Although most people are likely looking forward to the day when they can retire and take it easy, plenty of others are looking hard for ways to take it easy even before they retire. With the right job, you can effectively start your retirement right now, working the hours you want and earning money without punching a clock at the office.
It’s true that we’re currently experiencing a tough job market due to the coronavirus pandemic, but these are the jobs you should look out for to make your day-to-day feel like you’re already retired.
Last updated: July 13, 2021
If you like to travel, you’re likely not going to find a better job than working as a travel writer. Your job is your vacation and your vacation is your job, allowing you to travel and then write about your journeys. And, if you freelance, you can take on as much or as little work that suits you to avoid getting burned out.
Although you might be limited on where you can travel during the pandemic, you can still write about road trip destinations — and then take your travels further once it’s safe to do so again.
If dining out is one of your favorite treats, consider looking for work writing about your favorite meals as a food critic. You can visit restaurants and be compensated for the cost of your meal in addition to getting paid, provided you’re writing a quality review on your experience. Or, if you’re not a foodie, becoming a secret shopper can mean eating for free in exchange for reviewing the overall quality of service.
Dining options may be limited depending on regulations in your area, but there are always new places to try and review — even if you just do takeout.
Freelance Web Developer
If you know how to build a website, you might be able to find plenty of work doing so for other people. There are plenty of small businesses in need of a solid web presence out there, and if you can build pages for them, it can mean working from home on your own terms while making a good hourly wage.
Although the median wage of $35.46 an hour might make it one of the lowest-paid jobs in tech, that has a lot to do with how lucrative other positions in the field are. For a job you’re doing from home on your own schedule, it can make for some pretty easy money.
If you love dogs and know enough of your neighbors, you could consider working as a professional dog walker. Dog walkers will typically charge about $20 to $30 for a 30-minute walk, per Angie’s List. That translates to upwards of $60 an hour, and that’s assuming you aren’t walking more than one dog at a time.
Few things can feel as sweet as getting paid to squat at someone else’s place, but if you know enough people who regularly travel, that’s just what can happen. Feeding cats or watering plants can be your in to getting paid to look after other people’s pads while they’re away, letting you enjoy some fresh scenery and earning money for the privilege.
Since people are traveling less than usual, this could be a good part-time gig until things open up enough to make it your full-time job.
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Working at the high end of the profession typically requires a master’s degree in library science, but you might be able to find work at your local library without an advanced degree. If you enjoy silence and reading, odds are good that there will be plenty of both while you also get a chance to help fellow bibliophiles find the books they need — all while earning a median pay of $28.39 an hour.
Although libraries in some places are currently closed due to the pandemic, some are still offering online services, so this could still be a viable laidback job for you.
There’s no official certification necessary to prepare other people’s taxes, so if you have a lot of basic tax know-how, you can charge friends, family or neighbors to take that task off their plates. Just be sure you consult state laws to ensure you meet the requirements where you live.
You won’t necessarily be able to charge as much as a CPA or certified enrolled agent (nor should you, probably), and you’ll likely be pretty busy in the spring, but working hard a few months out of the year can leave you free as a bird for the rest of the time.
If you’ve got a decent singing voice and some chops on a guitar or piano, you might be able to find gigs singing and playing at local bars. If you can work your way through enough classic rock or show tunes, nearby watering holes could be interested in paying you to keep their customers entertained. You’ll work nights, but if you enjoy performing, this could be a pretty easy gig.
To stay safe with this job, opt for outdoor venues whenever possible.
It clearly requires a certain level of professional expertise to start, but consulting work can be pretty lucrative. Your job is closed-end more often than not and you can frequently earn a high hourly rate. According to Consultant Journal, one method for figuring out your consulting rate is to simply double or even triple what your hourly rate was at your job.
Working as a tutor can be relatively easy, especially if you can find enough students close to where you live. You will need to be good with kids and have enough knowledge of the subject matter so that you can really help someone else understand the topic, but it can make for well-paying work that doesn’t require long hours or a lot of stress. The average wage is about $17.74 an hour, according to PayScale, but the higher end of that rate can approach $40.
Tutors are especially in high demand this school year, as many schools move to distanced learning and parents are looking for ways to ensure their kids stay on track.
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Although there is an abundance of scams and pyramid schemes designed around convincing you to start selling for a particular company with promises of great riches, that doesn’t mean that someone with the right social skills can’t make pretty good money doing direct sales from home. If you have experience in a particular industry, you can turn that into an easy gig earning commissions, just be sure to do your research and avoid scams.
Speaking a second language is a valuable skill. There are plenty of opportunities for translators or interpreters, many of which won’t even require leaving your home. Per PayScale, you could earn an average of $20 an hour just for leveraging the knowledge of a language you already have.
Etsy has helped open up a new marketplace for anyone with craft skills, but it’s just one avenue to follow. You can also set up your own website or try to get a booth at the local farmers market. If you have a hobby that involves making things, you might be able to sell something that you make for fun for a profit.
If you have the money to purchase a rental property — or even enough room in your house to take on a tenant — it can make for a passive income stream that will allow you to work from home. Even just taking on the role of building superintendent can be a sweet gig if you’re a little handy and know how to work with maintenance professionals.
Sure, there will be the occasional maintenance emergency that requires you to respond immediately and act fast, but much of the rest of your job can fit around your schedule. And if you’re really lucky, your tenants might even prove to be a new group of friends. It’s part of why you might find becoming a landlord to be one of the best decisions you ever make.
