Growing Interest in Part-Time Retirement

Baby boomers say they aren’t ready to completely leave the workforce.

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Even if you have enough money saved to support yourself throughout your retirement, you might still want to work for the intellectual stimulation and camaraderie a job environment offers. Many older workers would prefer to stay somewhat connected to the workforce instead of pursuing full-time retirement.

[See The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2012.]

Most older workers (65 percent) say they would ideally like to include some form of work in their retirement, according to a 2011 Harris Interactive survey of 1,001 people age 55 and older commissioned by Sun America. But only 4 percent of the survey respondents want to work full time in retirement. A quarter of older workers would prefer to work part time in retirement, and 36 percent want to go back and forth between periods of work and leisure.

Most of us would like to enjoy some time away from the hustle of the working world. And, yet, work does have positive aspects. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the best of both worlds, with time to enjoy retirement as well as time dedicated to work?

Part-time retirement also allows you to address one of my biggest retirement fears, which is becoming bored as a retiree. As a part-time retiree, whenever you have had enough recharging and find yourself searching for things to do to keep busy and engaged, you can start looking for your next work opportunity. By continuing to engage with the working world on a somewhat regular basis you will meet a new group of people and assume responsibilities requiring your mental effort and learned skills. You will not have time to be bored.

[See 7 Misconceptions About Retired Life.]

However, this dynamic retirement strategy may not be for everyone and comes with risks. You will need to save up for an extended period of unemployment and could be offered a reduced salary at a new job. You also might not be able to fully enjoy your time off knowing that you will need to find another job at some point. Part-time retirees need to decide whether they want to continue to invest in learning new skills and technologies and compete with younger workers who are eager to prove themselves.

It might take some experimentation to find a role that suits you, while also allowing enough of the free time you crave. If one job does not work out you might need to find another or extend your retirement phase a bit longer. This variety and change could be exciting, and you will have a considerable amount of control over when and how you work. But part-time retirement could also be stressful if job offers are not forthcoming when you want or expect them to be.

[See 5 Alternatives to Traditional Retirement.]

For me the ideal would be a cycle of working for one year and then taking three months of retirement. During the first retirement weeks I would take care of my to-do list. Then I would take an extended journey of three to four weeks. After that I would start researching and gearing up for my next job adventure. With such a plan, there is always something new and fresh on the horizon.

Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a satisfying retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.