When you think of your retirement, what words spring to mind? Relaxation? Opportunity? Excitement? Good for you! But if you’re like most people, you may wonder if you’re truly ready and, if so, how to prepare for all the unstructured time ahead.
How can you plan to make your retirement years vital, satisfying—and fun? By starting to explore your retirement dreams now.
Are you ready to stop working? Many people have worked since high school and are more than ready to stop punching the clock. Others, however, may miss the hustle and bustle of the job as well as old office buddies. If you would like to continue working during your retirement, explore part-time job or volunteering opportunities. Stay connected to friends at the office with phone calls, visits or dinner dates.
Where do you picture yourself living? Some people decide to remain in the same house and town. Others opt to see new faces and places at an apartment, a condominium or a retirement community. Consider the following to help decide your destination:
- Cost of living. How much will you need to maintain your desired lifestyle? What are taxes and housing costs?
- Access to healthcare. Are your doctor’s office, a hospital and a pharmacy easily accessible? What kinds of emergency services does the nearest hospital offer?
- Crime and safety. Look up the crime and safety statistics of the region you live in or are considering moving to. Does it offer a secure environment?
- Climate. Is your ideal day balmy with a tropical breeze? Or does it change with the seasons? Knowing which you prefer will help you move in the right direction.
- Culture and recreation. Does the community you’re considering offer a variety of places to attend a play, take in a basketball game or meet new people?
What do you want to do when you retire? Experts agree that the more you engage in activities you enjoy, the more satisfying your life will be. Before you lies a smorgasbord of options. Here are just a few:
- Pursue your passions. Maybe your cello’s been holding silent vigil in the attic. Or you always wanted to take up acting, cooking, gardening or cartooning. If so, try out for the community theater, sign up for cooking classes, start a small greenhouse or set up an artist’s studio in a corner of your house.
- Lend a hand. Social-service organizations are always in need of volunteers to serve meals at shelters, teach people to read, give time and affection to animals waiting for adoption or rally for important political causes. And don’t forget the skills and talents you honed on the job—they may also help others in a volunteer capacity.
- Get with a program. Ask your doctor to help plan a fitness program that’s both fun and feasible for you. Perhaps you’d like to walk, swim, dance or cycle your way to fitness.
- Sharpen your pencils. Most colleges offer adult-education classes, in which you can learn a new language, take a poetry workshop, brush up on history or enroll in a program toward a degree.
- Have adventures. Even if you can’t visit every exotic locale on your wish list, you can satisfy your wanderlust by taking road trips or exploring parts of your region you previously passed by. Enjoy the local color, linger in the shops—and snap loads of pictures!
Most important of all, expect surprises. Start looking forward to new and wonderful experiences during some of the best years of your life.