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Reflecting on retirement, unconventionally

Retirement and the traditional image of a ‘quiet life’ has evolved and can now be a time of freedom and experience.
Published 1 Mar 2024   |   3 min read

The concept of retirement has evolved and so has the traditional image of a quiet life. Retirement can be a time of great freedom and personal experiences.  

For those who seek a more unconventional path to retirement, the journey involves creativity, planning, and often a willingness to break away from the norm. In this article, we will explore the idea of preparing to retire in an unconventional way and offer insights into how to make this unique vision a reality. 

Define your retirement dream

The first step in preparing for retirement is to define what it means to you – and it doesn’t have to be conventional . Do you dream of spending more time with family, traveling the world in a van, starting a new career, volunteering in your community, or pursuing a lifelong passion? Take time to envision your ideal retirement and get specific about what you want to achieve. 

A way to envision what your ideal retirement could look like is to put pen to paper. Start by closing your eyes picturing yourself in your retirement years. What does this look like in your mind? Start writing down the details. Where do you live? How do you feel? What’s fulfilling you daily?  

Black and white photo of a retired man playing the piano


Financial planning

While an unconventional retirement might not always require a large pot of savings, it's still crucial to establish a solid financial foundation. Assess your financial situation and create a budget tailored to your unconventional retirement goals. Consider alternative income sources, like part-time work, freelancing, or investments, to sustain your lifestyle as you consider your path to retirement

Embrace minimalism

Many unconventional retirees find that adopting a minimalist lifestyle not only simplifies their transition but also allows for more freedom and mobility. Downsizing your possessions and expenses can help free up resources for your unconventional retirement plans. Have you explored the downsizer contribution through super if you own a home?  

Acquire new skills

Retirement can provide more time to acquire new skills or revisit long-lost passions. Whether it's learning a new language for travel, taking up a creative hobby, or gaining knowledge for a career change, continuing education could be a key component of your journey. 

Retired woman by the beach waxing a surfboard


Test the waters 

Before fully committing to your unconventional retirement plan, consider a trial run. If you're considering a nomadic lifestyle, take a short sabbatical to explore the experience. Trying out your retirement lifestyle before fully embracing it can help you make informed decisions and adapt as needed. 

Build a support network

Share your unconventional retirement plans with friends and family. Their support and understanding will be invaluable. Seek out communities of like-minded individuals who have chosen similar paths. Community groups, online forums and social networks can connect you with people who have already walked the unconventional retirement road. 

Group of retired people laughing on a couch


Legal and logistical considerations

Consider the legal and logistical aspects of your unconventional retirement. Are there visas or permits required for your chosen activities or destinations? Seek legal advice to ensure you have the necessary documents and permissions. 

Embrace change and uncertainty

An unconventional retirement is often accompanied by a degree of unpredictability. Embrace change and uncertainty as part of the adventure. Be open to learning from challenges and adjusting your plans as necessary. 

Stay true to yourself 

The most important aspect of retiring unconventionally is staying true to yourself. Your retirement should reflect your values, desires, and aspirations. It's a time to embrace your individuality and live life on your terms. 

Define your legacy 

What will you leave as your legacy beyond that which is monetary? Reviewing how you’re investing your capital now will have long lasting effects. Define how you’d like your financial impact to be felt now and in the future.  

What will you leave as your legacy beyond that which is monetary? Reviewing how you’re investing your capital now will have long lasting effects. Define how you’d like your financial impact to be felt now and in the future.  

Retiring unconventionally is an opportunity to break free from societal norms and embrace a retirement journey that is uniquely yours. Whether you're pursuing a life of travel, entrepreneurship, volunteer work, or personal passions, careful planning, a strong support network, and the courage to take risks are your greatest allies.

The unconventional retiree discovers that retirement is not an end but a new beginning—a chance to explore, grow, and live life to the fullest. 


Australian Ethical acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the country on which we work, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and recognise and celebrate their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and thank them for protecting Country since time immemorial.

See our Reconciliation Action Plan