Retirement Benefits

131 Retirees Share What Brings Them Joy in Retirement

For many people, retirement isn’t what they thought it would be. It’s even better.

In December, we surveyed CalPERS retirees. We asked: What brings you joy in retirement? The responses were reflective, grateful, and sometimes action-packed. Some people preferred to keep their answers private. Others wanted to shout from the rooftops!

Below is a selection of answers. We hope you enjoy them, and maybe add one or two ideas to your own retirement lifestyle.

Thank you for serving California.

  1. Being able to spend more time with my teenage daughters by planning activities around their schedules and not having to always plan everything around my work schedule. It has been amazing! – Theresa
  2. Freedom of time to volunteer. – Bonnie
  3. Setting my own schedule and spending time with family. – Robert
  4. Working! My tax preparer and friend brought me in from the cold to do bookkeeping. I’m grateful. I wasn’t enjoying what turned out to be too much free time. – Sue
  5. Enjoying my coffee in the morning! – Anonymous
  6. Unscheduled time. – Cindy
  7. Spending time with the ones I love. – Kimberlee
  8. Playing with the littles in my family. Also, spending time with my 90-year-old father. – Jeannette
  9. My check. It’s always on time. Without it I would have no retirement. – Anonymous
  10. Dancing the Ancient Hula/Kahiko with my Halau Ohana, having the time to spend with my wonderful husband and giving back to my community. – Diana
  11. Travel. Visiting with family in different states. – Marcus
  12. Not answering to an alarm clock. Being able to do what I want, when I want to and enjoy life. – Anonymous
  13. Writing and publishing. – John
  14. Stability. – Anonymous
  15. Having the opportunity for the very first time to sit outside my backyard and enjoy my cup of coffee in the morning, having the time see my grandchildren more often without rush. – Silvia
  16. Photography, travel, camping with friends. – Lori
  17. Gathering with friends. Being able to travel with a flexible schedule. – Libbie
  18. Having the time to provide afterschool care for my two grandchildren and volunteering in my community with at-risk youth, disadvantaged families, and those experiencing homelessness. – Sherry
  19. Gardening. – Victoria
  20. Time for creative pursuits, social club activities, and the freedom to plan my day. – Cheryl
  21. Having time to take care of my health (exercise), time to spend with friends and family, time to spend on my favorite hobby (quilting) and time to travel (before COVID). – Martha
  22. Playing guitar in a band, gardening, and nature hikes. – Victor
  23. Sleeping in until 9 a.m. and knowing we are financially comfortable during our retirement years. – Anonymous
  24. Time!! Meeting my own schedule, not someone else’s. Time to work on various sewing projects without having to put them away…. Time to spend with my husband and family. Time to call my own. – Joy
  25. Volunteering. I volunteer with Yolo Hospice and Sutter Davis Hospital. I couldn’t imagine a happy retirement without giving back to others. – Nancy
  26. More time to do things that keep my body and mind active (hiking, biking, Zumba, line dancing, etc.). The monthly benefits from CalPERS helps give me the freedom to do these things! – Nancy
  27. Woodworking. – Debbie
  28. Spending time with family. Helping at my church. Keeping my home the way I want it. Writing my family book. – Katherine
  29. Volunteering. Learning to quilt. My cats. – Carolyn
  30. My leisure time to do and go anywhere I please, whenever I please. – Elaine
  31. Health, financial stability, time with loved ones. – Tressa
  32. Ability to be totally spontaneous! – Toni
  33. Getting up in the morning whenever I feel like it, time with my wife, and a lot of simple things. – Lem
  34. My time being “my time.” Now we can spend time, help out, etc. with grandchildren and our older parents. – Debra
  35. Walking in my neighborhood and gardening in my drought tolerant garden. Also being in nature to hike and enjoy the views of tall trees, mountains, and lake. – Joan
  36. Time to share with my wife. – Ronald
  37. The feeling of absolute freedom. – John
  38. Can wake up at any time. Free to do whatever I can afford. – Duane
  39. Time to have friends and fun. Being able to enjoy what I’m doing in the moment instead of rushing to get tasks completed. – Vicki
  40. Sewing, riding my bike and walking. – Janet
  41. Relaxation. – Roberto
  42. The simple things in life: family, walking my dog, friends, and some traveling. I find the simple things in life are the most rewarding things. – Marie
  43. Leisurely mornings. – Barbara
  44. Meeting with friends and former colleagues. Traveling to see our daughter. Having enough time (almost) to do the things we need to do. No deadlines! – Rosie
  45. Not having to commute! – Christi
  46. I live on the Coast Range hills and use fallen trees from the forest here to turn bowls by lathe and donate them to causes I support. – Earle
  47. Freedom to be on my own schedule and only deal with the people I really want to. I’ve pursued other interests to occupy my time and enjoy working for fun, rather than an actual paycheck. – Sterling
  48. Time to pursue new interests. – Y
