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Living your best life in retirement

Whether life beyond work is just around the corner or still a few decades away, picturing the future can help spur you into action and get better prepared.

From how long you’ll need to keep working, to where you want to live and how much you need to save, asking yourself some simple questions can set you on the right path.

What do you want to do when you retire?

It’s easy to put off thinking about retirement when you’re in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. But your retirement won’t plan itself.

If you don’t want to work into your senior years, you should start planning early. Similarly, a review of your finances might reveal that you can retire earlier than you thought if you make some lifestyle changes along the way.

The first thing to think about it is what you want to do when you get there.

Your career and work

Some people choose to keep working late into their life, either full or part-time. They enjoy the challenge, and find it keeps them busy and helps maintain a social life.

For others, stopping work completely can’t come soon enough.

Think about what you would be happy with as you get older – if you want to stop working altogether, consider the financial implications of doing so.

Or alternatively, consider whether you have a skill or hobby you can turn into an income stream that doesn’t involve the commitment of full-time employment.

Where you’ll retire

Many people decide to move house in the run-up to retirement or during it.

If you own a home and have children who’ve moved out, downsizing could release some equity tied up in your property and help fund your retirement.

Or, perhaps you’ve always wanted to live by the coast or be closer to family. Thinking about these things now will mean you’re prepared when the time comes.

If you’re an expat living and working in the UAE, do you see yourself retiring here? Don’t forget to consider the visa eligibility criteria and cost of living differences between the UAE and your home country if you’re planning to return.

And remember, your pension and other income sources in retirement could be taxed differently back home, so factor this into your plan.

Hobbies and entertainment

Whether it’s quad biking in the desert dunes or relaxing on the beach, you’ll hopefully have plenty of time to enjoy yourself in retirement – so long as any grandparent duties aren’t keeping you too busy.

When you’re creating a budget, it’s easy to underestimate what you’ll spend and overlook those little pleasures, like your hobbies, or dining out. Make a point of prioritising them when planning your retirement.

Family time

Spending time with family may be something you want to do more of in your retirement. For example, helping with day-to-day childcare for your grandchildren, or taking your family away on a holiday.

If you'll need to provide any financial support to your loved ones, make sure to factor this in when planning your retirement budget.

How soon do you want to retire?

Many people tend to gradually cut back on work as they get older rather than coming to a sudden stop.

It goes without saying that the earlier you retire, the more savings and income you’ll need to support you. But having said that, if you manage your spending smartly, you could get by on less than you think, for longer.

Try setting out a timeframe for the earliest you’d want to stop working and the latest – then you can work towards comfortably retiring somewhere in the middle.

How much will retirement cost?

There will probably be lots of differences in your spending now compared to in retirement.

For example, you won’t be paying to commute to work and your family might need less financial support.  

But you could find your bills are higher from spending more time at home, you might spend more on entertainment to fill your time, and you may need to keep care home costs in mind for the future.

Planning a budget for a life you’re not living yet can be tricky, but even getting a rough idea of your future spending will help.

Are you saving enough to get there?

With all the above considerations in mind, it’s time to take stock of where you are currently. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • how much wealth do you have, including property, pensions and other assets?
  • how much are you currently saving each month towards your retirement?
  • how much more could you save?

Weigh this up against your expected cost of living in retirement and how long you might need to keep that up for.

The more of a buffer you can create for yourself, the better.

If you’d like support to make sure you’re on track for the retirement you want, you could consider using a financial planning service. A financial planner could help with investment management and cash flow planning for your future.

Explore more

Find out how much you need to retire, whether you want a basic, comfortable or wealthy lifestyle.
Find out how pensions work, whether you’re a UAE national or an expat, and discover 3 alternatives to pensions to help you in retirement.
Whether you’re in your 20s or your 60s, a retirement plan can give you the best chance of financial freedom in the future.