Ready for retirement fact sheet

This fact sheet is for anyone who is planning to retire within the next few years. Financial planning is one aspect of preparing for your retirement and you will ideally have been planning for this for a number of years. However, regardless of what your financial situation will be when you retire, if you have spent most of your life working, it will mean a significant change in your lifestyle. Whatever your feelings on approaching retirement, there are many positive aspects upon which to focus. Retirement will allow you to do the things that you enjoy most, finances and health permitting. How you would like to spend your time after retirement may require you to make a few decisions leading up to your retirement. Here are some points to consider.

When to retire

The default retirement age (DRA),formerly 65, has now been phased out and most people can now work for as long as they want to. An employer can set a compulsory retirement age, however, this cannot be done without clear justification. For further information, see the Age UK website.

State pension age

The abolition of the DRA does not impact on the age at which people become entitled to state pension. State pension age is determined by someone’s date of birth and gender. For further information, see the government state pension age calculator.

The government have also introduced a personalised written pension estimate service. Initially, this will only be available to those who are closest to state pension age. If you go to the state pension calculator (see above), you will automatically be asked if you would like this service if you are within the relevant time frames.

Flexible/part-time working

For a number of reasons, some people take early retirement, whilst others prefer to delay retirement. A further option might be to continue working with a more flexible working pattern, for example, working fewer hours, thereby making a gradual transition to retirement. It is important to consider the other implications of moving to part-time work, for example, what effect it might have on any pensions, including final salary schemes. Members of occupational pension schemes should check to see if their scheme supports phased retirement and/or working beyond the scheme’s normal pension age. Nowadays all employees have the right to request flexible working, and employers must deal with the request in a reasonable manner. Employers can only refuse if they have legitimate reasons for doing so. Legitimate reasons for refusal include, for example, an additional cost to the employer, inability to meet customer demand or a detrimental impact on quality and/or performance. If a mutually beneficial agreement cannot be reached on a request for flexible working, employees can bring a claim to an employment tribunal. For further information on flexible working requests, see the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) website.

Employment advice and information

Pharmacist Support

Pharmacist Support can refer you for free and confidential employment advice provided by trained Citizens Advice advisers. They will be able to help you with any employment issues arising from retirement. If you would like to be referred, you can contact us on our general enquiry line: 0808 168 2233, or email us on:

Other sources of help

If you are a member of a trade union you can contact them for employment advice or you could contact an organisation such as ACAS or your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). You can search for your local bureau on the CAB website.


Many home owners consider downsizing to a smaller property when they have retired. This can be a good idea, as it will reduce overall running and maintenance costs and can release equity to add to your retirement pot. Moving can also allow for considerations such as buying a property that meets any mobility needs, being closer to family and friends and easy access to local amenities. Others choose to stay where they are and make any adaptations as and when they are needed.  The Elderly Accommodation Counsel offers impartial advice about the different types of housing that are available. Their website also has an interactive How well does your home suit you tool. For further information, call their helpline on 0800 377 7070 or visit their website.

Retiring abroad

Some people choose to live in another country after retirement, however, it is a good idea to plan ahead. Points to consider include:-

  • how state pension might be affected
  • tax implications
  • health care
  • language barriers.

State pension

If you are thinking of retiring abroad you should contact the International Pension Centre for advice on how your state pension might be affected. You can contact them on 0191 218 7777 or see the government website.

Personal pension

People moving overseas may be able to transfer from a UK to an overseas pension scheme. Firstly check that the overseas pension provider is on the government list of qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS)For full details of the list, see the government website. If the overseas pension scheme is not on this list, UK pension schemes can refuse to make the transfer or any transfer could attract a minimum of 40% tax. In some instances, UK tax may be payable after transfer. Your current pension provider can tell you if this may apply to you.

Please note, that Brexit may impact on your ability to transfer from a UK to an overseas pension scheme. People should check with the government for the latest information prior to any pension transfer.


If you are retiring abroad, you should contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Residency helpline on 0300 200 3300 to discuss your possible tax liability. For further information, see their website.


