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10 Retirement Lifestyles to Explore

Emily Brandon

Retirees finally have the freedom to choose how to spend their time. While some people are ready to relax after a stressful career, others are excited to do something different. Some people will try more than one lifestyle as they make time for leisure and then move on to engaging new activities. Consider trying these retirement lifestyles.

Beach. Retirement at the beach can make every day feel like a vacation. You could wake up every morning with a swim, go for walks and feel the sand between your toes and watch the sunset by the water each evening. Or you could invite your grandchildren over to build a sandcastle and play in the water.

[Read: The 10 Best Places to Retire on $75 a Day .]

Golf course. Picture yourself lining up the perfect putt on the green while smelling the freshly cut grass and taking in the rolling green hills. Golf will get you out of the house and into the sunshine. It also offers opportunities to meet new people while getting some low-impact exercise.

Back to school. Retiring in a college town often gives you access to libraries, concerts, speakers and sporting events. And retirees above a certain age can often take college classes for free or at significantly discounted prices through senior citizen tuition wavier and auditing programs. "If they just want to do it for enrichment purposes, even if the college doesn't have a formal program, it doesn't hurt to ask," says Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president of the Edvisors Network and author of "Secrets to Winning a Scholarship." "I think many of them will do it on a space-available basis or even an informal basis if you talk to the professor of the class." You may even be able to live on or near campus in a college-affiliated retirement community.

Stay at home. Sleep in and don't get up until you feel completely rested. Take your time chatting with neighbors, wandering around your neighborhood and stopping into your favorite coffee shop for a snack. There's no need to rush because you don't need to be anywhere or accomplish your errands by a certain time. Savor the slow pace you can enjoy when there is no reason to hurry.

Volunteer. Apply for a volunteer position as a museum docent, hospital volunteer or tutor. You'll get the positive feelings often associated with helping others as well as opportunities to socialize with other volunteers. "The personal significance of volunteering increases with age," says Greg Baldwin, president of VolunteerMatch, a nonprofit volunteer position search service that includes a filter for opportunities suited to people age 55 and older. "Like everyone else, retirees want to put their interests and talents to good use. Unlike everyone else, they have more time to do it."

[Read: The Best Places to Work in Retirement .]

Second career. Many people continue to work during the traditional retirement years, often because they need the money or enjoy the job. "Working two or three more years can make a big difference to your financial picture," says Avani Ramnani, director of financial planning and investment management at Francis Financial in New York. "Essentially what a few extra years does is give you additional savings, and it grows over that period of time and can support your expenses later on." If you want more flexibility or leisure time, consider shifting into a part-time job or seasonal or consulting work. "A lot of people retire from their usual job and move on to do something with their special skill set, any hobbies they might have or special talents," Ramnani says.

Entrepreneur. Older workers who are laid off or tired of working for someone else are increasingly putting their skills to use in new ways by becoming entrepreneurs. The Small Business Administration says over five million people age 55 and older have their own business or are self-employed, and the proportion of self-employed people between ages 55 and 64 is growing rapidly.

Penny pincher. Becoming a frugal shopper can improve your retirement budget. Retirees can use their newfound free time to comparison shop, bargain hunt and negotiate for better rates on their purchases. You may also be able to eliminate some services you paid for while working that you now have time to do yourself. "Retirees need to look at their budget to see if there are things that are part of their ongoing spending that have become unnecessary," says Rett Dean, a certified financial planner and principal at Riverchase Financial Planning in Flower Mound, Texas. Don't forget to ask for senior discounts, which aren't always publicized but are sometimes available to those who ask.

[See: 10 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Retirement.]

Dreamer. Many people deferred dreams of becoming a writer, artist or musician while they supported a family. Retirement can be a time to rediscover old passions or learn new ones. Consider signing up for music lessons or an art class or making the time to put your thoughts down on paper for your grandchildren.

Gardener. Gardening is a common retirement activity that allows you to grow beautiful flowers or delicious things to eat. "I am a big fan of gardening," says Celia Brugge, a certified financial planner for Dogwood Financial Planning in Memphis, Tennessee. "It has the double benefit of giving you lots of good exercise and lots of inexpensive food."

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