The rising cost of living has increased the amount of income needed to provide a minimum standard of living in retirement by 16% to £14,400, according to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA).

The PLSA’s Retirement Living Standards report reflects the impact of inflation on the amount retirees need to fund retirement, depending on various different lifestyles. Obviously the exact amount you’ll need in retirement will depend very much on your individual circumstances and the sort of lifestyle you want, so these numbers should only be used as a very rough guide.

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Here, we look at the PLSA data in more detail.

How much do you need to retire?

The Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University calculates the figures for three different standards of retirement living on behalf of the PLSA: minimum, moderate and comfortable. The minimum standard covers basic needs such as groceries and home maintenance, as well as the occasional treat or social activity, such as eating out, gift-giving, and taking a short UK holiday. It does not factor in the cost of owning a car, however.

The latest data shows that the cost of a minimum standard of living in retirement has increased by around 16% from £12,800 to £14,400 in 2024 for a single person, and by 8% from £19,900 to £22,400 for a couple.

The amount of income needed for a moderate standard of living in retirement similarly has jumped by 17%, from £23,300 to £31,300 in 2024 for a single person, the PLSA said, and from £34,000 to £43,100 for a couple. This includes the cost of running a car, longer holidays abroad and increases the amount spent on basics such as food.

Sarah Pennells, Consumer Finance Specialist at Royal London, said: “This update from the PLSA reflects sentiment we’re seeing in our own research into pensions, savings, and the Cost of Living. Our insights show that people think they’ll need £1,279 a month to live on in retirement, which works out at £15,348 a year – only £1,000 more than the £14,400 that the Retirement Living Standards suggest would pay for a minimum standard of living.

“The reality of living on this kind of income – potentially for 20 or more years – is very few treats, such as nights out, or holidays, and for some having to watch every penny. That’s unlikely to be the kind of existence most people would like as a reward for a lifetime of working.

“But there’s bad news for those who want to be able to spend a bit more on things like food and drink and taking a holiday abroad. For a moderate standard of living, as defined by the Retirement Living Standards, there’s an £8,000 a year increase in how much income someone would need every year. Saving enough to generate an extra £8,000 a year will be difficult for many, and impossible for those closer to retirement.”

How much pension do I need to live comfortably?

The income needed to achieve a comfortable standard of living has risen by 17% for a single person, from £37,300 in 2023 to £43,100 in 2024. Similarly, the amount needed to provide a comfortable retirement income for a couple in 2023 was £54,000 but this has increased to £59,000 in 2024. A comfortable retirement includes things like regular beauty treatments, trips to the theatre, and three weeks holiday in Europe each year. The amount spent on food shopping is also higher. Full tables including lifestyle expectations are included below.

Bear in mind that these figures don’t factor in housing costs, so the costs for some pensioners will be much higher. According to investment platform interactive investor’s separate 2022 Great British Retirement survey around a quarter, or 23% of retirees, don’t own their own home outright so they are paying rent or mortgage costs as well.

The PLSA headline figures are also after tax, so more will be needed as pre-tax income. For example, a single person now needs £31,300 for a moderate retirement, which translates as £35,982 before tax.

Single retirement pots
Couple retirement funds

Source: PLSA

Alice Guy, head of pension and savings at interactive investor said: “The amount needed for a moderate retirement has skyrocketed during the past year. That’s partly due to the damaging impact of inflation, which hits those on a low income the hardest. But it’s also partly due to changing expectations about retirement.

“With ongoing rising costs, older generations increasingly want to help out younger family members. Family ties run deep and after the bleak years of Covid, it’s lovely to see families wanting to spend time together, with additional costs budgeted within a moderate retirement to take out grandchildren and treat family members to a regular meal out.”

Fortunately, the State Pension increased by 8.5% in April 2024, in line with earnings growth. As a result, the new State Pension is currently £221.20 a week, up from £203.85 a week in the previous tax year. The full basic State Pension has increased from £169.50 a week, up from £156.20. Read more in our articles What is the pension triple lock? and What is the State Pension in 2024?

Get your free no-obligation pension consultation

If you’re considering getting professional financial advice, Fidelius is offering Rest Less members a free pension consultation. It’s a chance to have an independent financial advisor give an unbiased assessment of your retirement savings. Fidelius is rated 4.7/5 from over 1,000 reviews on VouchedFor. Capital at risk.

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How to meet the rising cost of retirement

If you’re worried that you won’t have enough to afford your planned lifestyle at retirement, and you can afford to do so, you might want to consider saving more than the minimum automatic enrolment limit into your pension. You can find out more about auto-enrolment in our guide How does pension auto-enrolment work?

If you’re paying into a private pension, then similarly, you may want to think about boosting the amount you contribute if you can afford to.

Ms Guy said: “The sad reality is that many people aren’t saving enough for a comfortable or even a moderate level of retirement. Those on a low income or saving the minimum amounts into their pension, will struggle to achieve enough for a moderate retirement. Single people also need more than couples to achieve the same standard of living in retirement, as couples are able to share many of their bills.

“It’s important to keep an eye on your pension saving to see if you’re on track for the retirement you want. If you’re falling behind, then it’s worth seeing if you can afford to increase your pension contributions. The magic of pension tax relief means that it only costs £80 to pay £100 into a pension for basic rate taxpayers, and £60 to pay in £100 for higher rate taxpayers.”

You can find out more about pensions and tax relief in our guide How pension tax relief works.

If you’re thinking about getting professional financial advice, you can find a local financial adviser on VouchedFor or Unbiased.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for somewhere to start, we’ve partnered with independent advice firm Fidelius to offer Rest Less members a free initial consultation with a qualified financial advisor. There’s no obligation, however if the adviser feels you’d benefit from paid financial advice, they’ll talk you through how that works and the charges involved.

Fidelius are rated 4.7 out of 5 from over 1,000 reviews on VouchedFor, the review site for financial advisors.

Find out more in our guide How much should I save for retirement?

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