Active retirement means something different for everyone, but no matter what constitutes "active" for a person, it should be the goal for a stimulating, satisfying retirement. Activity can be physical or mental, and both are rewarding for people who may feel lost without a day-to-day work schedule they have become accustomed to. Some people find renewed vitality in maturity and take up sports and activities like tennis, golf or cycling. Others stay active in less strenuous ways, like volunteering in the community, adopting a hobby or even going back to work part time.
The physically and intellectually stimulating aspects of an active retirement are crucial to a sense of fulfillment, but the social aspects of staying active are equally important. Retirees can feel isolated when they don't go to work everyday, and deteriorating health can make socializing even more difficult. Many seniors are choosing college towns to live out their retired years because of the constant activity there. Attractions in college towns appeal to all different interests, and the opportunities for continuing education are also a draw. Generally speaking, college towns also offer a high quality of living at moderate costs compared to big cities and affluent suburbs.
It is never too early to start a savings plan for retiring, especially when the stock market is volatile, the housing market is down and the economy is generally unstable. Calculating realistic retirement expenses and saving aggressively can help ensure a comfortable lifestyle in later years. In addition to living expenses, increasing healthcare costs and the other mundane budgetary considerations, retirement planning should account for the expenses associated with an active lifestyle to be sure that costs aren't barriers to living out the goals you set for yourself.
One of the largest extra expenses retirees budget for is travel. When there is no day-to-day obligation to work or kids, retirees can see the world at their leisure and appreciate new places like they never could before. But having the funds to engage in world travel is the first step, so include a generous sum for travel in your financial plan.
Taking up new hobbies can also be costly. Golf is a popular sport for those seeking active retirement, but gear, club memberships, greens fees and various other costs add up quickly. The same is true of tennis, competitive bowling and belonging to a gym. Put aside a bit of money for these activities if physical exertion is a priority.
On the other side of the coin is activities that cost nothing or even bring in income. Retirement is an opportunity to engage in the community in ways you never had time to before. Joining civic organizations gives you the social aspect of an active retirement, and donating time to shelters and food banks can give you emotional fulfillment. All of these things can translate into longevity.
After working the daily grind for decades, the last thing some retirees can fathom is going back to work. But those who get a sense of completeness or self-worth from having a task can implement work into their active retirement plan. Working with people can also satisfy social and cognitive needs, keeping seniors vivacious in some of the best years of their lives. Today, when many are forced to go back to work, choosing a new career path can be invigorating. The goal of a solid financial plan is to avoid the necessity of work and enjoy the choice to work.
Active retirement housing or independent living communities can scream "nursing home" to retirees wary of losing their independence. Aging doesn't mean you need 24-hour care or a regimented diet, but retirement communities have come a long way since your parents' time. Active retirement can truly be that--a place for seniors to be active and independent with the added benefits of a social scene and state-of-the-art facilities.
When planning for retirement, consider an active living community among your housing options. Active retirement communities in desirable cities often include single-family houses in a development that includes walking trails, swimming pools, golf courses and community centers. With neighbors at similar stages in life, there is a social component that cannot be easily found in regular neighborhoods.
Cities are welcoming these new developments, too, since seniors are a highly desirable demographic. Retirees in active retirement communities pay their taxes without populating the schools, claiming many jobs and committing many crimes. Seniors who have planned well have the disposable income to boost a city's economy, so municipalities are making efforts to attract new residents with attractive services and structures, community centers that cater to retirees' interests, continuing education opportunities and many other incentives to spend their finest years in a welcoming, stimulating community.
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