Healthcare within the European Economic Area (EEA) is free to someone in receipt of UK state pension. However, unlike the UK, healthcare in many other countries is not free at the point of use, so often you will have to pay for treatment and then claim/receive reimbursement afterwards. If you are thinking of moving to a non-EEA country you will need to get private medical insurance. For further information on health care for both EEA and non-EEA countries, see the NHS choices website guide.

Please note there is no clarification yet as to whether the reciprocal health care arrangements will continue now that we have left the European Union. People should check the government website prior to travelling.


Unless you are moving to an English speaking country it would be a good idea to try to learn the basics of the language of the country to which you are moving. The BBC offers a range of free online language courses including French, Greek, Spanish, Chinese and German. Online lessons involve audio, games, vocabulary, grammar explanations and exercises. For further information, see their website.

Life after retirement

Given how large a part of life work plays for most people, retirement can seem like a daunting prospect and even though most people plan for, and look forward to their retirement, the loss of working status can be unexpectedly traumatic. Working can help us to feel that we are making a contribution and are appreciated. Work also gives structure to our day and relationships with work colleagues can often be as important as those with family and close friends. It is not uncommon upon retirement to experience doubts about self-worth; personal relationships can come under increasing strain and there may be unexpected challenges to face, such as a decline in health or sudden caring responsibilities. According to a 2013 report by the Institute of Economic Affairs, up to 40% of retirees suffer from clinical depression and six out of every ten people reported a decline in health. The data for the report draws on statistics from a large European database.   

Approaching retirement positively

There are steps that people can take in order to achieve a positive mental attitude towards retirement. Examples include:-

  • staying active
  • looking after your health and wellbeing
  • volunteering
  • learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby
  • travel.
Health and wellbeing

A healthy diet, aerobic exercise and mental stimulation will all help to maintain a healthy body and mind. Joining one or more groups can help to stave off feelings of isolation and combat boredom. It is a good idea to start to build up your non-work activities whilst you are still at work. Then when you do retire you can then expand on these gradually rather than there being a sudden change.

Healthy eating

A major reason for age-related weight gain is that the rate at which the body burns calories slows down with age. Thus people in their  50s and 60s may need fewer calories than they did in their 30s, dependent on the amount of exercise they do. Extra calories can turn into surplus body fat over time if you don’t adjust your diet and/or exercise more. For further information on healthy eating, see our Healthy eating fact sheet.


Keeping physically active improves your health and quality of life, and can also help you to live longer. It is never too late to start exercising. People who exercise benefit from better health, increased confidence, higher self-esteem and an overall increase in general wellbeing. It is a good idea to talk to your GP before undertaking a new exercise regime. There is no reason to give up a sport or exercise because you are getting older. If you’re in your 80s or 90s, regular exercise can help retain muscle strength and improve mobility. For further information and guidelines for physical activity depending on age, see the NHS choices website. Exercise can take many forms. It does not have to be high impact or strenuous to be of benefit to your health.  Below are some suggestions, varying from the more strenuous to the very gentle.


Parkrun organise free, weekly 5km runs. They are open to everyone and free to enter. The runs are organised by volunteers so as well as taking part in the runs you can volunteer to help with events, or even set up an event of your own. For further information, see their website.


Bowling is a non-contact sport which is suitable for all age groups. For further information, including how to find your local group, see the British Crown Green Bowling Association (BCGBA) website.


Ranging from beginners to advanced, find your own level with a yoga class near you. For further information, including a search facility for local yoga classes, see the Yoga Class Near You website.


Pilates is a safe and effective form of exercise. To find your local class, see the Pilates Near You website.


Looking for a gentle, non-contact sport that is all about tactics? Why not try croquet? For further information, including a search facility for local clubs, see the Oxford Croquet website.

Walking sports

Walking sports are a good way to maintain/improve health and fitness. There are many new clubs opening across the UK. If you cannot find one in your local area, you could consider starting one.

Walking football

Walking football is a popular sport, and it is particularly useful for those with limited mobility. For further information and details of how to find your local team, see the Walking Football United (WFU) website.

If you have already set up a walking football club, or are thinking about doing so, have a look at the Walking website. This organisation provides community forums for walking football teams, players and fans to share ideas, ask questions and promote their clubs, festivals, tournaments and leagues. For further information, see the Walking website.

