Many people are staying active longer, and working later-or planning to. Is retirement really retirement anymore? Increasingly, attitudes are changing toward retirement. Senior years are not seen so much as the “twilight years”, where recliners and grandchildren on the knee figure largely. Instead, many people approach retirement as a new phase in a very active life.
- Of course, economic reasons loom large among those who decide to keep working. Many so-called “retirees” are staying on, at least part-time, in jobs. Boomers often expect to continue working after retirement age. This doesn’t always work out: health reasons and the difficulty of finding jobs can put a halt to such plans. But others continue to work to supplement their incomes or simply to avoid boredom.
- People are living longer, healthier lives. This means that retirement can signal a time of adventure for those who are willing to embrace it. With medical advances, and knowledge about proper diet and exercise, retirement years can be extremely active. People are exercising more, volunteering, and pursuing physical hobbies well into retirement.
- Travel is a more exciting option for many people. Check out Mary, who decided that frequent, long, solo trips to Puerto Rico are her thing. Despite her family’s worries and the fact that very few people travel solo, Mary is defining retirement for herself, and not fitting the mold. She says:
“I’m already planning to return to Puerto Rico for the coming winter. I hope to go back to the same Bed and Breakfast. I will sit on my private patio and bask in the sun. I will write on my laptop. I will eat the local food. I will relax away from my normal routine at home. I will miss my wonderful family, but I will not miss the cold weather. I can’t wait to return! I am so glad I travelled to Puerto Rico solo. Just because you don’t have a traveling companion, don’t let that stop you!”
- Adventure and activity may be the new norm for those who have reached retirement age. Staying healthy, active, and engaged with life can transform retirement. People are creating whole new life phases, rather than sitting on the sidelines. The old taboos against self-indulgence are fading away.
- Expat lifestyles are becoming more popular than ever. People head to Costa Rica, to the Far East, to Mexico, and many spots in South America. Island lifestyles from Indonesia to the Antilles are seeing a surge of growth. Retirees are seeking tax shelters, and the life that they have always dreamed of. Many find that the cost of living is cheaper when they are careful about their destination.
There is really no reason that “retirement” needs to mean retiring from the world that most of us think of as “real life”. We are now privileged to be able to enjoy better health. We have a better understanding of money matters. We are better educated, and therefore more in control of our destinies. Rules about the necessity of self-sacrifice and staying useful are going out the window.
Why not? If you can’t chart your own course when you’ve reached retirement age, then when can you? Retirement doesn’t mean waiting for an inevitable decline. It means that a new phase of life has begun. Whether working from necessity or desire, retirement age means knowing what you want. It means not worrying about what other people think of you. And it can mean the start of the life that you’ve always dreamed of.