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10 ideas for a happy retirement

Join the ‘retired happy’ with our expert guide to a happy retirement. Find tips on things for retirees to do and the best places to retire, plus inspiration to help you to stay fit and active.

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Hobbies and interests
Posted 12 January 2023
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What does a happy retirement mean? 

What makes a happy retirement is very personal. The new freedom allows you to focus on exactly what you want out of life. It could mean more time spent with friends and family. More time to tend the garden or to relax with a good book. More time to travel. New hobbies. Or even a new career. Whatever your retirement goals, it should be anything but boring. These 10 tips will help you to decide what a happy retirement means to you – and how to make it happen.

10 ideas for a happier retirement 

1. Plan your finances  

Knowing how much money you’ll have to spend is key to a happy retirement. After you’ve calculated your income and essential outgoings, you’ll know exactly how much cash you can spare on the fun stuff, like hobbies, days out and holidays. If you want to boost your revenue, you could consider working after retirement like late blooming actors, Angie and Edson Chace, who found a change of career that’s challenging but also a lot of fun.  

Get help with financial planning for retirement.

2. Fill your diary 

Wondering what to do in retirement? A sure-fire way to make your retirement happier is to create a calendar packed full of events to look forward to. As well as making regular plans to meet up with friends and family, fill your diary with weekends away, museum and art gallery visits, theatre trips, exercise sessions, volunteering, clubs and hobbies. Retirement is an ideal time to create a bucket list of all your ambitions, from visiting the wonders of the world to writing a novel or even jumping out of an aeroplane. Planning is part of the fun!  

Read inspirational retirement stories from our homeowners.  

3. Eat well to live well 

A well-balanced diet is the fuel for a happy retirement and it’s important for your wellbeing to maintain healthy eating habits. Perhaps this is the perfect time to learn some new cookery skills too – from breadmaking to making your own sauerkraut? To inspire you, we’ve compiled a range of simple and healthy recipes – as well as a delicious treats – from our on-site chefs and homeowners. Or, if you fancy a break from all that shopping, preparation – and washing up – you may appreciate a subsidised restaurant onsite? Our Retirement Living PLUS developments offer chef-run bistro/restaurants serving fresh food and drinks at impressively low prices.  

Read more advice on how to manage your diet in retirement

4. Keep physically active

Exercise is proven to be the most effective way to prolong a youthful outlook and active life – vital if you want to be happily retired. Marie (91), Bilberry Place, Bromsgrove, West Midlands, says, “I fill my days with classes like Pilates and Legs, Bums and Tums. I only took up exercise in my 60s, but it just goes to show that it’s never too late.” And, it doesn’t matter what exercise you choose – gardening and gentle home workouts count. The important thing is to make it part of your regular weekly routine and to mix strength and flexibility sessions, for instance, yoga, with cardio workouts like running, or even a brisk walk. Swimming is an excellent all round exercise, as the water supports your bodyweight making it suitable for people with arthritis or mobility issues. For something different, try aqua aerobics or, if you’re after an adrenaline rush – wild swimming!

Read our guide to keeping yourself in tip top shape.

5. Workout your brain

It’s not just your body - you brain gets stronger with exercise too - and keeping it active is essential for a happy retirement. It’s not just about doing a daily cryptic crossword either. Learning new skills – and making new friends – are key to sharpening your mind. Try taking up new a hobby - from painting to learning a new language or knitting and crafting. Keeping your IT skills up to date will also open up a world of entertainment and learning opportunities as well as helping you to stay in touch with friends and family – the University of the Third Age offers practical courses.  

6. Become an explorer  

Retirement is the perfect time to plan adventures. Ann (70), a homeowner at Waterman House, Dorset, says, “When I moved into my McCarthy Stone property, I made a new best friend called Dorothy (80). Now, we plan to go to South Africa together! … We have such a great adventure planned and we can’t wait to see ‘the big five’.” While for some, like Ann, a happy retirement means global travels, there will be plenty of things for retirees to do in your local area – from historic buildings to walking trails.

Find the top hidden gems to visit across the UK

7. Make the most of green spaces 

A daily dose of the great outdoors will boost your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing – and can help you to sleep better too. Whether it’s a stroll around your local park, a bracing coastal walk, or a day trip to a national park, being surrounded by greenery and nature will make you feel happy and doesn’t have to cost a penny.

Discover some of England’s best walking locations

8. Ponder on pet ownership 

Evidence shows that pets make you healthier and happier. According to a survey from 2022, 87% of dog owners said their pet made them feel ‘mentally healthier’, with cat owners just behind on 82% and rabbit owners at 78%. While all pets offer companionship and can bring a lot of pleasure, dogs encourage you to exercise and socialise too. Read our guide to the best dogs for retirement to discover the pros and cons. At McCarthy Stone we understand that pets are part of  a happy retirement – which is why our retirement communities are pet-friendly.

Read our pet policy

9. Find your happy (retirement) place 

The best places to retire in the UK depend on what you want from your retirement. Do you yearn to be surrounded by nature or in the heart of a bustling British town? Closer to family and friends or closer to the coast? With our happy retirement communities across the UK, you’ll soon find the perfect place to call home.

10. Make your home your own 

Downsizing from a larger home is often a practical and positive part of a good retirement plan – it may free up your finances, as well as making life easier and more enjoyable. Think of a new contemporary property as a blank canvas. The chance for a fresh start and to create an individual home with interiors that reflect your personality and style. And, from free decluttering and removals to putting up shelves to help you settle in, the McCarthy Stone team are here to support your move every step of the way.

Join the ‘happy retired’ at a McCarthy Stone retirement community 

If you’re looking for a happy retirement, you’ll find it at our lively retirement communities. With lovely, energy-efficient homes, thoughtful amenities and services, and good neighbours on the doorstep, it’s no wonder so many of our homeowners say they wish they’d made the move sooner. 

Happy retirement homes for everyone  

With a range of retirement communities and flexible moving in options – including buying, renting and Part buy, Part rent, McCarthy Stone offers a home for every retirement dream. Choose from: 

  • Retirement Living: developments: independent living for the over 60s, blending private, luxurious and low maintenance accommodation with a friendly community just outside the front door.  
  • Retirement Living PLUS: assisted living for the over 70s, with all the benefits of a Retirement Living apartment but with thoughtful added amenities including a bistro and care support.  
  • Retirement bungalows; secure, low maintenance - and stair-free – living, usually with a private garden and garage/parking.  
  • Retirement villages: a mix of housing: coach houses, cottages, bungalows and apartments usually with other amenities too. 

With developments in fantastic locations across the UK, you’re bound to find one you love. Browse our retirement properties here or get in touch with our friendly team if you have any questions.


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