We all dream of retirement. The day we can quit work and spend our days doing what we love.
But our working lives take up so much of our lives. What do you do when you realize work has left no time for hobbies, and now you don’t have any passions to fill up all this spare time?
That’s where the fun begins.
Now you’re retired, you have the time to figure out what you love to do, try out different hobbies, and do whatever lights you up. And discovering your passions doesn’t have to break the bank.
There are hundreds of hobbies you can try with little or no investment. Whether you love the outdoors and want to spend more time in nature or would love to get creative and take up something artistic, now is the time to let your imagination run wild.
In this post, we’ve asked experts to share their advice on the best things to do in retirement. If you’re on a tight budget, none of their suggestions will break the bank, and there might just be a hidden gem you’ll be glad you tried.
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Get a Motorcycle
Now you’re retired, you might’ve noticed that you don’t know what to do in your area. But driving a car around isn’t cheap. Gas prices are sky high, and parking can be a nightmare wherever you go.
A motorcycle is cheap to run and makes getting around much easier. And contrary to popular belief, motorcycles don’t have to be expensive.
Find a second-hand motorbike or scooter at a local dealership to keep costs down. You don’t need an expensive model (unless you want one!), and the maintenance costs are much lower than a car or truck.
“Motorcycles give you the ultimate freedom. Whether you love driving or not, there’s nothing like feeling the wind and enjoying the outdoors on your own bike. Just do your research when you’re finding the best model for you and use a reputable dealership,” says Adam Kenyon from Jalopy Talk.
If you’ve always wanted a motorbike, now’s your chance to tick going on a road trip off your bucket list.
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Bird watching is an easy hobby to get started with; you need a decent pair of binoculars and a bird guide, and you’re set. This is also a peaceful option for anyone looking to get outside and into nature.
“Bird watching as a hobby is incredibly flexible. You can get started in your back yard or find a local group to share your new passion with, and it’s thrilling to spot rare birds in your area,” says Kasey Turner from NatureNibble.
Did you know that there are over 260 species of bird currently on the endangered list? Bird watching is a great way to spot rare birds, bring awareness to endangered populations, and even help track efforts.
Plus, being outdoors and enjoying wildlife positively impacts your well-being. Research shows spending time in nature every day can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension. Ecotherapy is even used as a treatment for depression and anxiety.
Grab a pair of binoculars, a bird guide, and some snacks to get started. If you plan on going to marshland or a dedicated bird-watching spot, you might also need some decent shoes and warm clothing.
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Start a Side Hustle
Many people have sat at their desks questioning their career choice. Now you’re retired, you have the chance to do something else and see how it could’ve played out!
“When you start a side hustle as a hobby, it’s best to think about a scaled-down version. That way, start-up costs are low, there’s less risk involved, but you’ll still get the same sense of accomplishment”, says LaToya Anderson from CheddarDen.
Retirement is a great time to start a side hustle because there’s far less risk. You don’t have a job taking up all your time, and you don’t necessarily need to rely on income. Instead, you can enjoy the process of starting a business from scratch.
As LaToya says, start with a scaled-down version first. For example, If you love the idea of owning a bakery, start by baking at home and selling your cakes at a local farmer’s market. You’ll have far less commitment than renting a commercial kitchen, and you can scale it up as much as you like.
Who knows, you might just find a new passion and scale it to an entirely new business you never got the chance to start earlier in your life.
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No matter what city you live in, there is usually a strong cycling community you can join. And there’s no need to invest in an expensive new bike – used bikes can be affordable and perfect for beginners.
Head to your local marketplace or bike store to see what deals you can find – don’t forget a helmet and lights to stay safe on the roads.
“Cycling is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and stay in shape. There’s something to appreciate about an opportunity to stop and smell the little things in life without having to look at the time,” says Christine Beswick from Cycle Baron.
An active hobby will also help you enjoy your retirement well into your later years. Research shows cycling supports cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and emotional well-being.
Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise, so it’s easy to get started no matter your fitness level. But if you’re looking for a challenge, you can sign up for tons of online challenges or local races to train toward.
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If you live in a colder part of the world and get a lot of snow, you might feel restricted by the weather. But why not embrace the cold and use the snow for skiing or snowshoeing?
If you’ve never heard of snowshoeing, it involves walking across the snow in wide snowshoes, so you don’t sink. Think of it as hiking in colder climates.
“Most people think skiing or snowshoeing are prohibitively expensive hobbies, but they don’t have to be. If you live somewhere that has frequent snow, it’s an incredibly fun hobby to take up and easy to learn for beginners,” says Sue Jackson from Ski Junket.
Start by finding some used snowshoes and poles on local marketplaces to keep costs down. You might also want to find a buddy to take while finding your snow feet!
