No more annoying coworkers, no more commute and the freedom to do what you want. That’s the dream of retirement. But is it the reality?

Retirement is a drastic lifestyle change. Before making the leap into that uncharted territory, make sure you know the answers to a retiree’s biggest questions: What will I do with my free time? Will I run out of money? How can I stay independent?

What should I do with all of my free time?

It’s common for retirees to find that after the novelty wears off, doing nothing can be boring. Few people enjoy watching TV all day, every day. Spice it up and use your newfound time to start something new.

Pick up a hobby. Always wished you could do that one thing, if only you had the time? Well, now you have the time. From brewing your own beer to restoring old cars to skydiving, pick up that hobby you’ve been eying.

Update your home. Owning a home usually means a “honey-do” list. Now that you’re spending more time at home, it may be time to spring for the kitchen or backyard of your dreams. Finish off the task list so you can relax in the home of your dreams.

Learn a new language. Retirement usually means travel. Enhance your traveling by learning the language of the countries you’ll be visiting. Even just the basics will get you by. When you arrive, you’ll feel better prepared and less like an out-of-place tourist.

Will I run out of money?

Many retirees jump right into the best part of retirement – doing whatever you want. But “whatever you want” usually costs money. If you’re worried about your savings, pick up some fun side gigs that earn some extra cash but hardly feel like work.

Work for your local sports team or stadium. Most stadiums and performance venues have seasonal or part-time positions. That can be everything from taking tickets to ushering spectators to security. If you love the rush of the crowd and getting to see events from an entirely different angle, this is for you.

• Start a part-time driving job with Lyft or Uber. Love meeting new people? Driving for a ride-sharing platform will introduce you to the people going places in your city. The extra spending money won’t hurt either. Simply download the app, sign up, and start driving.

• Rent out empty rooms with Airbnb. Put the empty rooms in your home to work. Let them collect some extra income rather than dust. Airbnb lets you rent out your spare rooms to travelers through their website and app.

How can I stay independent?

Being retired is usually paired with getting older. But being older and needing more care doesn’t mean you can’t stay independent. You have options in between “living alone” and “moving into a nursing home.”

Medical alerts. Choose a medical alert to stay protected in case of an emergency. Press a button, and you’ll be connected to professional emergency services. Many models have automatic fall detection and GPS systems.

• Home health aides. Home health aides can help you with all of the basics of daily living including bathing, dressing, cooking, minor housekeeping and transportation.

• CNAs. Certified nursing assistants can do everything a home health aide can with the addition of basic health and medical care.

• Senior living communities. If your house is no longer serving your needs, consider moving to a senior living community. Full of like-minded seniors, they often have perks like strong communities, homes designed for aging in place, and easy access to medical care.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist born and raised in Silicon Valley. Visit

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