So what do you do with an empty-nest?

I’ve definitely considered being a foster parent during the empty nest years. I once read an obituary for a woman that died in her 90s. She had spent the last 30 years fostering infants in need of emergency care. She’d get calls at all hours of the day/night, someone would drop off a baby and she’d have them for a few weeks before they moved to a more permanent situation.

1 Like

Hmom16 - that’s what I was thinking about!

I’ve had some very tangential knowledge of the system in our state and from what I can tell some foster parents are incredibly overloaded and overworked - asked to take on short term emergency placements because they are already qualified. Thought it would be a way to help without the longer-term commitment.

Erikson’s concept of generativity in latter years really resonates. E.g., former President Jimmy Carter, his mom who joined the Peace Corps at 68…


Also - love that story of the 90 year old foster lady!!!

@Jolynne_Smyth, I think I have written this earlier in the thread, but a truly wise friend of mine says that people need three things to maintain that mental health: community, meaning and structure. Some people lose all three when they retire. My instinct if you are going to move is to begin building a community in your new home as soon as you can (preferably even before you move). Second, choose activities (like fostering) that give you a sense of meaning in your life. And create activities that give you a daily structure.

My plan is not to retire but to increase the mix of “save the world”/pro bono activities relative to money-making activities over time. I get a lot of fulfillment from my work but get even more when I am doing save the world things. And, as long as I am married to an intensely social wife and have my work, I have a large and global community. The biggest risk to me is probably if my wife were to die as she has been the catalyst of a lot of my social life.


@shawbridge - interesting - thanks for sharing. I’ve been thinking the same for a number of years (as I’ve watched people retire). Definitely want meaning/purpose & community - and I guess structure would be important too. Plus, of course, enough money to make ‘worrying about money’ (and healthcare!) not a major issue.

Only a few ‘hard no’s’ - #1 no would be retirement type communities where it’s all about fun and games and everyone’s about the same age. No judgment on anyone who enjoys that (and I know many who do!). I just love mixed ages and seeing young couples just starting out.

My job is already an incredible opportunity to (in my view) contribute to ‘making the world better’ and I’m grateful for it every day. I just really want to think about envisioning the next stage as something different - even if it means keeping the job for a while and retrofitting life! (e.g., selling suburban house, minimizing, trying out extended (low-cost) trips in different locals (while working remotely?), starting a part-time biz to carry through retirement…?).

This thread has been so great to hear people’s different ideas!

1 Like

9 posts were split to a new thread: Carbon neutral and CO2 emissions, etc

Hehe - and I was so happy this thread had traction again! :joy: Oh well!

Yup. Didn’t mean to send us off on what they thought was a tangent, but let me draw it back. We did virtual Rosh Hashana services earlier this week, which meant my wife and I with a computer sitting on the river. Although I grew up in a religious family, I gave that up when I went to college. But, I really respect the period from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur, because it gives me an excuse to reflect on how I am living my life and what I could do better. [For those not in the tribe, Jews are not judged by what they believe in but on how they act. And, if you believe in God and sins, God can only forgive you for sins against God. You must ask for forgiveness for sins you made against people from the people against whom you sinned.].

My wife and I discussed allocating more of our time to socially valuable projects. We both would like to use our skills rather than just our money (though we’ve actually set up a Fidelity Donor Advised Fund to contribute). But, we had thought we would do it together. Alas, her skills – she is a very talented artist whose work is in museums and galleries in major cities but is also immensely gifted with people skills and generosity and warmth (I married up) – are very different than mine (I’m a big picture intellect who developed an approach to improving companies and governments results in a particular field and have developed general wisdom about how to get organizations to perform better). So, we decided we ought to look for how we could help. I’ve decided to spend more of my time mentoring interesting startups (for which I’ll often be paid and/or get options) and will try to help some social enterprises (for which I won’t get paid).

Interesting shawbridge. So you and your wife will contribute in the non-profit/mentoring/charitable roles - but in separate spheres, tied to your expertise? I’ve seen a few folks do that - shift over to an area using their skills that’s more public-service oriented - rather than a complete departure from their business life into golf/fun.

I’ve been talking to a friend who moved to Mexico (extremely affordable health care and cost of living). She absolutely loves it and made the move young enough (late 50s) to really enjoy all the activites & fun. Big expat community there. Wondered if anyone else thought about that?

