The Reality of Retirement
I retired some 15 years ago, at the turn of the century - a phrase I enjoy using! We had lived in our village for many years and knew our neighbours. We were registered with the Medical Centre and familiar with the shopping: that was of great assistance when settling into a new career, because that is how we both regarded retirement - a new career for each of us to pursue our own interests. And there is no lack of demand for volunteers! We had been paid at community expense for our working life and now is the time to give something back… which meant we were on the lookout for occupations, not jobs!
An immediate and inevitable worry is how the money will stack up. Can we cope on a reduced income? It takes a couple of years to come to terms with the fact that retirement reduces one’s expenditure but also one’s outgoings - especially if you adopt my neighbour’s resolution never to travel to a country which requires a visa and only to those countries accessible from Gatwick. But it is important to plan to travel abroad during those early retirement years when travel insurance is modestly priced and one has no health issues to report!
A positive (and in the longer term, economic) way to pursue interests is to buy a lifetime membership of organisations such as the National Trust - unfettered entry to several hundred properties when travelling in the ‘Old Country’.
So what were these ‘career moves’?
For me, a hobby gardener, the chance to work as a guide in a major botanical garden that was willing to tutor me in botany and horticulture. For Kate, it has been involvement with the committee of our local Arts society (NADFAS), and later (and more especially, now), involvement with the European Movement. Council officers are well-placed to train as guides, particularly if they live in tourist towns and/or have language skills. The opportunity to train as a ‘so-called’ Blue Guide is a longer process though and courses are run rather irregularly.
And of course, the oenophile will start laying down French wine en primeur during the final decade of employment to drink during the first decade of retirement. Cheers! Enjoy retirement!
Saving up for Retirement
When I was considering the possible challenges of our travelling lifestyle, a pension was very low on my list. Actually, it was not on my list at all. I hadn’t even thought about it. After a few years I kind of realised that this is quite an important topic. In my home country, the Czech Republic, I had been paying towards my pension regularly as it would be illegal not to. Every month a certain amount was deducted from my gross salary as a social tax. Obviously, the minute I terminated my contract and left my job this contribution stopped and that was when I realised the importance of the payments I had been making.
Since then, I have talked to my friends in similar circumstances and found out about the different approaches they are using to put money towards their retirement. Some people are saving money, some are paying towards pension schemes and others are buying properties so they can rent them to get the income they need. Some people, like me, will probably never stop working. Luckily, I love my new career.
Another issue is that some countries are better than others in allowing accompanying spouses to work and thereby generate the income they need. This is problematic because it disrupts the continuity of income and therefore any long-term planning towards for example, pension security. I am therefore very interested in this topic and look forward to all the other articles in this newsletter.