12 Flexible and Fun Ways You Can Work During Retirement

Will working be part of your retirement?

Perhaps your answer is not just “no!” but a resounding, “HELL no!!!”

It may seem like an oxymoron to see “working” in the same sentence as “retirement.”  By definition, isn’t retirement what you do after you stop working?

Not necessarily.  Retirement comes in many shapes and sizes, and encompasses a wide range of possibilities.  Ultimately, it means whatever you want it to mean.

Working during retirement

You may find yourself working in one way or another after you retire. 

I’ve seen statistics that claim that as much as 72% of all people (in the U.S.) are expecting that they will work after they retire, in one form or another.

This could be driven by financial necessity, the need to feel productive or relieve boredom, or the desire to do something you’re totally passionate about.  Hopefully, your decision to work will be part of the retirement lifestyle you choose as opposed to being forced to work.

For whatever reason, if you anticipate that working in some manner will be part of your retirement, here are several factors to keep in mind.  Then, I’ll share a dozen possibilities for work that are well-suited for retirees.

working during retirement

Age discrimination may be illegal, but it’s real and pervasive. 

Job hunting has never been easy or fun, but sadly, it will get more difficult as you get older.  If you think you’ll be able to apply for a part-time job or a flexible consultant-type gig at many traditional-employment companies, you’ll probably be sorely disappointed.

While some workers in their sixties or seventies have excellent health and stamina, interviewers may have subconscious preconceived notions that older workers will be useful only for sedentary, slower-paced jobs, if at all.

Plus, even though long-term job security is largely a thing of the past and the average employee tenure in 2014 is 4.6 years (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), many employers still hire with the hope of longevity.  They may discount a senior applicant because they feel that the senior employee won’t stay on the job as long.

If you plan to start your own business, you’re not alone.  For the past several years, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity has occurred in the 55-64 age group.  These businesses can be anything: consulting, selling art or crafts, a flea market booth, training, speaking, freelance writing… just about anything you can imagine.

If you’re counting on income from your own business to make ends meet, you should realize that it will probably take at least a year, and often longer, before your business starts earning a profit.  For this reason, it’s a good idea to start your business while you’re still working, so you can hit the ground running and be closer to earning a profit when you leave your full-time job.

Many retirees prefer part-time or seasonal jobs.

These jobs allow seniors the flexibility to enjoy more free time, do some traveling, and indulge their passions and leisure pursuits while still earning money and enjoying social contact.

Here are some options for retirement work.  Some involve temporary employment, while others are more entrepreneurial.  There are many other possibilities, of course, but these examples should start the ideas flowing and expand your range of possibilities.

Catering bartender or server.  If you’ve ever been to a banquet or reception, you’ve probably seen these people in their generic white shirts and black bow ties, staffing portable bars or serving dinner plates.  This provides a flexible, part-time work schedule.  Given that many of these events take place in the evenings or on weekends, these jobs are well-suited to those who won’t be tired after having just come from a traditional Monday-Friday, 8-to-5 job.

Tour guide.  Being a tour guide can take many forms, and the demand varies depending upon the location and the season.  This may involve being a narrator on a tour bus or a walking tour guide at a historical site or museum.

Seasonal park worker.  If you live near any local, state, or national parks, ski resorts, golf courses, or amusement parks, most of these places have a high season that lasts only a few months.  Both the parks themselves and the companies that operate the food and lodging concessions (such as Aramark) need to hire seasonally.   Retirees who travel in RVs can drive their RVs to wherever the jobs are, and they may be able to park their RV on the property.

Mail order seasonal employment.  Many mail order companies hire additional staff during peak season, usually the weeks leading up to Christmas.  This is another option for people who own RVs and don’t mind living in them for extended periods of time.

Retail seasonal employment.  Similarly, many local retailers hire short-term workers to augment their staff during the holiday season.  While I was in college, I worked for several weeks during my winter break at a Hickory Farms store at the local mall.  They did 90% of their annual business between Thanksgiving and New Year.  Most of their seasonal workers were either college students or retirees.

Pet sitting or dog walking.  Many pet owners prefer to leave their pets at home in the care of a trusted person when they travel, rather than boarding them at a kennel.  For some types of pets (birds, fish, hamsters, turtles, etc.) a kennel isn’t an option and having someone come to their home to feed their pets is their only choice.  Some people might need someone to water plants or maintain pool chemicals while they’re gone.

Repair service.  If you enjoy fixing things, you could run a small repair business from your garage, in which you repair bicycles, lawn mowers, small appliances, or musical instruments – whatever skills you have.  Another option would be a home handyman service.  You could accept jobs or not, depending on your desired workload and travel schedule.  There’s a web-based service called Thumbtack which serves as an exchange between people who need services and those who provide them.  When someone requests a service in your area, you receive an email notification.  You can choose whether to bid on the job or not.

Holiday decorating or gift buying.  Believe it or not, there are people who will pay others to decorate their homes for the holidays or do their gift buying for them.  I once knew a guy who travelled to Dallas every year around mid-November and spent six weeks decorating wealthy people’s homes (inside and out).

Wedding planner or party planner.  While it’s true that people can get married at any time of year, more weddings tend to take place during the summer, or whenever the weather is most pleasant in your area.  The wedding industry is definitely cyclical.  Similarly with parties, some times of year are more conducive to large, catered celebrations, such as graduation, Halloween, and end-of-year holidays.

Author or freelance writer.   This may be the ultimate flexible work option.  You can write from anywhere, and in fact, there’s a market for travel writers.  As a freelancer, you can solicit assignments when you want to work and pull back when you want a vacation or you’re busier with other things.  Of course, it’s a competitive business and you have to put a lot of effort into securing freelance assignments.  If you lean more towards writing your own books, that can be very fulfilling, but there’s no guarantee of income.  The income you do earn will be realized long after the book is completed.  Most serious writers attest that in order to be successful, you need to consistently devote several hours every day to your writing.

Photographer.  What is a hobby for most of us can become a source of artistic fulfillment as well as income after you retire.  Wedding photography is one option, especially for those who desire cyclical engagement.  The wife of a former boss runs a “boudoir” photography business and reports that there is quite a demand for this particular genre.  Another recently-retired friend takes beautiful photographs of landscapes in the southwest U.S.  He sells photos to calendar producers and displays his works at art shows.

Antique or flea market vendor.  This option allows for total flexibility in scheduling and provides lots of human contact.  It is also appealing to RV owners who enjoy traveling to shows and events in other locales.  One consideration to be mindful of is that you will probably end up accumulating more stuff, while most other retirees are focused more on downsizing.  One friend’s mother got so caught up in flea marketing that her entire house became a warehouse for everything she acquired over the course of many years.  It was a nightmare for her grown children to dispose of all of her possessions after she passed away.

These twelve options just scratch the surface of all the possibilities for earning money during retirement.  Many of them also allow you to engage in activities that indulge your passions and take advantages of your abilities.

What do you think you might do after you retire? Share your thoughts in the comments!

© 2014, 2015 Dave Hughes.  All rights reserved.

Photo credit:  terry stoudt.  Some rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “12 Flexible and Fun Ways You Can Work During Retirement

  1. William

    I will be working with wood carvings and creations, and I want to work at like a campground or with a ranger, something outdoors. I am looking into forestry.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *