5 min read

When is the perfect age to retire?

Is there ever really a perfect age to retire? For many of us, it’s a hard thing to have to think about, what with the busy lives we lead and family matters to take care of. Even when you do decide, there can be a nagging doubt that you might have been better off doing it differently.

When is the perfect age to retire?

Our poll has confirmed it, 60 years old is the best age to retire. According to 59-year-olds,  the average age of our survey respondents, 40% thought 60 was the perfect age for retirement, with 93% agreeing it should happen after 50.

In 2013, we conducted a survey with 1,500 people asking them when they thought was the perfect age to retire. The average age of the respondents was 59.

The results showed a broad consensus on what the right age to retire is – with most people plumping for 60. But, that said, there was also a significant number who would be happy to work for longer.

Survey results

The research revealed that:

  • Most people (93%) agree that retirement should happen after the age of 50
  • The most popular choice of the perfect retirement age was 60 (40%) but 11% thought 65 was better and 5% thought the ideal age to stop working is 70
  • A significant number of people think it’s ideal to retire at age 65 or over (20%) and give some positive reasons for this – like still enjoying work and not wanting to get bored in retirement
  • Ideas of what is considered ‘old’ are changing – with 93% thinking that you are still young in your 60s

Many of our survey respondents agreed that under 50 was not an ideal time to retire – with 93% saying that over 50 was better. It seems that, whilst a lucky few might have visions of early retirement, for most of us, our 50s are seen as too early to put our feet up.

When we asked people when they thought would be the perfect time to exit the world of work, over a third (39%) plumped for the age of 60. This fits with the current retirement age for women, but is younger than that for men – and significantly out of step with government plans to raise the retirement age to 67 by 2028. Perhaps it’s just a case of us all getting used to the new retirement ages as they’re being introduced? Or maybe the later retirement ages will still be unpopular by the time they’re implemented? Only time will tell.

Interestingly, as well as the 11% who went for age 65, there was a small but significant 5% who thought that 70 was the optimal age to retire. Is this just a few die-hards? Or is it perhaps the beginning of a change in our society –where people routinely work for longer?

Working longer is popular for some

A significant number of our respondents said they would prefer to work until later on in life – 93% said the ideal retirement age was over 50 and, of these, 20% thought it should be over 65. Some thought even later would be better, with 5% saying they thought 70 was the best age to retire.

There were some very positive reasons given for choosing a later age to retire. 80% said this was because they still felt they had a lot to offer at work and 83% said they just didn’t feel they were old enough to hang up their suit.

People seem to still feel they will enjoy working into their 60s and are actively choosing to do so. Of respondents aged 66-70, 13%, were still working themselves and 41% said they weren’t looking forward to retiring. 60% said they were actually planning on working and delaying retirement for as long as possible.

There were a few less positive reasons given for wanting to work for longer. People worried about the change in circumstances that not having the daily routine of work would mean to them and their relationships, 22% were concerned that they and their partner would drive each other mad after years of not seeing each other as often. 19%  were worried about loneliness – with work offering regular human contact that perhaps might be harder to find for some in retirement.

Finances a factor

There was also some understandable concern about finances and this influenced people’s choice of retirement age. A significant 60% gave concerns about being able to live for the next 30 years, if they retired in their 50s. 54% gave unexpected bills as their motivation, while 69% admitted that their decision on the perfect retirement age was down to whether or not they could afford it. For some people, the financial aspect extended to their children, with 28% putting off retirement until after their 50s when their children had settled in their jobs.

50s and 60s not seen as old

The survey also gives some interesting insights into peoples’ attitude towards age. In the past, people in their 50s and 60s have been wrongly labelled as getting on a bit or classified as ‘old’. But our respondents rejected this stereotype, with 93% thinking that you’re still young in your 60s.

This seems to be in line with what’s happening in society in general. With so many high profile older role models around who show no signs of slowing down, or even of ageing, the concept of ‘old’ really is being pushed further and further backwards. Now even people in their 70s defy being categorised as ‘old’.

Summary: The survey paints a changing picture of peoples’ attitudes towards retirement age. Whilst 60 is viewed as the ideal age to retire, there is a big chunk of people who will be choosing to work much later than this. It seems that we are increasingly taking into account a range of financial and emotional priorities that influence what the right retirement age is for each of us.

Financial planning is clearly becoming more important than ever and taking some small financial steps can make a big difference over time. For the over 50s, life cover is just one way of making provisions for family, alongside paying into your pension pot, or making a will. The more prepared you are, the more stress-free your retirement is likely to be.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.