  49. I have ample time to schedule exercise, music, and other community college classes. Time to give to my family, friends, community, and faith. Time to read, express my opinion and agree to disagree. And most greatly, enjoying a walk, a conversation, a concert, a cup of coffee, tea, or a meal alone or with people I care and love. – Angelita
  50. Relaxing, spending time with husband, and NEVER HAVING TO COMMUTE EVER AGAIN. – Leronne
  51. Being able to afford a comfortable lifestyle and wellness! – Gwen
  52. Owning my own time. – Tish
  53. Peaceful living and appreciation for the financial protection we enjoy. – T.
  54. Not having to rush to work every day. Being able to take time to smell the roses, watch the hummingbirds dart here and there, to have the time and energy to help the neighbors. There is joy in waking up each day and thank God that I am alive! – Romina
  55. That I have the best retirement plan that financially has been a blessing to me and my spouse and family. – Rickie
  56. Being able to watch my children grow up and being able to attend their functions. – Bob
  57. Besides spending quality time with my dad and family, volunteering twice a month with the National Park Service at Alcatraz Island doing historic interpretation with and for people who visit from all over the world. – Greg
  58. Learning new things. Particularly, competitive ballroom dancing! It’s so hard and there’s so much to learn and achieve. There’s always something to work for. – Donna
  59. Playing handbells with an ensemble of 14 people requires close teamwork, provides great exercise, and is an excellent way to keep your brain sharp. – Cindy
  60. To be available for my parents and spouse. – Rosaelia
  61. Playing my drums and getting on stage to perform. – Rick
  62. Continuing to work and do volunteer work. Most importantly my spiritual life and being healthy. – Everrett
  63. To be able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise without rushing, to get my first cup of coffee before my early walk. But most of all, I enjoy the presence of God and my family and the time they share with me. Life is a precious gift. What a joy! – Elena
  64. Spending my days with my eight grandbabies. The ability to just get up and travel somewhere. Also, no days of getting up fighting traffic to get to and from work. – Henry
  65. Volunteering as a food pantry coordinator and traveling. – Allyce
  66. Walking an elderly friend’s dog. Housesitting with several friends’ dogs when they go on vacation. Staying home for several days in a row. Eating out! – Carolyn
  67. Reliable income and flexibility in my schedule. – Jim
  68. a. Not planning or scheduling anything before NOON! b. Being able to go anywhere/do anything whenever I want. c. Or NOT! – Dévi
  69. Nature walks with my husband. Whether we are exploring a local regional park or take a drive to a preserve, we are enjoying something together. Add bird watching, meeting new people, and a good walk, and you have a recipe to let all the stress drain away. – Elena
  70. Packing my “schedule” full of fun things I enjoy: yoga, pickleball, mah-jongg, cards, lunch dates, boating, etc. – Lee
  71. Doing whatever I want, when I want and how I want. Not living by a clock anymore; now I can breathe. Miss a lot of the people, though. – Janet
  72. Being able to do what I want when I want. – Sandra
  73. I enjoy not having a schedule. I love having time to slow down and relax. Every day seems like Saturday! – Judy
  74. Travel and ceramics and sewing. – Cindy
  75. Not being in a hurry to do things. Taking walks. Country drives. – Jeff
  76. Travel. Grandchildren and not having to get up and go to work. I loved my job but l love retirement more! Doing whatever l want every day. – Vicki
  77. When I’m with all our children and at peace. – Nancy
  78. My rescue senior dog! – Marianne
  79. Living with my three cats. Taking walks in my neighborhood and talking to neighbors and dogs. Belonging to the American Sewing Guild and sewing items for charity. – Edith
  80. Having time to be mindful and appreciate the beauty around me. – Marie
  81. Seeing the country in our RV. – Bruce
  82. Spending time with my 19 grand kids! – Janice
  83. Helping others less fortunate. – Judith
  84. Life! Friends! Enjoying a second career as a realtor at almost 80 (been at it awhile now) and travel. – Jean
  85. Spending time with friends. Doing things outdoors with my horses. – Gina
  86. Connecting with family and exploring new and old interests. And some days just sitting on the couch and reading a good book without guilt. – Randy
  87. Running with friends. – Carol
  88. Helping others. For the past eight years, I have volunteered to prepare income tax returns at a senior center. – Ernest
  89. What brings me joy in retirement is being able to do anything at a slower pace. If it doesn’t get done today, there is always tomorrow. I can go to stores, the bank, post office, etc. while others are at work (less of a crowd for me). My most joy though is having time to spend with my grandkids! – Carol
  90. I find joy in not having to “rush” around, as I found myself doing when I was employed. The time afforded me now to decompress between activities throughout my day is precious. – Deborah
  91. Doing something meaningful for the community. – Steve
