9 Senior-Centered Side Hustles to Round Out Your Retirement

Senior working on laptop
insta_photos / Shutterstock.com

Side hustles are for everybody these days. From the single dad driving Uber for extra income to the single mom writing romance novels while the kids are at school, the opportunities to make extra money have never been broader.

A 2019 study by Northwest Mutual discovered that nearly half of working adults expect to work past retirement age because they should have saved more money during retirement planning for a comfortable third act.

If you’re among them, a side hustle can help you fund your favorite hobby or help you save toward vacations to see the world.

The trouble is, many side hustles are youth-oriented. They require boundless energy, excellent night vision, or availability at hours you would rather be home.

But there are some that work well for retirement-age people and some that seem especially suited for retirees. Here are our favorites.

1. Teaching ESL Online

Older man giving lessons online.
Agenturfotografin / Shutterstock.com

You speak English. Much of the world wants to speak English. The rise of the internet in developing countries has grown the market for online instruction in the world’s preeminent trade language.

The gig works like this. You sign up for one or more online English as a Second Language (ESL) schools like Whales English or Englishhunt. People from all over the world can choose you to teach classes, small groups, or individuals a language you’ve spent your whole life mastering.

You choose your hours and availability. In some cases, you can set your hourly rate by only accepting gigs that pay a certain amount or higher.

Pros

  • Highly flexible hours
  • Little to no prerequisite work
  • Meet people from all over the world

Cons

  • Requires above-average computer savvy
  • You might need to upgrade your computer
  • Some platforms are scammy, so research ahead of time

The Sweet Spot

As you plan your next international vacation, you can book classes teaching people from your destination. Take the adults out for a beer, or host a live session with kids at a local park. Travel never gets better than that.

2. Selling Your Services on Fiverr

Happy senior getting income tax breaks
buritora / Shutterstock.com

Fiverr.com is an online marketplace where people sell their skills for short-term gigs. Anything you can deliver remotely online is for sale as long as it’s not pornography or a crime.

One person even made about $2,000 by offering to insult people on social media for $5 per wisecrack.

It’s easy to set up an account on the Fiverr platform to sell what you do best on your terms and schedule. You can accept work you would enjoy and refuse tasks you don’t like.

Pros

  • Highly flexible hours
  • Rapid payment cycles
  • Whatever your skill, there’s a chance you can sell it.

Cons

  • You compete with people from developing countries with low payment demands.
  • Promoting and managing a successful profile requires unpaid work.

The Sweet Spot

Fiverr’s new program, Fiverr Pro, sets experienced professionals charging professional rates apart from casual providers working a side gig.

If you can piggyback on your career and qualify, you can earn serious money on your terms and timetable.

3. Renting Your Space on Airbnb

Senior woman counting cash
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com

Airbnb and its competitors let private citizens rent out rooms, guest houses, spare apartments, and homes to travelers who don’t want to spring for a hotel.

The online platform lets you list a space for people to sleep and handles booking and payment for you.

Many retirees downsize once their kids have left home, but there’s unused space ready for you to put to work if you still have those old bedrooms. This works well for summer homes, beach houses, or hunting cabins you’ve set up over the years.

Pros

  • Little work when you’re not making money.
  • Uses resources you already have available.
  • The platform handles payment.

Cons

  • A lousy guest can create a horrible situation.
  • Preparing and cleaning the space can be a hassle.
  • Peak seasons are likely when you want to travel.

The Sweet Spot
If you aim your listing at international travelers, you get to meet people from all over the world and help them find out what’s great about your hometown.

When you travel to their hometown in a couple of years, be sure to join them for dinner.

4. Retail Arbitrage

Couple moving
stockfour / Shutterstock.com

Every day, people sell items at online exchanges like eBay and Craigslist not knowing the full value of what they have.

Even more often, they sell large lots of things with treasures buried among them. Thrift stores routinely carry vintage or slightly worn objects that can be restored or repaired and sold at a profit.

Whatever expertise you gained in your career or hobbies might qualify you to judge the trash from this market’s treasures.

Buy low, spruce things up, sell high, and repeat. It’s not hard to make a little side money doing this and surprisingly easy to turn it into a full-time income in some niches.
Pros

  • Capitalizes on your existing expertise.
  • Allows you to engage deeply in a favorite hobby.

Cons

  • Higher risk because you’re buying on spec.
  • Requires sales skills as well as your hobby or career knowledge.
  • Requires some startup capital.

The Sweet Spot
Once you’re established, you can use this side hustle as an excuse to attend the hobby conventions and trade shows you never had time for when you were working — and you get to write it off as a business expense!

5. Driving a School Bus

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

When most of us went to school, the typical bus driver was a different animal. He — it was almost always a he — would have been happy among the Sweathogs from “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

He had suspiciously long hair, few full-time job prospects, and was probably happy employer drug tests were still a decade or two in the future.

