We have been retired for a few years now and are enjoying retirement and an active lifestyle immensely. So what I would like to do here is present what I think are 37 or so great ideas for an active retirement.
Clearly everyone’s circumstances differ, so some or none of these suggestions may suit you. But if nothing here particularly grabs you, I hope these ideas can at least inspire you to come up with your own list more in line with your particular preferences. In general the list aims to be gender-neutral but some suggestions may have a bias in the actual real world for one reason or another.
We’ll start with a list of 37, the result of an hour or so’s contemplation. And the goal is to exceed 50 over time.
With that, here’s the list so far, with links to a short paragraph about each one further down in the post.
- Local Beauty Spots
- Local History
- Home Office
- Cafés and Restaurants
- Wet Weather Gear
- Travelling Highlight
- Local Bird and Animal Life
- Visiting Roster
- Coffee Meetup Group
- Networking Group
- Learn a Language
- Radio Amateur
- Moon Phases
- Book Club
- Wine or Cider Making
- Old Photographs
- Exercise Group
- School Past Pupils
- House Swaps
- Classic Board Games
- Local Attractions
- College Alma Mater
- Golf Tennis
1. Local Beauty Spots
Pick out a few of the best local beauty spots for frequenting, maybe three or four if available. Ideally these would be outdoors but there may also be some suitable indoor locations. Indoors would be ideal where weather is a consideration. Your beauty spots can be for walking, sitting, reading and maybe using your smartphone for photographing some of the flora, insects, etc. [back…]
2. Local History
Research and publish your interpretation and account of your local history. Or perhaps a historical topic of interest in your locality that you are passionate about or in which you are particularly well informed. I know of others who after quite a few years of collecting information about local history, people, etc. have gone the whole hog and published popular books about it all. So the sky’s the limit with this! More details here. [back…]
3. Home Office
Simply an inviting, comfortable, efficient, well-lit space to set up your desk, chair and other ancillaries like computer, printer, etc. A dedicated space suitable for reading, writing, researching, and investigating matters. A creative, constructive space to go about planning and implementing a wonderfully active retirement. I wrote a recent blog post about the home office here. [back…]
4. Cafés and Restaurants
Maintaining social links and developing new ones are key in retirement, especially active retirement. So my recommendation is to suss out three or four cafés and restaurants that you enjoy and are fairly convenient to reach. Become a ‘known’ face of faces there, make an effort to get on first name terms with the waiting staff, managers and owners if possible. Make them feel appreciated and that they are an important part of your life! [back…]
5. Wet Weather Gear
Not everywhere has ideal weather conditions all year round. So get a good set of wet weather gear and have it at the ready so that you can enjoy the different seasons in your beauty spots from suggestion 1. Really, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear! Buy quality gear, it will serve you better in the long run. There are endless online sources of advice. Here is a source for rain jackets, and advice on waterproof walking boots here. [back…]
Get going on a hobby or two, maybe resurrected from younger days. The possibilities are too many to consider here and our choices would be specific to our particular interests and experience. Make a list, assign pros and cons to each possibility and work from there. [back…]
7. Travelling Highlight
Make plans for an annual or twice annual travelling highlight. It can be anywhere that’s of interest. Distance and expense shouldn’t be the defining parameters. For example, one of our highlights was going back and re-walking the Camino stage where we met more than 10 years ago now, and it was just wonderful!
Another example, Rick even takes people offshore sailing and the only cost to them during the adventure is their own food. See here.
