Possible Stages of Your Retirement Second Life

Parallels from a Younger You!

I find many parallels between a young adult just starting out in life and an older adult beginning retirement.  Young adults usually have to make the transition from student to employee, then career, then family etc.  Each of these is a very different stage of life, although each overlaps with the other stages.  Retirement is very similar.

It might help to look at retirement as four overlapping stages of life, just as your life changed in your younger years.  Here are four I suggest:

  • Working Semi Retirement
  • Very Active Traditional Retirement
  • Traditional Retirement
  • Encourager Retirement

Working Semi Retirement

Working Semi Retirement might be compared to that earlier time in life where you were in transition between a student and a career.  Maybe you have a job, but you are not trying to make a new career.  Or maybe you try different options to see which ones work for you, and you do start a new career or business.

In this stage you are trying new things and exploring to see what sticks.  Possibly you work just enough to pay some basic bills, or you are so excited about a new possibility that you jump in with both feet. Now might be a time to do some of that traveling that you always wanted to do.

Very Active Traditional Retirement

In this stage you possibly work a little less, and play and explore more.  Maybe you travel, explore new hobbies, or keep learning just for the sheer joy of it.

This may be a time when you step up your volunteer work and concentrate on helping others.

Traditional Retirement

I call this stage traditional retirement because it reminds me of what I thought retirement would be like when I was younger.  Maybe this is a more laid back time.  You are still active and busy but life does not move at the frenzied pace of previous years.

Maybe your heath and energy are not the same as in previous times.  You still travel but it is a little less adventurous.

Encourager Retirement

I call this the encourager phase because I think this should be a time when the focus is more on others than yourself.  You have slowed down considerably.  Getting around is a little more difficult and maybe you can no longer drive?

This is a time to pass on some wisdom you have learned over the years.  Maybe you do some writing.  Send greeting cards and thank you notes to everyone.  Find ways to use kind words and encourage the people around you.

The Stages are Different for Everybody!

Not everyone goes through all the stages.  Some people will never stop working, either by necessity or because they love what they do.  Others will stay active well into old age.  Still others will have the stages forced upon them too soon due to health issues.

So why think about and discuss these stages in retirement?  There are two main reasons.  First, I think it is important to think of retirement as a new beginning.  It really is just like that time in your life when you had finished school and were fresh and new and had an exciting life ahead of you!

Second it helps in planning and thinking about what you will due in the different stages.  That way as you find yourself in a new stage it is not a surprise, or something to be concerned about!  It is simply another phase in your retirement adventure.


Homesteading in Retirement

Homesteading in Retirement

Note:  This article is another part of an ongoing series of alternative housing arrangements.

For some people homesteading may be an attractive housing alternative and exciting lifestyle change in retirement.  Homesteading can mean many things to different people but for our purposes we are talking about a more self-reliant lifestyle, probably in a more rural environment (although there are some people that set up homesteading in the city.)

Homesteading Isn’t Just for Hippies! (Not that there is anything wrong with Hippies!)

Homesteading can mean building your own house, growing your own food, and even living off the grid.  But it doesn’t have to mean doing all of those things, or doing them all at once.  For one thing you have to keep your physical abilities in mind.  Living in a tent for two years while you build a log cabin is not for everybody.  I recently read an article that talked about the “Back to the Earth” movement that tried to live totally off the land back in the sixties and seventies.  It turns out most abandoned that effort after a few years for a more conventional middle class lifestyle.  Now some are retiring and picking up the homesteading idea in a more comfortable way.  They still want to grow some of their own food, but they also want inside plumbing and Internet connectivity, although they may use various off grid technologies like wind or solar to power it all.

Homesteading Doesn’t Have to Mean a Huge Farm

Most homesteaders choose a rural location.  This sometimes allows for a little housing geo-arbitrage, the ability to live in a less expensive location (more about housing geo-arbitrage in a separate article.)  The Internet means a rural location can still allow opportunities for income and communication that were unavailable just a few years ago.  Homesteading doesn’t have to mean the big acreage that people used to associate with rural living.  In fact the recent trend seems to be smaller plots with intensive farming methods.

