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Retirement bucket list: 14 things to do in retirement

Retirement is an exciting time full of new beginnings. Yes, you’re leaving the workforce, but you’re also making room for wonderful new experiences. If you worked a day job for decades, you’re used to planning things around your workday — but now that obstacle is gone, and your days are your own. With that said, you may need a little help figuring out what to do in retirement.

14 Retirement bucket list ideas

With your newfound free time, you can take a pilates class, hike to see the sunrise, or spend time volunteering. Below we’ve created a list of retirement bucket list ideas to help you ease into this new part of life.

1. Create a budget

When you retire you’ll probably have a fixed income that may be considerably lower than what you’re used to. You can live well on this kind of income, but you may need to create a budget. Once you create a budget, check in with your finances every 3-6 months to make sure you’re living within your means. 

2. Take up gardening

Gardening is a great way to pass the time and grow your own food. You can start or contribute to a garden if you have access to a yard or even a planter box. Watching flowers, plants, fruits, or vegetables sprout and grow is immensely rewarding, and better yet, it gets you outside and moving around. 

3. Hike

Hiking keeps you active and allows you to immerse yourself in magnificent scenery. You don’t need to trek up and down mountains, either — many easy hikes run next to rolling rivers, through green fields and parks, and even through ancient forests. 

4. Take a class

What would you like to learn more about? Odds are there’s a class for it. Go online and take a course in journaling, or audit a course at the local college. You may even be able to view lectures from prestigious universities or get a certification at your community center. 

5. Metal detecting

Pick up a metal detector, bring it to a beach, and see what you find. Walking up and down sandy stretches of shoreline is great exercise, and who knows? You may turn up a pirate’s treasure. 

6. Music lessons

Whether you have a favorite instrument or just want to see if you can carry a tune, music lessons are a wonderful way to pick up a new hobby and a new skill. Learning how to play, sing, or just read notes can deepen the appreciation you already have for your favorite songs, or even inspire you to form a band and write your own. 

7. Spend time with your loved ones

If you’ve spent many long years at a 9-to-5, you know you’ve missed things. Your family and friends are important, so take this time to begin spending more quality time together. Arrange lunches or dinners, offer to babysit, and just enjoy spending time with your loved ones. 

8. Write a book

Most of us have thought, “I have a book in me” at some point or another. Why not try to make that idea a reality? Maybe you’ve always wanted to pass on your family recipe collection, or you’ve got an idea for the next great thriller. It’s your story — tell it the way you want. Write a little each day, or whenever the mood strikes you. 

9. Volunteer

Are there causes that you’re passionate about? You’ve finally got the time to get involved with them. Some places you can consider volunteering at include:

  • Animal shelters
  • Trash cleanup groups
  • Food banks
  • Homeless, refugee, and recovery centers
  • Libraries
  • Local churches, synagogues, or other religious groups

These organizations, and many others, need all sorts of volunteer help. Let them know what you’re interested in and they will likely find a role that either matches your skills or that you can quickly learn. 

10. Keep working if you want

You don’t have to stop working altogether if you don’t want to! You might pick up part-time work in an area that interests you, or take up a new role as a consultant. Some retirees have even started businesses with their new free time. 

11. Pick up a sport

Staying active is one of the keys to longevity, and there’s no better way to stay active than playing a favorite sport. Look into your area’s sports leagues, as many cities and towns have informal groups that get together to play softball, basketball, soccer, and more. Not only will you keep your body fit and moving, you’re also likely to meet new friends of all ages. If there aren’t any leagues near you, never fear. Get together with some friends for a game of pickup basketball, or pursue more solitary sports like skiing or running. 

12. Take photographs

You don’t need a fancy digital camera to take beautiful photos, although it certainly doesn’t hurt. Learn about lighting and angles and commit to taking shots with your camera phone and document your new life in retirement. From there, you can upgrade to larger, higher-quality devices, and maybe even try your hand at filming. 

13. Learn a new language

Learning a second, third, or even fourth language will keep your brain active and can help you learn about other cultures. Start small with common phrases and work your way up to watching movies and TV shows, or even reading books in that new language. You might be surprised by how quickly you can pick it up.

14. Travel

So many of us spend years longing to see the world. You’ve got the time, so go ahead and spend it exploring new places. What countries have you always wanted to visit? What cities or natural spaces have interested you for years? Make your dreams of seeing a new place a reality. Get on a plane or train, book a cruise, or wander the country in a comfortable RV — the world is your oyster. 


Remember, there’s no wrong way to handle your golden years. A retirement bucket list is only a place to start; you can add to it as time goes by, or scratch off things you’ve tried and decided aren’t for you. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are, and you’ve both earned and deserved this time to yourself. 

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