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Plenty of local barbershops or salons will essentially rent out their chairs or workstations to stylists. And even if you can’t find a location like this, you can make house calls or have clients visit your home. If you have expertise with doing makeup or cutting and styling hair, don’t overlook the opportunity to do it professionally and on your own terms.
Salons in some areas are currently closed, so make sure you know the local regulations before jumping into this potential job opportunity.
Landscaping can be difficult manual labor when it’s something you’re doing full time. However, if you enjoy gardening and own the necessary tools, you might be able to convince some of your neighbors to hire you to handle their lawns, potentially even getting the chance to help design their outdoor space. You can limit your clientele to keep yourself from having to pull long hours, and you’ll get paid to feed that green thumb.
Call Center Representative
The digital age has increasingly meant that customer service by phone isn’t tied to a call bank, and representatives can field calls from home. If you enjoy helping people and don’t mind being on the phone, you can plan on staying home while working to resolve people’s complaints.
Much like call center reps, the ability to telecommute has also meant that working as someone’s assistant can be done remotely. Plenty of people are looking for the chance to offload work, and they don’t always feel the need to find someone in their office — or even their country — for it. Look around for employers in a field you have experience in to see if there are opportunities for you to help handle someone else’s busy work. With a median pay of $19.16 an hour, this is one senior-friendly job that’s also perfect for retirement.
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It’s certainly difficult to find regular, paid work as a blogger, but if you find the right niche and bring a creative and interesting voice to it, there’s a distinct chance you can build a following and start developing sponsorships or selling ads on your site — potentially turning your niche interest into a six-figure job.
If you enjoy writing and have one or more interests that might have a broader following, set up a website and start posting as often as you can — you just might find that there are more people out there like you than you realized.
Sifting through the many, many manuscripts out there to determine what’s actually worth publishing can take a lot of time. That’s why publishers frequently have readers who help separate the wheat from the chaff before an editor invests their precious time reviewing a potential property. Find the right publisher and you can get paid to read and review books.
Some people love to drive — and if you fall into that category, driving for Uber or Lyft could be the ideal working situation. You also choose when and how often you work, so you can make this job as laid-back as you want. Uber drivers typically make $16 an hour, according to Glassdoor.
If you’re uncomfortable picking up passengers during the pandemic, you could consider driving for Uber Eats.
Data Entry Clerk
Data entry is not the most exciting gig, but it’s a job you can do without putting in too much effort. Many data entry clerk jobs allow you to work from home — all you need is a computer or smart device and an internet connection. Expect to earn around $15 an hour with this laid-back job.
Focus Group Participant
You might not be able to earn a living just by participating in focus groups, but it’s an easy way to make some extra cash. Focus group participants get to test new products, foods and more, and get paid to share their opinions. You can make around $100 per hour, according to Side Hustle Nation.
Salon or Spa Receptionist
Salons and spas tend to be busiest on the weekends, so try working this job during the week to make it as laid-back as possible. Receptionists are responsible for welcoming guests and usually must answer phones and schedule appointments. But if you choose the right spot and hours, you could potentially have a lot of downtime.
The median pay for receptionists is $14.45 per hour.
Salons in some areas are currently closed, so this might be a job to look into once things start opening back up.
Have an eye for a bargain? You can make a killing as an online reseller. People with this job search garage sales, discount shops and online retail sites and resellers like eBay and Craiglist to find items that they can resell for a profit. You basically shop for a living — and the reselling part of the job can be done from the comfort of your home on your own time.
The amount you make will vary by the types of items you sell and how good you are at finding a deal, but some especially skilled people can make six figures, according to Yahoo! Finance.
Video Game Tester
You can (kind of) get paid to play video games all day as a video game tester. Although the gig requires more than playing around — a lot of it is quality assurance testing — you still get to interact with video games all day, which for many people constitutes a dream job. And it can pay handsomely — according to ZipRecruiter, the average pay is $22 an hour, but some video game testers make upwards of $50 an hour.
Being a photographer is another job that allows you to make your own hours and choose how often you work. If you don’t have a natural eye for photography, you can hone your skills through online workshops or tutorials. Then all you need is some equipment — and leads — to get started in this job.
Photographers can work at events, studios or even laboratories. The median pay is $17.44 per hour. There are limited events happening right now, so this might be a better job to look into in a post-pandemic world.
Creating a relaxing environment is literally your job as a massage therapist. Although there will be some physical demands with this job, getting to work in a dimly lit room with soothing music playing every day doesn’t seem like a bad gig — and it pays well too. The median pay for massage therapists is about $20 an hour.
As with salons, spas are currently closed in some areas, but you may be able to do this gig if you offer your services outside.
Toll Booth Collector
Although it might not be the best job for people who are claustrophobic, being a toll booth collector is a pretty low-stress job. Toll booth collectors work in booths on bridges, highways, airports, parking lots and anywhere else fees need to be paid, and are responsible for collecting these fees from drivers. The average base pay for toll collectors is around $32,000 a year, according to Glassdoor.
Movie Theater Projectionist
Movie theater projectionists are responsible for setting up and operating projectors to show films to the audience. As a plus, you might even be able to catch some of the latest films while on the job. This is a laid-back job that you should get while you still can — digital cinema is removing the need for this job.
Movie theaters are still closed due to the pandemic, though major chains like Regal plan to reopen in late August.
Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.