West Australians have a long retirement to-do list, and many will try to squeeze it all in with some work on the side, the Retirees’ Voice survey has found.
The survey, conducted last month by The West Australian, gathered the thoughts of more than 5500 retirees and pre-retirees on the social aspects of life after giving up full-time work.
- The “ideal” retirement involved health, happiness, financial security, travel and family time.
- People expected to retire at 65, but 70 per cent also intended to keep working.
- The main reasons were to help fund their retirement and to keep busy and active.
- One in five expected to work more than 20 hours a week.
Information on financial preparation for retirement was sought by 86 per cent of those surveyed but questions remain about how prepared retirees are for the social and mental impacts of retirement.
University of WA psychology school head Romola Bucks, who focuses on mental wellbeing during ageing, said retirees reacted differently depending on how they saw their identity and what retirement meant to them.
“We get our identity from a sense of who we are as individuals,” she said.
Professor Bucks said a retiree whose identity revolved around work was more likely to feel threatened by retirement.
“Many people spend their lives . . . raising families, looking after children, working incredibly hard, sublimating their own needs . . . so this is an opportunity to put yourself first.”
She said it was helpful to look at retirement positively, as a time of opportunity, freedom and growth rather than as a time of loss.
“Many people spend their lives … raising families, looking after children, working incredibly hard, sublimating their own needs … so this is an opportunity to put yourself first,” Professor Bucks said.
She said retirement for a couple could be challenging because they might spend more time with each other than before.
Couples needed to give each other permission to do separate things other-wise the relationship could become like a straitjacket.
A gradual retirement can reduce the financial and lifestyle shocks from retirement but the evidence is mixed as to whether it helps the retiree.
Freeing up cash by downsizing the family home is top of mind for many retirees after this year’s Federal Budget contained changes to encourage seniors to move to smaller homes.
Moving in retirement for lifestyle reasons is increasingly popular but Paramount Financial Solutions director Wayne Leggett said people needed to think through any ramifications for the age pension.
He said the pension might be reduced as money freed up from the sale of a home and put into superannuation could fall under the pension assets test.
On the flip side, reverse mortgages could be used to pay for irregular spending, such as holidays,but the funds released could be treated as income by Centrelink and the pension could be compromised.
WA Seniors and Ageing Minister Mick Murray urged seniors to keep active, noting that older people had a lot to offer their communities.
EX-BUILDER SAYSAVOID THE SLOW LANE
Don’t retire early, carry on working. That is the lesson learnt by a builder who retired at 68 and is now driving for Uber aged 70.
Morley man Michael Sabatino retired last year after 48 years in the building industry and was “extremely bored” within four months.
“I thought, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ because I’m an active person,” he said.
Mr Sabatino considered a return to building as a supervisor but did not want a commitment to regular hours.
He is now an Uber driver, working for a few hours each weekday morning and afternoon, and sometimes on Saturday. “I’m really enjoying it, it gives me something to do and it keeps my mind active,” Mr Sabatino said.
He still has two of his five children in high school and driving for Uber subsidises his retirement and provides plenty of people to talk to.
Among those customers Mr Sabatino chats to are retirees, and he said many who retired early say they were not that happy. “The best thing to do is to retire as late as possible, if you’re fit.”