How to have a happy retirement

After a life of working hard, retiring can feel unusual. A survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the amount of free time we have during our 20s, 30s and 40s is very limited, but skyrockets by the time we pass retirement age.

But with all this new free time, are we any happier post 65 years old? According to multiple studies, yes we can be. Indeed, a 2014 report from the University of Michigan (UM) showed that “retirement reduces the probability of depression.”

So how can you have a happy retirement?

Related: Jolly old souls: Retiring makes people happy

Having enough to live comfortably

Authors of the UM report stated that “household wealth, being married, and educational attainment are all positively related to life satisfaction and reduce the probability of depression.”

Wealth in this instance does not necessarily mean rich, but rather comfortable. A comfortable lifestyle in retirement, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) is currently estimated at $58,444 per year for a couple, or $42,569 for singles.

To reach your own retirement goals, make sure you regularly check your super balance and consider ways to top up your super balance. Visit Virgin Super to find out if our products can help you.

Maintain social connections

As we leave the workforce, it’s possible that we will start to lose some of our old social groups. It’s important that you either try to keep seeing your old friends or take the opportunity to make like-minded new ones in your golden years, as statistics have shown it can help you be happy.

According to a poll by Gallup, US citizens aged 65 years and over showed significant mood improvement based on the amount of social hours they spent with friends the day prior. After zero hours, 44% of respondents reported still being OK, which jumped to 70% after eight or more hours.

Keep your family close, but not too close

Your children (and their children) can be a source of great joy later in life, but living right next door might not be.

“Don’t overestimate the amount of happiness you’re going to get by moving close to your children in retirement,” said professor of retirement Michael Finke to a financial planning conference in Las Vegas, reported by CNBC.

Apparently, those who live within 10 minutes of their children often show less life satisfaction, though the reasons for this aren’t certain just yet.

However, it would be worth still residing within close driving distance in case of a medical or other type of emergency. The UM report showed that health conditions were a leading cause of depression in the elderly, so you will still want the peace of mind of family proximity. Our advice? Find a balance of distance that suits your personal needs – everyone is different, after all.

Pursue your hobbies

Now that you have time on your hands, you can take up the hobbies you never could, or disappear off to a foreign country to see sights you never expected to see.

Author and financial planner Wes Moss found in a survey he performed that the happiest seniors had up to four different hobbies, with happier people having more, and less happy people having less. The happiest of all were partaking in lots of social hobbies, rather than staying in isolation.

This survey also showed that the retirees with the highest life satisfaction took at least two vacations a year, and spent more money while away. This is just another reason that having enough to comfortable retire is important.

Do you have your happy retirement planned out?