The photo to the left was taken while overflying Peniche, just north of Lisbon. Some fabulous places to see along the Portuguese coast too. [back…]
Find a suitable charity or volunteer group to support with your help and involvement. Some judgement needed here as unfortunately no one individual can solve the world’s problems. So it’s important to limit your involvement to something of interest where you can make a difference without taking the world’s problems on your shoulders. [back…]
9. Local Bird and Animal Life
It’s amazing how adaptable birds and small wild animals can be. Investigate, identify and learn about what has adapted to the habitat around you. Maybe there is a park nearby that can be the centre of your investigations. Insect life can also be a fascinating study. Inexpensive spotter scopes are available on Amazon and they are wonderful for getting close up to the action. [back…]
10. Visiting Roster
Get a visiting roster with dates and contact numbers going for your closest family and friends, and with their involvement. Circulate it to them and ask them to let everyone know about any changes. Keep it simple, straightforward and inexpensive so that nobody feels under excessive pressure. Not necessary for the whole group to meet every time, but if they can, great! [back…]
Develop a cooking repertoire of dishes you like and can share with family and friends, and possibly be the basis for a dinner party. [back…]
Start a journal. This should be a good-quality hard-backed notebook. I find A5 to be the most suitable size. Index your journal entries well. The journal can be used for entries like things you want to do, subjects you want to investigate, books you want to read, etc. Index your journal well. [back…]
13. Coffee Meetup Group
Start a local coffee meetup group for people you enjoy spending time with. There’s usually a café or two that are convenient and make the best coffee and pastries in the area. Where we live this has obviously long been part of the culture. It is a great way to keep up with friends, old and new. [back…]
Anyone reading this online certainly has computer and Internet skills. There are so many possibilities that can be exploited by retirees, via either desktop, laptop or smartphones. Managing banking and finances, starting and running social media special interest groups, getting into the weeds of coding, computer networks, web applications or smartphone apps, special hiking trail and cycling apps such as Wikiloc, ViewRanger, Strava, making and editing videos. and so on. Technology can be applied advantageously to so many aspects of life. It’s worth surveying the technology landscape to see what might fit our circumstances.
15. Networking Group
Networking groups are a great idea to get like-minded people together and enlarge one’s list of contacts. Many people will have a large circle of people they have worked with or associated with one way or another. The context can be either business or leisure. Each of these people will have another circle that we don’t know. So start a business or leisure networking group with your own circle and invite members to expand it through their circles. [back…]
16. Learn a Language
Just about every list simply suggests learning a language. I would qualify that by saying choose a language that has an incentive and advantages for you to learn, and that you have an opportunity to practise and use. Not just learning a vocabulary list. Practise is vital to even basic proficiency. [back…]
17. Radio Amateur
Also known as ‘Ham Radio’. This is a specialised subject, expensive, and worth considering if one has some kind of communications electronics background or interest. It is also an obscure and fascinating pursuit, and would be a very minority interest. Even morse code is still used as a method of communication in this space, especially in the low-power HF range. Its decline in recent times is due mainly to the Internet taking on the role of long-distance communications. But really interesting if that kind of thing is your cup of tea. Google can tell you a lot more. The largest radio amateur organisation would be the ARRL in the US. There are others too. [back…]
This website is a blog. Blogging is your own personal soap box where you can talk to the whole world, if anyone’s interested in what you have to say. Even if they’re not, you can still put it out there. Wonderful medium for expression. It’s quite involved to get the whole thing going from scratch, but well within the scope of anyone with a modicum of technical aptitude. Google something line ‘how to start a blog with WordPress’. If you do go down this route, make sure to use wordpress.org and not wordpress.com which you can also Google to find out reasons. I have written an article on the importance of good writing for blogging here, including sources of help from masters of the craft. I have referenced two good sites for writers here. [back…]
Start making your own bread. The aroma of freshly baked bread and the sense of achievement are fantastic! And it’s so healthy! There are tons of recipes online and it’s so easy to develop your own variations. Who knows, you might even end up with a stall at your local artisanal market. [back…]
Things are getting a bit expensive at the professional level, with the orbiting James Webb and Hubble space telescopes. However, very inexpensive beginner amateur astronomy telescopes are available. Again, Google will help a lot with that. I would suggest getting to know the most popular star formations in your part of the world, and be able to pick them our on a clear starry night. Your companions will be forever impressed! [back…]
21. Moon Phases
Learn the different moon phases and be able to identify the particular moon features that are visible to the naked eye. Who doesn’t love a lovely moon! An inexpensive beginner astronomy telescope would be a great tool to begin this adventure. [back…]
22. Book Club
Start a reading and book swap club amongst friends and acquaintances. Most of us in the non-early stages of life, if not all our lives, have read quite extensively. This normally leads to quite a collection of books lying about. In my case, due to a number of major moves I’ve even thrown out so many books that I would have preferred to keep. So, if books are a significant part of your life, a reading and book swap club is a great opportunity to connect with others of a similar mindset. [back…]
23. Wine or Cider Making
We had several apple trees at our home when I was a kid, and I can’t remember who, but possibly my grandmother, taught me how to make apple cider. What fun, and it tasted really good! It is very easy to buy a large quantity of suitable apples for cider making, and there are many wine making kits available. Great reason to throw a party for your friends and relatives. [back…]
Start researching and documenting the genealogy of your family and ancestors. My sister-in-law is really into this, and it’s amazing the details she has been able to collect, correlate and document. So many census and archive records are available online these days it’s a field-day for the genealogists. Big surprises could await! [back…]
The list of possibles is endless, and there are fraternities for many collectibles. Stamps and coins are two that quickly come to mind. Old cars, old motorcycles, sewing machines, sewing thimbles, football player cards. A reason to scavenge car boot sales, flea markets, etc. [back…]
26. Old Photographs
Many families have old photographs somewhere lying around, maybe in a shoebox, the attic, or similar. Start assembling a collection with detailed captions.