@Jolynne_Smyth, we have thought of it. Is your friend in St. Miguel de Allende or Ajijic?

On your question, yes. I think we will try to contribute in the places where we can contribute the most rather than trying to find one area in which our skills both are of high value. [I have been on the board of a museum which had given my wife a number of shows prior to my joining the board, but I didn’t feel I was having sufficient impact. I identified a big problem early on and eight or ten years later (well after I’d left the board), they suffered serious consequences because they hadn’t dealt with the problem].

We don’t play golf but bicycle and, if I let myself be persuaded to be someplace snowy in the winter, snowshoe and cross-country ski. But, both of us enjoy our work a lot and don’t expect to let that go until we can’t do it anymore. My wife loves kayaking. I don’t, but if we lived nearer to a straight river, I would take up sculling again, which I absolutely love.

1 Like

shawbridge - my friend lives in Playa del Carmen. She has so many sun-drenched pictures and fun-filled stories of her and her hubby loving every moment of their time there.

I’ve started researching and San Miguel de Allende seems like an incredibly interesting, artsy, and vibrant place with lots of historical architecture (all of which I love!).

Once we sell my parents’ house we’ll be traveling to try out various spots - Mexico will probably be visited more than once, given the differences between the beach-oriented communities and the colonial highland areas!

I’ve been to many places in Mexico including a few times in San Miguel (we have friends with a house there). Assuming things haven’t changed, San Miguel had lots of American and Canadian retirees and a lot of what I’d call lost divorcees – middle-aged American (and maybe Canadian) women searching to put their lives in order in part with a spiritual seeking aspect. Lovely town.

I’ve been through Playa del Carmen but never stayed there (IIRC, the ferry to Cozumel leaves from Playa del Carmen.) I have stayed in Isla Mujeres, Akumal, Cozumel and Tulum, but none in the last 8-10 years. I think the crime situation in Cancun has gotten a lot worse and in the rest of the Yucatan somewhat worse. I’d ask your friend about that. Otherwise, the beaches and swimming/snorkeling/scuba diving are sensational. I would also worry somewhat about hurricane season.

We had a marvelous stay maybe 5 or 6 years ago in a town called Los Barriles on the Gulf of Cortez in Baja California Sur. Beautiful but the wind and waves are strong and I think the water was colder.

1 Like

Good to know, thanks shawbridge! I did ask my friend about the crime - she said no different than most parts of the US - don’t flash money, don’t necessarily go out alone at night in certain areas. But, overall she said she felt extremely safe.

I can’t wait to try out these places!

Ask later if you want advice on places to visit, though your friend may know a lot more than I do. I have done a fair bit of work in Mexico City (a great city with outstanding restaurants and art) and had vacations on both the Pacific and Gulf coasts and inland. I had thought it might be a very affordable place to retire (at least for the winter) but my wife does not pick up foreign languages well (she’s pretty dyslexic and grew up in part in Montreal but doesn’t even get Quebecois right). So, she said, ixnay on Mexico.

For us, the lack of purified water would probably be an issue of concern.

Thanks, shawbridge! The videos I’ve been watching on Mexico show folks with containers of filtered water in their apartments (or tips on pills to remove parasites after drinking it? yikes!).

I have a rough knowledge of very elemental Spanish - but not enough to feel comfortable conversing with, say, a Spanish-speaking neurologist during a family health crisis! So, lots to consider!!

My sister spends Half a year in PV. It cost around $25 extra to have an English speaking dentist. Over many years, she can converse fairly well. She still prefers MDs and DDs in English.

1 Like

@Jolynne_Smyth, Costa Rica has good low cost health care AND purified water.

1 Like

Thanks bookworm & shawbridge!

We’ve just started the ‘looking at overseas options’ - I’m so glad that traveling to visit first seems like a prerequisite! Wouldn’t mind a week or two in Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, or Costa Rica - even if the end result was a stateside locale. A fun way to make an informed decision!

1 Like

What a fascinating article, BunsenBurner. Thanks for sharing!

"The Costa Rica model suggests that directing those expenditures wisely—in ways attentive to the greatest opportunities for impact—can be transformative when it comes to the less connected and the less advantaged."