Dear readers, have you reached that stage of life when you no longer have dependent children, mortgages and other such responsibilities? Do you relish the extra time and new freedom you have gained, now that you’re no longer wrestling your way up the career ladder? If so, you might be looking for an interesting way in which to re-invent yourself. Especially if you are single and not accountable to an ‘other half’.
I find myself in precisely this position. The way I see it, we’re living longer these days, so we need to find an absorbing role for the years ahead. A world of possibilities beckons. But it’s wise to weigh up the pros and cons of each, because lifestyle choices, as we have surely learnt by now, are never clear-cut. So let’s consider some options…
Up sticks and move to sunnier climes abroad. Not an original idea, but one with definite appeal for rain-soaked Brits.
- No more need to take an annual holiday to somewhere in the sun, because you’ll already be in it, with a virtually year-round tan.
- You won’t be lonely because family and friends will be taking turns to stay with you, creating a party atmosphere for weeks on end.
- It’s stimulating to immerse yourself full-time in a different culture, acquiring new customs, a healthy new cuisine and a second language.
- All that strong sun can lead to skin cancer.
- You might find it tricky to get rid of freeloading house guests and yearn for a bit of quiet me-time.
- In extremis, you can lose your home because of obscure property laws and dodgy dealings. And that’s after spending a pile of money on legal fees.
Take up an absorbing new occupation, e.g. house-sitting, dog breeding or the practice of a New Age therapy such as reflexology or Indian head massage.
- You can prove to yourself that you’re not too old for a challenge, thereby boosting your self-esteem.
- The gainful self-employment will supplement your existing income and improve your standard of living.
- It will show up today’s youff, who so often feel that anyone over 60 is a doddery has-been fit for nothing but the golf course and the bingo hall.
- On closer examination, many occupations are less fascinating than you imagine. Reflexology, for example, sounds mystical and transcendent but basically it’s just poking around in people’s calloused feet.
- The endless rules and regulations nowadays make running a business from home wearisome and frustrating. Gone are the days when you could bake jam roly-polys in your kitchen and sell them in a market stall.
- You’ll be complicating your finances with the additional tax and maybe even VAT. And should you be a sole trader or limited company? A world of mind-numbing paperwork awaits.
Travel around the world on a fashionable older-person’s gap year, being intrepid and having the adventures of a lifetime.
- The lure of the unknown is irresistible – distant horizons, exotic locales, intriguing natives. So much to discover! And all so life-enhancing.
- An extended period travelling abroad helps to put your own home turf into perspective and appreciate the good things about it.
- You’ll return with a fund of colourful anecdotes with which to regale your friends and can dine out on them for years.
- Travelling is expensive – think of all the trains and boats and planes you’ll have to take, not to mention the hotels, restaurant meals and car hire. You’ll be lucky to come home with some spare change in your pocket.
- Modern-day travel is sooo tedious. Interminable queues at check-in, security and passport control, luggage lost in transit, delayed departures, etc. And when you finally reach your destination you see the same old things: McDonald’s, Starbucks and 7-Eleven.
- Are you crazy? It’s dangerous out there! You could get mugged or hijacked or kidnapped or…I shudder to think. Best stay at home all safe and cosy with a mug of tea and watch a nice travel programme on the telly.
Take a course in a subject you have always wanted to study but never had the opportunity. The culinary habits of the ancient Romans, perhaps? Or 18th century highwaymen and their sticky ends?
- Medical experts say that continuing to learn new things keeps the grey matter sharp, which in turn helps stave off illnesses like Alzheimer’s. No point living longer unless you are healthy enough to enjoy it, right?
- It’s an ideal way to meet people with whom you have an interest in common, thereby enriching your social life.
- Anyway, knowledge is its own reward. And you can study full-time or part-time, enrolling in classes for practically anything – from Freudian psychology to the Japanese art of paper folding.
- Oh dear. Have you forgotten how you hated school? Do you really want to go back to doing homework and swotting for exams, just when you can finally afford to take it easy?
- Don’t forget there will be tuition fees. Depending on which college and course you choose, you could end up forking out thousands of pounds. It’s cheaper just to get a book or two and bone up at home.
- Institutions of further education these days tend to be hotbeds of political correctness and left-wing activism. The milieu might not suit you at all.
Move in with your beloved children and grandchildren. Solitary living is all very well but as they say, no man is an island.
- Your partner might have dumped you, perhaps you had a messy divorce. But you needn’t necessarily be on your ownsome. Your family still loves you. In a multi-generation household everyone has a valued role to play. Remember The Waltons? So heart-warming.
- If you pool your resources together you can all enjoy a superior lifestyle by moving to a bigger and better house with a nicer garden. And maybe a nifty granny annex. And a hot tub.
- You will save loads of time and money when you no longer have to trek across the country, or even journey abroad, in order to visit your loved ones. Because they will be in the next room!
- What a recipe for disaster. Too much enforced togetherness breeds contempt. You can easily fall out with each other – over money, over the division of domestic chores, over noise levels and who-left-the-towel-on-the-floor, and you’ll begin to wonder why you ever believed such a ménage would work.
- You love helping out with the grandkids when they visit you, or you visit them. But do you really want to be involved in more full-on childcare at this point in your life? You might grow to resent being the free, on-site babysitter and mourn your lost independence.
- One day your family might choose to relocate or downsize. But what if that change is inconvenient for you? In the words of the famous Irving Berlin song, ‘There may be trouble ahead…’
Clearly, this re-invention business requires careful thinking. Because while it’s true that a world of options beckons, there’s world of pitfalls too. As for me, I’m not rushing into anything. I might even decide to stay right where I am and carry on as per usual. After all, that’s a perfectly viable option too.