In our ‘Rest Less Real Life Retirement Stories’ series, we talk to people about their lifestyle and what makes up their income in retirement. 

People’s retirement stories are incredibly varied. Some continue working part-time well into retirement these days, as well as pursuing hobbies and other activities. Meanwhile, pension freedom rules introduced in 2015 opened up a wide range of options when it comes to producing a flexible retirement income. For many, retirement is the start of a new and exciting life stage, and we would like to share your experiences as valued members of our community. 

Here, Rest Less Member Jonathan Heath, 63, from Bournemouth, tells us his retirement story.

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How old were you when you retired and what prompted you to retire then?

“I retired in 2017 aged 57 from my job as a deputy head teacher. I’d paid off my mortgage the year before and with 30 years teaching behind me I discovered that my pension would give me a basic income, even though I was taking it three years early.

“I did enjoy teaching but it was very stressful, and completely swamped my life. I didn’t have to think hard about it before deciding to retire. The prospect of being able to do my own thing felt much better, and it coincided with my boss saying I could go part-time if I wanted to, so I did a year part-time first. I also managed to pay off my mortgage.”

How old were you when you retired and what prompted you to retire then

What is your annual income in retirement and how does this compare to your pre-retirement income?

“My income prior to retirement was about £36,000 a year after tax. I’m getting about half this from the Teacher’s Pension Scheme – about £1,500 a month –  but as I’m no longer paying my £1,000 a month mortgage, that only really leaves a £500 deficit. 

“I took a lump sum and my parents passed away within a year and a half of each other and left me some money. It wasn’t much but it’s enough for my wife and I until my State Pension kicks in.”

What makes up your retirement income?

“My Teacher’s Pension and, if needed, money from the pension lump sum, inheritance and savings. I will also get my State Pension to add to this in 2026, and my wife will get hers in 2027.”

How do you spend your time in retirement?

“I’m very keen on healthy eating and exercise so I run daily with the dogs, swim and do other fitness activities. I do a strenuous upper body and core workout several times a week as it’s easier to maintain it than to get this strength, and it’s amazing how long this takes. I don’t usually start what I’m planning to do for the rest of the day until 11 or 12 in the morning.

“I also volunteer, supporting witnesses in court, one day a week. I looked into being a magistrate but felt it was like the worst part of being a teacher, so this was another option. It’s great fun as I’m really interested in justice and crime. I am there to explain to witnesses what to expect and provide emotional support, and explain the roles of who is who in court, among other things.

“I have a good social life and take lots of breaks/holidays, especially when the sun is out. We bought a caravan two years ago which has been very liberating so we take this away for about five or six weeks every year avoiding school holidays. We usually go to Oxford, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. When I’m on my own I go to more remote spots.”

How have your spending patterns changed in retirement?

“I still watch the bank account, and if it’s starting to empty too fast I put some corks in the holes. But I’m not even going to spend half of my lump sum from my pension between now and 65 so I tend to not plug as many holes as I used to.

“We recently moved to share a home with my daughter, partner and grandkids so this should be our last ever move, and has involved doing some large projects and converting outhouses and we’re about to put a swimming pool in. They cost money but the money has to be spent.”

What do you wish you’d known about retirement planning before you retired?

“I worried unnecessarily about money. If you’ve lived an extravagant lifestyle and you expect to carry on then you have more to worry about. If I don’t have major outgoings such as holidays and eating out I can live well within my pension income. You may simply need to cut your coat according to your cloth in exchange for your liberation from the workplace.

“I expect that the amount of money needed in retirement will fall a lot in my late 60s and 70s as I’ll drop some of my hobbies.”

If you’re considering getting professional financial advice, Aviva is offering Rest Less members a free initial consultation with an expert to chat about your financial situation and goals. There’s no obligation, but if they feel you’d benefit from paid financial advice, they’ll go over how that works and the charges involved.

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