Work-life balance to the forefront as most workers wish to retire at 60

One in four (25 percent) of those who aspire to retire early aim to do so at 60, while this is also the most popular early retirement age among those who have (17 percent), according to Aviva. The desire to retire early is primarily driven by wanting to enjoy more freedom while still being fit and well enough to enjoy it, the study suggests. Nearly a third (32 percent) of people who have retired early, or plan to do so, gave this reason.

Financial security is the second most common factor. More than one in four (26 percent) early retirees said their decision was a result of being in a financially stable position – so they could afford the step. The research also found that a fifth of people targeting early retirement have set their sights on their 55th birthday to ditch working life.

Other key factors encouraging people to seek early retirement include reassessing what is important to them in life, wishing to spend more time with family or finding they are either tired of working or find it too taxing and stressful.

The survey of 2,000 people across the UK who are planning, or have taken early retirement, was carried out this month. Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, said: “The turbulent times we’re living through have seen many people pause to consider their work-life balance and think more seriously about what makes them happy.”

More than half (57 percent) said early retirement had helped their mental wellbeing and half said their physical wellbeing improved. But 47 percent of those taking early retirement said their finances had worsened as a result. Women were particularly likely to have said this (50 percent), versus 44 percent of men.

Just over a fifth (22 percent) of early retirees said they had benefited financially from their decision. Nearly a third (32 percent) of those who had retired early said having a defined benefit (DB) pension, such as a final salary scheme, had enabled them to take decisions around their retirement into their own hands.

Some people said paying off their mortgage early, saving small amounts often and saving pay rises or bonuses were also helping them to reach their retirement goals. The research also found 17 percent of early retirees had returned to the workplace, and 15 percent were considering doing so in future.

More than one in four (27 percent) of those who had returned to work said they wanted a sense of purpose, while a similar proportion (24 percent) found themselves heading back to work after experiencing financial issues. Mr McQueen said that taking the early retirement step is not an easy one, but added: “Our findings suggest the dream of an early retirement is very much alive and kicking.”

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