Littlehampton or Las Vegas? – what you need for a comfortable retirement

What You Need For A Comfortable Retirement

How much do you need to live the life you desire when you retire?

It will depend on what those years look like for you. Are you OK enjoying a brisk sea breeze in Littlehampton? Or do you want star-studded trips to Las Vegas and Le Paz?

Luckily, new research is on hand to help. Experts at Loughborough University and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) got together to crack the nut of what is “enough” in retirement.

Savers can use the findings to make pension saving a realistic goal, by picturing themselves living the life their money can afford – and, if they don’t like what they see, to save more to bump up to the next level.

The UK Retirement Living Standards are pitched at three levels; minimum, moderate and comfortable, alongside a basket of goods and services they can buy, from food and drink to holidays.

The Standards can be briefly summarised as £10,000, £20,000 and £30,000 a year for individuals, and £15,000, £30,000 and £45,000 annually for couples.

But let’s break it down a bit.

Saving a pot big enough to give you an income of £10,200 a year, for a single person, and £15,700 for a couple, will put you into the “minimum lifestyle” bracket. This should cover all your basic needs, while leaving enough to treat yourself once in a while.

What will that look like? Spending £38 a week on food shopping, maybe a yearly holiday in Britain, going for dinner in a restaurant once a month, and a couple of cheapish hobbies every week.

With the full state pension of almost £8,800, plus some private retirement savings, most people should be on track for at least this level of comfort when they retire.

Squirrel away a bit more and you can look forward to the next level, a “moderate” lifestyle.

This is around £20,200 a year for singles and £29,100 for couples. For it you get everything you would have enjoyed at the minimum level, plus a bit more.

You’d have around £46 a week to spend on food shopping, maybe you could splash out on a two-week break in Europe every year, dine at fancy restaurants several times a month, and take up more adventurous past times that cost a bit more.

Finally, for those who want a deluxe retirement, or what’s been branded “comfortable”, experts have upped the minimum income figures to £33,000 a year for single people and £47,500 for couples.

Retirement for this group looks like regular beauty treatments, £56 a week on groceries, theatre trips and long-haul holidays, maybe to Mexico or Mauritius.

There are some important caveats to these figures. Not least, they are based on the fact most people when they reach retirement do not have mortgage, rent or social care costs.

These costs, as well as varying levels of tax on pension income, will need to be factored in depending on individual circumstances.

But with less than a quarter of people feeling confident about how much they should be saving for retirement, according to the PLSA’s Hitting the Target report in 2018, these rough numbers should help guide people into the post-work years they really want.

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