After years of hard work and planning everything from vacations to social outings around job responsibilities, the early weeks and months of retirement come as a major relief for many of us. Of course, entering any new phase of life also can be a big adjustment — and many newly retired people aren’t quite sure how to best manage and fill their newfound free time.
It may take a bit of an attitude adjustment to embrace all the changes of retirement, but it’s worth it. The early stages of retirement are the perfect time to take a dream vacation and explore new hobbies, in addition to dealing with logistics such as refining post-retirement financial plans.
Here are some ways to make the most of early retirement.
Enjoy old hobbies and take up new ones
Early retirement is the perfect time to step back and think about hobbies and activities you enjoy, as well as ones you’ve been wanting to try. It can be helpful to live near others who have similar interests. This is why a senior community like Village Cooperative, designed specifically for active seniors seeking a home where they’re not responsible for maintenance but still enjoy all the financial benefits of homeownership, can feel ideal.
If you love to read, look for a book club — and if you don’t find one that’s a good fit, start your own. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint or draw, there’s no time like the present to give it a try. You can either teach yourself through books and online tutorials or sign up for an art class.
Find volunteer opportunities
In the same vein, early retirement is an excellent time to give back to the community and help those in need. You may already know exactly which cause (or causes) you wish to support, or you may need to take some time to brainstorm before deciding on which volunteer opportunities you’re passionate about. Similar to pursuing new hobbies, it’s also worth finding a friend or peer who may be interested in joining you.
Seize the opportunity to travel
Whether it’s a weekend getaway to the San Juan Islands or that two-week trip to Europe you’ve been dreaming of for years, vacations are decidedly more relaxing and enjoyable when you’re confident that your residence will be safe and secure in your absence. This is another advantage of living in a co-op like Village Cooperative; maintenance and security are part of the package, so there’s no need to hire a house sitter or worry about a potential break-in.
Travel aside, maintenance is a major draw for many co-op residents. “We realized over the years that our current house was too much work and upkeep,” says Judy Robertson, a Village Cooperative member.
Foster relationships, both old and new
In addition to maintaining and nurturing existing relationships with family and longtime friends, early retirement is also an excellent time to build new friendships. Making new friends during adulthood can often prove to be a challenge, but living in a community of one’s peers makes it much easier to forge new friendships.
“We found that living there allows us to live in comfort with neighbors like us who want more social opportunities,” says Robertson.
Robertson’s experience is a fairly common one. “Most of our owner-members initially buy because of the value, maintenance-free lifestyle and amenities we offer, but they stay because of the relationships they build and the enjoyment they realize with peers in their community,” says Steve Von Schmidt, marketing director at Village Cooperative. “In fact, many tell us they felt isolated in their previous house and found the social opportunities here to be a wonderful benefit.”
Refine financial plans for retirement
Although sorting through finances isn’t quite as much fun as travel and new friendships, it is equally important. For many retirees, spending adjustments and creating a weekly or monthly budget are crucial in order to ensure that you’re living within your means. There’s also the matter of reviewing — and potentially updating — your will to make sure it accurately reflects your wishes. For anyone who isn’t a financial expert this task may seem daunting, but financial advisers who can guide you through the process.
Village Cooperative communities give active adults and retirees a home ownership option with a hassle-free lifestyle. Reach Kate Grant at 253-387-7600. Check out our “Rock Your Retirement” event, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. March 29 at the Pioneer Park Pavilion.