Surprising reality of retirement

Whether you’re about to hang up the boots or you’ve just entered retirement, there’s more to consider about life in retirement than what to do with all that time.

There are a few basic things that no one talks about when they retire. Where will your money go? How much time will you have? Will you be bored in your post-work years?

Here are some of the answers to those questions as well as some surprising trends in retirement that no one really tells you about before retirement.

Your early golden years may not be so golden
In a US survey of early retirees, 28 per cent of respondents said life was worse in retirement immediately after their working years.

The factors that contributed most to this gloomy sentiment were lack of income and high cost of living.

However, studies from the Pew Research Center revealed that 45 per cent of adults 75 years and older say the quality of life improves and becomes better than they initially expected, while five per cent say life in retirement is worse than pre-retirement.

Here in Australia and according to 70 per cent of 5156 respondents in our 2018 Retirement Matters survey, research shows that finding contentment after full-time work is mostly reliant on being healthy and having a positive attitude. Also, having a financial and retirement plan in place is paramount to successfully transitioning to retirement.

Work doesn’t end, it just changes
Expecting to have heaps of time on your hands in retirement? Think again. Most retirees will tell you that life somehow gets busier in your post-work years. All those activities you had planned for years, combined with all the chores you’ve been putting off for years and the people you’ve promised to catch up with will quickly starve you of time.

Then there are those who’ll start a side business after they finish full-time work. A Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study revealed that 70 per cent of people will work during retirement, retirees are three times more likely than pre-retirees to start and own their own business, and three out of five will start in a new line of work after retirement.

Where will your money go?
While some studies show that housing remains the biggest expense in retirement, our own research shows that energy and healthcare costs are the two biggest purse drainers, followed by insurances and food and drink.

Even once you’ve paid off your mortgage, maintaining a house can be a costly exercise. But spare a thought for renting retirees who’ll spend more on monthly accommodation and won’t have the benefit of owning an asset once their retirement savings are gone.

If you’ve never volunteered before, you probably won’t in retirement
You’ll often hear people say they’ll spend time volunteering once they retire, but according to the Stanford Center on Longevity, just 25 per cent of those who say they will, won’t. This is mostly because the free time they thought they’d have simply doesn’t exist.

It’s a shame because volunteering doesn’t just benefit the people you’d be helping. Researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom found that people who volunteer are more likely to be satisfied, are less likely to suffer from depression, and may even live longer.

Health issues take you by surprise
According to the Nationwide Retirement Survey, 34 per cent of respondents said that health problems hindered their retirement, with three quarters of them saying they happened sooner than they expected and 24 per cent saying the cost of managing them ruined their retirement.

The older you get, the younger you’ll feel
According to research from Pew Research Center, 60 per cent of people who are 65 and older say they feel younger than their age, and just 32 per cent say they feel their age. Compare that to the people aged 18–29: half of whom say they feel their age, one quarter who say they feel older and only one quarter who say they feel younger. You’re only as old as you feel, or so they say …

Do you agree with any of these points? What surprised you most in retirement?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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