Care Guides > 35 Interesting (and Unusual) Things to do in Retirement

35 Interesting (and Unusual) Things to do in Retirement

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Following years of hard work, retiring brings you the well-earned rewards of freedom and time. There are endless things you can do in this new life stage, from learning a skill to exploring unfamiliar places, making it a joyous period. In fact, many of the world's oldest celebrities are well over 90 years old and still going strong to this day!

However, deciding what to do with this new freedom can be difficult for some. The sudden expanse of time can be slightly overwhelming but is not something you should be intimidated by.

It’s important to embrace the excitement of this period and fill it with enriching activities of your choice. Whether you’re seeking thrills through and active retirement or relaxation, your retirement is the time when you get to decide.

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Why it’s Important to Keep Busy When Retired

While retirement is generally a happy time in life, there are risks you should be aware of. Leaving work sometimes causes people to become less active and social, which can negatively affect health.

Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2013 found that pensioners face an increased likelihood of developing physical and mental ailments. This was partly due to ageing, but also because retired people are more likely to be lonely or inactive.

This means that staying busy and social as a retiree is vital to reduce the risk of any physical and mental illnesses. Keeping your body moving and maintaining relationships will help to protect your health and quality of life.

To help get you to do this, Lottie has created a list of 35 things to do in retirement. Read on to discover more about the importance of making your retirement a fulfilling time and to gain inspiration on hobbies you could take up.

Ideas for Your Retirement

1. Create a Bucket List to Provide a Sense of Purpose

The first thing you should do in your retirement is decide how you’re going to spend it. Creating a retirement checklist or setting yourself goals and aspirations in the form of a bucket list will provide a structure, which may be lacking once you have stopped working.

2. Set Yourself the Challenge to Do Something New

Although relaxation is often a priority for pensioners, the way you spend your retirement is your choice and you shouldn’t be intimidated by the thought of a new challenge.

This year, 82-year-old Mildred Wilson completed her second Tough Mudder – a difficult and competitive race across a muddy obstacle course. Meanwhile, 2018 saw 106-year-old Jack Reynolds become the oldest person in the world to ride a zip wire.

Both stories show that, while everyone has their own limitations, ageing doesn’t have to stop you from taking on new adventures.

3. Find a New Retirement Home

Retiring can be a big life change and reflecting this by moving to a new home is often sensible. Given that commuting to work is no longer a concern, retirees frequently downsize or move to retirement communities or villages where they can socialise with like-minded individuals and meet new people.

4. Redecorate Your House

If you’d like to stay in the area you live in, rather than moving, redecorating your home can be a fantastic alternative. From painting walls to upcycling furniture, refreshing your home can help you embrace your new life stage.

Couple redecorating their home

5. Travel or Even Move to a New Part of the World

The planet is filled with interesting places and cultures, which you often don’t get to see when working full-time. Whether you backpack around South America, cruise around the Caribbean or move to Europe, retirement is your chance to get out there and see the world!

6. Offer Your Time as a Volunteer

Volunteering around your local area or for a cause you care about can be a highly rewarding activity at any point in life. Contributing your time can provide confidence and a sense of fulfilment while offering the opportunity to learn new skills.

There are 163,000 voluntary organisations in the UK, meaning many chances to get involved. If you would like to, you can find volunteering roles across the UK at

7. Pass Down Your Skills by Mentoring a Younger Person

Years of life experience mean retirees often have wisdom and skills that many younger people could benefit from. Becoming a mentor to someone younger can be an enriching way to continue using your knowledge once retired.

If you’re interested in mentoring someone, the Prince’s Trust has resources that can help you to get started.

8. Continue Working with a Part-Time Job

Although many people happily take their pension and leave their jobs, others continue working far past retirement age, often on a part-time basis. Some retirees do this due to satisfaction in their work, whilst others simply want a little extra cash to top up their pension.

It’s common for companies to take retirees back on reduced working hours, so you could contact your employer about returning. However, you can also apply for part-time jobs in new industries if you would like a change.

9. Work Full-Time by Starting Your Own Business

Got an idea for a business that you’ve never had time to pursue? While being a more full-time retirement occupation, becoming an entrepreneur can be a fulfilling endeavour to dedicate your time to.

Building your own business can bring pride, as you see your idea grow and flourish. Further, being your own boss means that you’re less likely to lose that sense of retirement freedom.

Advice on starting a business can be found on GOV.UK.

10. Learn More About the Area You Live In

A great way to prevent loneliness is to deepen your connection to your community. Whether it’s getting to know the people you live close to or learning more about the history, you should explore your local area.

11. Discover the UK’s Nature and History

If you’re already familiar with your local history or are eager to journey further from home, the rich history and nature to be found in the UK can provide endless discovery and adventure.

