hunt.
- Go geocaching. It’s a great way to get outside and make new friends. You can do it alone or as part of a larger geocaching group.
Getting outside is an easy, low-stress way to get more exercise—without the gym and without boring weights or aerobics videos. Exercise remains important well into your senior years. It can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia, slow the progression of conditions such as diabetes, and even prevent depression. So find something you love, and find a way to get moving.
Have a Second Career Doing Something You Love
Brush up on skills for your dream job by taking a pottery class, investing in a writing workshop, or taking a public speaking class. Then turn your side gig into cash. You can sell art on Etsy, become a freelance writer, or just join a group of like-minded hobbyists.
When you’re raising a family, working, or both, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the volunteer projects you can’t tackle. Whether it’s registering people to vote for the first time or showing up at the local soup kitchen, giving back requires time. Find a volunteer project that suits your interests and ideology. Volunteermatch and The United Way are great places to find the perfect volunteer project.
Learn a New Skill
Learning new skills takes time and effort. Maybe that’s why you never picked up the guitar or mastered Spanish. With more time now, you can invest in yourself and master new skills. Check your community college’s course catalog for ideas, or invest in private lessons. Learning a new skill can serve you well for the rest of your life. Remaining mentally active and challenging your brain improves health and may lower the risk of dementia.
Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
Don’t just do things that feel easy. Life is more fun with a little uncertainty. Remember that first rush of romance? You can get a similar surge from trying something new. A little risk goes a long way toward making your retirement feel more meaningful and more adventurous.
Getting out of your comfort zone can introduce you to a new world you might never have discovered. Intellectual challenges promote long-term health by reducing the risk of dementia. The right challenge can also keep you more socially active. This can help prevent loneliness, which research increasingly ties to a greater risk of premature death.
Try joining a Toastmasters group to brush up on public speaking, or talk to that friendly-looking stranger at work. Anything that feels a bit uncomfortable can inject a little excitement into your retirement.
Meet New People
You’re never too old to make new friends. Whether you’re 7 or 70, relationships are the cornerstone of a meaningful life. So invest in some new friendships—or, if you’re on the market, new romance. Some great ways to meet new people include:
- Joining online groups for local hobbies. This way, you can chat with locals before you meet them.
- Participating in events at your local senior center.
- Attending seminars on topics that interest you.
- Joining a Meetup group.
- Chatting up people who seem interesting. A little risk can mean a big reward. So get to know that bookseller or barista who seems a little bored in their own retirement.
- Join a senior adventure group dedicated to travel, wine, or local excursions.
- Go on a senior cruise.
Leave Behind a Financial Legacy
You’ve spent years, perhaps even decades, planning for retirement. Now that it’s here, it’s important to live within your means. The financial decisions you make now can affect the legacy you leave behind. With wise investing, a little penny-pinching, and a little luck, your savings can outlive you. That can mean a chance to make a difference in the life of someone else.
The right estate attorney can help you make decisions that protect your assets and ensure you don’t outlive them. For help, consider contacting the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Planning for the future of your estate can feel daunting, but consider what you might be able to do with your money with a little planning:
- Help a family member achieve financial independence.
- Leave a gift behind for a child or grandchild.
- Help a loved one start a business, get married, buy a home, or leave an abusive relationship.
- Donate to a charity.
- Leave behind a trust to help a less fortunate person.
- Fund the arts or another hobby you love.
Live More Luxuriously
One of retirement’s best-kept secrets is that you can actually live a very luxurious retirement for less. Senior living offers an all-in-one approach to retirement that blends gourmet dining and plenty of activities, classes, and outings with gorgeous homes, lush landscaping, and amenities such as pools and tennis courts.
Senior living frees you from the burdens, expense, and unpredictability of home ownership. Selling your home can also give you more money to invest, enjoy, or leave behind. So consider transitioning from frugal living to a predictable monthly expense that funds true luxury.
The Arbor Company has served seniors across the nation for three decades. We are honored to serve you, too. We offer a continuum of care, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care, that allows you to age in place.
We believe that retirement is what you make it, and we know how to make it spectacular. We keep you busy and help make this chapter your most meaningful yet. To learn more, stop by one of our locations for an event or give us a call.