What to do when you've retired


This is a guide for people in NSW who've retired from their usual job. It provides information about managing your money, housing, health and wellbeing plus work and volunteer options in retirement. 

1

Making a plan for your money

Retirement often involves changes to how you spend your time and money.

Having a budget and monitoring it regularly can help keep you and your finances on track while making the most of your retirement years.

Moneysmart lists benefits and concessions, scams to beware of and other tips on managing money in retirement.

Services Australia also offers:

1

Get financial advice

For confidence and peace of mind that your budget and plan are in the best shape possible, consider getting advice from an independent financial expert.

Use this Financial Planning Association locator tool to find a financial planner.

View a list of concessions, discounts and rebates to help with cost of living expenses in the Get personal, legal and financial help section.

2

Get the age pension

The aged pension is a government payment that helps people with living costs in retirement.

The amount differs depending on your circumstances: 

  • single
  • couple combined and individually
  • couples separated due to illness.

Many factors contribute to eligibility. Community Engagement Officers from Services Australia can help you:

  • assess what services you might qualify for
  • get supporting documents in order
  • how to apply.
3

Access superannuation

When you retire, you'll need to work out how to receive your super, either as a:

  • regular income stream
  • lump sum
  • combination of both.

Any life insurance cover as part of your super could be impacted if:

  • you withdraw the balance as a lump sum
  • no contributions are made after a set period (conditions vary depending on the policy)

Talk to your fund manager or financial planner to work out which option works best for you.

The Australian Tax Office has information on different options when withdrawing super.

2

Choosing where to live

Retirement can involve substantial changes to the way people live. How and where you choose to spend retirement means considering things like family, finances, climate, community, hobbies and other factors when making your decision.

1

Stay in your home

Many people choose to stay in their long-term home in retirement because of existing family and social connections. 

But as people grow old, their existing home may not meet the changing demands of aged care living. There are programs that provide money to help pay for modifications to your home like: 

  • installing grab rails and ramps
  • help with your garden and home maintenance
  • arranging cleaning services.

For more information, see EnableNSW's Safe and Supported at Home (SASH) initiative.

2

Sell and downsize

People who retire often realise their existing home is far bigger than they need or it becomes a challenge to clean or maintain.

One option is to sell and downsize to a more manageable home or flat, which can have the added benefit of increasing your retirement savings.

When downsizing to a smaller home, think about how your needs might change over time, including whether the property: 

  • can be kept clean with minimal effort
  • has a garden that can be easily maintained
  • is easily accessible from a street or driveway, or can facilitate ramps and grab rails
  • includes space for guests.

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

  • family and friends
  • medical services
  • public transport
  • hobbies, social and cultural activities
3

Find a rental property

Social housing

Social housing is low-cost, secure rental housing for people on low incomes and includes:

  • rooms in share homes 
  • apartments 
  • stand alone units or house 
  • public housing (managed by the Department of Communities and Justice)
  • community housing (managed by non-government organisations).

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

Important information

There are currently long waiting periods for social housing in NSW. To talk about emergency housing options, contact Link2Home on 1800 152 152

Affordable housing

This is slightly different to social housing. Affordable housing is managed like a private rental property by not for profit community housing providers.

It is intended for very low to moderate income earners. Eligibility is based on income and the property you'd like to rent.

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 a home

For advice to help you understand the rental market and how to secure and maintain a tenancy, see:

If you need help setting up a private rental or paying rent

Check if you're eligible for rent assistance at Services Australia. 

Additionally, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services provides advice and help with:

4

Move to a retirement village

A retirement village can include accommodation in rooms, apartments, units or homes. You can either rent or buy the property.

Retirement villages are mainly occupied by residents over 55 years of age who've retired from full time employment.

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 includes meals, cleaning and other services
  • a mix of self-contained and serviced, allowing people to change if they need to

Some retirement villages also include optional support services, including: 

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

If buying into a retirement village, consumer advocacy group, Choice, explains what to look out for, including:

  • types of contracts offered
  • entry and ongoing costs 
  • potential exit fees and conditions
3

Get personal, financial and legal support

Retirement can mean a big shift in routines and responsibilities when compared to your workplace.

