Semi-retirement set to become the new norm

29th April 2015


Almost half of working age people plan to semi-retire before giving up employment fully, marking a significant shift from previous trends.

A report by HSBC has found that semi-retirement – working fewer hours and/ or changing jobs – is becoming more widespread.

While only 29% of retirees semiretired before fully retiring, 47% of working age people Nearly half of working age people expect to semi-retire are planning to semi-retire before they stop work completely.

A similar proportion (43%) expect to switch straight from full time work to full retirement and 10% expect that they will never be able to fully retire.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of those working age people planning to semi-retire want to stay in the same job, but work fewer hours. Just over a quarter (28%) are planning a change in career as well as reduced hours. For almost one in ten (8%), the plan is to semi-retire by changing jobs but working the same hours.

For many people, semi-retirement is a positive choice. More than two in five (42%) retirees say they chose semi-retirement to help them keep physically and mentally active before stopping full-time work, while three in 10 (30%) wanted an easy transition to full retirement.

For others, semi-retirement was more of a necessity. More than one in ten (11%) retirees say they could not immediately afford to retire full time. For a similar proportion (12%), semi-retirement was prompted by health reasons or physical demands.

More than half of working age people want to go on frequent holidays (54%) or spend more time with friends and family (51%) when they retire. Extensive travel (36%) and home improvements/gardening (30%) are also popular retirement aspirations.

Many working age people want to focus on self-improvement and giving back to society when they retire. Around a quarter want to take more exercise/play more sport (27%), learn a new skill or hobby (26%) or get involved in charity/voluntary work (24%).

Achieving retirement aspirations may be more difficult than expected for some. More than half (53%) of retirees say they have not yet been able to realise at least one of their hopes or dreams for retirement.

Unachieved aspirations include living abroad (15%), taking frequent holidays (13%), travelling extensively (13%) or buying an expensive item (12%).

Retirement aspirations requiring time, rather than money, are more likely to have been achieved. Over three in five (61%) retirees say they have been able to spend more time with family and friends in retirement. Over half (55%) have undertaken home improvements or gardening, and three in 10 (30%) have become involved in charity or voluntary work.

For working age people, plans for retirement can include a change of scenery, with a third (33%) planning to move once they have stopped working. Among working age people who plan to move when they retire, more than half (53%) plan to move from their town or city to a rural area. However, the ‘buzz’ of city life remains attractive to others, with one in five (20%) planning to move from their town or city to another one.

There are many reasons, both personal and practical, why working age people want to move when they retire. Quality of life is important, with nearly three in five (59%) working age people seeking a more relaxed lifestyle in retirement.

Almost a third (32%) want to benefit from a cheaper cost of living and nearly a quarter (23%) from cheaper home buying or rental costs when they retire. Family exerts a strong influence on relocation plans. One in five (20%) working age people are planning to move in retirement to be closer to their family.

Climate is also important. Over a third (35%) of working age people say better weather is a motive for moving in retirement.

While nearly one in five (18%) working age people plan to relocate within the same country, a further 15% plan to move abroad when they retire. Of these, just over a third (34%) plan to move to Spain in their retirement, while France (17%) and the USA (17%) are also popular destinations.

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