What does retirement look like for you?

Retirement can be your chance to make a fresh start – but it pays to think about your lifestyle and priorities beforehand.

Have you thought about what’s important to you as you stop working full-time and settle into your retirement years?

Retirement looks a bit different for everyone - mostly because we all have a unique set of circumstances that dictate how (and when) we retire. You’ve spent years building your skills, experience, and wisdom, so it’s important to really think about how you’d like to spend your time in retirement.

It’s easy to underestimate how much value you get from a job (in addition to the money) – there’s lifestyle, self-image, a sense of purpose and, if we’re lucky, friendships. Many people don't spend enough time thinking about how they will fill their days without a full-time job.

It’s common to take time to adjust to retirement. At first it can feel like a holiday - you can relax, sleep in, travel more or spend time with family and friends. However, once the ‘honeymoon’ period wears off, you may find yourself looking for more purpose.

Planning and foresight can pay off in the long run - but you’ll need to consider more than your financial goals. Let’s look at some things to consider in the lead up to your retirement.

Your lifestyle

How do you want to spend your time? It’s likely you’ll have more time to pursue your interests than ever before – there are unlimited possibilities. And, you don’t have to settle on only one interest, hobby, or goal. What’s on your list?

  • Sport
  • Travel
  • Volunteering
  • Entertainment
  • Hobbies
  • Family

Whether you want to learn a new skill, do something outdoors, attend art classes, or learn how to play an instrument, a hobby can improve your mental health and wellbeing and can make you feel happier and more relaxed.

It doesn’t matter if your interests are creative, physical, or academic, or whether you want to do something alone or as part of a group, there’s bound to be something out there for you. What matters is that you find something enjoyable.

Your health

Australians are living longer these days, which means we’re doing something right. Research shows us that people who cope best with retirement are those who stay active and involved. Taking care of your physical health is scientifically shown to improve mental wellbeing, and vice versa. If one declines, the other can be affected too. That’s why a holistic approach to health – where you consider your physical, social, emotional, and mental health – is necessary for your wellbeing.

Leaving a demanding or stressful job to enjoy more free time can be beneficial for psychological wellbeing, but many find the adjustment confronting. According to Beyond Blue, depression is common throughout the Australian population, and older people are more likely to experience contributing factors such as physical illness. The World Health Organisation says social isolation and loneliness have a serious impact on older people’s physical and mental health. Mental health conditions can affect anyone at any time and can develop after a life change like starting retirement.

If you want to improve your own sense of wellbeing, or need help with something that’s bothering you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Your living situation

Have a think about where you live and what you may want in the future. What suits your retirement lifestyle - do you enjoy city living, or are you considering a tree or sea change? Or vice versa? Perhaps you want to try living in a new state or country?

Many retirees decide to stay in their homes, as long as they’re physically able to. But as you get older, your housing needs change. Many people choose to upgrade or move to another home that better suits their needs as they age. You may not want to maintain a big family home and choose to downsize to something smaller, and easier to navigate.

Did you know that you could grow your super by downsizing your home?
If you’re thinking about selling your home, you may be able to contribute up to $300,000 (or up to $600,000 as a couple) from the sale of your home into your super, subject to certain eligibility requirements. Learn more about downsizer contributions.

Need help with next steps?

We’re passionate about helping people reach their goals in preparation for a great retirement. You can talk to UniSuper’s award-winning financial advice team to plan your ideal retirement and maximise your savings.

Our super consultants can also provide information and general advice across a range of topics at no extra cost, whether you’re a UniSuper member or not. Book an appointment in-person on a university campus, via video or over the phone, or call 1800 823 842.

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Managing your money in retirement
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How much will you spend in retirement?
There’s no one set figure that works for everyone and whatever retirement looks like for you, money is a key factor.
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