Things to do after early retirement?

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I am mid-fifties and plan on taking early retirement, possibly in the first quarter of next year. I'm active and in good health, have decent pension arrangements, and have a list of things I want to do, but I'm interested to hear any reports from folk who have perhaps retired early in the past.

In particular, anything in your plan that worked well, perhaps unexpectedly so? Anything that didn't work out at all? Or if you haven't yet retired early but are thinking about it, how do you plan to spend time?

I know we all like to do different things, but nevertheless I'm on the lookout for possibilities I might not yet have thought of.

For my part... I will swim most days. I will go to the gym, and take regular yoga, pilates and other exercise classes. I will be a volunteer gardener at a local NT property. I will help disabled children learn to swim. I will learn to draw, and attend art appreciation classes. I will -- finally, and after multiple false starts earlier in life! -- learn to read music and play a musical instrument. I will cycle, hike, and canoe where possible. I will learn Spanish. I will go on yoga and meditation retreats. I will travel widely. I will not write a book.

There now, let's see how much of that plan survives its first encounter with reality!
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  • Nargleblast
    Nargleblast Posts: 10,762 Forumite
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    One thing you can do, whilst you are still fit and well, is prepare your home for the future, to make sure it is easy to maintain and live in when you are older and less fit. For example, declutter and get rid of stuff that is taking up space and no longer has a useful purpose. As you replace old appliances make sure the new ones are energy efficient and easy to use. Make sure your home is well insulated and nothing needs repairing. Do you have stairs at home? If so, can you foresee problems in the future should you become less mobile? It might be difficult to imagine now, when you are still fairly young, but better plan now rather than wait for life to catch you out. Once you have made your home fit for the present and the future you can then relax and enjoy life.
    One life - your life - live it!
  • [Deleted User]
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    I very much agree with nargleblast and doing all that would be absolutely at the top of the list. We actually did start de-cluttering slowly at age 55 and we then sold the big family home two years later, we still ended up just getting rid of things in a hurry. We moved home to a beautiful development but a town house (two lots of stairs!) and things didn`t turn out as planned, it was leasehold for starters and we soon realised our mistake, bit the bullet and sold at a loss. This time we looked for and found a very efficient eco home in a tiny village, where we quickly became part of the close knit community

    So at 62 we moved to our final home, easy to manage and warm. Then my husband died recently and I have been a whirlwind ever since. We both started new aches and pains after age 63, so there was a new realisation that life in the house had to be made easier as there was no turning the clock back wrt time marching on. We started downsizing our stuff very seriously and kept up to date with all maintenance. In the past few months I have had a new future proofed kitchen ie I no longer have to get on my hands and knees to get into the oven or cupboards. My new appliances are top of the range, bought for their energy efficiency and long life. I have a walk in shower, easy to dust surfaces and hardly any ornaments, the garden and allotment didn`t escape and they are now much more future proofed

    At the same time, I built up my hobby interests and learnt how to spin and weave and now am learning to be a wood carver and am teaching myself a musical instrument. I live a day at a time, knowing how quickly and suddenly life can be taken away and am most definitely not over committing myself to anything, it is very easy to join groups and much harder to withdraw. Life is very full but at my pace
  • EdSwippet
    EdSwippet Posts: 1,589 Forumite
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    Thanks both nargleblast and kittie for your replies.

    Clutter is definitely a problem. I'm still in my 'starter' home bought 30 years ago (long story), so in a sense accretion of junk is at least partly constrained by simple lack of space! But even though it's not a large house, past life does have a way of accumulating in piles here and there -- obsolete yet not dead computers, bikes, and furniture, heaps of paperwork possibly still 'required' for tax purposes, knick-knacks from assorted travels, you name it. It's not at critical levels yet, but is well above the level I would like it to be.

    One problem with decluttering is that my other half is an inveterate pack-rat. Anything of hers I want throw out will require major negotiations and with perhaps only fifty percent chance of success -- by way of example, I'm still working on getting her to dispose of empty moving boxes from eight years ago! Anything of mine I throw out creates space which she will colonise with her stuff. It's a constant struggle.

    I like the notion of 'future proofing' -- not heard the term used in this way before. Family are nowhere near here, so some sort of house move is perhaps on the cards. Not immediately after retiring. I'll give it at least a year to settle, maybe more. Stairs? Hmm. My parents coped with these into their early eighties before moving to a bungalow. My in-laws still cope with them in their mid eighties. So if I move in the next couple of years, say, avoiding stairs might be a bit premature. No way of telling, of course.