Walking basketball

Walking basketball is a relatively new sport. For further information and details of how to find a local team, see the Walking Basketball website.

Walking netball

Walking netball teams are currently limited. If there is nothing available in your area, you might consider starting a local team. For further information, see the I Will If You Will website.


Some groups, such as the Ramblers (the UK walking charity), enable people to combine exercise with the opportunity to meet new people. For further information, see the Ramblers website.


Dancing is an enjoyable way to keep fit and socialise. From ballet to ballroom, line dancing to salsa, there is bound to be one that suits you. For further information on what is available in your local area, have a look at the Dance Near You website.


Volunteering can bring variety and purpose to your life and it is a way in which you can continue to use your knowledge and skills without the added pressures of paid work. Whether it be child welfare, the environment or the arts, even if you have just a few spare hours a week there are many organisations who would love to hear from you.

Social Farms and Gardens

If you already have a hobby that you enjoy, for example, gardening, you could combine exercise with giving something back to the community. The Social Farms and Gardens supports community-managed farms, gardens and allotments. Many of the farms and gardens are dependent on volunteers. For further information, see the Social Farms and Gardens website.

Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO)

VSO welcome volunteers from most professional backgrounds, including healthcare. For further information, see the website.

Reach Skilled Volunteers

Reach is the skilled volunteering charity helping skilled people to make a difference to their community. For further information, see the website.

Travellers Worldwide

Travellers Worldwide offers a range of projects that include conservation and animal care, care for children and teaching projects. For further information, see the mature volunteers and retired gappers section of their website.

People and Places

People and Places offers volunteering opportunities in a variety of countries. For further information, visit their website.

National Trust

Volunteering for the National Trust gives you a chance to work in the gardens or the inside of some of our most important historic buildings. For further information, visit their website.

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

The CAB are always looking for volunteers who are willing to learn new skills. This could appeal to retired pharmacists, as it involves contact with the public and an element of problem solving. For further details, visit the CAB website.

Volunteering Matters 

Volunteering Matter  offers many community volunteering opportunities. Retired people can opt to become a grandmentor, helping to support young care leavers. There is no upper age limit. For further details, see the Volunteering Matters website.


Many charities require trustees to help with the running of their organisations. The work is almost always unpaid, however ordinarily reasonable expenses are reimbursed. For further information, see the government website.

Sport and Recreation Alliance

The Sport and Recreation Alliance connect people with local sports clubs who need their help. If you are a member of a sports club in need of volunteers this is the place to find them. Equally, if you are looking to volunteer you can search their website for local opportunities. For further information, see the Sport and Recreation Alliance website.

Hobbies and pastimes

Retirees often have more time for leisure.  Here are some suggestions for things that you can do. 

Leisure activities in your local area

A local authority website is a good place to find information about activities such as:-

  • museums and galleries
  • libraries
  • education
  • parks and countryside walks
  • sports facilities.

For further information on leisure activities in your area, see the government website. From here you can enter your address details and follow the link to your local authority: Many local authorities offer special discounts/concessionary rates for older people. Examples include adult education classes, swimming pools and leisure centres. Check with your local authority to see what is available in your area.

The Retired Pharmacist Group

The Retired Pharmacists Group is run by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). Retired members can still enjoy full access to RPS membership services at a reduced rate. This group offers retired pharmacists the opportunity to make contact with other retired pharmacists and retain an active interest in the pharmacy profession. They have a programme of social and professional activities and events. For further details, see the RPS website.

National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS)

NAFAS offers flower arranging courses, flower clubs workshops and classes. For further information and to find your local club, see the NAFAS website.

The Women’s Institute (WI)

The WI offers a wide range of activities and campaigns. For further information, see the WI website.

British Choirs on the Net

Join a choir. Singing produces endorphins a well as new friends. For further information about groups in your local area, see the British Choirs On The Net website.

Amateur Dramatics

Get involved with theatre, whether it be on stage or behind the scenes. For further information about groups in your local area, see the Amdram website.

Book clubs

Why not join a book club? If there is nothing available in your area, you could always start your own. For further information, see the BBC Radio Four website.

