The ‘new retirement’: fun–and more work
By Jill Mahoney
Thursday, December 8, 2005
Forget working one day and parking yourself in a rocking chair the next. Retirement is changing and Canadians, it seems, are just fine with that.
In a poll released yesterday, nearly nine in 10 respondents said even the word “retirement” should be redefined.
“Retirement is no longer seen as kind of a point in time, it’s a continuum and . . . while people may want to go and travel a little bit, a lot of them want to work afterwards because they want to stay active,” said John Wright, a senior vice-president at Ipsos Reid, which conducted the poll for BMO Financial Group.
The findings mark “a shift in thinking” among baby boomers compared with their parents, who tended to retire and never work again, he said. Indeed, ever since they were born, Canada’s nearly 10 million baby boomers — the oldest of whom are approaching their 60th birthdays — have redefined societal norms, a trend that will continue as they carve out a “new retirement.”
The poll found that while respondents not yet retired ideally do not want to work in their retirement years, 74 per cent expect to continue to do so in some capacity to stay mentally active, keep in touch with people and earn money. Sixty-eight per cent expect to carry debt into retirement; 36 per cent of those do not feel comfortable about the prospect.
The telephone and on-line poll, billed as the most comprehensive survey on Canadian retirement, surveyed 5,325 people 45 and older who made financial decisions in their households and had at least $25,000 in assets. The research, which was conducted in late October, is considered accurate to within 1.3 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
Sixty-three per cent of respondents said “the next stage of my life” best describes their view of retirement. Other responses included: “the rest of my life”; “time to pursue my dreams”; “the second half of my life” and “my years.”
When asked about their perceptions and expectations of retirement, those surveyed picked: “more leisure time,” “fun,” “confidence” and “optimism.” They rejected terms such as “anxiety,” “loneliness” and “uncertainty.”
“It’s not a doom-and-gloom scenario,” Mr. Wright said.
BMO Financial Group undertook the survey after hearing anecdotal evidence from financial advisers, planners and clients that the “whole notion of retirement was changing” and becoming more of a transition said Caroline Dabu, vice-president of marketing and client strategy.
“You’re talking about a generation that probably redefined every phase of their life, and what makes us think that the way they’re going to approach retirement is in any way different?” she said.
For example, she said, a client who participated in a bank focus group said he travelled during the year after he retired, but decided to go back to work part time because he was bored. And a woman elected to keep working a couple of days a week so she could keep her second home in Vermont.
Jon Kesselman, a professor in the public policy program at Simon Fraser University who has studied mandatory retirement, said factors contributing to the trend of working later include Canadians wanting the means to maintain their lifestyles, that many work in sedentary jobs and that people have expectations of continued good health. As well, Canadians are living longer.
“I think that affects the willingness and desire of people to either continue working or to work part time or to work in a self-employed capacity.”
I’m with the nine who will not seek retirement. We have managed to build our retirement home with no mortgage and have cars, not brand new ones, but they are debt free.
Sitting in a rocking chair or over involvement with hobbies has no appeal. Nor does travelling for long periods of time. We do plan to go to the Netherlands next year and will make several trips to North Carolina this winter to ease the coldest parts of winter. Beyond that, it’s much better to stay involved, alert, and receive wages.
Because there are a wide range of opportunities to work from home, there now is no chronological number for people if they choose to remain in the workforce. My time is my own and has been for several years. The key to enjoying life at any age is good health, adequate savings, family involvement, and maintain a wide range of hobbies. For me it’s important to seek new interests. Religion has never played a big role in my life. Lastly, each day is a new marvel that doesn’t have any history; no should have’s, could have’s or baggage from the previous one.