When James Taylor first asked “Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend,” it was 1971. Your social circle was probably as wide as the world is large. Now, years later, retiring baby boomers feel the true significance of Mr. Taylor’s message.
That’s because, just like almost everything else in life, making new friends gets harder as you get older. The problem is compounded when you retire.
As Baby Boomers Retire, Ties Can Fade
Boomers retiring look forward to having more time for friends and family. Up there with traveling, pursuing hobbies and doing volunteer work, it’s one of the top reasons for anticipating retirement. Indeed, for 56% of workers it’s what they dream about when they imagine retirement, according to the 17th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers.
Ironically though, once you stop going to work your social network shrinks. Think about it: one of your main social networks, one you may have relied upon for decades, is no longer there. Sure, you can make “play dates” with old co-workers. But since you’re not at work any longer, you may find there’s little to talk about.
The answer may be is learning how to make new friends. Sadly, it seems Boomers are having trouble with that. A study by the Stanford Center on Longevity suggests that boomers are faltering with forming new social relationships.
Best Cities for Making Friends in Retirement
There’s hope. If you’re planning a move, you’ll want to take a look at this. AARP maintains a fascinating list of cities in the U.S. they’ve deemed to be great places for meeting new people. Divided into small, medium, and large cities, it includes surprisingly remote places like West Fargo, North Dakota and Gresham, Oregon. For urbanites, AARP says Philadelphia and San Francisco are good.
What does it take for a city to make the list?
It has a lot to do with how people interact. Take a look at what each of the 30 cities on the list has in common:
- lots of people vote
- lots of people join civic groups
- people look out for neighbors (and family)
- people have easy access to the internet
This gives us clues as to how people make friends in new cities, too. Notice each criterion speaks to how connected and engaged people are. This, of course is the key to making friends in retirement. Finding others who enjoy shared passions automatically sets you up for lasting friendships.
Whether it is boomer fitness classes at your local gym or other activities aimed at the baby boomer population, find your niche. You may end up making a new best friend or you might simply add to your circle of companions. Either way, you’re staying engaged in meaningful relationships. Both, of course, are good for baby boomers’ health and great for the soul!