Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 448  Retiring Solo

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

I have entitled this podcast, "Retiring Solo".

A few weeks ago I received a letter from a

listener with a particular question about retiring solo. I had never thought of the differences this might play in planning or actual retirement but it gave me a reason to think about it. Here is part of his letter and some thoughts it has brought to mind.

He writes: "I recently discovered your podcast and I enjoy listening. It is wonderful to have the benefit of one who has lived and contemplated many relevant quality of life issues.

One of the things I would like to hear and learn more about is how single people with minimal family and not so many friends (introverts) are finding quality of life. I am looking for some encouragement and ideas here for myself. Things that come to mind for me are hiking solo or with groups like the Sierra Club. Then there is Meditation and meditation retreats. Music, art, volunteering, gardening, pets, podcasts, or reading come to mind. Traveling solo is good. I guess really all of the things you talk about doing in retirement for all. But I would like to hear some uplifting stories about people who are solo and how they do it.

I must interject here in Richards letter that it appears to me that he is thinking through his question as he composed this letter. He has paused to give the issue some real thought and come up with good answers on his own.

His letter goes on: "Some stuff like camping and adventuring around on bikes sounds so much more enjoyable with a partner or a family - but I know we have to find our happiness where we are. I know there are group tours but with a partner/ friend there is no "cover fee" for an organized group.

Thanks, Richard

I loved Richards letter and his thought process.

I did reach out to a friend of mine whom I have known since he retired, "solo". He responded to my request for a comment on Richard's letter with the following:

"I have found much joy and fulfillment with people I have met as a Master's swimmer, member of Unitarian/Universalist churches, guys in a poker group, Sierra Cub activities, active politically  and environmentally ( even helped a friend who ran for the mayor's office in a moderate sized Northwestern community - "I was that friend"). I have close friends with whom I spend a month or two each summer. I then have become friends with many of their friends. They, almost all of them, are in their 50s, which means I live a faster paced life while with them then when by myself.

It may not sound like it but I consider myself to be about evenly divided between intro, and extroversion.

I have also spent may hours writing a play. I read quite a bit, also. Oh, almost forgot, I am a potter. I have spent much time over the last 45 years working with clay. An absorbing hobby. I love it.

I do not mind being by myself for I like myself. I am good company for me.

It sounds like the person who wrote to you is up to experimenting with different ways of answering his own question. I would advise him to try  a variety of ways of finding your bliss. I have been retired for 27 years and highly recommend it. Present age-90.

 Finally, I look forward to whatever the next day may bring with expectations of finding both planned and unplanned activities enjoyable and a reason to awake early.

Hope he finds this helpful. Glad to answer any specific questions he might have.


Thinking along the lines of retiring and being single was a difficult task for me. I started to realize that almost everyone I know who is retired has a partner or has had a partner for most of their retired life.

One friend of mine lost their partner and was married again within a couple of years. Another friend lost his wife of 35 years to cancer and was remarried within a couple of years. He met his new wife through ball room dancing classes. My wife and I took ball room dancing classes several years ago and it looked like an excellent way to meet new people who want to stay active, meet new people and have fun. I would highly recommend it.

Another friend of mine lost his wife to illness and met another woman - at our house for dinner - and was recently married - in our house. As I write this podcast they are in Italy on an extended exploration.

I have no experience of being retired and being single. Every time I think of not being married I am reminded of President Garfield's advice to his wife while  he was laying terminally wounded by an assassin's bullet. He supposedly said, "Don't pull in single harness all your life".

Since my wife and I just celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary I can lay no claim to speaking from experience when it comes to retiring solo.

If you are someone who has retired and are single and want to drop me a line I will be happy to pass on your suggestions in future podcasts.

This is Retirement Talk with something to think about.

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