Settling in on Crone Island
November 21, 2018 12:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm settling into being single for the long haul and mostly pretty comfortable about it but some things seem to be a lot harder solo. Any tips and good advice for building a sweet life on Crone Island?

For the most part I'm pretty self-sufficient, but financially it's just harder on one salary so any retirement planning tips for the single lady of a certain age would be great. Also, I find it hard to find people to do trips with, even short ones close to home. My friends are all couples and usually travel as twosomes or foursomes; I'm comfortable travelling alone but it kind of wears thin after a while, so I'd be keen to hear ideas there. I've updated my will and advance directive, so that's taken care of. I try to stay connected with people and realistic about the level of support to expect - I mostly just hire people instead of asking friends. Any other things I should be doing to make the most of cronedom?
posted by bighappyhairydog to Human Relations (19 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
One thing I do when travelling solo is get in the habit of striking up conversations with strangers; chatting with a hiker at a view spot or sharing road stories with a trucker at a diner counter fills the "feeling lonely" bar without having to put up with someone longer than you want.

Also highly recommend getting a dog if you can. Altho might be redundant with your username.
posted by The otter lady at 12:54 PM on November 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm assuming by your user name that you might have a dog. If not, and you like dogs, get a dog, and get involved in dog sports. You will find yourself immersed in a world populated by single women of a certain age who are all there for each other in truly impressive ways. You will never lack for traveling companions or a community that will pull together to help you out emotionally, financially, and physically in a crisis.
posted by HotToddy at 1:01 PM on November 21, 2018 [12 favorites]

If you're at all religious or spiritual, find a church community to join. If you're not at all spiritual, you might still probably like Unitarian Universalist congregations. I'm non-religious, middle aged, and partnered but I've made friends with people of many generations and life situations through my UU congregation, including folks I go on activities with. They usually have a women's group so you can bond with other crones (and others).
posted by matildaben at 1:33 PM on November 21, 2018 [16 favorites]

I've known people who have joined The Red Hat Society, it seems quirky, but also fun. Could satisfy the itch to go on outings with women your age. Have also known people who have found good social groups in the UU church, as suggested above.

For financial stuff, have you looked at joining a women's investment group? Lots of information on Google. Or look for a fee-only financial advisor in your area.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Volunteer for causes you care about. Yoga, live music, live theatre (watching and performing), improv lessons, dance classes, basically find things that interest you and find groups of people to do them with. Then find someone who seems to know everyone else and "hello, my name is Thingy and I'm new here, do you know all these awesome people?" Make new friends! Then ask them out / over / for help, and help them out as you can. Studies have gone to show that the happiest and healthiest people are those who have a vibrant and as-full-as-they-want social calendar.

This can be harder in a smaller town; but there still should be organized activities to get involved with -- and from there friendships can blossom if you're welcome to them.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:28 PM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Would you consider go on trips with a tour company? They are often either designated for a specific age group or are completely mixed.
posted by the twistinside at 5:25 PM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

My Aunt really has enjoyed being part of Global Grannies. It looks really fun if you like to travel and would like companionship!
posted by augustinetill at 5:39 PM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how old you are, but I noticed that as my friends are married longer, they're more willing to travel without their husband/kids. That doesn't help now, but you might have more travel partners in the future.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:12 PM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Tourlina - Find Female Travel Companions (for women only)

Women travel the World (Worldwide accommodations and tours for women; Promoting women’s travel businesses to women travellers around the world)

Broad Escapes (tours for women)

Journeywoman (bills itself as the premier travel resource for women)

Finding Travel Buddies Online (link round-up)

Package tours often offer a 'roommate guarantee' so you aren't stuck paying the single supplement; many sites maintain classifieds where you can find a travel companion for independently-arranged trips.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:03 PM on November 21, 2018 [11 favorites]

I have found many travel partners through my hiking group or organised group tours. Meetup has been a go-to for me as well.
posted by frumiousb at 11:43 PM on November 21, 2018

I've enjoyed the two big solo hikes I've done, tour du mont blanc and GR20 as you'd keep seeing people doing a similar pace and chat along the way for a while. Plus staying at refuges allows you to be social in the evening over dinner. For me was perfect as had all the benefits of hiking on my own - peace, own pace, detours / scrambles but occasional interactions with other humans too. Saw lots of groups / organised tours doing them and looked awful - just plodding along at the pace of the slowest, stuck looking at the bottom / backpack of the person in front!
posted by JonB at 12:50 AM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am similar to you, older single woman. One thing you might want to do is reframe your situation. You have freedom in ways married people do not. You are not tied to someone who is old, frail, disabled, or crochitty. You don't have to negotiate decisions the way married people do; you get to do what you want, not what they want. Life is indeed sweet as a single. Besides, you are leading the way and can be a huge support to your friends, most of whom are going to walk this road as their husbands die off and they find themselves single. Don't call yourself a crone. Find a more uplifting word.

Regarding travel, I have found tours to be a lifesaver as a single woman. I have used Road Scholar and Gate One. In every case, I have found that it is mostly married couples and single women (no single men for some reason.) The married couples seem to keep to themselves, but IN EVERY CASE, the single women find and help one another. Married couples will go off and do their own thing while the single women are more inclined to find others to join them in their adventure. You will do fine on a tour.
posted by eleslie at 6:18 AM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thanks so much for all the great answers! I agree that there are some definite pluses to being single- I was referring to the earlier emotional labour thread where women were wanting to move to crone island where "the margaritas and tacos are plentiful, the conversation is wonderful, and it’s appreciated and acknowledged when you do something for the community". This has given me lots of ideas - much appreciated!
posted by bighappyhairydog at 12:18 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I try to stay connected with people and realistic about the level of support to expect - I mostly just hire people instead of asking friends.

