Is retirement paradise or hell?

In YourLifeChoices’ 2018 Retirement Matters Survey, we asked you to describe the best aspects of your retirement. Overwhelmingly, members spoke about the freedom of not having to march to anyone else’s drum and the extra time available to spend with family, especially grandchildren.

The ability to do volunteering or charity work was also a popular response.

It shows what big hearts YourLifeChoices members have, that even though they have hung up their hats after decades of toiling, they still believe they have more to contribute to society – with no expectation to be financially rewarded for their efforts.

Clearly, the satisfaction that volunteers derive from helping those in need and good causes generally is a major factor contributing to a sense of fulfilment, a sense of being useful and appreciated.

Unfortunately, some respondents felt miserable in their retirement years. By and large, they felt that they had been chewed up and spat out by the system. Some had been forced to retire to care for elderly parents or sick partners. This had clearly diminished their enjoyment of life, according to their accounts.

More than 4000 YourLifeChoices members offered their perspectives on retirement. Here are a few that caught our attention:

The freedom to choose what one does with one’s days. The opportunity to put some time back into the community that supports us all. The opportunity to try new things and not have to please others all the time. If they don’t like me or what I do, I have the freedom to walk away.

To be able to do what you want, when you want to … golf, working on my classic car, lunch with my wife.

My time, making choices about what is important in life, being focused, exchanging learning, contributing and sharing life experiences, having time to do it.

Not having to answer to a capitalistic boss.

Being able to travel on last-minute bargains.

Not to feel pressured to perform impossible feats on a daily basis at work.

Being able to do what you want when you want without the boss saying “No”.

Having time to do more art. There are a lot of online courses to do.

The best aspect is being able to stay fit as I never had time to visit a gym while working.

Being able to sleep in if I had a bad night’s sleep.

Not having to travel to work through traffic each day.

Enjoying life in my paradise.

For the lucky person who describes their life as utopian, we are so glad for you. But spare a thought for those who are struggling in retirement. For instance:

I was forced into retirement as a carer for my husband and so I don’t have much choice.

I really cannot think of any. I am a first generation Australian. I have no inheritances to support me and, in fact, supported my mother until her demise at 96. So, losing my job came as a huge shock to me and I have little to look forward to.

Retirement on a full pension means to live frugally … so many things are overpriced for pensioners.

Nothing. I’d rather die than be living at my age. I’ve had a good life, but I’ve got nothing to offer but memories.

Can you recommend to our more unfortunate retirees ways in which they could improve the quality of their lives and lift their perspectives into a better place?

Related articles:
Five easy lifestyle boosts
Bliss is a morning ritual
In search of tranquility

YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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