    There's a lot of fitness and exercise in my plan. Considerably more than while working, in fact. All of this is to ward off the inevitable aches and pains for as long as possible. Since starting regular yoga etc a couple of years ago I feel fitter and healthier now than I did a decade ago. My job is indoors, sedentary, technical, and screen based. I want my retirement to be the antidote to all of that as much as possible. I grew up by the coast and would like to live coastal again. That would open up a few more activities, for example sailing. I vacillate somewhat on tiny villages, but I'm probably a country boy at heart. Part of me loves the quiet isolation and the idea of a friendly community. Another part relishes the liveliness of large town or city's vibrant art galleries, museums, and outdoor spaces. Whichever I end up in I'll probably wish for the other! Ideal would I suppose be a small quite village on the doorstep (within biking distance, say) of a decent sized university town. Better get out the maps and start looking...

    Allotments? Good idea. Something my other half has muttered about in the past (she's attracted by the notion of 'free' food -- not particularly the gardening, which is the part of more interest to me!). I'll look into how easy it is to get one around here. I heard a while back there was a waiting list of some sort. Might not be too lengthy though.

    As for other hobbies, I've found over the years that work and 'administrivia' have either ground the existing ones out of my life, or I've just moved on. Revisiting past hobbies doesn't appeal. But I'll find or develop new ones. I have reinvented myself a number of times over the years. Doing it again should be feasible. Especially with fewer constraints.
  • Nargleblast
    Nargleblast Posts: 10,762 Forumite
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    As well as "future proofing" your home, I think the key to a good retirement is having a routine. I don't hit retirement age for a few years yet, but am on sick leave at present, having just had my appendix out, and I try to have a routine in my day. Get up at a reasonable time, not at crack of sparrers but not late. Build in a trip out during the day, a bit of hobby time, a bit of housework, bit of rest time etc. Plan various different things during the week. Set yourself a target to learn new things and keep up with current affairs. Nothing ages people faster than hibernating at home and doing nothing.

    I feel your pain re your OH - I am married to the world's fattest squirrel.
    One life - your life - live it!
  • EdSwippet
    EdSwippet Posts: 1,589 Forumite
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    Right, routine. A definite biggie. Thanks nargleblast for the further thoughts.

    At the moment I'm anticipating structuring the day/week around gym classes and swimming pool times. Centring on this will be a "threefer" -- staying fit, getting out of the house, and a framework around which to place other things. And some social contact too, so that's a "fourfer" I guess.

    As for targets, acknowledged. But I'm also trying to take care to avoid goals that can be reached, because then what?! Most stuff I want to do has, intentionally, no definite end-point. For example 'travel widely' rather than 'visit <name of four countries here>'. I suspect that even 'learn Spanish' might never end. I want to reach the point where I can read Isabel Allende and Cervantes novels in their native language. Perhaps quite a stretch, but I have decades, and the internet is a great resource for learning languages. Or more or less anything.

    Current affairs is a tricky one. I took a conscious decision nearly a decade ago to not watch any television news or take a newspaper (not even the freebie at the train station in the mornings!). The daily diet of alarmist nonsense, screaming headlines, and general prattling about 'celebrities' of whom I have never heard and about whom I care not at all, even in so-called 'quality' newspapers, pegged my outrage-ometer at eleven, and this became a curse that spiralled toward depression and anxiety. I am genuinely much more balanced emotionally without constant news exposure. I do scan Google News daily or so, and pick out any articles that interest. That and three-minute radio news bulletins on BBC 6 Music are as much as I want or need. BBC TV News 24 is my idea of hell!

    Actually, I don't own a television at all now, and haven't for, again, nearly a decade, so lounging around the house staring glassy-eyed at daytime programming is probably not going to become a default behaviour. That's not to say I don't consume any media -- I may be an expert on where the UK's (legal!) internet video-on-demand services are found! -- just that it's rather something I consume on my own terms and very selectively.

    In a way I'd like to 'try out' retirement for a month or two before diving in (both metaphorically and literally!). Bit impractical for me, though. I guess you are doing it through being on sick leave, but I'll assume that wasn't planned! Hope you recover soon.
  • Nargleblast
    Nargleblast Posts: 10,762 Forumite
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    My brother watches the news on Al Jazeera and Russia Today, for the perspective from foreign news channels. He says the finance newsreader on Russia Today is worth listening to.
    BBC Radio 4 always has stuff of interest too. I just think it helps to keep up to speed with world events.
    One life - your life - live it!
  • missile
    missile Posts: 11,691 Forumite
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    My brother watches the news on Al Jazeera and Russia Today, for the perspective from foreign news channels. He says the finance newsreader on Russia Today is worth listening to..


