retirement

Retired and Single: Readers Weigh In

Retired life as a single person doesn't have to be lonesome. Finding hobbies that require you to socialize can make all the difference.

When I asked readers to share their experiences with being single in retirement, you didn’t let me down. Not only did you offer useful advice, but you also came up with out-of-the-box ideas. And all of your stories are just as valuable for retirees who have a spouse or partner.

Not surprisingly, a number of you recommended volunteering as a way to socialize, and the suggestions were all over the map. For example, Ed Chidester volunteers as an English tutor for international students at a community college, as a travel guide for field trips sponsored by the local senior center (he gets to travel free), and as a member of the investment advisory board for his town. In the past, he’s also been a middle school math tutor and a dog walker at a humane society—and he may give those another try. “I’ve changed my volunteer activities because sometimes I need to try something different,” he writes.

Volunteering isn’t a panacea, and it’s critical to find the right fit. “All my volunteer positions have ties to my interests, and I have actively sought them rather than passively searching the internet,” writes Chidester. Reader Nila Whitfield always wanted to work with children, so she began volunteering as a reading buddy at an inner-city school three years before she retired.

And Doris Guenther recommends using your church as a resource. “Deep and lasting relationships can be formed,” writes Guenther, “good works can take place, and there are many opportunities to volunteer. Try a small church in your neighborhood. It’s good for the soul.”

Making connections. Socializing can sometimes begin at home—even if you live alone. “Four years ago, I sold my house and moved to a condo building,” writes Whitfield, “so it’s a built-in community of 54 friends.” (Note: Don’t be afraid to speak to people in the elevator.) John Taxis joined the board of the homeowners association at his condo, “which keeps me very busy and gives me a sense of purpose.” Plus, “living in a condo complex brings me in close contact socially, and being on the board makes me sought-after—although that can be a double-edged sword!”

Socializing doesn’t necessarily have to involve people. “My number-one suggestion for your readers who are alone is to adopt an older cat or dog,” writes Lynne Derry. “They make wonderful companions. Volunteer at a shelter, and before you know it you will find the perfect companion.” Plus, she says, “there’s nothing better than having a dog to get you out for a walk to meet other dogs—and people—in the neighborhood.”

Reader Dorothy Fue Wong, who is 80 years old and has been retired for 25 years, recommends focusing on your physical as well as your mental well-being with regular exercise as part of a class or at the gym. “That should be your first priority,” writes Wong. “The major objective for a single retiree is to live independently as long as possible.” (And remember, gyms are classic meeting places; that’s where my recently married son met his future wife.)

Finally, a couple of you emphasized how important it is to be comfortable in your own skin. “I don’t need to ‘cope with’ being alone in retirement because I actually prefer being alone most of the time,” writes one reader. “I have spent my life out in nature, working in the woods, and I love silence, absent from human chattering.”

Reader Rod Appel seconds that thought. “I’ve found it more rewarding to seek fun and excitement rather than social connections, even if that means doing things solo,” writes Appel, 63, who runs 5K races, paddleboards and skis, among other activities. “Sometimes I meet interesting people at the races or on the ski hill, but even if I don’t find anyone to talk with, I’ve still had a great time. Retirement is what you make it, so why not live out your dreams?”

Most Popular

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of
careers

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of

It’s tough to change, but your job could depend on it. Be flexible in your career goals – and talk with your kids about their own aspirations, because…
September 13, 2021
5 Top Dividend Aristocrats to Beef Up Your Portfolio
dividend stocks

5 Top Dividend Aristocrats to Beef Up Your Portfolio

The 65-member Dividend Aristocrats are among the market's best sources of reliable, predictable income. But these five stand out as truly elite.
September 14, 2021
7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom
commodities

7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom

These seven commodity stocks are poised to take advantage of a unique confluence of events. Just mind the volatility.
September 8, 2021

Recommended

Your Doctor is Retiring. Here's How to Find a New Physician
health insurance

Your Doctor is Retiring. Here's How to Find a New Physician

More doctors are considering quitting due to burnout from the pandemic. If you must find a new physician, get recommendations from friends and review …
September 24, 2021
Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2021 Tax Year
tax law

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2021 Tax Year

Americans are facing a long list of tax changes for the 2021 tax year. Smart taxpayers will start planning for them now.
September 23, 2021
You’re Being Robbed … You Just Don’t Know It
retirement

You’re Being Robbed … You Just Don’t Know It

For retirees especially, inflation risk should always be a top concern in your financial plan.
September 22, 2021
10 Ways You Could Avoid the 10% Early Retirement Penalty
retirement

10 Ways You Could Avoid the 10% Early Retirement Penalty

You’ve saved diligently in your 401(k), and you wouldn’t mind tapping into it – but you’re not age 59½ yet, so you could have to pay the IRS a 10% pen…
September 21, 2021