We all look forward to the day we finally say goodbye to our working life and enter the freedom of retirement. Most of us have been planning for it financially most, if not all, of our working lives. And once you've figured out how to save money in retirement, it's time to enjoy it! No more daily commutes, no more bosses, no more asking for permission to take a vacation. Suddenly, all our time is ours.
But, what do we do after retirement with all our time?
Many people find themselves busier in retirement than they were when they were working. But it can take some time to find out what retirement projects are best. We all say we want to travel, but most people don't want to travel full-time. There are many interesting things to do after retirement right where you are, but it takes some research and some experimentation to find the best fit.
Here are 31 things to do in retirement.
Explore art and culture
1. Learn to play a musical instrument. The adage "you're never too old to learn" definitely applies to learning to play a musical instrument or singing. In some cases, adults learn music faster than children do. Look for a teacher who specializes in teaching adults. One of the easiest instruments to learn is the ukulele, which is enjoying a new wave of popularity
2. Take an art class. If Grandma Moses started painting at 78, you can start, too. Many community centers and libraries offer painting and drawing classes.
3. Join a chorus or band. Singing in the shower is fun, but why not take your talent to the streets! Singing with other people is not only good for your mental health but it's also a great way to make friends. Most towns have a community chorus, and you can also find choruses that are part of Sweet Adelines, the Barbershop Harmony Society, and Harmony Inc. If you already play and sing, you can create a musical ensemble that plays at festivals and open mike nights. Classical musicians can join a chamber group or find a community orchestra.
4. Become a docent at a museum. Museums often rely on volunteers to give tours or do other tasks.
5. Usher at a performing arts venue. Many major performing arts centers use volunteer ushers (or you may find a paying post). As a bonus, you get to see all the shows free.
Expand your mind
6. Take college courses. Many public colleges and universities allow senior citizens to audit courses for free or reduced tuition. Some private colleges also have programs for seniors. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes provide courses and lectures specifically for seniors at campuses throughout the United States.
7. Take an educational trip. Road Scholar, which used to be called ElderHostel, offers educational opportunities all over the world, from long weekends to trips that last several weeks. Subjects are as diverse as playing the Appalachian dulcimer to kayaking in Florida to a safari in Africa to a Harry Potter spring break with a grandchild.
8. Take courses at libraries and community centers. Many libraries, community centers, and senior centers offer classes and workshops in everything from Spanish to current events to how to use computers and smartphones.
9. Learn another language. It's harder to learn a second language when you're older, but it's not impossible. You can always dust off the language you sort-of learned in high school.
Give back to your community
Volunteer Match is a great resource to help you find volunteer opportunities with nonprofits in your area from advocacy and human rights to education and technology!
10. Help the sick. Many hospitals and nursing homes have volunteer programs that let you visit patients, circulate library books or otherwise help out. You may also find friends and acquaintances need rides to doctor's offices, supermarkets or other help during treatment and recuperation.
11. Help the poor or underserved. You can volunteer at soup kitchens, homeless shelters and many other organizations. Look for a centralized list of volunteer opportunities.
12. Walk dogs and play with kittens. Most animal shelters and rescue organizations are understaffed. Volunteers are often needed to walk dogs and socialize kittens. You can also foster kittens, puppies or adult animals that need special attention in your own home.
13. Get involved in politics. Find candidates you support and volunteer on their campaigns, whether they are running for selectman or president. You can knock on doors, register voters or otherwise provide logistical support.
14. Teach people to read. Sadly, there are people in most towns who made it to adulthood without learning to read well. For those brave enough to try again, communities offer opportunities to be a volunteer tutor.
15. Work with children. You can work with Big Brothers-Big Sisters, volunteer at a school or help an organization that works with children.
16. Help people with their business. SCORE, formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, provides mentors, workshops and other help to business owners, all at no charge, using a corps of volunteers.
Stay in shape
17. Join a gym and work out. Many health insurance plans offer free Silver Sneakers memberships to people old enough for Medicare, and some insurance plans offer similar programs for younger members. Weight-bearing exercise is especially important for older people.
18. Do solo exercise. Walking, running, bicycling, swimming, yoga and tai chi all provide health benefits.
19. Walk with a friend. Make an appointment with a friend every day. You can socialize and exercise at the same time.
20. Do sports in a group. You can find a group for rowing, bicycling, walking, hiking, pickleball, tennis, golf – pretty much any sport you can think of.
Join an interest group
21. Play games. Board games are newly popular, and card games have never lost their popularity. Scrabble, bridge, Mah-jong – get together with friends and keep your brain sharp.
22. Join a trivia team. Many restaurants and bars have regular trivia nights, and the competition usually is by teams. If you can't find a place on a team, create your own.
23. Research your family tree. Write down all the family stories you learned from your older relatives. Computers have made genealogical research easier, and tracing your ancestry is a legacy you can leave your children and grandchildren.
24. Write a book. You can share the story of your life in a memoir or write the Great American Novel. Short stories and essays also are ways to express yourself.
Make some money
25. Get a part-time job. Some retirees work because they have to, and others work because they want to. Whichever category you fall into, you may find a business that needs your skills.
26. Become a freelance consultant. Your career skills may still be in demand, especially if you were in a field in which consultants and freelancers were common. Approach your former employer, colleagues and business contacts about needs for your services on a per-project basis.
27. Start your own business. Retirees are starting businesses in record numbers, taking advantage of their years of business and life experience. The Internet has made starting a business easier than ever.
If the travel bug has bitten you and you're looking for long-term adventure, keeping your things in storage is an inexpensive and convenient option while you do some globetrotting or take some extended road trips!
28. Take up RV life. If you've always dreamed of getting into an RV and hitting the road, this is the time to do it. You will find an entire community of travelers of all ages. If you'd like to work as part of your travels, look into workcamping.
29. Visit old friends and relatives. Renew ties with college roommates, cousins and others you've always wanted to visit.
30. Take those bucket list trips. This is the time to visit national parks, cruise the Panama Canal or otherwise take your dream trips.
31. Take a special-interest trip. You can cruise with your favorite musicians, join an expedition to save the environment with EarthWatch or another organization, or attend a summer camp for adults that lets you be a rock musician or a baseball player for a week.
So, what do you think? Is there anything we should add to this list? Please share your ideas in the comments.