At the time I am writing this, we are still in the middle of the coronavirus era of social isolation. Hopefully, that will be easing soon and we can all get out to play more – perhaps with more social distancing and avoidance of large crowds. But with this in mind, there are still plenty of options for fun and recreational pursuits. Here are 12 fun retirement ideas for your consideration.
Learn a new sport. I made this my number one recommendation because sports are a great way to stay fit while socializing. When choosing a sport to pursue, look first for something that will give you pleasure and allow you to display at least a minimal amount of competence. It’s important that you choose a sport that you can perform relatively injury-free. Possibilities include: swimming, golf, tennis, softball, basketball, bike riding, hiking, and yoga (although some don’t consider yoga a sport). Also, don’t overlook pickle ball, currently the fastest growing sport for those over 50. It’s fun, easy to learn, mostly safe, and very social.
Take up an artistic hobby. Many of us have a frustrated artist inside, itching to come out. There are many options in this area, including: painting, pottery, woodworking, crocheting, and many more. I have a good friend who restores furniture as a hobby. He does this mostly for pure enjoyment, but will occasionally take paying jobs. He is truly an artist because he takes great pride in his work and often makes the restored furniture look better than new.
Play music. As an amateur (yet enthusiastic) guitar player, I highly endorse the pursuit of music at any age. The people I jam with actually refer to themselves as “The Geezers” although the age range of the group is low 50’s to upper 60’s (hardly geezers!). Some of us took up guitar later in life, and some have been playing since childhood. But we have learned how to play together, have fun and increase our skills over time. By the way, if you are unsure of what instrument to learn, read this article titled: Easiest Musical Instrument to Learn for Adult Beginners. According to the article, ukulele is the easiest instrument to learn (who knew?).
Perform. Let’s say you have taken up that musical instrument and are getting decent at it. Why not join a local community or jam group and share your gift with others, on a paid or volunteer basis? Likewise, there are plenty of opportunities to act, dance or whatever you are good at to entertain others. And if you have stage fright, join your local Toastmasters group, and they will have you comfortable speaking in front of an audience in no time.
Restore a classic automobile. If you are a car guy (or gal), why not find a beat-up version of your favorite classic car (66 Mustang for me), and make it look and run like new again. It’s a lot of work but deeply satisfying when completed. Some people make a few bucks by either restoring older cars or fixing, cleaning, and selling more modern cars.
Hit the road. Many couples spend significant retirement time traveling the highways and byways. Lots of us travel by car but as you can observe on any major highway, there are tons of RVs out there. Here are a few statistics from RVing Guide.
- About 10% of American householders over 55 own an RV.
- These days, the typical RV owner is age 49, married, owns a home and has an annual household income of $68,000.
- Across the US, over 7% of households have at least one RV — 8 million homes with RVs.
- In fact, the number of fulltime RV’ers in the United States now hovers around one million!
Host at a campground. If you really enjoy the RV or camping lifestyle, why not earn free camping, plus other amenities, in return for providing help in areas like fee collection, rules enforcement, clean up, etc. Depending on the campsite, this type of gig can last for a few days or an entire season. A few campgrounds even provide a stipend.
Visit national parks. In what has to be one of the best deals on the planet, those aged 62 and older can purchase a lifetime pass from the National Park Service for unlimited visits to all 62 national parks, historic homes and recreation sites that the agency runs. The cost: only $80 for the lifetime pass or $20 for a one-year pass. A superb deal even if you just use it a few times.
Become a boater. Boating not only gets you out in nature but can be a very social activity as well. Just buy a large boat and you’ll suddenly find some new friends! Not to mention that certain types of boating, like kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding, can be excellent exercise. There are a lot of options to get on the water including powerboating, jet skiing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, pontoon boating, and many other varieties of watercraft. My wife and I prefer sailing and kayaking but for me, any day out on the water is a good day.
Join a book club. Although I enjoy reading very much, I have never participated in a book club. The people I know who do (mostly women) seem to enjoy it a great deal. Not surprisingly, the groups usually seem to be as much about the socialization as the actual book the group is reading.
Learn to be your own handyman. I titled this article Fun Retirement Ideas and perhaps you see nothing fun about working on the house or landscape. However, some people actually drive a great deal of pleasure in fixing things. You know the type – they know more about the aisles at Home Depot than the folks that work there. And if you run out of stuff do at your own house, by all means go annoy (I mean help!) your friends and neighbors.
Play with your grandkids. Yes, I said play. Believe me: the little ones will appreciate you more when you are willing to chase them around the house or yard, and perhaps get down on the ground and wrestle them a bit. To be successful as a playmate to a toddler or young child, you have to sacrifice a portion of your dignity. In my opinion, the rewards are well worth it.
I will write a future article on productive retirement ideas. In the meantime, for more fun retirement ideas, you might enjoy this article, Activities and Hobbies for a Fun and Active Life.