Writers Online

If you love to read, you might like try your hand at writing. You could submit articles to magazines, or even write a best-seller. For further information, see the Writers Online website.

Painters Online

From painting to pottery, Painters Online lists a variety of clubs and groups. For further information, including how to find your local group, see the Painters Online website.

Age UK Friendship Centres

Friendship centres are groups of active older people who meet on a regular basis for social activities. Activities include ten-pin bowling, pub lunches and trips to the theatre. For further information, see the Age UK website.

Further study

It is never too late to learn something new and increasingly, retirees are using their new found leisure time to study for personal development or in order to pursue a new career. Universities often welcome mature students, valuing them for their commitment, and life experience. UCAS have a range of information for mature students on their website.

The University of the Third Age (U3A)

U3A is a self-help organisation for people who are no longer in full time employment providing educational, creative and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment. Local U3As are learning co-operatives and between them they offer the chance to study over 300 different subjects in fields such as art, language, music and history. The U3A is supported by the Third Age Trust. For further information, see their website.

Workers Educational Association (WEA)

The WEA is a charity and the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of education. Previous knowledge and/or qualifications are not necessary for the vast majority of the courses offered. You can search for what is on offer in your local area from their website.

Open College of the Arts (OCA)

The OCA is a non-profit educational charity offering a wide variety of distance learning courses. Options include painting, drawing, photography, art history and film. There are no entry qualifications or fixed enrolment dates making it easier to fit your studies around your life. For further information, see their website.

The Open University (OU)

The Open University provides distance learning for all, offering flexibility to enable people to study at times and in places that suit them. For further information, see their website.

Find courses

The Find courses website allows you to search a wide range of courses, including courses for fun, hobbies and degrees. For full details, see their website.

Computer training courses

The rapid evolution of technology has impacted on all areas of modern life, in particular with the way we communicate. For those who are lacking in computer confidence, a short computer course may be the answer.

Age UK

Age UK offer easy-to-follow training with the aim of allowing as many people as possible to enjoy the advantages of computers and the internet. You can search for a course in your local area from their website.

UK online centres network

The UK online centres network is made up of 5000 local centres, helping people make the most of technology and widening digital inclusion. To search for your local centre, visit their website.

Learn my way

Learn my way offers a free Online Basics package designed to help people to get started on the internet, for further information, visit their website.

Funding for further study

You may be able to apply for student finance as a mature student, however this will depend on your family situation and the type of course you are doing. For further information, see the government website. Also see our Finding funding fact sheet for more information on possible funding sources for further education and/or research.


Keeping your mind and body busy is a key factor to good health. Many people enjoy their retirement as it allows them the freedom to spend more time with the people they love, and more time to do all the things that they were too busy to do whilst working. However, for some people, the combination of the sudden loss of work and work related social ties and a general decrease in activity levels, can be a challenge and in some cases can even lead to depression. Common signs of depression include:-

  • fatigue
  • social withdrawal and isolation
  • sadness
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • memory problems
  • neglecting personal care
  • feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.

Depression can also be linked to physical illness, as chronic pain and disability can understandably make the sufferer depressed. Sufferers of depression may want to consider seeking counselling. For further information about counselling, see our Counselling fact sheet. Alternatively a listening ear can often be of great help in times of stress. There are several telephone helplines available.

Pharmacist Support Listening Friends  

The Listening Friends telephone helpline is staffed by trained volunteers, some of whom are retired pharmacists themselves, and provides callers with the opportunity to talk anonymously and in confidence to a pharmacist about any stresses they are facing in their work or home life. This might, for example, be stress caused by ill health, financial worries, bereavement or anxiety about retirement. For a listening ear, contact the Listening Friends Helpline, tel: 0808 168 5133

The Silver Line

The Silver Line is a free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people. It is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. For further information, see the Silver Line website, or call the helpline on 0800 470 8090.

Age UK’s befriending services

Many local Age UKs provide a befriending service. Their Call in Time service consists of regular daily or weekly phone calls. In some areas home visiting schemes are also in operation. For further information, contact Age UK on 0800 687 1602 or visit their website.

