101 Things To Look Forward To In Retirement

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Retirement is more than just the finish line of your working years; it is the starting pistol of your glorious retirement years. Whether you’re already in retirement or just dreaming, it’s time to plan about what to do in retirement.

Many people think they’ll just live a life of leisure and relax after working for so long. The thing is, you have been working for so long you’re used to the activity. These people find they last six months, maybe a year just “taking it easy.” They then look around and say “now what?” They need to know what to do in retirement other than sleeping in—not that there's anything wrong with that.

We’ve compiled an extensive list for you to consider as you’re thinking about what to do in retirement. Your retirement years can be even more fulfilling than your working years. You’ve put in the hard work, now you get to focus on what you love and discovering new and interesting interests and activities you enjoy.

Imagining Retirement

You’re sitting at your desk on a Monday morning dreaming of retiring. What exactly are you imagining? There are hobbies you can read about or start in your 30s and 40s seeing if they take hold by the time you reach retirement. You can plan trips, join groups, and take outings based on hobbies you’ve grown to love.

Astronomy

Something we all do is look up at the sky at night. Impress your friends by knowing what you’re looking at. This will give you an idea if you’d like to pursue astronomy in your retirement. If you live in a light-polluted city, this is a great reason to get out of the city a few weekends a year.

Cooking

We don’t mean throwing together something on a Tuesday night but really cooking. Watch a fancy cooking show on a food network or take a free or low-cost course at a kitchen accessories store or a local college. Think of the parties you can throw in retirement. You can also pass these skills on to your kids and grandkids.

Photography

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If you get the basics of lighting and perspective down now, you can take award-winning pictures during your travels in retirement. You can join photography clubs no matter where you are after you retire.

Restoring Cars

Think of a car you’d love to restore, then keep an eye out for a broken-down version of one and buy it if you’ve got room to store it. Slowly research and buy new parts for it. Over time, it won’t seem as expensive. Once you retire, after all your research, you’ll be ready to build your dream car.

Chess

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A big complaint people have in retirement is not keeping their minds as active as they were during their working years. Chess is not only a way to keep the wheels turning but it can be social. There are chess clubs for every level and age. You can also just have a weekly standing chess date with a buddy in a park.

Become An Art Buff

Why not research classic artists or architects? This could be a great way to flex those muscles as you travel in retirement. Imagine how exciting it will be to see pieces of art you’ve been admiring for years up close. You can also do architecture tours around the country or world.

Learn A New Language

Think about where you’d like to travel and learn the language of that region. You can join clubs for the language you’ve chosen. This works parts of your brain you don't tap into often. Some studies even show that learning a second language can help lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Questions To Ask Yourself

Whether you’re a decade away from retirement or already there. There are important questions to ask yourself to help you decide what to do in retirement.

What Do You Picture Retirement To Look Like?

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This is a big one. It’s a good idea to make a list. If you see yourself having an active retirement, what activities do you imagine that including? On the other hand, if you want a life of leisure, what does that look like?

If you’re married, ask your spouse for lists too to make sure you’re either on the same page or work on ways to meld the two lists together. If you have friends you travel with now, what will that look like in retirement?

Kids

Another important factor is your children. Some of you may have to include them in your retirement both financially and physically until they become adults. How will you alter your retirement to include them?

Grandkids often play a big role in retirement. Will you consider moving closer to grown children? Maybe you can save now to include your grandkids in some travel or hobbies. Make lists of how you’d like your kids and grandkids to fit into your lives. This is often the most fulfilling part of retirement.

Where Do You Want To Go?

And how long do you want to stay there? Travel is one of the greatest things to do in retirement you didn’t always get to while you were working. Maybe you took a trip to a place you absolutely loved but had to cut it short due to work or scheduled commitments. Go back and stay longer. Write it down.

What Do You Want To Enhance In Your Life?

And what do you want less of? This answer is important and one that will probably change over time. The things you value will evolve, so will your desire to spend more time on them. Right now repairs around the house may seem like a burden but the closer you get to retirement you might start to see projects you’d like to take on.

You may have always wanted to try a year without TV. Well, you can do that too. Whatever you want more or less of, write it down. Once you call attention to this, you’ll see things pop up that you’ll want to add to the list.

Where Do You Want To Live?

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A lot of factors can be at play here. If you’ve always wanted to get away from the cold, you can pick a warmer climate. If you’ve lived in sunny California, your whole life you may want to live somewhere that enjoys all four seasons.

Don’t limit yourself here. It may seem too expensive to live on the water but it doesn’t have to be. If you have to trade the Pacific ocean for a scenic little lake, you still have water.

If you want to live near family, make those plans now. It doesn’t hurt to check real estate in towns or neighborhoods near your kids or other family members. It’ll give you a good idea of what may be available when you’re ready to make the move.

Retirement Communities

If you want to be around more people who will be in the same position as you, consider a retirement community. There are gated communities peppered all over the country for people 55 and over. These communities offer:

  • Houses designed with seniors in mind—those stairs aren’t bothering you… yet
  • Safety and security—neighbors will check on you and the gate is guarded
  • A community of your peers—this makes social gatherings just as beneficial as when all your friends had kids the same age as yours
  • Amenities—pools, golf courses, neighborhood parks, and activities keep you active and busy
  • Less maintenance—many communities take care of yard work and have staff on site to take care of other needs you may have

Will You Downsize?