Snowshoeing is another low-impact form of fitness that can burn up to 600 calories an hour. Snowsports Industries of America says it burns up to 45% more calories than regular walking or running.
This could be a dangerous sport. So if you’re a beginner, ensure you have the right gear and stay safe in harsh conditions by sticking to paths and trails.
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Live near a lake or coast? Fishing could be an exciting new hobby to try out.
Fishing can indeed be an expensive hobby, but it can also scale with your budget. There are endless possibilities for bait, plastics, lines, poles, and more. But when you’re just starting and only buy what you need.
Once you get the hang of the technique, there’s also lots of exciting equipment you can use that will help you develop your new passion for the sport.
“I enjoy fishing. My favorite fish to catch is bass. There are so many types of bass fishing lures, rods, reels, and lines that it’s hard to decide what to use. But you can get started with a cheap pole and lure,” says Pete Pearce from Fish Baron.
Fishing is a great hobby to share with family and friends. If you have grandkids, they’ll love going out on a boat to catch fish with you. And there’s nothing like cooking up fresh fish you caught earlier that day.
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Kayaking is another excellent choice if you live near a lake or the coast. It’s easy to get the hang if you’re a beginner, and it’s easy to do solo or with a group of friends.
Lakes are much easier to start with because you won’t have to deal with waves or currents. And the best part is, you don’t even need to visit lakes in other countries. There’s probably one nearby. Also if you want to go out on the ocean, be mindful of the conditions before heading out.
The best time to take up kayaking is at the end of the summer when there are some fantastic deals on used kayaks. You’ll also need oars, a life vest, and a wet suit to keep you warm out on the water.
“I love just being on the water. Especially early in the morning while the lake near my house is still calm. There’s just something so beautiful about being out on the water in the peaceful surroundings,” says Louise Rowley from Boat Biscuit.
If you can find one, grab yourself a see-through kayak. You’ll get an incredible view of the lake underneath you and can spot fish and wildlife while you paddle.
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Since the Covid-19 pandemic, camping has soared in popularity. It’s a great way to explore and see new places without the hassle of traveling abroad.
A North American Camping Report found that 46% of all leisure travelers considered camping the safest method of travel. What’s more, the camping booking site Tentrr grew by 900% in the quarter after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
It’s also a very affordable hobby to take up in retirement. To start, you need a tent and some essential equipment. Of course, this is another hobby that can become very expensive if you let it.
“As a beginner to camping, start with dedicated campsites. These usually have stores and amenities that give you the experience of camping without plunging you into the wilderness too early. Campsites are also great for RVs since you’ll get hookups for your power,” says Julia Peoples from RV Junket.
Most national parks across the US have dedicated campsites or wild camping opportunities if you want something a little more remote. If you decide to take on the wilderness, research the permits you’ll need before your trip.
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Orienteering involves using your navigation skills to find checkpoints with just a map and a compass. If you were ever in the scouts when you were young, you probably already have some experience with this hobby.
“Orienteering USA has a great list of state clubs that take part in orienteering. They’re extremely welcoming to newcomers, and you’ll get to learn from fellow members. Whether you have experience or not, orienteering is a fun and active hobby to take up in retirement,” says Amy Lee from Owtdores.
The official clubs put on orienteering events where you’ll have set markers to find. They range from kid-friendly to extremely hard, so there is something for everyone. The club leaders will also show you how to read orienteering maps so you know how to get started.
Most clubs also have all the kit you’ll need to get started, so this is an affordable hobby to take up. Line orienteering is best for beginners – it involves following a set line drawn through multiple checkpoints on a map. All the checkpoints mean you know you’re on track.
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Pickleball is becoming increasingly popular in parts of the US and is a great way to socialize and meet new friends. It combines many elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong but isn’t too physically demanding.
In pickleball, you can play as a single or in doubles. The aim is to hit a hollow ball over a net using solid paddles. It was invented back in the 60s as a kids’ garden game, but now, it’s the official state sport of Washington.
“Ten years ago, a friend of my mother-in-law invited me out to play pickleball. I did. I loved it. I’ve played ever since. It’s a great way to stay in shape while having fun, and more and more clubs are popping up across the US,” adds Jon Callahan from Pickle Vine.
If you’ve ever had a love of tennis or badminton, you’ll want to give pickleball a try. You might have a local club that meets regularly, but if not, you can always find a partner to get started with.
The court is much smaller than a standard tennis court, so you’ll need to find a leisure facility with the court and equipment available.
Related Slideshow: The best county for retirees in every state
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Explore State & National Parks
Do you know which state and national parks are near you? Most people don’t, and they’re missing out on incredible opportunities to enjoy nature and explore their local area.