Is mostly hiring people being realistic? It seems to me that as long as you are willing to help your friends, asking them for help is a way to deepen the friendship. By deciding in advance that it is unrealistic to ask your friends for certain kinds of support, is it possible that you are missing out on enriching your friendships?

Example: A couple of years ago I bought a new mattress and over dinner with two friends, also single women in their 60s, I mentioned that my mattress was supposedly waiting for me in the lobby of my apartment building and how worried I was about getting it into the elevator and up to my apartment. This was not a subtle attempt to ask for help. It did not even occur to me to ask. But both my friends immediately volunteered to go to my place after dinner and help me. They insisted; they said that was part of being friends.

As it turned out, the delivery folks had left it near my front door, so I didn't need a lot of help but they were happy to help. The help they offered made me super happy. I think they were right about friendship, right to offer help, and I was right to accept it (and, of course, I help my friends as well whenever I have the opportunity).

In theory, asking for help or advice makes one appear smarter and/or more likeable. I think all the advice above about traveling is great; I just wanted to touch on another aspect of your question, which I am so glad you asked!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:52 PM on November 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

If you plan to travel a lot solo and don't speak the local language, find expats to connect with.

And consider retiring outside the US to a location where expenses are lower. There are many :-) Many Latin American countries have low costs of living, very good (and cheap) health care, and wonderful things to see and do. Again, knowing where the expats are is vital unless/until you learn the local language. But you'll be better off in the long run learning the language.

nomad.list is a good way to compare quality of life/costs of living in many worldwide cities at a glance. Many digital nomads are men under 40, but in spite of that the chat is usually very helpful even to nonmen over 50!
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:28 AM on November 23, 2018

Outdoor/hiking stuff for folks who might be marginalized by mainstream hiking groups: If it is at all applicable to you, you might check out an organization called Fat Girls Hiking. I have a friend who is a Black outdooor enthusiast who has organized hikes and camping trips for people of color, and I see some other Black hiking/outdoors groups through Googling, so that's another option if that's something relevant to you. Disabled Hikers was recommended by someone in my arthritis support group.
posted by matildaben at 3:00 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

My mother is widowed. She was lonely and wanted people to spend time with and maybe travel. She joined an organization that sends seniors to read to kindergarten kids. She LOVES the reading part, but just as important, she met some really neat people she now will call to run errands with or some weekend close to home travel. I think it is a matter of finding a group or two that you enjoy what the group activity is and make friends from there.

I am dating a 50 something woman who was never married and has no children. She has all sorts of things in place for cronedom. She has regular check in calls with friends in similar situations. They call M-W-F at say 10:00am just to see how they are doing. She has arranged with a neighbor to check on her if her newspaper has not been taken in for two days.

She saves money for retirement better than anyone I know. She has a regular transfer from her checking to her account designated for her retirement and from there puts a certain percentage in ETFs, a certain percentage in a bond fund and a small percentage in money market fund.

She has friends who are experts in different areas. For example, she has a friend who deals with her car. She has him take in in for repairs with her, he helped negotiate the purchase of it and he generally knows his radiator cap from his distributor cap so he can at least advise her if a repair is bs or not. She has a friend (now me) who negotiates her phone purchases and small contracts like that.

Essentially, she has set up a cabinet of trusted advisors to help her with areas that are not her strong suit and that maybe a spouse or significant other would take care of. Rather than find one person who does it all, she has found several who are willing to help in very specific areas.

The other area she has concerns about are medical. She worries about who can take her to and from certain Dr. appointments, who will be there if she needs surgery, who can maybe listen in on a conversation with a doctor and be a second set of ears. She has a signed power of medical attorney with a friend (or whatever it is called), but that is for catastrophic events.

She lives in NYC, in a doorman building, and can rely on several of the doormen to help out in certain situations too.

She has a niece and nephew who she adores and treats them to dinners and gifts. They are in their 20s. She does it because she never had kids and loves them like her own, but I know there are times she needed someone to help move a table or a similar small task that requires more than one person and has asked them for help. From the outside, I think being willing and able to ask people for favors or help is important. For some, it does not come easy or naturally.
posted by AugustWest at 10:00 PM on November 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Excited to see this thread and can't believe I almost missed it!

2nding checking out your local UU congregation. I'm single and childless, and I've found a lot of my friends and activities through my church. I'm non-religious and I feel very welcome and at home. There are also travel opportunities through the church which I haven't taken advantage of yet.

I can recommend traveling for a hobby-related workshop - I got to see a new country and made a lot of friends - including many other single (or a least independent-minded) women. Right now I don't have the funds to travel but when I do I hope to try this again.
posted by bunderful at 7:24 AM on November 24, 2018

I know I am late to this party, but wanted to say that technology helped me take an amazing solo trip to Ireland this summer. Air B&B meant I almost always had someone to chat with in the evenings. Ireland is also a friendly enough country that people would strike up a conversation with you anywhere. I would then post my day in pics on Facebook before bed, and wake up to my friends oohing and ahhing and commenting on how my trip was going. I never felt lonely.

I don't know that this would work everywhere, but I hope this helps.
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 12:21 PM on November 28, 2018

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