Your preference for the size of your house can change over time. In your 30s and 40s, you may have just moved into the large home of your dreams. In retirement your nest may be empty so who wants to clean those extra rooms? You may not be able to navigate a lot of stairs the way you used to.

Another benefit to downsizing is cashing out equity. If you’ve paid off a lot of your home and sell it, you can invest what's left after buying a smaller version of your house. This could afford you more money to do the things you’ve already written down.

Will You Work After You Retire?

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Wait, what? Yes, believe it or not, this is something people want to do in retirement. Whether it’s staying social, active, or continuing to bring in extra money, what would you like it to look like?

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being a valet so you can drive spiffy cars, working in your favorite restaurant—hello free food—or working with flowers at a nursery. You can do any odd job you’ve always wanted to try.

What Does Your Bucket List Look Like?

There’s no time like the present to write down all the things you’d like to check off before you check out. Once you have this working list started, it’ll tell you if you’re leaning towards an active or leisurely retirement. You can plan around this list and save or train for it now.

What About Money?

We saved the best question for last. Money will determine some of your answers to what to do in retirement. It’s a good idea to meet with a financial planner if you haven’t already. Do your research about which questions you’d like to ask and come prepared to talk about your current finances.

Ask around and see if any of your friends and family have someone they work with that’s done well for them and they trust. Financial advisors are one of those industries where a referral is your best bet. If not, just read reviews online about local people you’d like to meet with.

What To Do In Retirement

The time is here, you’ve retired and now you really need to know what to do in retirement. The answer is anything you want. That’s also the problem. There are so many choices of what to do in retirement it can be overwhelming.

One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is, don't be afraid to try new things. You never know how the world can open if you take a chance. If you try new things in retirement, you won’t get “stuck” or feel bored. Let’s get started with the best ideas for what to do in retirement.

Come Up With A Morning Routine

When you’re wondering what to do in retirement a great morning routine is a great first step. Here are ideas for a morning routine:

  • A morning walk—doing this with your spouse can make you closer
  • Read a chapter out of a self-help or how-to book
  • Practice something—an instrument, language, sport—for 15 minutes
  • Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for—a great way to start the day off positively
  • Stretch—this will keep your joints limber and your muscles loose

Whatever your routine is, you’ll start to rely on it. It will kick your day off in a way that’s designed just for you. You’re not hustling to work anymore, so do something for yourself. Adjust this when you want and as time allows but don’t give it up. You’re worth the investment.

Learn Something

Now is the time to learn those things you would learn “someday.” As you’re figuring out what to do in retirement, learning something can play a big role in your answer. Here are great places to find inspiration when you want to find a topic that interests you:

  • Books—good old-fashioned books are great to reference back to as you learn increasingly more on a topic
  • YouTube—you can find anything here from a simple how-to, to more involved step-by-step instructions on almost any topic
  • Podcasts—do a little research to find a channel or particular podcast to get different points of view on your chosen topic
  • Travel to the source—if you’re learning about making wine, visit a regional winemaking area and ask for a tour

Get Outside

Most of us spent our working lives inside, so now is a great time to get in touch with nature. This can be simple or extensive. You decide. So, this answers the question what to do in retirement outside. Here are options:

  • Build a small garden in your backyard
  • Plant and prune rose bushes in your front yard
  • Join a walking or hiking club
  • Play outdoor games with your grandkids like corn hole, badminton, and croquet
  • Plan picnics and parties outdoors
  • Take up fishing or boating
  • Try your hand at birdwatching
  • Join an outdoor sports team or coach a team if you’re qualified

Volunteer

Think about what values are important to you and give back. There’s an organization for just about any passion you have and can take up enough time you won’t be asking what to do in retirement anymore. Here are some volunteering opportunities near you:

  • Local political campaigns
  • Begin a forum or group in your area of expertise and teach others at a senior center or library
  • Pet shelters need dog walkers, socializers, and other volunteers
  • If you can sew, local theaters can put your skills to good use
  • Take part in your local Chamber of Commerce at business events
  • Join a highway or park clean-up committee or event
  • Volunteer to help the hearing or visually impaired
  • Local libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools always need volunteers

There are always opportunities to give back once you’ve retired. You get to decide how much or how little time you devote to volunteering.

Travel

Yes! What people most look forward to is all yours now. So what to do in retirement just got a lot more interesting. Here are tips and tricks to get the most out of your travel, where to go, what to do and how to get discounts:

  • Visit family and friends near and far—you might be able to stay with them, saving you some money
  • Check sites like Hopper and Airfare Watchdog to find the best prices on travel and new travel ideas
  • Sometimes renting a house through a site like Airbnb is cheaper than a hotel because you’ll get a kitchen and that will save you money in eating out
  • Check for group trips at a library or senior center—these score big discounts
  • Always ask for a senior discount and join a club like AAA to get more
  • Travel with another couple or friend who can split the costs with you

Hobbies

Remember those things you took a liking to when you were younger? Now is the time to realize those hobbies and get the most out of life. Fix up that car, speak Italian, and cook a gourmet meal every Saturday. You’ve got the time now.

Conclusion

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The world is your oyster when you retire. The biggest question is what to do in retirement and now you can see the possibilities are endless. Whether you’ve saved a little money or a lot, there are still activities and choices that will make your retirement fulfilling and exciting. You’ve already put in the hard work—now live it up.

Happy Retirement!

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