Planning for a 30 year retirement

Posted in: Finance Last updated: 15 Nov 2014

As our life expectancy grows, so does the length of time we'll spend retired. So how are we supposed to plan for 30-plus years in a world where work no longer defines who we are? We look at some ways of making the most of this long period of free time.

With people now living into their 90s and beyond, many of us are now faced with three decades or more outside of the world of work. Here we check out some of the best ways you can get the most from a very long retirement.

Long lives

If you were born in 1961, you have a 13.3% chance of living until you are 100, according to Office for National Statistics figures1. That's a better than one in ten chance of enjoying a long, and with the right planning, prosperous, 35 years of retirement.

People in their 50s now will be retiring up until 2032 - when the world will be a very different place. Advances we can look forward to include electric cars that drive themselves, 100% accurate weather predictions, high speed rail links across the UK and food that can be produced in any shape or size thanks to 3D printing.

In fact, World Future Society, an organisation dedicated to exploring the future, predicts that people will spend most of their leisure time on activities that have not been invented yet.
But these long and healthy lives come at a cost - one that your State Pension might not cover. The new payment from next year will be set at no less than £148.40 per week. That gives you a pretty low income of just over £7,700 per year - a considerable pay cut2.

Loneliness and happiness

While there are financial issues of being retired for 30 years, there are also other, more personal concerns. For example, over five million older people in the UK are affected by loneliness, according to a Friends of the Elderly survey.

This comes from a lack of contact with families and low levels of income. With sound financial planning and by making an effort to keep in contact with your loved ones, you can make retirement an enjoyable time.

But what is most likely to give you a great retirement? When the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) asked what was most likely to bring happiness in retirement, this is how people responded:

  • Being financially secure - 71%
  • Good health - 69%
  • Able to travel - 48%
  • Be around family and friends - 45%
  • Have lots to do - 42%
  • Learning new skills - 21%.

When asked how they would use their free time, just over half said that they would use it to spend quality time at home. Other pursuits included looking after grandchildren (27%), volunteering for a charity (25%) and gardening (24%)3.

But there's no reason why you couldn't do all of these - go travelling, see your family and friends, volunteer, do a bit of gardening and take up a new hobby.

Five tips for a happy retirement:

  1. Embrace technology. Get online now for video chats with the family or meeting new friends through shared online interests.
  2. Plan ahead. Plan out your future otherwise you will just sit waiting for something to happen. Try to front load your plans with more physical activities. When you find you're less able to do these things, take the level down a notch. If you want to run a marathon, do that first. Then maybe when you're in your 70s or 80s you could join a walking club.
  3. Move home. Moving home to somewhere more suitable to your lifestyle is a great way to improve your life. Small countryside towns in places like North Yorkshire, Dorset and Devon have been voted as the best places to spend your retirement4.
  4. Get healthy. A healthy retirement is a happy one, so get a healthy check now and it'll give you the freedom to do more demanding activities.
  5. Expand your social circle. A survey by NAPF found that when asked about what people will miss about working life, 51% said that they will miss mixing with colleagues and 31% said it would be meeting new people. Get out there and meet people5.

Work at it

When people were asked what they missed most about work in retirement, 37% said they miss the mental challenges.

If that sounds like you, then semi-retirement might be the best choice. HSBC found that 43% of people who chose semi-retirement did so to 'keep active/keep my brain alert' while only 34% did so out of financial reasons6.

You could also choose to volunteer. Data from a Citizenship Survey found that 30% of those aged 65-74 do some formal volunteering and 20% of those aged over 75 also volunteer7.

Another way to keep your brain and body healthy is learning to cook. Introducing new and varied cuisines into your diet can keep your body healthy and your mind active.

Finally, why not go back into education and do that course you always wished you had done. There are more than 600,000 learners over 60 in England, according to Age UK8. Classes are also a great way to meet new people.

Retirement can be a great period of your life - if you plan for it. Make a list of all the things you want to achieve and when you think you can achieve them by. And make connections - either with friends and family or by expanding your social circle.


1 The Office for National Statistics, (August,2011) "Differences in life expectancy between those aged 20, 50 and 80 - in 2011 and at birth" [online]. Available from www.ons.gov.uk

2 Gov.uk "Plan your retirement income" [online]. Available from www.gov.uk

3 Friends of the Elderly, (July,2014) "Future of loneliness" [online]. Available from www.fote.org.uk

4 Guardian Money, (July,2012) "The top 10 places to retire" [online]. Available from www.guardian.co.uk

5 National Association of Pension Funds  "Happiness in retirement" [online]. Available from www.napf.co.uk

6 HSBC, (2013) "The future of retirement" [online]. Available from www.hsbc.com

7 The National Archives (2008) "Citizenship Survey" [online]. Available from www.webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

8 Age UK "Classes and courses" [online]. Available from www.ageuk.org.uk

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.