Posted on Sunday, January 08, 2012
I was working on building a Habitat for Humanity house last spring and the guy next to me says he needs more activity in his retired life (keep him mind he was up at 7Am and off to build houses that day). He went on to say he was starting up a new business. This chance comment might roll right by me but the fellow was 72 years old. I started thinking about all my 65+ friends and their lifestyles – filled with businesses, non-profit leadership, athletics, performing arts (as in participating in them) – and stepped back and said Wow – retired life in Naples, Florida is not what the “up north” folks think.
Much is written regarding the changing retired life both in Europe and the US, and Naples Florida is moving right along with these trends. Perhaps it is our 365 days of sunshine and warmer climate that inspires many to get out of the house or maybe it is just the changing retiree outlook in our nation but something is changing for the better – people are not only living longer, they are living longer AND more actively. Sometimes I think the rest of the nation views Florida as that place “where retirees go to die” but living here full-time it is clear to me this is a place “where retirees go to live.”
Let’s walk through a few examples to fill in the picture. I am concerned you are thinking active retirement means more bingo games or bridge groups – although believe it or not these pursuits can be a lot of fun too. As a first example the world iron man champion 55 and older lives in Naples Florida. You know – ironman – where you have to swim, bike and run big distances. He is not in an up north metro area or some mountain training area but here in Naples – and so are a lot of other open ocean swimmers, marathon runners and long distance cyclists (many who are “older” whatever that means).
Then there is my friend Martha who just completed here first triathlon – at 70 – walking the last few miles to the cheers and inspiration of many. There are a multitude of golfers and tennis players and swimmers and cyclists and runners in the 65 and up set and do not think they are pushovers – they are fit, skilled, competitive and loving life.
Maybe sports is not your thing – I just started with sports examples. Let’s keep moving. How about giving back to the world after you retire? Naples Florida boasts the largest Habitat for Humanity operation in the US and there are over hundred non-profits you can lead and work at. You can also start them up. A friend of mine started up a movement to provide shoes to kids – hard to believe but many kids just do not have footwear and try to get around in this buys life without them. Do you like to invent new businesses? Why not aim your talent at the non-profit world. We have a great combination of generous donors and needy folks right here in the largest county east of the Mississippi.
Maybe I am particularly attuned to the misperceptions of Florida retirement due to the time of year. This is when I receive those calls from my good friends up north that go like this … “Hey I am in town tomorrow do you want to golf?” Sounds like fun but much to the surprise of my buddies I really do not have time to golf much these days (although I walked and played the course in the middle of January in light clothing yesterday) and my calendar is booked out weeks in advance. I admit the old calendar used to be booked out “months” in advance and now I am down to “weeks” in advance but the notion that I am sitting on the couch trying to figure out what to do with my day tomorrow is a wild joke.
I am not a performing artist but check out some of these examples. My friend Larry plays the jazz saxophone locally and travels around a bit. He is taking up piano at 55+ and has a ten-year plan to reach his self-imposed playing level goal. What about the guys who love to build stage props and spend countless hours tinkering and building back stage in town or the actors and actresses who continue on here in town? What a blast – chase music and art and drama ’till you drop.
And for us good capitalists – start a business. Invent a no travel no overtime flexible business for yourself if that is what you are wanting. Or maybe a part-time globe-trotting enterprise run the way you want. Or maybe that web-based idea you have had – design it, code it up, launch the rascal all while sitting in a tropical climate. Have at it, that love of competitive business does not need to end when you ”retire.” It only needs to end when you want to end.
“Retirement” and what you may be thinking about life in Florida is very different today from your early views of this state as a kid. Check it out, get engaged, and invent a “retired” lifestyle to your liking. You don’t have to sit on the couch or play shuffle board if you do not want to. For me I am going to keep the engine running as long as I can and God willing, slide into home plate at the end.
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Mark Goebel, PA is a REALTOR with Coldwell Banker on 5th avenue in Naples, Florida with 35+ years of visiting and living in Naples. After 25 years at Accenture, Mark retired as a managing director and spends his time helping non profits and building a Naples real estate team with his wife Nan. Talk to Mark and Nan about life in Naples and why they chose this place to live full-time over all others and enjoy Naples real estate.
Mark Goebel, PA
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