Planning your retirement

This is a guide for people in NSW who are planning to retire. It can help you manage your money, decide where to live and find support services. 


Get your money on track

    You can start planning your retirement at any age. Retirement can look very different from person to person.

    When you can retire and how comfortably you can live in retirement will depend on:

    • how much money and other assets you have
    • how much superannuation you have
    • what your living expenses are
    • whether you own your own home

    You are more likely to meet your goals if you have planned for your retirement in advance.


    Understand your current situation

    When planning to retire, it helps to know what your current money situation is. To do this, you will need to know your net worth.

    Your net worth is all of your assets (what you own) less any debts you have.

    You can also work out how much:

    • superannuation you're likely to have when you retire
    • Age Pension you'll be entitled to

    Find out how much you need to retire

    How much money you need to retire will depend on: 

    • your current age
    • whether you own your own home
    • your other assets
    • what your living expenses are 
    • how much you have in superannuation

    Create a budget

    Before you start to think about retirement, you should know how much money you have coming in and what you are spending your money on.

    Creating a budget will help you manage your money and keep you focused on your money goals.

    Any changes you can make now to lower any debt and increase your savings will all help when you're ready to retire.

    If you don’t think you'll have enough money to retire, consider getting financial advice for your specific circumstances: 


    Health costs and private health insurance

    When planning your retirement, it can be helpful to think about how ageing may affect your health in the future.

    You may want to factor the cost of health care into your budget.

    Private health insurance

    If you have private health insurance, you will usually:

    • have shorter waiting periods
    • get your choice of doctor

    When deciding if private health insurance is right for you, think about: 

    • the cost of private health insurance
    • the cost of possible future treatments
    • your overall health 
    • the level of care that you want

    Organise your superannuation

    Superannuation is a tax effective way to save for your retirement. Your employer will make contributions to your superannuation fund for you.

    You can also choose to top up your fund with your own money.

    Understand how it works

    Taking some time now to learn how superannuation works can help you get the most out of it.

    Consolidate your superannuation

    If you have changed jobs, you may have more than one superannuation account. Moving all your superannuation into one account is known as consolidating. 

    Consolidating your superannuation will:

    • make it easier to keep track of your super
    • save you money as you will only pay one set of fees
    • reduce paperwork

    Grow your superannuation

    There are ways to boost your superannuation before you retire:

    If you are topping up your superannuation, remember:

    • you will pay less tax if you salary sacrifice from your pay
    • low income earners may get a tax-offset or government co-contribution payment

    Get financial support

    There are different income support payments, concessions and rebates available when you retire to help lower your living expenses. Your eligibility will depend on your situation.

    Income support payments

    The Age Pension is the main income support payment for people who have reached pension age. 

    To get the Age Pension, you’ll need to:

    • be the qualifying age or older, and 
    • meet residency rules

    The qualifying age is currently 66 years old. This will increase by 6 months every 2 years until the pension age is 67 on 1 July 2023.

    The amount you receive will depend on your income, assets, and if you’re single or part of a couple.

    You will automatically get Rent Assistance if you get certain income support payments, including the Age Pension, Carer Payment or Disability Support Pension and pay either:

    • rent
    • retirement village fees
    • lodging
    • board and lodging, or
    • site or mooring fees, if your main home is a caravan, relocatable home or a boat


    You will automatically get a Pensioner Concession Card from either Services Australia or the Department of Veterans' Affairs if you’re over 60 and get certain income support payments, including the:

    • Age Pension
    • Service Pension
    • Income Support Supplement
    • Carer Payment, or 
    • Disability Support Pension

    It entitles you to discounted medical care and medicine.

    The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is available if you’re the Age Pension age and unable to get an income support payment. You’ll need to meet an income test and residency rules. The concession card gives you discounts on medical care and medicine.

    You can get either a NSW Seniors Card or Senior Savers Card if you’re 60 years or older. Which one you get will depend on if you’re working more than 20 hours a week of paid work across a 12-month period. Both cards entitle you to discounts and special offers at businesses across NSW.

    You can get discounted travel on public transport if you have either a NSW Seniors Card or a Pensioner Concession Card. 

    If you're a pensioner, you may be eligible for concessions on your vehicle registration in NSW.


    There are several rebates available to help with the cost of energy bills, including:


    Make changes to your current work

    Before you retire, consider if you can make changes to your work to make your transition to retirement easier.

    Making changes to your regular job might involve: 

    • going part time or reducing your hours
    • taking a different role in the same company 
    • taking on an additional role outside your regular hours

    Reducing your hours

    You may be able to make a gradual transition to retirement by going part time with your job.

    Going part time can involve working less, or you can talk to your employer about changing your role or team to better suit flexible work. 

    Going part time generally involves:

    • talking to your employer about options
    • talking to your family
    • making a financial plan

    Increasing your take home pay

    You may want to boost your pay before retiring by taking on extra hours at your current work. You could also look for additional work outside of your regular job.

    Before taking on extra hours or a second job, consider:


    Accessing superannuation while you're working

    If you're reducing your work hours but don't want to reduce income, you might be able to access your superannuation while you're working.  

    A Transition to Retirement Pension can be used to top up your employment income if you decide to reduce your work hours. 

    To access a Transition to Retirement Pension you need to: 


    Decide where you'll live

    There are many different types of housing to consider in your retirement.

    Where you decide to live will depend on how much money you have and how you like to live.


    Staying in a home you own

    Many people choose to stay in their long-term home in retirement.

    There is some support available for people who want to make their homes easier to live in as they age. 

    Staying in your home over the long term can involve: 

    • installing grab rails or ramps
    • getting help with your garden
    • getting help with cleaning

    Some changes to your home and some in-home care options are partially covered by My Aged Care.


    Selling and downsizing your home

    When retiring, people often sell their home to reflect changes to their life. 

    When buying a new home, think about how your needs might change over time, including whether the new home: 

    • can be cleaned easily
    • has a garden that can be kept easily 
    • has room for stairs and supports
    • has room for guests
    • is easily accessed from the street or driveway

    You might also want to consider how close you are to: 

    • family and friends
    • medical services
    • outdoor spaces
    • hobbies, social and cultural activities

    Moving to a retirement village

    Retirement villages offer homes that are easily maintained in a private and secure environment with people of a similar age. 

    There are different types of occupancy and ownership arrangements in retirement villages. You should think about:

    • the type of tenure
    • the cost
    • understanding and comparing the contracts that different villages offer

    There are different options for care in retirement villages, including:

    • self-contained, for people who are able to live independently 
    • serviced (or assisted living), which can include meals, cleaning and other services
    • a mix of self-contained and serviced, allowing people to change if their needs change

    Some retirement villages also include optional support services, including: 

    • social groups 
    • health and fitness classes 
    • specialised medical equipment 
    • specialised medical staff

    Renting a home

    Social housing

    Social housing is housing for people on low incomes and includes:

    • rooms in share homes 
    • apartments 
    • stand alone units or house 
    • community housing

    People living in social housing can live with their partners or families, or alone.

      Affordable housing

      Affordable housing is different to social housing. It is managed more like a private rental property and is for very low to moderate income earners.

      Applicants need to meet eligibility criteria based on income thresholds, depending on where they live. Properties are mostly managed by not for profit community housing providers.

      You do not have to be eligible for social housing to apply for affordable housing, though people who are eligible for social housing may also be eligible for affordable housing properties.

        Renting through an agent or self-managing landlord

        If you plan to rent when you retire, there are payments and resources that can help.

        You can get help with your rent at:

        Learn more about renting:


        Get financial and legal advice

        When planning your retirement, it can help to get professional advice that is specific to your circumstances.


        Financial advice

        These services can help you better understand your financial situation and empower you to make informed decisions about your financial future:


        Legal advice

        It is important that you know your rights and where to get legal advice and support if you need it:


        Look after your physical health and fitness

        It's never too early to start looking after your health. 

        The benefits of being active include:

        • control weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes 
        • reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers
        • maintain and increase joint movement
        • prevent muscle loss and reduce risk of osteoporosis
        • reduce the risk of dementia
        • manage pain
        • maintain and increase balance
        • improve mental health

        Get regular health checks

        Regular health checks can help:

        • identify early signs of illness or health issues
        • assess your risk of future health problems
        • keep vaccinations updated

        Common health checks include:

        • heart
        • diabetes
        • cancer
        • eyes
        • bones
        • sexually transmitted diseases
        • prostate

        During a health check, you doctor will ask you about your medical history, your family history of disease and your lifestyle.

        You might need more regular health checks if your doctor thinks you are more at risk of developing a disease. You can be more at risk if you:

        • have certain high-risk lifestyle factors
        • have a family history of disease

        Plan what you’ll do in retirement

        When you retire from work, your social routines can be disrupted.

        Volunteering, learning new skills and joining a social group can help you keep active and make social and community connections.


        Talking to your family about your retirement

        Talking to your family when you first start planning for your retirement will help make sure there are no surprises when you do retire.

        Whether you want input from family members or simply want to advise them of your plan, topics to talk about include:

        • expectations for travel, activities and other plans
        • the impact on family members that need emotional, physical and financial support
        • where you intend to live
        • financial and inheritance plans

        Volunteering in retirement

        Retiring from a regular job doesn’t always mean you stop working completely. 

        Volunteering is an opportunity to:

        • contribute to your community
        • meet people
        • learn new skills
        • share your expertise

        This can be part time, casual, or even full time.


        Learning and social groups

        You are likely to have more time when you retire to learn a new skill, explore a hobby or join a social group that shares your interests.


        There are many places that offer courses and opportunities to learn.

        Whether you prefer individual or group-based learning, you can find courses offered online or in classrooms and workshops. This can include:

        • sharing knowledge through courses and lectures on different topics right across NSW with the University of the Third Age.
        • your local library, which may offer free courses, activities and events

        Social groups and activities

        Joining a social group or activity is an easy way to meet new people who share your interests:

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