Planning for retirement

Making retirement plans early will help ensure you enjoy the best retirement possible.

Superannuation and retirement planning – top strategies and tips

Most of us look forward to retirement. It’s a chance to explore new horizons, do all the things we never had time for when we were raising a family or pursuing a career. Or it could be just a time to relax and enjoy life at a more leisurely pace.

Retirement could be anything you wish it to be, with some planning.

By understanding things like additional super contributions, the age you’ll retire, whether you’ll have debts at retirement, how long you might live, whether you expect to need access to health or aged care – can all help you plan and make ongoing decisions while you’re still working as well as into your retirement.

When would you like to retire?

You may have plans to retire at a certain age, by a set date or following a particular event.

The age you choose to retire at may depend on when you can access your super and the Age Pension. Factors like your employment opportunities, your health, and your family, may also impact your decision.

In the 2018-19 financial year, the average age at retirement in Australia was 55.4 years1.

While there’s no hard or fast rule as to when you should retire, there are a few things to consider when planning to do so. Here’s a checklist to help:

  • What you want in retirement
  • How much might be enough for a modest or comfortable retirement
  • How long might you spend in retirement
  • What sources of income you may have access to
  • How long will you maintain your health

Try our Retirement Lifestyle Calculator to estimate what you might need to fund the lifestyle you want in retirement. You can find it here.

Find out more about the Australian retirement age.

Enjoying your retirement

Did you know that for middle-income earners, it is suggested that you’ll need 65-75% of your pre-retirement income to continue the lifestyle you’re accustomed to2?

Making retirement a truly ‘golden’ period of your life can hinge on making the most of your time. That doesn’t have to mean travelling the world on regular vacations. It can be as simple as joining local community groups, undertaking new studies to broaden your knowledge or spending more time with family and friends.

Talk to friends and family members for ideas on how they are spending time in retirement. Remember, these can be some of the most productive years you may ever have enjoyed.

Planning for a change in retirement

You may be thinking about a change of location or even moving overseas for your retirement. 

While this may be the dream of a lifetime, be sure to think through any major moves – and not just from a financial perspective. Friends and family are very important as we age and it may not be easy to make new connections outside of a familiar community.

If you’re set on the idea of relocating, it can be worth renting for a year or so to be sure the reality lives up to your expectations.

Working out the cost

No matter what your plans for retirement, the reality is it can involve something many people don’t have enough of – money. 

Some key sources of retirement income can include:

  • Age Pension
  • Savings and investments
  • Superannuation
  • Returns on investments during retirement

Making some plans in advance for how much income you’re likely to have in retirement and how much your preferred lifestyle will cost is a key step in relishing your senior years.  

A good starting point in planning retirement is determining your financial position. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. You may wish to start thinking about the value of your assets and liabilities.

Not sure if your super will last the distance in retirement?

Our Super and Retirement Calculator can provide you with a guide on what income you might have in retirement and how long it might last – based on your super balance today, and what age you might retire at. Try it here.

Will the Age Pension be enough? Will you be comfortable with 'comfortable'

Did you know that 74% of Australians 65 and over rely on the Age Pension3?

Many Australians aspire to have at least a ‘comfortable’ retirement. But what kind of annual income will you need to enjoy ‘comfortable’ by your standards? And how much does that mean you'll need at retirement?

According to the ASFA Retirement Standard for the March 2021 quarter published by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), to enjoy a comfortable retirement, at age 65 singles at will need an annual income of $44,412. Couples at retirement will need an annual income of $62,828. These figures assume the retiree(s) own their own home and do not pay rent or make mortgage payments. 

By ASFA’s standards, a ‘comfortable’ retirement means you can go on one annual holiday in Australia, you can eat out regularly and afford bottled wine. See what else a comfortable retirement means. Looking at the list, you can see whether your definition of ‘comfortable’ matches with ASFA’s standards.

Planning to rely on the age pension could see your retirement dreams cut short. The pension is designed to support a very basic standard of living. 

To see both when you can get your super as well as when you can apply for the Age Pension, use ASIC’s super and pension age calculator, found here.

Financial advice is a good investment

It makes good sense to speak with a financial adviser before you step down permanently from the workforce. Your adviser can suggest strategies to give your super savings a last minute boost as well as advising on investments to help maximise your retirement income.

Good advice is especially important if you plan to wind down your working hours leading up to retirement. Take a look at transition to retirement to learn more. Or head to stopping work to learn more about the next exciting stage in your retirement plans.


1. Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia, 2018-19 financial year, May 2020
2. Retirement Income Review – Final Report, November 2020
3. Retirement Income Review – Final Report, November 2020

Next: Transition to retirement

Related content

Thinking about retirement, but not sure where to start? Get tips and information in our Planning for Retirement guide, to help you get started today.

Learn about how a Transition to Retirement pension could work for you, and the most recent changes to tax rules which may affect you.

A comfortable lifestyle means different things to different people. Use our calculator to work out what lifestyle you want in retirement. 

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Things you should know

This information is current as at 1 July 2022.

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. 

This information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

This Information may contain material provided directly by third parties and is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. It should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material. 

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