There are plenty of health benefits to getting outdoors and exploring and our experts have rounded up some of the best walks for wellbeing across the UK.

If you’d like to discover more about the UK, you may consider joining the National Trust. Protecting natural and historic properties across the world, the Trust allows members to visit and learn from their sites.

Couple taking a walk in nature

12. Protect Your Health by Exercising Every Day

While exercise is important at all ages, staying active as you get older is key to maintaining your health, mobility, and mental wellbeing. Common ailments amongst ageing people, such as arthritis and heart disease, can be improved by an active lifestyle.

You should include a mixture of types of exercise in your regime, with the aim of getting your heart rate up and keeping your muscles strong. For further advice, visit the NHS page on exercise as you get older.

Our gifts for grandma article includes some amazing presents for keeping active in later life!

We can help you find the perfect UK retirement home. Use our free service to filter by location, price, the facilities available, purchase type and more!

13. Find a Sport You Can Do with Other People

If you’ve struggled with exercise previously, adding a competitive or social element could increase your enjoyment. Playing a sport with other people is also a great way to make exercise more engaging.

Lottie’s top five sports for retired people are:

14. Practice Mindful Exercise with Tai Chi or Yoga

Low impact exercises like yoga and tai chi can also be incredibly beneficial for your mental and physical health. The focus on core strengthening in these exercises is wonderful for mobility and balance, while the centrality of concentration and tranquillity promotes mental wellbeing.

There are classes for tai chi and yoga across the country. However, you can also learn them at home with the help of online tutorials, such as Yoga with Adriene.

Older adults doing yoga

15. Make Learning to Dance Your Retirement Hobby

Dancing can improve your posture, fitness, and confidence. Whether you take up ballroom dancing with a friend or join a street dance class, moving to music is a joyous and nourishing way to spend your retirement.

If you’re interested in learning to dance, The Royal Academy of Dance provides free online ‘Silver Swans Classes’.

16. Write the Novel You’ve Always Wanted To

The saying tells us that “everyone has a book in them” and retirement is the perfect time to write it if you do.

When authoring a novel, you can include anything you want, drawing on and exploring your own life experiences as you wish. This can be both a fun and therapeutic practice.

If you’d like to try it but are unsure of how to start, Future Learn has free courses on fiction writing that can help.

17. Join a Book Club with Other Retired People

If you’re interested in literature, but you’d rather not spend your retirement writing, joining a reading group may be for you.

In such a group, you would be recommended new books, which you would read and discuss with other members. Joining is therefore an exciting way to learn more about literature and to meet new people.

Many local areas have their own book clubs, which can usually be found through Reading Groups.

18. Spend Your Days Painting or Drawing

There are plenty of creative hobbies you can take up, but painting and drawing are simple to start from the comfort of your own home. They can be enjoyed without investing in expensive equipment – simple supplies from a local shop will be enough to begin.

From acrylics to watercolours, tutorials teaching painting skills can be found on YouTube, via channels such as Jay Lee Painting. If you’d like a more structured approach to learning artistic skills, you can join paid online courses at London Art College.

19. Choose an Instrument to Learn

Playing an instrument has countless benefits for your brain, including relieving stress and improving your memory. If that’s not reason enough to learn, you’ll also fill your home with the joy and fun of music.

Lottie’s top five instruments for retirees to learn are:

  • Piano
  • Guitar
  • Ukulele
  • Drums
  • Harmonica

You may want the assistance of a tutor to unleash your inner musician. Tutorful and Music Teachers are useful directories to connect you to teachers across the country, while Tutor House specialise in 1:1 online tuition, including for the guitar, the piano, the violin and more.

If you don’t wish to hire a tutor, you can also find useful tutorials on YouTube. Channels such as Pianote provide detailed lessons to get you started.

20. Use Your Free Time to Study a New Language

Acquiring a second language allows conversation with a whole new group of people and is useful if you plan to travel when retired. Additionally, learning a new language can strengthen your mind and improve mental agility.

Language apps, such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone, can be downloaded to your phone and carried everywhere, making it easy to integrate the learning into your daily routine. If you’d prefer a more structured approach, you could join a local or online course.

21. Embrace Crafting Skills as Leisure Activities

While crafting skills generally originate from work and necessity, a lot of people now practice them for leisure. Crafting an item can be rewarding and the process therapeutic.

Examples of crafting skills you could learn include:

  • Knitting
  • Sewing
  • Candle making
  • Whittling wood

YouTube has useful videos teaching crafting, such as how to whittle a spoon, while most supplies required for crafts can be found on Amazon. Learning can be fun, relaxing and the result is wonderful items to gift or keep.

22. Use Social Media to Engage with Many People

Posting to apps such as TikTok or Instagram encourages creativity and can make you feel more connected to the wider world.

