Remember how easy it was to make friends when you were a kid?
Life seemed to be simpler then – all it took was finding someone around your age and you instantly had someone to play with! You could be friends just for the afternoon, the summer or maybe even a lifetime.
As we grow up and have competing interests for our time, our friendship circle grows smaller.
Without the stimulation of meeting new people through work or children’s school commitments, is it any wonder that so many people struggle to make friends when they reach retirement?
The good news is there are plenty of ways to pursue a happy and fulfilling social life in your post-working years.
7 Tips for Making Friends in Retirement
Having a great social circle is important.
According to researchers, loneliness and social isolation can have a devastating toll on health and well-being, including increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
And a survey conducted by Aged Care Research & Industry Innovation revealed that one in five older Australians are socially isolated.
But there is happy news. It is possible to make friends in retirement. All it takes is a little bit of a push. In this article we look at some great opportunities to make new friends.
When you have time on your hands, volunteering is a great way to support your community and meet new people all the time. Best of all, the opportunities to volunteer are endless. Opportunity shops and animal shelters are always looking for more people to join them.
And, if you have particular skills, look for ways to share your expertise and mentor a new generation. If you don’t know where to start, sites like Go Volunteer are worth checking out.
Working in a volunteer capacity provides companionship, camaraderie as well as creating satisfaction knowing you are helping other people in need.
When Kath from GemLife Maroochy Quays moved into her new home she found a great way to make new friends at the resort – she volunteers behind the bar at the Country Club where her cocktails are a specialty.
“I got my RSA for bartending which I do at the Country Club every Sunday,” she said. “I love to keep busy and active, so I find ways of being able to fit it all in, even choosing my corner block with extra walking in mind as it’s the furthest from the entryway and Country Club.
“My friends and family are gobsmacked when they see all the things I get up to. They all agree I’ve made the right decision to make GemLife Maroochy Quays my home.”
Learn more about Kath’s story here.
2. Embrace Community Events and Activities
Whatever your hobby, you’re bound to find someone who shares them too. Look for groups that cater to your specific interests. This might be music and theatre groups, travel, card games, health and fitness or outdoor events and camping. You’re bound to make friends when you’re doing something in company.
It’s one of the reasons why over-50s lifestyle resorts like GemLife are so popular. These resorts provide plenty of opportunities to meet likeminded people, share in activities and take part in events – from exercise classes and sports groups through to card mornings and wood crafts in the workshop.
Before fitness enthusiasts Pauline and John moved into their GemLife Palmwoods resort they joined the gym in town which gave them the chance to meet their soon-to-be neighbours.
“Joining the gym means that we were able to get to know so many wonderful people before we moved in and we already feel so at home,” said Pauline.
Wendy had never heard of the Run The Rock annual event until she moved into GemLife Woodend and even then, she didn’t expect to be signing up as a competitor.
Her enrolment in Run The Rock was inspired by a group of friends she met at the GemLife Woodend Country Club on Saturday afternoons for a quiet drink.
“The group is called Charlie’s Angels and is named after the resident who started it off, Charlie. It seems to be growing every week and there are about six members who have participated in Run The Rock a couple of times. We got talking about it and before I knew it, I had agreed to join them,” said Wendy, who walked in the 5km category.
Learn more about Run the Rock here.
3. Take Advantage of Technology for Networking
Todays over-50s are the pioneer generation of the computer age and are increasingly comfortable with using technology for staying in touch with family and friends. Sending emails and receiving photos, as well as keeping up with family news via social media, is second nature.
Platforms such as Facebook allows you to create groups for family and friends. Facebook Messenger is a free service that offers voice and video calls via your smartphone.
Other tech savvy platforms for connecting with friends and family include WhatsApp.
If the world of technology is somewhat bewildering, many local libraries have free classes – which is another great way to meet people!
Of course, using search engines such as Google can put you in touch with local community groups and other special interest groups to help kick start the search for new friends and new interests.
4. Attend Educational Programs
You’re never too old to discover something new and without the pressure to learn for academic attainment or career advancement. Learning just for pleasure is a satisfying way to keep your mind active as well as a way to meet new friends.