You Can Start Small

Many homesteaders find that growing at least some of their own food is a part of the self-reliant lifestyle they desire.  This doesn’t have to mean working the “back forty” with a team of draft horses.  It can start with a simple garden of a few vegetables and grow from there as you gain experience.  There are lots of good books and online resources and most advise to start small.  Eventually some homesteaders move on to bigger gardens and even small livestock like chickens and goats. It is also something you can start long before retirement with a backyard garden to gain experience.  This allows you to try a little piece of the homesteading lifestyle before you take the leap.

Good for the Environment

Environmental consciousness is another trait shared by many homesteaders.  For this reason many have an interest in alternative energy.  This can range from a complete “off the grid” existence to supplemental experiments in solar and wind technologies.  Again there is lots of good information available out there in books and on line resources.

Homesteading Mixed with other Housing Alternatives

Homesteading lends itself to the use of other housing cost reduction strategies.  I have already mentioned housing geo-arbitrage as a way to decrease expenses by moving to a less expensive location.  Homesteading might also lend itself well to house sharing.  For example how about the idea of a couple small cabins on a couple of acres with several couples each having their own cabin.  They could share expenses, gardening work, etc.  The possibilities are endless.

I have obviously only touched the surface of the homesteading option in retirement.  There is lots of room to explore further.  Hopefully at least some of you will want to look into this exciting lifestyle change.

Can House Sharing Work for You?

House Sharing the Retirement Way

Note:  This article is another part of an ongoing series of alternative housing arrangements.

While everyone’s definition of retirement may differ one thing is certain – Retirement should be a time in life where you do things in new and fresh ways.  This is sort of like college and young adult life where you went from the easy security of your family’s home to something new.  For many this meant sharing a house or apartment.  It made sense then financially, and provided a supportive yet easy come and go arrangement.

Give House Sharing a Chance! 

For similar reasons house or apartment sharing might make sense for retired couples and singles.  This won’t work for everyone, and I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes and saying “no way!”  But give it a chance and at least look at some of the pros and cons.  Make sure you are not dismissing it simply because you have become too set in your ways!

Financially, it May Make Sense

The financial reasons are obvious.  With a limited retirement income you are looking for ways to bring the housing part of your expenses down to a more manageable level.  A house or large apartment may be a better alternative to a small apartment or other options.  You can manage the burden of a mortgage (maybe), taxes and maintenance with little left over for other things or you can share those expenses and use the saved funds for travel, hobbies, or whatever else.  The situation is similar when renting.  Two or more couples or singles can share a house a larger apartment for a fraction of the total rent.

Ideally a shared arrangement can provide a better supportive environment for everybody involved.  There are simply more bodies to share the work.  This can be as simple as watering the plants when someone is away to sharing cooking and maintenance activities.  As people get older it can even help with handling illness and provide a more secure environment.

Sharing can help you get up and go when you want.  Someone is usually there to watch the house, and the extra dollars you save can be used for all those activities you envisioned in retirement.  This might include travel, hobbies, volunteer work, eating out occasionally at a fancy restaurant, etc…

Let’s consider a simple example.  John and Mary Smith own a 4 bedroom McMansion in the suburbs.  It has a couple bathrooms, and living and family room, and a rec room in the basement.  It is too much house for two people and more urgently it saddles the Smith’s with a $2000 mortgage payment.  Bob and Jane Jones love to travel and camp, but need a home base.  George and Evelyn Public have roots in the Smith’s area but like to travel to Florida for three months a year.

Here we have a perfect sharing arrangement.  Each couple could pay $667 a month.  The house is big enough that when they want privacy one couple can go to the living room, one to the family room and one to the rec room.  That really isn’t much of a problem anyway however because the Jones are hardly ever home, and even the Public’s are away three months a year.  Obviously this is a simplified example but there are lots of possibilities out there.

It is important in a sharing arrangement to discuss and write down all the arrangements and responsibilities for each party in advance.  Don’t forget the details like “Is smoking allowed?”, “Is drinking allowed?” or are there any quiet times.  It also might be good to spell out in advance a procedure for misunderstandings.

I’ll explore more on this topic in a future article.