10 things that might surprise you about retirement

We all have expectations about what our retirement will be like. But as those who have gone before will tell you, there may be some things that downright surprise you:

  1. You might need to give yourself permission to spend your money: After saving for retirement for so many years, financial planners say many people are very reluctant to part with their savings when they actually do retire. It has become an ingrained habit and fears of spending it all, too soon, are factors.
  1. You still need to save: Or at least see growth in your financial portfolio. Even if you think you have saved enough to cover all of your living expenses in retirement, you will want to continue to add to your portfolio so you can stay ahead of increasing costs, inflation and taxes.
  1. CPP alone won’t cut it: Over 30% of Canadians are relying on government pensions alone to fund their retirement. While the Canadian Pension Plan helps, it was never meant to be the sole source of retirement income. It only replaces about 25 per cent of career average pensionable earnings with a ceiling of $52,500. The current maximum CPP benefit is less than $1,300 per month; the average is under $650 per month. Financial planners recommend having between 50-70% of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living in retirement. Your expenses will be less than when you are working, but you will still need to find ways to supplement a government pension if you want to maintain your current lifestyle.
  1. Universal health care – isn’t: As in it doesn’t cover all of your health-related expenses. You are still required to pay out of pocket for your provincial medical services plan, and for services like eye care, dental, hearing aids, etc. It’s a good idea to investigate what health benefits are covered and what aren’t under your provincial plan and the cost of extended benefit plans, either through your employer before you retire or private insurers.
  1. Retirement can be lonely: About 25% of Canadians live alone and about 1 in 6 seniors report feeling lonely. That number increases as we age, especially for women. After age 65, the number of women living alone gradually increases to over 40% at the end of life, largely due to the differences in longevity between men and women but also because of an increase in the number of divorces in our older years. That can make it more difficult to engage in social activities that provide a sense of connection to others. Which means . . .
  1. You may end up in the dating game… again: According to a BMO study, 43% of Canadians 65 or older are single. A closer look shows 5% percent never married, 8% percent are separated or divorced, while the remaining 30% are widowed. Even if you enter retirement as a couple, you could outlive your partner or be one of the growing number of retirees who get divorced. Staying socially connected as we age has many benefits both physically and cognitively, so you may want to explore the best dating sites for people over 50.
  1. Aging isn’t necessarily what you expect: A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed that a lot of the negative things we think are going to occur as we age, don’t actually happen – or at least not to the extent we fear. When they compared what people aged 18-64 expected would happen as they aged regarding things like memory loss, not feeling needed, not able to drive or pay your bills, or beset by serious illnesses, they found significant discrepancies as to what people 65+ were actually experiencing. The stereotypes we associate with aging are vastly inaccurate. Understanding the realities of growing old vs. what we think might happen can certainly lessen our stress and impact our attitude.
  1. You’re still going to spend a lot of time in front of a screen: Even though you might not be working at a computer for eight hours a day, the percentage of time we spend in passive activities like watching TV, surfing the internet, reading, playing video games, etc. increases dramatically when you retire. The average person spends less than two hours/day in these types of passive activities when they are working, but that rises to nearly five hours/day as you age.
  1. You’re likely to stay in place: Once almost a rite of passage, fewer and fewer Canadians are planning to relocate after they retire: Only 10% plan to move outside of Canada after retirement according to another BMO study. Rather than uproot their lives during this major life change, Canadians prefer to stay close to home. The majority of British Columbians (92%), Atlantic Canadians (79%) and residents of Ontario (83%) and Quebec (81%) plan to remain in their home province, while Prairie residents from Alberta (43%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (both at 36%) are most likely to look for greener (or warmer) pastures.
  1. Best places to live: If you do move, you might want to consider MoneySense’s 2016 Best Places to Retire in Canada. They may not all be well-known cities, but based on access to good healthcare, an affordable cost of living, low crime rates, amenities, and weather, the following cities are where you may want to consider setting down roots:
  • Rimouski, QB
  • Ottawa, ON
  • Toronto, ON
  • Stratford, ON
  • Victoria, BC
  • Joilette, QB
  • Port Credit, ON
  • Collingwood, ON
  • Kingston, ON
  • Nelson, BC

What surprises await you in retirement? Planning can make all the difference in dealing with the many changes you will experience and determine whether you will thrive or merely survive in retirement.



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