There is a range of personal support and advisory services that can help with any challenges or opportunities that may arise.

1

Access mental health services

Moving from full or part time work into retirement can be a significant lifestyle change. 

Depending on your level of planning, retirement can bring a new set of emotional and mental health challenges. 

If you feel support is urgent, call Lifeline anytime on 13 11 14. You can also find additional mental health resources at:

2

Help with cost-of-living expenses

Even if you don't qualify for the age pension, a Seniors Card provides discounts on travel and some retail services. Other government benefits that could be available include:  

  • travel concessions
  • cheaper medicines 
  • reduced council and water rates

See Moneysmart for more information about benefits and concessions

Living costs

Housing costs

Energy costs

Travel costs

Pensioner concession cards

3

Legal advice

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

4

Volunteering and social activities

With more free time in retirement comes the chance to learn new skills, undertake a hobby or join a volunteer organisation or social group that shares your interests.

Volunteering provides a chance to take on new experiences as well as give something back to the wider community.

Your contribution can be part time, casual, or even full time. Other possible benefits include:

  • making new friends and contacts
  • improved health and wellbeing
  • the chance to rediscover a long-lost passion or hobby

Find a role that's right for you

Not everyone wants to do the same kinds of work in the same kinds of way at the same time of day. Think about whether you want the volunteer role to:

  • be ongoing or for a specific period
  • teach you new skills or use existing ones 
  • close to your house or somewhere new
  • during the week, weekend; evenings or during the day

An organisation like GoVolunteer has general information, lists of organisations and helps you link up with other volunteers.

The Department of Social Security details how volunteering for approved not-for profit organisations could meet mutual obligation requirements.

1

Your rights when volunteering

Volunteers have rights and workplace protections like any other job, covering things like:

  • occupational health and safety
  • hours of work, breaks and rosters
  • bullying and harassment

If while volunteering you feel you've experienced workplace discrimination, vilification, victimisation or sexual harassment, speak to the organisation about your experience and concerns, or contact the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board for more information.

2

Find a hobby

BeConnected is an Australian Government program with a range of free courses and hobbies to help improve your online skills, covering things like:

  • how to access the internet
  • using digital devices
  • keeping in touch with others

For slightly more structured learning, NSW TAFE offers 5 short courses to give you hobby inspiration.

You might also find a range of arts, crafts and hobby activities organised by libraries, meet-up groups and local councils.

3

Enrol in classes and courses

Whether you're thinking of face-to-face learning or distance study, expanding your interests and goals can help you stay more connected, healthy as well as introduce you to new ideas and skills.

Get more confident with the web

If you need guidance in finding your way around the web, the Tech-Savvy Seniors Program at Telstra Australia provides free courses online and at participating public libraries in NSW designed to help you better use the internet, email and social media.

Continuing education

There are hundreds of short courses and vocational programs provided by universities and community colleges right across the state, with many offering courses specifically for seniors.

Whether your preference is for individual learning or more group based interactions, you'll find courses offered online or held in classrooms and workshops.

There is usually a choice of day, evening and weekend sessions covering topics from business to sports, languages, creative, music, lifestyle and a host of others.

TAFE NSW

You'll find a range of technical, creative and business related courses to suit many interests and skill levels. Choose between:

  • short courses to upgrade existing skills, expand knowledge or gain new experience
  • taster courses can be completed quickly and give you a taste of what it would be like to study and work in your chosen field

The University of the Third Age

U3A is a member organisation for active retirees who share knowledge and experience through a variety of courses.

It operates in 7 regions across the wider Sydney metropolitan area and throughout regional NSW.

  • some members are presenters, others are students, and some are both
  • all course presenters are volunteers who share the knowledge of their profession or interests
  • find courses and locations at University of the Third Age Network NSW
4

Expand your social network

Joining a social group, meet-up event or organised activity is an easy way to meet new people, especially if you've moved to a new area, and who share your interests.