That’s no longer the case. Most school districts actively seek retirees to drive the little ones from home to class and back again. In many cases, they have fewer applicants than they need, so if you have a clean record and miss your grandkids, it’s a golden opportunity.
Pros

  • Spending time with kids
  • Regular but part-time work
  • Strong job market
  • Summers off

Cons

  • Requires a CDL, which costs money
  • Set hours with limited flexibility
  • Some kids can be difficult to deal with

The Sweet Spot
If you get on the list for field trip drivers, you take the kids from school to their destination. Then, you get paid to sit in the sun and read a book.

6. International Housesitting

A senior black man uses a smartphone
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

This side hustle doesn’t generate income but can save you thousands on each vacation. When affluent people in other countries leave on vacation, many pay housesitters to watch their homes and care for their pets and plants. Others let travelers stay at no charge in exchange for those services.

You can be one of those travelers, housesitting in Singapore, Paris, or Buenos Aires instead of paying for a hotel room. Since even a week at a good hotel can cost more than $2,000, the savings can be the equivalent of making money from a more traditional side hustle.
Pros

  • You get to travel to exotic places.
  • No money changes hands, so there are no taxes to worry about.
  • Many hosts can make great recommendations for local sights and eateries.

Cons.

  • Houses don’t have room service.
  • You have responsibilities while you’re traveling.

The Sweet Spot
A growing trend in this vein is the house swap, where you stay at one person’s house, and they stay at yours. It creates extra trust since you’re both looking out for each other, and you form a closer relationship with your host.

7. Local Tour Guiding

Retiree abroad
TeodorLazarev / Shutterstock.com

Every tourist season, museums, private companies, and city services run guided tours of various attractions in your hometown, even if you live in a relatively small town. These jobs are rarely full-time and tend to attract the sort of gig workers that a retiree with a strong resume will have no problem beating out for a job.

If you get it, you’ll spend a few hours on the days you want to tell people what you love about the place you’ve lived for a long time.

Tours can run from just an hour to most of the day, depending on where you work and what you’re up for. And in larger cities, you can find one about almost anything you find interesting.
Pros

  • Part-time work
  • Meet new people from all over the world
  • Learn more about where you live

Cons

  • Hours are usually inflexible
  • Not for anybody who dislikes public speaking

The Sweet Spot
Many tour companies now offer culinary tours, where you get to meet with the owners of great restaurants and bars in your town — and often sample their wares.

Even if you don’t get free samples, it’s a great way to find the best new places to eat and drink in town.

8. Teach a Class

A senior worker checking his laptop
StockLite / Shutterstock.com

By the time a person reaches retirement age, they’ve picked up a few skills.

Some were part of your job that you never want to do again. Others were things you loved learning and mastering, either on the clock or in your off-hours. Thousands of people would love to learn what you already know and will pay for the privilege.

Most cities have community centers, senior centers, learning annexes, and similar facilities where you can offer in-person instruction in the things you do best.

Or you can take the class online via social media, YouTube, or another online learning format and teach people from anywhere on earth.
Pros

  • You keep doing what you know and love best.
  • Highly flexible hours
  • Most people learn even more about things when they teach it.

Cons

  • You compete with people from developing countries with low payment demands.
  • Promoting and managing a successful profile requires unpaid work.

The Sweet Spot
Consider doing a world tour once your classes have enough attendees. Offer to teach a private lesson in exchange for two nights in the guest room and a personally guided tour of your host’s favorite town.

9. Online Tutoring

LTim / Shutterstock.com

This option is a cross between teaching ESL online and teaching a class as described just above. Online tutoring platforms like Wize and TutorMe connect students who need homework or test prep help with adults who are experts in those subjects.

Even if you have zero teaching knowledge or specialized education, many of these students are young enough that your basic understanding exceeds their needs.

All you need is the time and patience to show them what you’ve learned. The platforms handle the booking and payment, so you just log on and help somebody learn.
Pros

  • Highly flexible hours
  • Meet and help interesting people.

Cons

  • You’re competing with graduate students a lot of the time, which drives hourly rates downward.
  • May require you to upgrade computer equipment.

The Sweet Spot
Much like with online ESL classes, you forge relationships with interesting people. When you go on vacation, you can meet them in person and get a free tour guide for the afternoon, evening, or the whole day.

Final Thought: Consulting

Consultant woman
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Consulting in your old career doesn’t really belong on the list but is still worth mentioning. It’s not for everybody because a lot of retirees quit working for good reasons. They’re tired of that old career and don’t want to spend extra time in it.

But if you’re not tired, you have the expertise, experience, and contacts. It’s not hard to set up a shop advising small-business owners, coaching would-be CEOs, or helping corporations fine-tune their mojo in what you spent your career getting great at.

Consultants are typically paid far more per hour than employees, so it’s possible to earn what you had been while working part-time.

All that said, running a consulting business takes work and expertise of its own. That’s a topic for a different article.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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