Today we’re getting an inside look at some of the world’s most unconventional retirees. They worked hard throughout their careers – saving, investing and providing for their families – but instead of throwing in the towel after their last paycheck, they took a chance and started a new and exciting chapter in their lives. From starting new businesses to volunteering to beginning new lives in foreign countries, these men and women are making the most of their golden years. After all, no one ever said that life ends at retirement.

A Nurse’s Voyage

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Chris Glasgo had a full career as a nurse, spending more than 40 years serving in her field. In retirement, she has taken her skills to the open seas, helping others around the globe. Her work takes place aboard the Africa Mercy, the largest private hospital ship in the world, which is currently serving the people of Madagascar. Glasgo started this new adventure after her husband passed away from cancer. She was searching for new purpose in her life and decided to work aboard the Africa Mercy as a way to honor his memory.

Glasgo has a wide assortment of duties aboard the ship, including overseeing the admissions process for patients who have been selected for surgery and alerting the staff to potential health concerns. Together with a team of 10 people, she admits between 10-15 patients a day, completing blood work and health history before taking them to the hospital deck on the ship.

For Glasgo, her service is all about making an impact on the world and providing hope and healing to her patients. “It is the right thing to do, to give back, to make the world a better place,” she says. “Health care infrastructures are improved in every country that is served.”

She is part of a legacy consisting of doctors, teachers, nurses and other staff aboard the Mercy Ships, which have performed more than 81,000 life-changing or life-saving operations such as cleft lip and palate repair, cataract removal, orthopedic procedures, facial reconstruction and obstetric fistula repair in the last 40 years. Glasgo gets to be a part of this, which has given her the opportunity to use her skills and find purpose in her retirement.

Retirement Advice from Chris Glasgo

“Find something that gives you joy and hold fast to your dreams. Take a leap of faith and do something daring. Your life will never be the same, and you will be blessed beyond belief. “

Entrepreneur by Day, Salsa Dancer by Night

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While Margit Streifeneder loved her career at Google’s European headquarters in Ireland, she was tired of the high cost of living and cold weather, and she wanted to work at home to spend more time with her daughter. In order to achieve these goals, she moved to Nicaragua, where she had warmer weather, lower living costs and the opportunity to immerse herself in a new culture. In Dublin, she was paying $1,200 for a drafty one-bedroom flat, but in Nicaragua she now pays $950 a month for a 3-bedroom home with a pool in a secure community, as well as a maid who cleans three times a week.

“A doctor’s visit costs between $20 and $40,” says Streifeneder, “and they come to your house!”

She has been able to learn a new language and meet a wide variety of new people, but one of her most exciting pastimes has been studying salsa dancing. She had always wanted to pursue dance, and living in Nicaragua gave her the opportunity to learn salsa and other Latin dance styles such as bachata and merengue. “I started in my neighborhood gym, in a small group, and with the very basics,” says Streifeneder. “I was hooked. I loved it. So I tried various salsa schools in Managua and am now with a school called Salsa Nicaragua.”

Living in Nicaragua may provide a cheaper cost of living, but Streifeneder is not yet at the full retirement age and, therefore, unable to receive a pension. In order to earn money during retirement, she started a small online business called RetirePedia.com, which helps soon-to-be retirees plan their retirements abroad. She didn’t want to keep what she learned to herself, so she did some research and turned her advice into a website. In a typical week, she works between 15 and 20 hours advertising, recommending affiliate products and promoting her newest book: “Planning to Retire Overseas: Is Nicaragua Your Best Choice?”

Advice from Margit Streifeneder

“You may be worried that you won’t have enough money to support a comfortable lifestyle or that you outlive your money. I am certainly concerned about that. But nowadays there are so many possibilities to live a fantastic life for less money (e.g., by retiring abroad) and to earn additional income from anywhere, whether you start an online business, offer your skills as a freelancer, teach English or found a yoga retreat for stressed business people. Just keep an open mind, and grab your opportunity when it comes along.”