5

Find paid work

    You may choose to supplement a pension or other income with paid work after retiring. Apart from extra funds, other benefits include:

    • greater social connections
    • the chance to try something new
    • the chance to pass on existing skills

    However, the number of hours worked can impact your age pension and superannuation entitlements. Conditions vary depending on your circumstances and age, so for more information, check with:

    • your financial adviser or super fund manager
    • the Australian Taxation Office as you may be eligible for tax and superannuation offsets on money earned when retired
    • the Department of Social Services to learn how age pension rules provide incentives for part-time or casual work
    1

    Different types of work

    With increasing employment options for more casual and flexible working arrangements, there are increasing opportunities to find or create a job after retiring. These roles could be:

    • semi or regular part-time hours
    • a freelance consultancy based on your past experience
    • at call (like special event roles)
    • temp, agency or seasonal work
    • casual or shift work

    Re-entering the workforce

    Most roles will be advertised online. There are also specialist recruitment agencies like CoAct, a government funded partnership helping mature-age workers all around Australia to re-enter the job market

    You can also look at options closer to your home like job boards, community organisations, word of mouth referrals and simply approaching employers directly.

    For more information, JobSearch has a blog and resource centre with hints and tips on:

    • searching for roles specific to older employees
    • best-practice CV writing
    • preparing for an interview, and more
       
    2

    How paid work impacts your pension

    For eligible pensioners, the Work Bonus scheme allows you to earn income from working without reducing your pension.

    The bonus applies to employment income from:

    • working in and outside Australia
    • director’s fees
    • commissions and fringe benefits
    • self-employment that involves active participation

    For more detail and information on how the Work Bonus scheme functions, eligibility requirements and reporting obligations, visit:

    3

    Dealing with age discrimination

    Age discrimination can happen in recruitment and selection processes as well as the actual workplace.

    It occurs when a person is treated less favourably, or not given the same opportunities as others in a similar situation, because he or she is considered to be too old or too young.

    There are two types of age discrimination:

    • Direct - when you've been unfairly treated because of your age, or because you're the relative, friend or colleague of someone of a particular age
       
    • Indirect - when there is a rule or requirement that's the same for everyone but unfairly affects people of a particular age

    What to do if you experience age discrimination

    It's a good idea to document your experiences, then try speaking to the person or organisation directly to express your concerns.

    There may be an official policy, channel or process (like Human Resources) through which your issue can be addressed.

    If this is not practical or possible, you can contact:

    4

    Starting your own business

    With more time and a potential pool of savings at their disposal, a growing number of retirees are taking the opportunity to start their own small business.

    There is a range of government support services and advisories to help in what can be a challenging process.

    The NSW Government provides a dedicated Business Concierge as part of its free Easy to do Business service, as well as:

    The Federal Government also has a 'Starting a business' checklist

    Understand cash flow

    When starting a small business, it's essential to understand and take charge of your business finances

    Being able to effectively manage cash flow is key to the long term survival of any business, but also crucial to your overall retirement plans and finances.

    If you need help, consider:

    6

    Look after your physical health and fitness

    With potentially more free time, retirement could allow you to focus on getting more active and improve your overall health.

    Why physical activity is important for older adults

    The benefits of being active are well proven, especially as you age. It can help:

    • control weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes 
    • reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers
    • manage pain
    • maintain and increase joint movement
    • improve mental health
    1

    Staying fit

      It doesn't matter how old you are or what your physical condition is, it’s never too late to get active. Find ways to improve your health and fitness at:

      2

      Get regular health checks

      From your 50s and onwards, there are recommended screening measures you should consider to address the common health challenges that comes with ageing.

      • GetHealthy is a free telephone-based health coaching service that provides support and motivation to help achieve your lifestyle goals.
      • healthdirect has information on a range of risk factors that can contribute to certain diseases, like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.

      healthdirect also suggests most people in their late 50s and beyond should follow these preventative measures: 

      Annually

      • dental check-up
      • regular skin cancer checks
      • an osteoporosis risk assessment
      • an eye test on reaching 65
      • consider a flu vaccination every year (over 60)

      Every 2 years

      • a heart disease risk assessment 
      • a blood pressure check 
      • a mammogram (women)
      • a check for bowel cancer
      • an eye test up to age 65, than annually thereafter
      • a blood glucose test (every 3 years)

      Every 5 years

      • cholesterol and lipids checked
      • a cervical screening test (women)
         
      7

      Write or update a will

      A will is a legal document that states who should get your assets, money and property after you die. 