  92. More quality time for family and friends, a sense of peace that I’m being rewarded for all of my years of hard work. I have more time for myself now and get to do the things I enjoy doing without being rushed. – Julie
  93. There are actually so many joys to pick from. At the top of the list would be the time I get with my husband. Days are at a much more manageable pace after raising the kids, working, and everything else I was able to fit in a day. It’s finally time for “us.” – Sonia
  94. Staying active and continuing to learn. Free time. A simple life. Mornings without an alarm clock. Days without a boss/deadline. Yoga. Meditation. Ballroom and Latin dance. Gardening. Scrabble with my spouse. Getting silly with our grandchildren. Staying in with our cat. House/pet/grandchild-sitting for our three daughters in three different counties, and exploring places to eat and hike in these areas. – Marie
  95. Spending time with my family, especially while camping. – Cindy
  96. Everything! I love everything about being retired and I’m still thrilled I retired when I did. – Anonymous
  97. I retired from the practice of law to run a nonprofit farm that provides fresh produce to the needy in the Fresno area, named after my late husband (Rancho de Rodney). – Sherril
  98. Buying and reselling vintage items and antiques. – Doug
  99. Four-wheeling and fishing with my wife and friends. – Raul
  100. My two dogs that cuddle up on my lap while I drink my morning coffee. -Anonymous
  101. The freedom to do as I choose knowing that I am financially secure. – Nancy
  102. Satisfaction of having worked in a good profession. – Ravindra
  103. Having the time to do what I choose to do. I enjoy the feeling of not being under pressure to get certain things done. – Dennis
  104. Quality time every single day with my husband. – Sharon
  105. Having time to pursue my passions and the freedom to set my own schedule without worrying about a paycheck—these are the best parts of retirement! – Nancy
  106. Freedom to do what I love and being healthy enough to do it. – Wanda
  107. Ballroom dancing with my wife, hiking, vacations and afternoon naps. – Ronald
  108. Walking the hills with my dog. – William
  109. Spending as much time as I can with our four grandchildren and their parents gives me the most joy. I also am appreciating extra time to read, read, read! I am also taking comfort in knowing I have a partial, guaranteed income from my years working in a CalPERS position. I did not appreciate what this pension would mean to me in retirement. – Verlee
  110. Pottery. – Sandy
  111. Being able to wake up every morning in gratitude. – Deborah
  112. Quilting and entering the finished article in the local fair. – Virginia
  113. Tai chi classes and studying Buddhist philosophy. Also sleeping late. – Emma
  114. Knowing that I have worked 3/4 of my life to get here today. Being thankful and blessed to be happy, healthy, and ready to embrace retirement life fully. – Greg
  115. Finishing home projects that I didn’t have time for while working! – Tim
  116. I sleep in in the morning; I travel to see loved ones and loved places; and I was able to be the caregiver to my wife as she fought and lost to cancer. That was bittersweet! – Tom
  117. Traveling, reading, sleeping late and living in a 55+ active adult community where I see Mt. Rainier frequently. – Nancy
  118. I love spending time with my miniature donkey Stubby. He is such a sweet, loveable guy. In the evening before dark, I bring him in for the night and he just follows me in. Sometimes I have to ask several times and turn my back, but he finally starts moving. He can be really stubborn (donkey, haha), but I love him very much. He is my favorite thing about being retired because I can spend lots of time with him. – Pamela
  119. Spiritual strength and a strong retirement plan. – Ken
  120. Skiing. – Cyntha
  121. Time which enables me to slow down, relax, and smell the roses. – Bruce
  122. Being able to decide everyday what brings me joy, happiness, and choices! – Renee
  123. The ability to finally be free of money worries brings me the greatest joy in retirement. – Nina
  124. Right now I’m able to take care of my elderly mother 24/7. She needs me the most due to her age and disability. We still travel back to our country to visit and spend time with family and friends. – Anonymous
  125. Playing competitive tennis and bridge, continuing to keep my hand in my academic work at the level I prefer! – Ann
  126. I am finally able to stay home and enjoy my home and spend time with my husband. We have senior dogs that are so relaxed now that I am here! I love being active instead of sitting all day. I feel 20 years younger. – Antoinette
  127. The ability to travel (even when somewhat curtailed by COVID-19 restrictions) with my wife. We “plan” to travel until we no longer can do so physically, and have been to Ireland so far. Now for more trips! – Robert
  128. Having time to express my creative side via my Etsy shops. – Pat
  129. Restfulness, plus the fact I can keep my home clean and not feel pulled into too many directions. – Darlene
  130. Fostering shelter/rescue puppies. – Kathy
  131. Financial security, which enables me to help my family. Living in my beautiful home with my husband. – Brenda

Infographic lists what brings CalPERS retirees joy in retirement, for example, gardening or their grandkids.

Learn more about CalPERS retirement benefits.