Young and Retired

Hayden

Knowing when to retire can be a challenge in and of itself. Brenton Hayden retired to Florida, where he plays golf, enjoys bike rides and likes to explore his community. While this may not sound like unconventional retirement activities at first glance, we should mention that Hayden retired at the ripe age of 27.

As the founder of Renters Warehouse, he specialized in helping property owners rent and manage their real estate, which was important for people during the down market in 2007. With Hayden’s help, his customers were using their cash flow to cover mortgage payments. He took his business nationally, appointed a CEO and was soon able to achieve his goal of retiring early. He now enjoys all the benefits of a successful retirement while simultaneously serving on the board of governors at his business.

Hayden managed to retire about four decades before most average Americans. It wasn’t an easy journey for him, taking seven years of planning and two years of incredibly hard work. “Before I set course to become my own boss, in a fit of desperation and inspiration, I wrote down seven pages back to front on a yellow notebook,” says Hayden. “I wrote down what I was good at and what I was not good at. I wrote where I wanted to go with my life and how I was going to get there.” It was with these goals that he was able to take the first step toward his business and early retirement.

For Hayden, retirement has helped him unload the weight of stress, while allowing him to pursue other passions. Beyond his pastimes, he also invests in small businesses, where he believes he can help other entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.

Advice from Brenton Hayden

“I think that if a rural farm boy with no experience or education in business can do it, many others can. It starts with a passion, a plan and the ability to power through obstacles. Mix in stellar execution and the ability to inspire, and you have a great start at an early retirement. Sprinkle some luck and die-hard dedication to making it happen, and the odds fall in your favor. However, retiring (even with millions) at a young age is an entirely new challenge, and I’ll admit, it was one I was not fully prepared for and I’m still working on.”

Retire to the Family Business

Olive Connection

When Carol Sapoznik had been retired for a year, she decided to open a small business with her husband Morry and son CJ. Together, they created the Olive Connection, which carries food items that are linked in some way to olives, including artisan-made olive oils. When asked why she rejoined the workforce after retirement, Carol explains that she wanted to get back in the game. “I was not done. I love to work, so as a family, which includes my husband and son, we decided to learn the business and do our homework.”

For six months, they learned about the olive oil and the food business, and through proper planning, they created a small business that could be run by their family.

Carol realized that she really liked her previous job in retail, and she wanted her day-to-day interactions to positively influence her community. As a small-business owner, the Olive Connection allows her to pursue her passions and serve the people living around her. “Food is about people, hospitality, entertaining, family and warmth. We love our customers and hope to make new friends. We are the neighborhood store.”

Together, the Sapoznik family is dedicated to the food being sold in their store, and they look to offer products that they all enjoy. With the help of artisans and food producers, they’ve found some of the greatest olive oils from across the globe, many of which are award winners, adds Carol. “We suggest vinegars and balsamic vinegars for pairing.”

As small-business owners, Carol is able to write the rules of her own retirement. The Olive Connection gives them the freedom to set store hours. They’ve made sure to split up the roles of the business: Carol is the CFO; Morry is the chief salesman and janitor; and CJ orders the food, creates the work schedule and acts as a general sales manager. “We all have a say in decisions,” says Carol. “No one day is exactly the same, which is what retail is about: lots of balls in the air at the same time. There’s always something to do.”

Retirement Advice from Carol Sapoznik

“Take a break. Make a list of all the things you wanted to do while working and never had the time to do, and then do them. Then figure out what you like to do and what is next. Let it evolve and see where it takes you.”

Choosing Your Retirement

As you’re planning for retirement, take the advice of these unconventional retirees. Many of the people listed above spent time thinking about what they loved to do, and often times, it was similar to the skills they’d been cultivating all their lives. Make the most of your golden years by pursuing your passions and thinking outside the box.

How are you spending your retirement? Let us know in the comments below.

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