Coping with changes in mental ability

Change is to be expected as we age, but deterioration is not inevitable. Many age-related memory problems are just as likely to be due to poor concentration, anxiety and stress. Keeping yourself mentally, as well as physically fit, will make you feel better and improve your brain power. Just as your body needs exercise, so too does the brain. There are lots of ways to do daily mental exercise. Ideas include:-

  • puzzles and/or crosswords
  • reading – join a local library or book club
  • play games that keep your brain active such as bridge, chess or computer games
  • maintain an active social life
  • take up a new interest or hobby.


Finances play an important part in our general health and well-being. Retirement often coincides with a sharp drop in income, however there are things that you can do to maximise your retirement income.

Claiming state pension

A claim for state pension can be made up to four months in advance. As a claim can take time to be processed, it is worth considering claiming in advance. Claims for state pension can be backdate for a period of up to 12 months. For further information, including how to make a claim, call the state pension claim line on 0800 731 7898, or see the government website.

Delayed retirement

Delayed retirement can add money to your pension pot. However, most pension plans do have an upper age limit by which time you must have done something with your pension, even if it is simply to move it to another pension scheme. Your pension provider will be able to tell you more about this. 


People who have already claimed their state pension can de-retire and defer their pension if they wish. This can give you a lump sum or increased state pension at a later date. This can only be done once. For further information, contact the Pension service on 0800 731 7898.

Track down lost pensions

Someone could have multiple pensions. It is easy to lose track of these. The government has an online Pension Tracing Service that can help you to track down lost pensions. You can also contact them on 0800 731 0193. If you find that you have a number of small pensions you might want to consider combining them. It is important to check with your pension provider to see if combining pensions may impact on their value, or attract charges. 

Other benefit entitlement

Make sure that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to, including pension credit and additional state pension.

Pension credit

Pension credit is an income related benefit that can top up your retirement income every week. There is also an extra amount paid for those who have savings – the savings credit. For full details on eligibility and how to claim, see the government website.

Pharmacist Support benefits and budgeting advice

Pharmacist Support can refer you for free and confidential benefits advice provided by trained Citizens Advice advisers. They will be able to help you by providing a full benefit check and they can also help you with budgeting. If you would like to be referred you can contact us on our general enquiry line: 0808 168 2233, or email us on:

Over 80 pension

This pension only applies to men born before 6 April 1951, and women born before 6 April 1953. All those born before this date will still be able to make a claim for the over 80 pension when they are 80 years of age. People born after this will have to apply for the new state pension.  The over 80 pension is for people who are aged 80 or over who do not have a basic state pension, or have a low income/state pension. The government will top up the over 80s income to a minimum statutory amount. This pension is classed as taxable income and must also be declared by those who are in receipt of income related state benefits. For further information, including the up-to-date minimum statutory income amount, see the government website, or call the Pension Service Helpline on 0800 731 0469.

Additional state pension

This pension only applies to men born before 6 April 1951, and women born before 6 April 1953. People born after this will have to apply for the new state pension. The additional state pension is an extra amount of money on top of your basic state pension. It is based on National Insurance contributions and it is automatically paid to those who qualify unless they have specifically contracted out of it. People can only contract out if their employer runs a contracted out pension scheme. Eligibility depends on what work you have done and the type of benefit you have claimed. For further information on eligibility and contracting out, see the government website.

New state pension scheme

Men born on or after 6 April 1951, and women born on or after the 6 April 1953, will claim the new state pension. For further information, see the government website.

Other useful organisations 

Retirement Matters

Retirement Matters is a website aimed at the over 50s and here you can find details about matters such as travel, finance health and lifestyle. For further information, see their website.

Silver Surfers is a directory of websites of interest to the over 50s. Sections include travel, lifestyle, health culture and sport. For further information, see their website.

Silver Travel Advisor

This website is aimed at the over 50s. It contains reviews, advice on travel insurance and a holiday search facility. For further information, visit their website.

Grandparents Plus

Grandparents Plus is a national charity offering support and advice to grandparents.  If you are bringing up grandchildren or need advice on issues relating to grandchildren, visit their website.

This fact sheet was last reviewed on 14 February 2020.