Best of all, many of these opportunities are low cost and some are even free! The University of the Third Age (U3A) has chapters in many locations and offers classes in a wide range of topics including foreign languages, genealogy, history, music lessons and more.
In addition, many universities have free public lectures to give you the opportunity to deep dive into a subject. Or you may choose to get that university degree or masters degree that you’ve always promised yourself.
One of the benefits of living in an active over-50s lifestyle resort is you can draw from a lifetime of talent and experience of other homeowners to learn new skills or take part in various discussion groups. At GemLife, homeowners enjoy taking part in many resident-organised groups.
5. Foster Existing Connections
We’ve discussed making new friends, but what about the old ones? With fewer demands on your time, the time is right to deepen connections with friends. Instead of the occasional phone call and flying visit, why not arrange a weekend trip?
Or if they live further away, include it as part of your travel plans. Rediscover the old haunts and play ‘tourist’ in your local area, or venture out to new locations and ignite that spirit of adventure.
Most of all, make time for family. Busy parents often welcome a grandparent’s helping hand during the holidays. Let’s not forget during the school term where having a member of the family cheering on the sidelines during sports carnivals or attending school concerts builds lifelong bonds with the next generation. You can’t underestimate the value of sharing your love and wisdom with the grandkids through fun and practical activities together.
GemLife Pacific Paradise grandparents Majella and Peter are no strangers to grandparenting, and when the granddaughters visit cooking lessons are a given. [[Link to: ]]
“We have three grandchildren. Alfie, our ten-month-old grandson lives on the Gold Coast and Amity and Ella, our two granddaughters, live in Peregian. The girls visit every week because dad is on a fly-in fly-out roster and mum studies at university,” said Majella.
“Amity is eight and Ella is three, and both keep us very busy, especially in the kitchen,” she says.
“They love using the pool here, and Amity has just started tennis lessons at school, so we plan to get down to the tennis courts once it cools down a bit.”
Learn more about Majella and Peter’s story here.
6. Group Travel
Travel broadens the mind but it can be a challenge if you’re on your own. This is where travel groups come into their own. Whether you enjoy camping or want an extended overseas tour, likeminded groups dedicated to fun and adventure offer a great way to make new friends. If you’re ready for adventure, why not consider backpacker and youth hostels as a way of stretching your travel budget further and making connections with younger travellers?
Learn how to travel cheap in retirement here.
7. Over-50s Lifestyle Resorts
One of the easiest ways to make new friends is to consider rightsizing to an over-50s lifestyle community like GemLife.
There you will find likeminded, friendly people and a true sense of community that can sometimes be so hard to find.
With high quality resort facilities including sports courts, games rooms and more, you’ll discover a greater connection with your neighbours as well as plenty of opportunities to develop new long-lasting friendships, like Peter.
He is modest when he says he enjoys a decent hit of table tennis. The GemLife Palmwoods homeowner played the game competitively for 15 years and is the current family champion.
Despite that competitive edge, there is much more than winning and losing, he says. What appeals most of all about the upcoming GemLife Games is the opportunity to enjoy a laugh and make new friends. Preparations for the GemLife Games has brought neighbours closer together too.
“Ushi is a very good friend and she’s in our team as well,” said Peter. “We’ve only lived at GemLife for four months and everyone is so friendly and that’s what we’re enjoying most – the spirit of community that you really don’t find elsewhere.”
Russ and Lyn made it into their stunning new home at Gemlife Tweed Waters just in time to celebrate Christmas and the start of a brand-new year, and they could not be happier.
As relative newcomers to the area, Russ and Lyn love the way GemLife has given them an opportunity to get to know future friends and neighbours by inviting them to various GemLife Tweed Waters functions, even before they moved in.
“We’ve developed so many wonderful friendships and it has made us feel part of the community from day one,” said Russ, who has already teamed up with a new neighbour to play golf at the Chinderah Golf Club.
Find friends at GemLife
If the idea of being part of an welcoming and active over-50s community appeals, then visit GemLife. GemLife over-50s lifestyle resorts, which are found in the most desirable retirement locations around Australia, are designed for active over 50s.
Each resort features luxury resort facilities including a relaxing summer house with outdoor pool, barbecues and sunlounges and an exclusive Country Club with sporting, leisure, and entertainment facilities.