“There are 423 national parks in the United States that span more than 84 million acres. It doesn’t matter where you live, you’ll be within traveling distance to at least a few parks, and each one is totally unique,” says Cairo Ferguson from Journey Junket.
You can see which state and national parks are near you by checking the National Park Service. Most parks have something unique to offer, whether it’s the mangrove forest of Biscayne National Park, Florida, or the towering dunes of Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.
The parks are also great places to try outdoor hobbies, like hiking trails, climbing, wild camping, or kayaking.
Be warned: you’ll be hooked once you start visiting the national parks. Many national park enthusiasts travel the country to take in the unique beauty of each park. You might even make it your mission to visit all 423 parks during retirement.
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Gardening is the perfect hobby for retirees and has enough flexibility to be done anywhere. Whether you start with a vegetable pot on a window ledge or want to grow rows of rose bushes in a three-acre garden, there is something for everyone.
It’s also incredibly affordable to start gardening. You need seeds, soil, and a decent shovel to start. You could even dip your toe in and start with just one planter to test your skills.
“Gardening is so much easier than many people think, but there is a lot of misinformation out there putting people off. You don’t need a green thumb to grow a beautiful garden, just a little time, love, and dedication to your plants,” says Deborah from Gardening Collective.
Urban gardening is booming in popularity in dense cities where people don’t have access to green space. Whether you have a rooftop terrace or just some space on a balcony, you can start a garden.
You might even want to try community gardening by planting a public garden in your neighborhood. This is a great way to stay connected with neighbors and get to know people who live nearby.
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Swimming is another low-impact activity to take up in retirement. It keeps you fit without putting unnecessary stress on your joints. Public pools usually hold regular community swims where you can swim up and down set lanes with others – this is an excellent way of avoiding crowded pools and little ones taking lessons.
If you live near a lake, freshwater swimming has its own benefits and can be a little more exciting than a trip to the local pool. The effects of cold water have been studied in depth, and studies show that freshwater swimming helps boost the immune system.
“The best thing about swimming as a hobby is that you don’t need to be a professional. You can start with gentle swims at your local pool and work up to scuba diving with a local group,” says Nicolai Lonne from Dive In.
Swimming groups meet all over the country, offering a great sense of community and support for this hobby. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you begin to see the benefits after taking up swimming in retirement, even if the ice-cold water is hard to get used to.
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When most people think of hiking, they picture steep mountainsides and rocky terrain and are immediately put off. But hiking is an excellent hobby for beginners. There are more than 21,000 miles of hiking trails across the US, ranging from very easy to steep climbs.
“When it comes to hiking, it’s best to have a plan. Know where you’re sat fitness-wise, and follow a plan to build up to your goals. You’ll be surprised how quickly gentle hikes around your neighborhood trails can build to training to marathons,” says Alex Randall from Revel Sports.
If you don’t know where to start, you can find local hiking trails in almost every state at the National Park Service.
Looped trails are great for round trips, but these might be a little intimidating when you’re a beginner. Out-and-back trails are a safer bet since you can turn around and head home whenever you feel necessary.
Get started with flat, short trails and invest in some decent hiking shoes (and don’t forget to break them in before hitting the trails!). You can then build up to more challenging trails once you have some miles under your belt.
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How many trips have you promised to take, to have your plans derailed by work? We all have a list of sites we’d love to visit, but we usually don’t have the time or money.
Now you’re retired, it’s time to get out there and see all the things you promised yourself you’d see. Everyone has a bucket list, and retirement is the perfect time to start checking some items off, whether that’s a trip to the Vegas strip or the Eiffel Tower.
“Traveling doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little research and some clever planning, you can easily travel the world on a budget. Some of the most affordable places are off the beaten path, and these are always the places worth exploring,” says Becky Moore from Global Grasshopper.
Do your homework and find affordable flights outside of popular travel months to save money. Booking rooms direct with hotels, rather than using package travel sites, will also help you save money on expenses.
You don’t have to go far afield for great site-seeing opportunities. You could start small with a guided tour of your local city. You’d be surprised how much you don’t know about the history of your area.
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The possibilities are endless when you retire. With more free time, it’s up to you to figure out what lights you up and makes you passionate. Allow yourself time to try different hobbies and discover what brings you joy.
You’ll find a lot of stuff you don’t like doing, but you’ll have a lot of fun along the way. You never know; you might find a new passion you never knew.
There’s a popular myth that starting a new hobby costs a lot of money, but that doesn’t have to be the case. While you’re still figuring out what you love to do, only invest the bare minimum to get started. If you do find a hobby you love, you can invest more in it as you go.
And even if you spend money or time on a hobby you don’t want to keep up, you’ll meet new people and have new experiences that are worth the investment.
The question is, which hobby are you going to try?
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