    I do that too. It is amazing how one can be suckered in to believing BBC perspective (or should that be propaganda?) on current affairs. It is far too simplistic to believe everything Obama says and does is right whilst Putin is always wrong.
    "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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  • EdSwippet
    EdSwippet Posts: 1,589 Forumite
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    I've wondered about BBC news bias from time to time, but never really given it a lot of thought because, well, I don't consume much of anything in the way of news. You'd have to wonder if it's the BBC that has the bias (if any), or if it's the UK as a whole.

    I've lived in two other countries beside this one, and so been able to take on their world-view (as it were), at least partially. One was in the middle east, and that definitely gave me a new perspective on things. The other was the US, which is a country famous for a media which often doesn't even seem to know that other countries exist (in the days when I did take a US newspaper we used to play 'spot the non-US story' -- could be less than one column-inch and relegated to the bottom left of page 19 or some such!).

    On newspapers, I now doubt much of what I read. Not in a conspiracy-theory way. When I read a story where I have prior personal knowledge of the details, background, and so on, I can almost always see inaccuracies, missing important details, and on many occasions just downright factual errors. On turning the page to read a story or article where I don't know any of the subject area, what are the chances that that story or article is more accurate than the one I just read? Added to which, few journalists these days take the time to dig beneath whatever press release or government announcement they have been provided with. Parroting the item provided is much easier.

    Anyway, it turns out that copious exposure to news can indeed be bad for us. I'll do my part by tuning out to a large degree. My father in law is a news junkie and it doesn't seem to do him any harm; I'm probably just more susceptible to the bad effects than he is. Or maybe he'd be even more laid back and agreeable than he already is if he cut back on the news!
  • melanzana
    melanzana Posts: 3,953 Forumite
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    edited 15 November 2015 at 6:45PM
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    I took early retirement eighteen months ago. Am I bored? Never... do I have a routine, not really.

    I think being too ambitious about "doing" lots and lots of things can be counterproductive. You are in a sense putting yourself in Stress mode just like work. If you don't achieve everything you set out to do every single day or week, you can become disillusioned.

    Just go with the flow for a while. It is important to get work out of your system. Retirement is about NO WORK, so replacing that with an even more filled routine can be difficult, if you dont, you can be disappointed with yourself..

    I think it depends on the person really. I am happy in my own company and do not need to be stimulated with tons of activities, but each to their own. I volunteer once a week, and meet friends who have also retired for lunch, and travel like the wind. The travelling bit is the best for me. I go walking three times a week to different places, and I really enjoy that. Family (no kids) is important to me too, so visit them and take the nephews and nieces out in the holidays etc. Love that. Time for them now.

    I have a list as long as your arm regarding house things to do. But never get around to it, as I am too busy enjoying life to think about those things!

    I did find that when I was working I was on top of everything, had to, no time for procrastination! But now, it's manana. That's what it's all about!

    I absolutely love retirement. I took it very early too, lucky me. I didn't make any plans just sailed into it, because I knew I was self sufficient and would not be bored or unfulfilled. I had given most of my life to a job that I loved, and when things went belly up, well it was time to go, with no regrets.

    My only advice is not to be too ambitious about everything you want to do.

    Festina Lente......

    And best of luck to you.
  • moneyistooshorttomention
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    ...and I would add personally that ill health on getting older is not "inevitable". Its just thought of that way by many British people - and a few other nationalities too (eg Americans I imagine? possibly some other European nationalities?).

    I disagree personally and don't accept that viewpoint at all. That way definitely lies "getting old" imo. I would tend to think "Expect it and you'll get it" (ie about ill health) and you have a much better chance of staying healthy if you don't "expect it".

    I think there is some truth in "use it or lose it" and I'm off to a chiropractor shortly (appointment down in the diary) for a general review and overhaul to nip in the bud some stuff I can feel is threatening and figure out what I need to do (exercises, etc) to get it all back to normal.

    Am not looking forward to the bill for that one - as I expect there might be a few more appointments necessary to "get things in order":(. Oh well...needs must...
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