      Writing a will involves writing a document that includes: 

      • a list of your assets (property, shares, jewellery) 
      • who you would like to get your assets after you die

      A will can also include information about what you want for your funeral or memorial.

      A will is the only way for you to make sure your assets are distributed they way you want them to be.  

      1

      Choose your executor

      You can appoint one or more people to execute your will, including either: 

      • a person, or people, that you know (for example, your spouse, siblings, or children over the age of 18)
      • a private organisation or trustee
      • a solicitor
      • the public trustee (NSW Trustee & Guardian)

      Some things to consider when choosing someone as your executor:

      • how complicated your estate will be to administer
      • how much time the have to administer your estate
      • if they are willing to be the executor 
      • if they are comfortable working with finances or legal processes 
      • if choosing them will cause conflict within your family

      Before you appoint someone as your executor, talk to them about what’s involved, and if they want to take on the responsibility.

      How complicated will your estate be to administer?

      Complicated estates take more time and effort to administer. 

      Your estate will be complicated to administer if you: 

      • have a property where tenants have a legal right to live in the property after you die(eg. a life estate)
      • are receiving money as a trustee of a trust
      • are leaving an ongoing trust as part of your will

      It might also be complicated if you:

      • have a self managed superannuation fund
      • have an investment property
      • have assets in different countries 
      • have assets in more than one state
      • own assets with multiple owners 
      • are a director of one or more companies 
      • have debt on an asset that is greater than the value of the asset (eg. a mortgage)
      • think there could be a dispute over your estate

      If you think your estate will be complicated to administer, you might consider appointing:

      These organisations charge a fee to act as your executor. How much they charge will depend on the size and complexity of your estate. 

      2

      Getting help from a solicitor

      To make sure your will is valid, it's best to get a solicitor to help you write it.

      You can write a will on your own but if there is a mistake it might not be legally valid.

      If your will is not valid your estate will be distributed according to a set formula called ‘rules of intestacy’.

      To contact a legal professional, you can either:

      There is a cost involved if you use either of these services.

      3

      Updating or changing your will

      Update your will any time there are big changes in your life.

      Situations where you might want to update your will include:

      • buying a house
      • getting married
      • separating or divorcing from your partner  
      • having a child
      • retiring from work 
      • being diagnosed with a serious illness

      It's also important to update your will if someone included in the will dies. This might include:

      • an executor
      • a beneficiary (someone listed to receive your assets)
      4

      Storing your will

      Many people store their will at home. If you store your will in your home make sure:

      • it's in a secure location
      • your executors know where you have stored it

      You can also leave your will: 

      • with your solicitor
      • in a safe in a bank
      • with NSW Trustee & Guardian

      It usually costs to store your will with a lawyer, banks, or NSW Trustee & Guardian. These costs are often charged on a yearly basis, and can also involve a charge to access your documents. 

      5

      If you don't make a will

      If you don't make a will or your will is not legally valid, your assets will be distributed according to a set formula called “rules of intestacy”. 

      This process will be different depending on:  

      • If you have living relatives
      • If you don't have living relatives 

      If you don't have living relatives, it's likely that your estate will be passed on to the State. 

      6

      If you have children under the age of 18

      Your will can also state who you would like to look after your dependent children when you die. This person is known as a legal guardian. 

      If you want to include a legal guardian in your will: 

      • get legal advice
      • speak with the person you want to appoint as legal guardian
         
      8

      Become a carer

      Many people who've retired often become carers for partners and parents, even children and grandchildren.

      There is a range of support options for people caring for others in their home, including: 

      • financial help
      • in home care options 
      • training and advice
      • covering the cost of changes to a home, like ramps and grab rails

      Services Australia has information for carers on eligibility, rules, payments and other services.

      The Carer Gateway is a Federal Government website dedicated to providing information on support services, financial help options and real-life case studies.

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