Your’s truly at age 6, no elaboration needed I’m sure! [back…]
27. Exercise Group
Start a local exercise group for retirees and more senior people in a community facility. Maybe consider enlisting the assistance of a suitably trained fitness instructor. There’s also a lot that can be done as a home-based group with simple equipment. [back…]
Make an online list of local walking or cycling trails. Write up descriptions with a trail map and photos. Provide details for parking, access, points of note, etc. There are many excellent hiking and walking apps that are great tools for this. Liaise with local authorities on trail marking and signage, and tourism bodies to publish leaflets if it is a local attraction. Organise a group to regularly check the trails for discarded garbage, etc. [back…]
30. School Past Pupils
Organise past-pupils meetups for your School Year. I have found that many of the people I knew during my school years are on Facebook and possibly you already have some friends from school as FB friends – a great place to start the ball rolling. [back…]
31. House Swaps
Investigate potential house swaps with suitable retirees in other areas and countries. There are many websites that facilitate house swap activity and this could be an avenue for visits to areas and countries that would otherwise be impractical. [back…]
Enrol for some courses of interest. There is a huge choice available online, and quite possibly evening or part-time classroom courses are available at your local educational institutions. Many are free and most charge only modest fees. It is also a wonderful opportunity to connect with like-minded people.
Many people at our stage of life are interested in making the most of their money, and safe investing. It’s important to remember that investments put your capital at risk and can go down as well as up. Past performance is not a reliable guide of future results. But if investing is an area of interest, one of the best sources of useful information I have come across is Investopedia.
33. Classic Board Games
We all remember great board games like Monopoly, Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, etc. So start a classic board game circle in your locality and arrange meetups from time to time to enjoy some board game fun. [back…]
34. Local Attractions
Frequently there are local attractions that are less well known, or hidden secrets. Possibly locations that have historical interest or significance, buildings that have a story to tell, hideaways for rich and famous, some special local cuisine – the list goes on and on. nvestigate some less-well-known local attractions and document them. Maybe include them in a local attractions website, and keep it all up to date. [back…]
Start a second-hand book stall. These are normally a regular feature of local markets, etc., and are a great way to recycle books to potentially interested readers who might not want to splash out on new versions. You could also go online with for example a Facebook page to promote your second-hand book stall. You could search for stock at local car boot sales, flea markets, house clearances, etc. [back…]
36. College Alma Mater
Get involved with your college Alma Mater, if that is either an online or local option. Alumni can normally get involved in events, volunteering, fund raising, further study and more. There may also be a Facebook alumni group you can join to keep contact with your fellow-alumni. [back…]
37. Golf, Tennis
They may not be your scene, or perhaps you have been involved in sports such as golf or tennis in your earlier years. If you have been involved, or would like to start now, they are fantastic sports for camaraderie and social events. That said, they can be expensive, and at the best of times are also challenging sports in which to develop a level of proficiency. But if you think you would enjoy them and are up for the challenge, go for it! Tim Gallwey as written a few books on amateur sports coaching. Not exactly for beginners, but for those not too long in the game. One is ‘The Inner Game of Golf’ and the other ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’. They are a great help in coping with the biggest challenge in these sports – our own mindset. [back…]
Whatever one’s interests and state of physical fitness and capability, there’s no end to ways to engage in an active retirement. Much depends on one’s natural inclination in terms of being active over the years prior to retirement. There may be the challenge of overcoming the inertia of inactivity. However, once this inertia is tackled head on and overcome, a whole new world opens up. It’s mainly a question of getting going and maintaining the momentum for a few weeks until the habit is ingrained.