The truth about retirement in the UK

What is it really like to retire in the UK? A group of 10 retirees shed light on how their expectations compare to the reality of retirement in the UK.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

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Retirement is something that most UK workers will start saving for from their first paycheck. Most people look forward to many years of relaxing after putting in hard work to save up a comfortable pension.

So, is retirement really what it’s made out to be? Blacktower Financial Management has interviewed a group of retirees who have shed light on what it’s really like to retire here in the UK.

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Retirement expectations vs reality

A group of 10 retirees have been questioned by Blacktower Financial Management to highlight the reality of retiring in the UK. The group answered questions around travel, social lives, finances, family time and hobbies, which are areas of life that many people look forward to in retirement. Here’s what the group had to say!

Travel during retirement

The majority of Brits hope for sunset cruises, coach holidays and relaxing getaways to Europe during their retirement. However, only 50% of retirees actually manage to get away. When asked, 60% of the focus group admitted to wanting to travel more but claimed that health commitments prevented them from doing so.


All retirees in the focus group had expected to spend their days of retirement working on hobbies and enjoying fun activities. Despite this optimism, only 40% of those questioned have been able to achieve this.

The exact reasons were not stated. However, this could be due to financial restraints or health problems that may get in the way of certain activities.

Spending time with family

Despite popular belief, spending time with family during retirement isn’t always easy. Nine out of 10 retirees said that they hoped to spend more time with their families but haven’t been able to do so. This is due to a number of reasons, including the pandemic, child care duties and financial barriers.

Social life

While they hoped that they would socialise more during retirement, 30% of the retirees said that the reality is quite the opposite. Health issues and financial barriers can make it difficult for them to socialise as much as they would like to in their later years.


Finance after retirement

Saving for a pension can seem like a long-winded process and, unfortunately, all those years of saving don’t seem to pay off when you retire. A massive 60% of the retirees in the focus group admitted to not feeling optimistic about their financial situation. Family issues appeared to be the main financial burden that saw retirees spending more than they had hoped from their pension pot.


One in five retirees in the focus group has moved home since retiring. The main reasons for this are health-related issues and downsizing.

Tips for a comfortable retirement

Unfortunately, retiring in the UK isn’t always what it’s set up to be. However, you can take steps to improve your retirement by getting on top of your finances whilst you’re still at work.

Save more than you think you need!

Many of the retirees from the focus group said that financial barriers are the reason that their retirement has not gone as planned. As a result, it is a good idea to save more than you potentially need into your pension pot.

This will prepare you for any unexpected expenses and will allow you to worry less about running out of money during your later years.

Live near family and friends

The focus group said that both health and financial problems have stopped them from seeing family and friends and much as they had hoped. This could be avoided by staying closer to your loved ones when you retire.

Living close by could reduce the need for expensive travel arrangements. It could also make the process of seeing your friends and family less overwhelming on your health.

Create a travel fund

Most people assume that having just one pension pot will be enough to fund their retirement lifestyle. However, unexpected family and health expenses can quickly eat into your pension and prevent you from travelling or taking up fun activities in later life.

Consequently, you should consider creating a separate fund for travel, hobbies and social activities during your retirement. Our top-rated easy access savings accounts are a great option for this.

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