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What makes a happy retirement?

By Barbara Whelehan ·
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Posted: 10 am ET

Let's face it: The British have a reputation for knowing how to have a good time, judging from news accounts of the ruckus they raise in pubs.

So when asked what would make them happy in retirement, you might expect a response like "a permanent seat at Fitzroy Tavern."

Not so. Being financially secure (71 percent), being in good health (69 percent) and being able to travel (48 percent) would make them most happy, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Pension Funds, the leading provider of pension and retirement programs in the United Kingdom.

It's not so different on this side of the pond. Financial security is important here, too. An unscientific Consumer Reports survey of more than 24,000 online subscribers asked a different set of questions focusing on retirement and the economy.

But among retired subscribers, there was a strong correlation between satisfaction with retirement and high net worth. Those with $500,000 or less were not quite as content as those with more than $500,000. 

In fact, about half (51 percent) with less than $250,000 were satisfied with their retirement; nearly two-thirds (64 percent) with $250,000 to $499,999 were satisfied, and three-quarters (74 percent) of those with $500,000 to $999,999 were happy. The level of satisfaction was not discernibly higher above the $1 million level, fluctuating by no more than 2 percentage points at varying increments through $2 million-plus mark.

Note that 38 percent of retirees said, in addition to their assets, they also receive a pension.

Consumer Reports didn't ask subscribers who are still in the work force what they would miss most about work. The NAPF asked the Brits this question, and while half would miss their colleagues and the secure income (51 percent), 13 percent said they would miss getting away from their spouse or partner!

While Consumer Reports didn't probe this issue, Bankrate contributor Jennie Phipps took an informal survey among her friends, and discovered that women seem to be most in need of a break from their husbands during retirement.

Maybe I'll postpone my target retirement date. ...

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