The ideal retirement’s all about freedom. For years, you’ve been working hard and saving what you can every month. Hopefully you’ve built up a good, solid pension pot. You’ve got your state pension to look forward to. You might even have other investments that’ll top up your income.

The upshot? You’re free to live your life on your own terms.

Some people decide it’s time to head abroad or just take things easy at home. Those are classic ways of making the best of all that retirement freedom.

But many of us are choosing to stay in work of one kind or another. And that’s something people often start planning in their 50s, because that’s when your retirement starts to get very close indeed.

So in this article, we’re going to take a look at your working life in that crucial decade and beyond, and see what options you might have available to you.

Why keep working after retirement?

What’s the job market like for the over-50s?

On the face of it, the news is good. The number of employed people over the age of 50 has actually grown in the last 20 years. According to the Centre for Ageing Better:

  • There are now 4 million more over-50s in jobs than there were in the year 2000
  • One in five people aged 50-69 is self-employed – more than any other age group

But Covid’s had a big impact. One in four over-50s was put on furlough. That’s a big step back from the employment progress we’ve made in the last 20 years. And if it leads to job losses, older workers are more at risk of long-term unemployment than anyone else.

How about a change of career?

When you’ve built up a lot of experience, it can be hard to imagine changing careers. But it can be a great way of giving yourself a new sense of purpose for the second half of your life. If you’ve been made redundant, it can help make landing that next role that much easier. And it could help you cut down your hours and create a whole new work-life balance.

Exploring new career ideas is easy and enjoyable. You don’t have to commit to a big life change. You can just dip your toe in, see what looks interesting, and go from there.

There are plenty of free online courses that could help. You can find classes in your local area, or you could even self-teach through books and websites.

Read our guide on free courses to help you upskill for more ideas.

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How many hours can I work after retirement?

With the freedom of retirement comes much flexibility. Many unexpected options might open up for you. And you’ll certainly have lots of different ways of exploring them, without impacting on the pension that you receive.

  1. Go part time: Want to cut down your working hours and ease yourself gently into retirement? You’re not alone. Nearly half of UK workers over 50 agree with you. And many of them are already doing it. Out of 8.6 million people working part time in the UK today, 4 million are over 50. It might help you start finding a new work-life balance, while holding on to the security of permanent work. As long as you don’t work for more than 16 hours per week in the first calendar month after retirement, it won’t affect your pension income.
  2. Develop a portfolio career: Who says you need to have just one career? In our modern world, nobody. Your second career could be anything from a little freelance work or an evening job, to starting your own small business. A side hustle could open up exciting new possibilities – especially if you’ve already gone part time.
  3. Dive into education: Upskilling through short courses is just a starting point. How about going back to university? Many people find their life-long passions reappearing, or new ones emerging, as they move into their later lives, especially when time and money overheads drop as the kids leave home, or they finally pay off the mortgage.

Whether you want to keep doing what you love, go part time to make space for new opportunities, or dive into a whole new career, there’s no wrong decision.

To help you make your mind up, find out more about the benefits of working part time in retirement, or meet some of our colourful retirees, enjoying inspiring and varied lives in retirement.  

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