What to do in retirement – great ways to spend your time

Here we look at what to do in your retirement and some great ways on how you can spend your time.

Making the transition from leading a busy, successful life to one of rest and relaxation can be difficult for some – especially when your working life has been consistently busy, busy, busy.

Retiring can be a chance to reconnect with some of your greatest passions and most important goals. You can try new experiences or develop new skills. And, devote more time to the people and hobbies you love.

As a retiree, you will no longer be under pressure to deal with work-related deadlines. You are free to have fun and do whatever you want, whenever you want. Studies have shown that people feel happier, more relaxed, and less anxious in retirement than at any other time in their adult lives.

During your working years, leisure often means relaxing and getting away from structure. But in retirement, it’s more about keeping active and connecting with people. Here we’ve identified a wide range of activities that can help keep you physically active and mentally stimulated.

But remember: Retirement is all about freedom and choice. These ideas are just a starting point—use them as inspiration for charting your own path!

Common goals of retirees

Without the restrictions of full-time work, how do you envision spending your hours? Are these on your list:

  • Get or stay healthy
  • Relax
  • Connect with family
  • Have fun
  • Make or expand social connections
  • Learn
  • Grow spiritually
  • Give back

Great ways to spend your time

When you retire, you suddenly find yourself with all the time in the world. So, what are you going to do with it? Here are some great ideas:


Itchy feet. With no limits on your time, you can get out and explore the world. You can go on extended holidays and take advantage of last-minute deals. You could stick to domestic destinations, or go further afield to explore places like the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America. The World is your oyster!

Maybe even tie in your hobby with a holiday – think about  trips dedicated to biking, golf, or the arts.

In a survey of more than 1,300 retirees, author Wes Moss found that the happiest ones took an average of 2.4 vacations each year. And, more good news: A study in Applied Research in Quality of Life has shown that simply planning a trip can boost happiness levels because you are anticipating the good times to come.

How about…

Rent or buy a trailer or motorhome and hit the open road. Whether it’s national or international – make yourself a few goals – Europe, visiting 5 countries, USA, driving the entire length of Route 66, UK dipping your toe in the ocean – North, South, East and West of the country, or visiting every national park.

Trade houses. Exchange houses with like-minded travellers and take advantage of completely free holiday accommodations. House swapping provides an immersive experience and allows you to live like a local. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway in a nearby region or an extended vacation abroad, you can find options to suit you. Take a look at Home Exchange 50plus,  HomeExchange.com and Houseexchange.org.uk

Take a cruise. Are you dreaming about a vacation at sea? Cruises are popular among retirees because they offer an almost-all-inclusive experience that allows you to see different places every day.

Get an education

Retirement could be the perfect time to get that degree you’ve always wanted or just learn more about a subject that fascinates you. There’s plenty on offer – take a look here ageuk.org.uk.

Indulge in a hobby

Hobbies give you something interesting and fun to do, either on your own or as part of a group. Expand on hobbies you enjoyed during your working years or pursue new interests. Research has found that the happiest retirees regularly participated in three to four hobbies. The choice of activities are endless, but here is a sample of ideas that may appeal to you:

  • Gardening
  • Sailing
  • Dancing
  • Baking or cake decorating
  • Antique collecting
  • Reading
  • Model building
  • Bird watching
  • Singing
  • Horseback riding
  • Walking or hiking
  • Wine making
  • Furniture restoring
  • Pottery making

Give up some your time to a good cause

Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose and allows you to contribute to a greater good. Identify the types of organisations you’re interested in and see if they can use your skills. Here is some inspiration volunteeringmatters.org.uk.

Other places that could use your help include:

  • Libraries: Sort books, plan special events and fundraisers, or deliver library materials to home-bound adults.
  • Hospices: Support patients by visiting with them, reading to them, or taking walks with them.
  • Seniors’ centers: Greet patrons at the front desk, teach a computer class, or help out in the kitchen.
  • Theaters: Hand out playbills and show people to their seats (and possibly see a show for free).
  • Churches or other houses of worship: Organize and lead community outreach initiatives or youth programs.
  • Museums: Lead tours and answer questions from the public about exhibits.
  • Animal shelters: Feed and groom animals, clean cages, or walk dogs.
  • Food banks: Receive shipments, sort food items, and prepare packages.
  • Veterans homes: Help with craft activities, play music with residents, or escort veterans to appointments.

Get involved in a sport

Being physically active comes with an array of health benefits: You can improve your flexibility, improve your immune system, and keep your heart and lungs healthy. Playing sports is also an easy way to meet new people and have fun. How about joining a team for older adults or use your athletic expertise to coach younger people.

