Planning Your Retirement Lifestyle
- Explore different ways to design a retirement lifestyle that keeps you active and engaged, and find out how to plan for your practical needs as you age.
When you've been working for your entire life, the transition to a retirement lifestyle can be a bit of a shock. As you anticipate retirement, whether it's 2 years or 2 decades away, it's important to consider the activities you'd like to pursue when you're no longer working. This process gives you something to look forward to; it also helps you create a realistic financial plan.
What Are Some Options for Life After Retirement?
One of the biggest questions in retirement is, "What do I do now?" The opportunities are endless — your time is your own. Retirement can be a great time to try new activities or spend more time on things you already love.
For professionals, travel opportunities are often limited to a few weeks each year. If you love to explore, retirement is a great time to start. Take smaller vacations or set off for months at a time, exploring your own country or heading overseas. With vacation rentals, it's easy to find a comfortable apartment to use as a home base in each new place.
RV travel is also a fun option, particularly if you want to stay in the United States and Canada. With campground hookups and a solar power setup, you can stay comfortably in some of the most beautiful places in the country. Get a membership to a 55+ campground network to get discounted rates, planned activities and built-in travel buddies.
Retirement can be expensive, especially when you factor in living costs and healthcare expenses. Moving overseas is one way to stay within budget.
Some countries have a lower cost of living, so your housing, healthcare and everyday expenses are lower. In places such as Mexico, for example, low medical costs can enable you to pay out of pocket.
Another option is to find countries that offer "golden passports." These countries grant you citizenship when you buy property and/or invest in the country, which enables you to live there full-time. You'll pay taxes in that country; if it has a national healthcare system, your taxes entitle you to free or low-cost medical care. In Portugal, for example, the Residence Permit for Investment enables you to get a residence visa after buying certain types of property. Then, you can apply for citizenship after 5 years.
Moving to Be Closer to Family
If you have children and grandchildren, you might dream of living close by. That's not always feasible when you're working, but after retirement, you can live wherever you please. Moving close to family gives you plenty of opportunities to spend quality time together.
Diving Into Hobbies
Retirement is the ideal time to pursue existing hobbies or find new passions. Instead of rushing through each activity, you can take time to enjoy the process. Your choices depend on your health, mobility and budget. Some popular options are:
- Quilting and sewing
- Outdoor sports
- Playing a musical instrument
There's no need to do your chosen hobby alone; community groups are a great way to socialize and do what you love. Consider joining a community theater, hiking group, quilting circle or senior sports league.
Starting Another Career
Not ready to stop working? That's not uncommon; many people find enjoyment in productivity. Retirement can be a great time to try side hustles or go all-in on a second career. Plus, the extra money can supplement your monthly income.
How To Plan for a Retirement Lifestyle
As with any aspect of retirement, achieving your ideal lifestyle requires careful planning. Consider your priorities, practical needs and financial requirements.
Decide What’s Most Important to You in Retirement
If you can't decide how to design your dream retirement lifestyle, ponder your priorities. Do you want to spend more time with family? Are you looking forward to socialization? Is your goal to stay active and healthy? These questions can help you figure out where your priorities lie — that way, you can allocate your time accordingly.
For example, you might prioritize travel and building strong relationships with your grandchildren. To achieve both goals, you could move closer to your family, so you can spend time with the grandkids between trips. Or, you might set aside money to travel with your family to create memories together.
Think About Housing
When you retire and your children have moved out, you may find that your home is too big for comfort. A larger-than-necessary home also costs more to operate and maintain. That's why many people decide to downsize after retirement, often to a condo or a smaller house.
There are plenty of options for housing:
- Condo or smaller home: Smaller spaces are convenient and comfortable. Condos offer the added benefit of included maintenance, snow removal and lawn care. Look for properties with at least one guest bedroom if you plan to host visiting children, grandchildren and friends.
- Senior community: Senior living communities often provide amenities, such as pools and sports facilities; many also offer scheduled events and activities. Since they're age-restricted to people aged 55 and up, you can rest assured that you'll have plenty of opportunities to meet and socialize with like-minded friends.
- Assisted living facility: At some point, you may need extra help handling personal and medical tasks. Assisted living facilities offer a nice blend of privacy and access to trained professionals. You can find options with private rooms, private apartments or shared rooms. Some facilities offer activities, meals, housekeeping and laundry services.
- Nursing home: If you require extensive assistance with everyday tasks or healthcare, a nursing home may be an option. These residential facilities usually offer round-the-clock medical care as well as food and personal-care services.
Of course, moving isn't for everyone. Many retirees decide to remain in their homes; you might choose this option if you love your house and community. If you own a house, staying in place can also reduce your monthly costs.
Finances play a big part in your retirement. Once you know where you want to live and how you want to spend your time, put together a spreadsheet to estimate costs. Include things such as:
Keep in mind that as you age, you may need to take more precautions in terms of safety. This might include a medical alert system, support systems in the shower and security systems for your home. It's helpful to set aside money to cover these expenses in the future.
Plan Your Retirement Finances
Once you've determined the costs for your ideal retirement lifestyle, it's time to think about how you'll pay for it. Common sources of income in retirement might include:
- Social Security benefits
- Retirement plans, such as pensions, 401(k) plans or IRAs
- Government assistance, such as VA benefits
- Investment income from stocks, bonds and mutual funds
- Annuity income
- Personal savings
- Part-time income
Life after retirement comes with a range of exciting opportunities. With advance planning, you can embark on the adventure with confidence and peace of mind.