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How to make friends in retirement: 6 top tips

When you are a child, you go to school and instantly make friends. When you are a teenager, you may go off to college or university, where there is such a vast amount of like-minded people in one place. Then you get a bit older, possibly enter parenthood, and from there you continue to make friends with people who also have children, i.e at the school gates. But despite everything we know about the importance of maintaining friendships and social connections, we also know how busy life can get and sometimes friendships just fizzle out as years go by.

How to make friends in retirement

You are now at the stage of your life where you’ve reached retirement, your children have moved out, and you have more time on your hands than you’ve ever had before. Sound familiar?

Don’t feel like it’s just you though! There are so many people out there in the same boat. Retirees are especially vulnerable to isolation, and one thing that isn’t talked about enough is how loneliness can have a serious effect on an individual’s health. According to Holt-Lunstad’s 2010 study, loneliness is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

Anyway, let’s get into why you came here in the first place, how to make friends in retirement.


1. Pick up a hobby

Picking up hobbies are a great way to meet like-minded people who have similar interests to you. This could be completely new, or something you used to do previously. A few suggestions for you:

• A musical instrument
• Painting
• Exercise classes/the gym
• Pottery class
• A sport
• Book club
• Cookery class
• Dancing
• Walking
• Cycling


2. Volunteer

There are so many voluntary positions within communities such as charity shops, homeless shelters, tutoring, youth work, events, befriending and mentoring, all of which would not only benefit your local area, but has proven health and well-being benefits for yourself:

• 20% of volunteers say it has helped them lose weight
• 62% of volunteers say volunteering reduces stress
• 52% of volunteers use existing skills or experience
• 48% are learning new skills or trying something different
• 89% of volunteers say that they’ve met new people via volunteering

Giving up your own time for free to help others and the community, makes this a really great way to make kind, genuine friends. The social element along with the health benefits, are why we as a charity actively encourage participation in community life through volunteering as part of our unique ExtraCare model.

Eve – Previous Volunteer at St Oswald’s Village

3. Go back to school

Just because you’re retired, by no means do you need to stop learning and broadening your knowledge! There are countless educational programmes and courses designed for people in their later years, covering a huge variety of interesting topics.

The University of the Third (U3A) is a nationwide network of learning groups aimed at encouraging older people to share their knowledge, skills and interests in a friendly environment. Subjects include:

• Arts
• History
• Literature and language
• Crafts
• Photography
• Computer and digital technology skills

Be aware that fees do apply to become a U3A member, however it is generally significantly lower than most adult education courses.

Do Something Brilliant Today

4. Reconnect

It’s 2023 and technology is so incredibly advanced, the positive possibilities with the internet are endless. By reconnecting, we mean to get in touch with old faces via Facebook! The platform allows you to search for people which is such a fantastic way to contact friends that you may have lost touch with when life got in the way. We all know how lovely it is to pick up where you left off with someone you haven’t seen for a long time.

If you’re new to Facebook, worry not! Here’s a step by step guide by Facebook themselves on how to set up your profile.


5. Attend local events

Now for some of you, you may be happy to see the back of former friends and acquaintances, therefore reconnecting may not be for you.

A great way to get in with a fresh, new crowd would be by attending local community events. There are potentially many new friends right under your nose. Facebook is a fantastic way to find out what’s going on in your local area, and you can also see who else is attending beforehand.

Local events could be anything from:

• A coffee morning
• A church service
• A bingo night
• Live music
• Pub quiz
• Comedy night
• Seasonal fayres/markets

Our retirement villages host a whole range of social events and entertainment evenings in which we welcome others from the wider community to join our residents.


6. Get to know your neighbours

You may not even need to look any further than the house next door. A great way to make friends close by is to get to know your neighbours on a closer level than just the odd hello when you’re both taking the bins out.

Suggest a group get together to a few people on your street, like a Sunday afternoon trip to the local pub, or maybe even host at your own place and have your neighbours round for drinks.

This is the beauty of living in a retirement village, you naturally become friends with your neighbours as you’ll see them coming out of their apartment when you’re both coincidentally going to the gym, or to the bistro, or to the singing performance in the village hall. Friendships are made fast in retirement communities.

A Pannel Croft Village resident says:

“I love living here in the village, lots of entertainment if you want it. I have made many new friends. I have my dog with me, I feel safe and free from the usual household problems, life is good.”

Discover Later Living brochure