Although stereotypes may say that older people are less technologically savvy, you shouldn’t be discouraged. There are plenty of elderly influencers posting charming and hilarious content, which has been viewed by thousands.

23. Protect Your Memory as You Age with Gaming

Recent research has found that gaming can improve brain function and memory in older adults. This is due to games being able to expose people to novel environments and tasks that can keep your mind sharp.

Picking up a controller and diving into the world of games can therefore be fun and beneficial for you.

24. Enjoy New Experiences in Nature by Hiking

Hiking has numerous benefits for your health, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen your bones. However, hiking’s main appeal is that it takes you out to discover nature.

The UK has a large network of hiking trails to explore, which cross through stunning landscapes and wildlife. These can be found easily through National Trail.

25. Feel Connected to the Earth by Gardening

Growing plants and produce, whether at home or in an allotment, can be extremely satisfying. Watching as seeds you’ve planted grow and bloom can foster a feeling of achievement, as well as a connection to nature.

If you’d like to test out your green fingers but don’t have the space to garden at home, you can search for an allotment at The National Allotment Society.

Older adults gardening

26. Start Fishing in Your Retirement

A great way to take in fresh air, fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in the UK. Hours can be spent with friends enjoying the outdoors and angling for the best catch.

Besides a way to learn a new skill, you’ll need equipment and special licenses to start fishing. The Canal River Trust has further advice on what you’ll need as a beginner fisherman.

27. Remember the Important Things and Spend Time with Your Family

Sharing your love and leisure time with your children, siblings, or extended family will enrich your entire life and is amongst the most worthwhile things you can do. Retirement is the perfect opportunity to do it more often.

Whether you invite them over for tea or take a day trip together, you’ll create wonderful memories together as a family.

28. Spend Time with Your Grandchildren

For those with grandchildren, spending time with them will always be fun and rewarding. Research has even indicated that people of varying ages spending time together can improve the wellbeing of both.

If your grandchildren are older, you can socialise with them, so try arranging a meal or a trip to the cinema. For those with younger grandchildren, you might instead offer to care for them when their parents need a night to themselves.

29. Cherish Memories by Creating Scrapbooks

Although many people are used to having thousands of photos stored on phones, keeping physical copies in a scrapbook is useful for sharing and securing memories. A scrapbook can be shown to others and passed along to other members of your family.

Try printing out some of your digital photos and arranging them into a scrapbook of valued memories. If possible, do this with a friend or loved one, so you can reminisce as you create the album.

30. Make New Friends to Enjoy Your Retirement With

Loneliness can be an increasing worry as people age, but it’s never too late to make new friends. Doing so can even add fun and excitement to your retirement.

So, while it can be daunting, meeting people is a challenge that’s worth taking on. If you’re unsure of how to, Meet Up can help you locate people with similar interests, while Age UK run Friendship Centres to connect pensioners.

31. Find Love as a Retired Person

Just as it’s never too late to make new friends, it’s also never too late for love - and there are lots of ways you can find love later in life.

The first way to meet people is to socialise. For example, joining a social group for over 50s with people that share an interest of yours is an ideal place to start.

You can also look for a companion through online dating for over 50s, which makes arranging dates easier than ever. Sites like eHarmony are great for people of all ages, while there are also specialist sites for older daters, such as Silver Singles.

32. Become a Connoisseur and Get into Wine Tasting

A hobby to lead you around the globe, the wide variety of wine provides ample opportunity for new experiences. Whether tasting in your own dining room or a vineyard abroad, developing your palate to sense each note a wine contains is an adventure.

If you’d like to start, Vivino has many tips on wine tasting for beginners, while full courses can be found through Decanter.

Man drinking wine

33. Learn to Bake

Baking is a wonderful skill that allows you to create delicious treats for yourself and your loved ones. It fills your kitchen with love and joy, as well as tasty food.

To learn how to bake, you could buy a cookbook or attend a lesson. Online help can be found on BBC Good Food, which has whole guides for baking beginners, or YouTube, which has channels dedicated to cooking.

34. Be Sensible with Your Money

You’ve most likely planned and saved for the future already by the time you reach retirement age, and it’s important to plan so that your savings don’t run out. Once you start withdrawing your pension, you’ll need to regularly check your plan and any investments to ensure they last.

A full guide on taking your pension can be found at MoneySavingExpert, which offers advice on using the funds and planning for the future.

35. Buy Yourself a Treat to Celebrate!

While you should be cautious with money, you must balance this with fun and a gift to celebrate your retirement is a reasonable treat. Whether you splash out on a dream holiday or purchase a memento to mark the occasion, pampering yourself a little in retirement is essential.

We’re on a mission to support individuals and their loved ones throughout each stage of their later living journey. For more information, check out everything Lottie has to offer.

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