And just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to give up serious competition. Greatersport.co.uk and lifeline24.co.uk are great resources. Your chosen sport could be cycling, archery, swimming, power walking, volleyball, shuffleboard, badminton, squash, or table tennis.

Set new fitness goals

You can keep fit and stay active even if you’re not the sporty type. Participating in an exercise class for seniors is a good way to stay accountable for your fitness goals. Low-impact activities like swimming, biking, and tai chi are excellent ways to boost your endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. As well as the fitness benefits, being more active over the course of the day will help you get a better sleep at night too.

Mentor others

Sharing your expertise can be a very fulfilling way to give back. Becoming a mentor to a young person allows you to act as both a teacher and a coach and make a positive difference in a kid’s life. According to a Harvard Business Review article, mentors also show improved cognitive functioning.

Of course, there are many additional ways to help others benefit from your knowledge and experience. Teach a course at your local community centre or library. Offer tutoring services to high school or college students. Or help local entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Join (or start) a club

Meeting with other people who share your interests is a fantastic way to make new friends and expand your knowledge. Clubs centred around books, films, walking, gardening, and quilting are common. If you can’t find a group that’s focused on your particular interest, think about starting your own.

Be social

We are social animals. Now that you no longer have to go to work every day, you have plenty of time to focus on deepening your social connections. Doing so is not just enjoyable, it’s also good for your health. Ageing Research Review suggests that maintaining strong social ties can boost your overall cognitive health and lower your risk of developing conditions like heart disease and dementia.

So, arrange regular get-togethers with other retirees. Plan wine-tasting parties or movie nights. Spend quality time with grandkids or other family members. Or reconnect with old friends on Facebook or at school reunions.

Work part-time

Want to keep one foot in the work world? Many retirees find that such an arrangement gives them an opportunity to use their existing skills or develop new ones. You have the freedom to pursue any field that interests you without worrying about climbing the corporate ladder.

Learn a new skill

Pushing yourself to learn something new is not only enjoyable, it also keeps the brain agile. Consider learning how to:

  • Speak a new language
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Scuba dive
  • Cook a different type of cuisine

Make crafts

Work with your hands to produce something unique and original! You could explore projects involving knitting, woodworking, painting, photography, scrapbooking, jewellery making, and more. Craft stores and community colleges frequently offer inexpensive workshops where you can learn about new crafts and join up with other people who share your interests. You might even be able to take advantage of programs at studios that give you access to professional-grade tools and materials for a small fee. And sometimes, it’s even possible to monetize your handicrafts.

There are so many options of what you can do when you retire. The list is endless – a few other ideas include:

  • Babysitting for family or friends
  • Dog walking or pet sitting
  • Home improvements
  • Discover your family history
  • Write a book, novel or a poem
  • Organize a charity drive
  • Get involved in the political scene
  • Enjoy events that interest you

Or, you could just chill.

Not every moment of your retirement needs to be packed with activities. Everyone needs a little downtime now and then, so don’t feel guilty about watching a bit of TV or taking a nap if that’s what you feel like. After all, you’ve earned this time—if you want to relax and do absolutely nothing, go for it.

Tips on planning for retirement

While plenty of retirement activities are absolutely free, some do have a price tag attached. The good news is that it’s possible to keep your finances healthy while living the retirement of your dreams. Here are a few tips:

Decide what you want to do.

Consider the kinds of things you’d like to focus on. Next you need to add some padding to these ideas with as many details as possible. For example, if you want to travel, think about exactly how many trips you’d like to take each year and where you’d like to go.

Talk to your partner.

If you have a significant other, you’ll want to make sure your goals align with their goals. Discuss how you would like to spend your time and money. If you want to tour around in an RV for six months of the year but your partner was hoping to move to a rural setting, then you may have some negotiating to do.

Make a spending plan.

It’s common for people to withdraw more savings during the early years of in order to enjoy travel or other active pursuits. Whatever your goals, it’s wise to talk to a financial planner about accounting for leisure spending in your long-term plans. Aim to do this as soon as you can, so that you can adjust your saving and spending patterns accordingly.

Imagine the possibilities!

For many people, retirement is the most relaxing and enjoyable time of their lives. You’re free to indulge in a range of activities that keep you interested and engaged. In retirement, there are so many great ways to spend your time. So think about your goals and dreams—and start making them happen!

We can work with you to put together a plan that will help you realise your dreams for the next phase of your life. For a free initial consultation to explore how we can help you plan your journey to an enjoyable and successful retirement please contact us.

Other reading:

6 top tips on how not to lose money from your pension each year

A guide to wealth preservation and wealth transfer

A guide to post COVID-19 retirement planning


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