Are you enjoying an active retirement or planning your escape from the working world?
Indulging in hobbies or simply spending more time with the grandchildren is likely well-deserved.
Regardless of how your new daily routine might look, the transition to retiree can be both daunting and exciting in equal measure.
So in this guide, we’ll consider how to make the most of your golden years.
Some retirees are dismayed to find that society’s expectations of retirement don’t always match their own.
However, as a collective, we’re starting to reconsider what it means to be retired.
Instead of dialling down their activities and sitting back on a beach somewhere, many later lifers regard their newfound time as a way to pursue the hobbies and activities that a 9-5 role wouldn’t permit, becoming more active instead of less.
As such, there are numerous opportunities to lead an energetic existence or for fulfilling contribution in later life.
As we’re progressively living longer and healthier lives, so too there’s a realisation that retirees have a huge role to play in the health and wellbeing of society.
This contribution might manifest both in later life learning or activities like volunteering and intergenerational support.
Through such efforts, later lifers play a vital ambassadorial role in changing the perception of retirement.
What is retirement to you?
As noted above, retirement means different things to different people.
For some, it may involve throwing off the corporate shackles and retiring to a countryside retreat for a well-earned rest.
For others, it might constitute leaving one job to ‘retire’ into a more sedentary role, either serving on boards and committees, helping charities or volunteering in the community.
It’s worth considering what you want from your retirement ahead of time to ensure you follow a path that best suits your needs and wants.
What is the UK retirement age?
Technically you can retire at any age if you have the funds to support yourself, but for many, the choice of when to retire is tied to their eligibility to receive a state pension.
Although women have traditionally been able to claim their pension before men, the government has now established state pension age parity at 65.
However, this number isn’t fixed and is scheduled to rise to 66 in October 2020 and 67 between 2026 and 2028.
To verify when you’re able to claim your state pension, visit the government website here.
Getting our finances in order before retirement is essential to avoid the stress inherent with money worries.
Due to the complexity of the topic, it’s always sensible to speak to a qualified advisor for the best advice.
Before leaving work, it’s vital to try to pay off any outstanding debt. Without a supplementary wage, it can be a financial stretch to make repayments, decreasing funds you’ve set aside for a happy retirement.
Also, before exiting the workforce, it’s sensible to know exactly what benefits you’re entitled to, over and above the state pension you expect to receive.
In addition to pensions and benefits, we may have invested over our working lives to provide an extra financial cushion in retirement.
Knowing if you need to rebalance your portfolio to diversify your risk in later years is essential to avoid stock market shocks and understand how to make this money work for you.
At Mirthy, we know the importance of maintaining activity and independence in later life. Studies show that engaging in social pursuits around retirement is vital to maintain health and wellbeing.
That said, it can sometimes be hard to know what to do with all the extra free time available.
Luckily, there are numerous social groups offering an assortment of activities to stretch you both physically and mentally.
Let’s look at some options:
Many of us lead increasingly sedentary lives, working at desks and in offices. Contrary to popular belief, retirement is the time to reclaim your health and fitness. Classes are available for everything from zumba to boxercise and circuits to spin classes, not to mention yoga and pilates. If you’re unfamiliar with these options, perhaps you fancy more traditional sports like tennis or badminton. There’s even walking football if you need something a little easier on the old joints! Exercising in a group is not only enjoyable, but also keeps us accountable.
If you prefer to flex your intellectual muscles, book clubs are a great option. Not only do we get to read more, transporting ourselves to another world, but we can socialise and discuss our favourite reads together. Book groups are perfect for discovering new authors and genres, while developing a more critical reading style.
Arts and crafts
If you’re the creative type, why not try your hand at painting, sculpture or printmaking? Perhaps you’ve harboured an artistic flair for years, and now is the time to release your inner Van Gough. In retirement, you can engage in these pursuits for their intrinsic pleasure, rather than any potential external rewards.
Have you led a life full of intrigue and adventure? Perhaps your job has afforded lots of interesting experiences or esoteric knowledge that you can share with others. Maybe you just want to give back to your community. Giving and attending local talks is one of the most engaging forms socialising. Not only can you expand your knowledge, but also socialise and discuss topics with likeminded attendees.
Overall, it’s important to remember that rather than seeing retirement as a time for decline, the world is shifting its perception. Retirees, like anyone else, have the infinite capacity to learn, grow and develop. By pushing new avenues of interest and remaining curious in this exciting time, you may just find a later life calling that provides renewed passion, purpose and excitement for life.
At Mirthy, we’re keen to make social clubs available everywhere to the young at heart. If you’d like to organise a social gathering in your local area, please reach out and we will work with you to make it happen.
Setting up a business
I know I know – setting up a business might not officially fit the retirement label, but the fact is, many people indulge in passion projects after retiring from their main occupation.
This could be anything from developing an existing hobby to starting something completely new.
The main difference seems to be that money loses some of its significance, with retirees using the pursuit as a way to stay engaged and provide renewed purpose around something they love, rather than chasing financial gain.
