Retirement comes to the vast majority of us, and the luckiest among us have the option to decide when we retire and where. If you are in the position where a change of scene is on the agenda, it is believed that where you retire will have a huge effect on your happiness and how long you are likely to live in retirement.
It sounds like a solemn point to make, but there are thousands of people every year who retire and then fail to adjust. Some people are institutionalized by the job they did for so many years, and this leads to feelings of inadequacy as they struggle to come to terms with no being needed at work and having to work to put food on the table.
For this reason, lots of retirees head for the coast or greener pastures when they retire. Scenic locations with great weather and a more leisurely pace are extremely popular, with Devon in the UK and Florida in the US being popular choices on both sides of the Atlantic. Although this sounds idyllic, research suggests that people who are living longer after retirement are living in the bigger cities because there is no mental stimulation and room for social engagement and interaction.
People are living a lot longer these days, and it is said that a child born today is likely to live to 100. With this in mind, retirees are living 10, 20 and even 30 years after their retirement, which is not only a strain on your finances but it can be difficult to sustain the retirement lifestyle, especially if you retired early, at 60 for example. The idea of living another 40 years after your retirement – nearly half your life – could mean it becomes difficult to stay motivated without work to keep you preoccupied.
Using my own family as a case study, my father retired recently at 61 years of age, and just 6 months into his retirement, he is already having to make plans 18 months to 2 years ahead of himself in order to stay motivated. When I asked him if he was enjoying retirement recently, he replied: “When you kids were little or when I was working, 24 hours wasn’t enough. Now it’s hard to fill them up. There’s only so much gardening you can do.”
We joked about this, but you can see the dilemma. On one hand, the feeling of jubilation of being retired and free to do whatever you want and when you want to do it is a wonderful feeling, but sooner or later, there needs to be something else to engage your interests and keep you from going stale.
How can you find happiness in retirement, then? First of all, it is important to forget about money. Nothing stresses you out more than financial burden. You have earned the right to forget about budgeting and enjoy yourself. Worrying about money when you are no longer working is likely to double your stress, and we all know what increased stress levels can do to our minds and bodies.
The best ways to find happiness in retirement is to keep active and to find a purpose beyond getting through the days. How about reading the best seller 1001 Books to Read Before You Die? I know that my father has regretted not having time to read enough when he was working, and he’s making up for it now. Anything that broadens the mind beyond watching hours of daytime TV is going to keep you stimulated and learning, and we all know that you should never stop learning.
Travel and DIY are two of the most popular activities to keep retirees active, engaged with feeling motivated with a purpose. If you live at a beachfront location already, you could optimize your home for retirement living including adding residential cargo lifts to your beach home or redecorating and refurbishing the existing property.
My father is looking to sell the family home in 3 years, which gives him 36 months to decorate three bedrooms, get a new bathroom and find a new place to live in a location he is likely to spend the rest of his days. What can be more stimulating than having a three year plan that ends with you heading off to new pastures?