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The six most surprising things people are discovering in retirement

Published Dec 17, 2021


By Phil Barker

ALTHOUGH many spend unnecessary time fearing the ageing process, the “golden years” are often the most exciting. The stresses of work fade away, and time can be better spent on activities of interest that stimulate the mind and revitalise the soul.

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Advances in the medical field and healthcare have resulted in a generation of more active, healthier retirees. The image of the frail, ageing retiree has now been rightfully replaced with that of a vibrant, active individual taking on new challenges and living life to the full. It’s an exciting time to embrace, with so much to look forward to.

1. Life gets more active

Without having to commit to the restrictive hours of work, there’s now time in the day to engage in physical activity. Whether it’s a sunrise brisk walk on the beach, hiking or mountain biking in the coastal forests, paddling on the ocean or simply playing golf with friends, retirement is the time to get active – and feel younger because of it.

2. Retirees still do the work they enjoy

Retirement was once a time where work ended once the golden watch was handed over – not anymore. The modern retiree can enjoy the freedom of retirement while still working from home. The increased digitisation and remote working trend that has followed in the wake of Covid-19 is beneficial for retirees. All those years of experience and understanding can now be put to use in the role of remote consultant – or even on starting on a completely new venture.

3. Retirees find a sense of purpose

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For some, continuing with work, or embarking on a new career path, provides a valuable sense of purpose. For others, retirement offers the chance to get involved in causes closest to the heart. There is a real sense of meaning in being able to give back to the community. Whether it’s sharing expertise or volunteering time, retirement provides people with the opportunity to really make a difference. In fact, a study done by Merrill Lynch found that retirees were three times more likely to find happiness in “helping those in need” rather than spending on themselves.

4. Retirement can last longer than expected

With life expectancy increasing – yet retirement age remaining steadfast at around the 65-year mark – the golden years are stretching on for longer than before. This is really important to note as it will need to factor into the financial planning ahead of retirement, but it also means a lot more time to engage in activities that bring happiness and a sense of purpose.

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5. There are lots of ‘firsts’ still waiting

This is no longer a time to say “been there, done that” but rather a time to explore new opportunities, embark on exciting adventures and learn new things. Granted, Covid-19 has put a bit of a dampener on international travel, but until that opens up again, there is so much to explore in South Africa’s backyard. This is the perfect opportunity to try out new hobbies and interests and even enrol in some online learning.

6. Social lives become much busier

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The Merrill Lynch survey also indicated that 80% of retirees considered socialising to be vital to their happiness. That’s why so many are choosing secure estates that prioritise a relaxed and healthy lifestyle with community living. Keeping fit could mean joining an exercise class, a walking group or a cycling club, while volunteer work and hobbies also provide great opportunities for socialising.

Phil Barker is managing director of Renishaw Property Developments.