For some, it may be as simple as selling their art or performing handyman jobs, while others might try flipping property.
Many people are unsure whether to change their living arrangements when they reach retirement, and it’s understandable.
If your children have likely left home or you’ve experienced a bereavement, you may find yourself living in a house which is too big for your needs.
Maybe friends and family have moved away and you find yourself spending too much time at home, getting lonely.
In these cases, many people look at retirement homes not only as a sensible financial investment but also a way to meet new people and re-invigorate life.
Luckily, there are numerous options are available depending on your needs.
Retirement villages often boast an array of services and facilities, in addition to modern, purpose-built homes that are both ergonomic and secure, catering fully to those in later life.
Perhaps you’ve always harboured the dream of moving to sunnier climes in retirement.
Let’s face it, putting your feet up next to a pool, cocktail in hand, sounds like the ultimate reward.
While some people choose to buy a second home, other retirees sell up to make the move permanent.
UK residents tend to prefer options in Europe that are sunny but still close to home to re-visit friends and family.
The perennial favourites tend to be Spain and Portugal, although other destinations around Eastern Europe are also becoming popular.
The local cost of property and living expenses also tend to be a consideration, as most retirees want their money to last as long as possible.
Choosing a location which has a history of accepting expatriates and a strong resident community is often appealing to mitigate the culture shock of moving.
This means you still get to enjoy a new culture but can access a pre-existing network for support and advice.
That said, other retirees want to stretch themselves and get off the beaten track by moving somewhere without many resident foreigners.
In either case, it’s important to ask yourself what level of cultural immersion you seek.
Moving abroad can be stressful at any age, and although you might see it as an opportunity to learn a new language and customs, others prefer a more relaxed retirement.
Perhaps you always return to the same place on holiday and view it as a natural transition, or maybe there’s always been a part of the world that’s fascinated you.
Another consideration might be the current political situation and how easy it is to obtain the necessary documents to become a resident and property owner in your desired location.
Health is perhaps the biggest concern for retirees, who wish to make the most of later life by remaining engaged and active.
It’s essential to invest in your mind and body when making the transition to retirement. Although it may be tempting to relax completely and adopt a fairly sedentary lifestyle upon leaving work, remaining active is imperative. Eating healthy meals, socialising and stretching yourself cognitively are all cornerstone habits.
For many looking to finish work, retiring can be a difficult shift. Going from a full schedule, with colleagues, projects and socials, to one in which there are no demands on your time can be a real shock to the system and take many by surprise.
Indeed, the dream of retirement can become a nightmare.
As humans, we don’t always respond well to abrupt change, so transitioning from an active job to a sudden void can accentuate such feelings.
Currently, in the UK, we’re experiencing somewhat of a loneliness epidemic, which is more pronounced in older populations.
Loneliness and depression are common experiences for retirees and must be actively addressed. Below are some considerations which may help.
- Speak to friends who’ve already retired for tips, tricks and more importantly, social support
- Can you transition gradually, going part-time at work, to ease yourself into retirement?
- Prepare the ground ahead of time, by ensuring you have activities organised like social clubs, events and hobbies to keep you active and engaged.
Being able to reclaim time is the main benefits of leaving the workforce.
While the extra hours can be used to investigate new hobbies and side projects, many retirees invest in their family, seeing more of their children and grandchildren than their previous working lives permitted.
Sometimes, this means selling up and moving closer to relatives to help with babysitting responsibilities and being there for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas.
Dating for retirees
Life doesn’t stop when we reach retirement and dating can be enjoyable at any age.
For singles, divorcees or the bereaved, there often remains a desire to meet someone special.
Sharing our lives can provide much-needed emotional support in our later years.
While this may prove a difficult and uncomfortable process after a long term partnership or marriage, dating in later life remains extremely popular and is becoming ever easier.
With the emergence of online resources to help, it’s possible to slowly test the waters before deciding whether to meet up for coffee or arrange a date.
Websites like Ourtime provide exactly this service and are geared towards mature individuals seeking deeper, long-term connections.
Organise a health check – The most important factor when retiring is to get a check up to assess your health and fitness, ensuring you can enjoy the activities, hobbies and holidays you may have arranged.
Get a pet – Perhaps you’ve always put off having a pet due to work commitments. During your retirement, a furry friend isn’t only great company, but also encourages daily walks (or runs!). Indeed, research shows that dog owners have a 24% reduction in the risk of mortality compared to non-owners.
Develop a routine – After working, perhaps you revel in the opportunity to do away with a schedule. Unfortunately, approaching our days without structure can have negative psychological consequences. Ritualising our days with certain activities, like exercise, meditation and socialising can have positive health effects all round.
After a lifetime of hard work, many retirees savour the extra time they have at their disposal.
However, rather than downing tools, it seems that retirees are increasingly shifting their energy to focus on self-development and contribution to their communities.
Through myriad initiatives like volunteering, mentoring and events, retirement provides fertile ground to enhance the overall health and wellbeing of society.
If you’d like to contribute to that cause, please consider joining or organising one of the Mirthy social clubs.