Cost of living pressures may be encouraging some Australians to shift to a more affordable region after retirement.
But for many, rising property values have transformed retirement plans.
“We’ve been very, very fortunate.” Sydney worker Jenny Lindsay, 62, will retire in December.
One of them is Jenny Lindsay, a 62-year-old full-time worker who will retire in December.
A financial windfall from the sale of Ms Lindsay’s family’s home on Sydney’s north shore has allowed her to bring forward retirement.
“When the property boom really happened, we bought a small farm in the country and we were able to sell our house in Wahroonga and downsize to a really nice apartment in Pymble,” she said.
The financial buffer from that transaction “really surprised” Ms Lindsay and her husband (who is already retired) and prompted them to review retirement options.
“It made me think maybe I would not keep working until I’m 65, we could probably pull that back a bit. We’ve been very, very fortunate.”
Ms. Lindsay’s story echoes research by a team of Sydney University economists published in 2016 which showed a link between unexpected wealth gains from house prices and earlier retirement among women (although not men).
The expected retirement age of women in Sydney – 64.2 years – was the lowest among Australia’s capitals. The expected retirement age of women in Melbourne was 64.6 years.
Men have traditionally been older than women at retirement but the new report by SGS Economics and Planning says the gap between expected male and female retirement ages has narrowed to just 0.9 years, down from 1.7 years a decade ago.
Economist Terry Rawnsley, who authored the report, said men can expect to retire with average superannuation savings of almost $100,000 more than women. As a result, Australian women may be working longer in order to supplement lower superannuation savings – especially single women.
Until 1990 the expected retirement age for Australian women was below 60 years but that has since climbed to 64.3 years.
For men the expected retirement age in 2018 was 65.2 years, down slightly since 2014.
The report adopted a similar approach to measuring life expectancy and estimates at what age today’s 45-year-olds can expect to retire.
Mr Rawnsley said the increasing age of retirement for women reflected strong demand for labour in female-dominated industries such as health care and social assistance. This has encouraged ongoing participation among women.
But some male-dominated industries, such as mining and manufacturing, are stagnating in terms of employment which means the ability to remain in employment in these industries is a challenge for older workers.
“This has resulted in a small decline in the age of retirement for men since 2014,” said Mr Rawnsley.
An international comparison in the report shows Australians typically work several years longer than workers in France, Germany Italy and Greece. Retirement ages in the UK are similar to those in Australia but American workers tend to work a little longer.
Australian women retire between five to nine years earlier than women in Japan and Korea. Women in New Zealand work nearly three years longer than women in Australia.