Retirement is both an exciting and daunting milestone.
And with so many factors to consider — like financial stability, health and well-being, and quality of life — it can be difficult to decide when the right time for you to retire is.
Some may decide to hang up their work boots in their mid-50s, while others might wait until they’re closer to 70. And some won’t ever retire fully at all.
If you’re like most people, retirement will take up a large portion of your life (at least 18 years on average).
Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what makes the most sense for your unique situation, sense of purpose, and financial goals.
To help you make that decision, we’ll cover the ideal retirement age from four perspectives, including the:
- Official retirement age
- Best age to retire for health
- Best age to retire for happiness
- Best time to retire early
So let’s jump in!
Official Retirement Age
Let’s start with the official retirement age. This is the earliest age you can get retirement benefits from certain government programs, such as Social Security in the US.
Most countries have a number set in stone, though, in reality, the average retirement age is typically a bit lower or higher.
In the US, it gets a bit more complicated. Depending on your birth year, the retirement age for Social Security benefits ranges from 66 to 67 years old.
Here’s a detailed chart outlining the exact ages people can collect full Social Security benefits:
In case you’re curious, here are some average retirement ages by country:
- Canada, age 65
- Greece, age 67
- France, age 62
- Denmark, age 66.5
- US, age 67
- Ireland, age 66
- Japan, 63
- Turkey, age 59
Of course, Social Security and other government benefits aren’t the only deciding factor for an official retirement age. Health is also a driving factor, our next topic.
Best Age to Retire for Health
The eternal question — when is the best age to retire for health? Because deciding when to retire and enjoying years of good health go hand in hand.
The answer, it turns out, depends on a myriad of factors.
And if you’ve Googled it (which is likely how you wound up here), you’ll find different answers.
Some may argue that a retirement too early or too late can adversely affect your well-being. But age isn’t necessarily the most important factor in this equation.
Instead, it is also critical to consider the following:
- Genetic predisposition — the likelihood of developing certain conditions increases over time
- Job characteristics — the more physically or mentally demanding the job, the greater retirement-related health benefits
- Physical activity — retirement may provide more (or fewer) opportunities to engage in physical activities
- Social connections — the types of relationships you foster impact when you retire
Dive a bit deeper into each of these areas, and you’ll find nuances that impact the ideal retirement age for health.
Take social connections, for instance. Suppose you primarily draw from informal connections like family, friends, and neighbors. In that case, it’s easier to retire early than if you rely solely on formal relationships, such as work relationships and civic associations.
While genetic predisposition certainly plays a role in determining your health, it’s not quite as impactful as your lifestyle choices.
In fact, according to the World Health Organization, a whopping 75% of the way you age is dependent on environmental, behavioral, and lifestyle choices — which leaves only 25% up to genetics.
The key is to focus on the factors that you CAN control.
There’s also longevity to consider — and deciding how many of those years you actually want to spend in retirement.
For instance, a 62-year-old male has a 40% chance of living to age 85, whereas a 62-year-old female has a 52% chance.
The numbers drop down to 19% and 31%, respectively, in terms of the chance of living to age 90. That’s the story in the US, anyway.
So, if you have big plans for retirement, it’s worth considering from a bird’s eye view how that fits into the big picture.
Longevity aside, if you’re looking for a magic number, unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. But we do hope you now have a little insight into retirement and health.
Now, let’s move on to the next retirement perspective: retirement for happiness.
Best Age to Retire for Happiness
Whether you’re looking at it from a scientific or personal point of view, the debate around the best age to retire for happiness is ongoing.
Most experts agree that waiting until later in life to retire can have significant advantages.
But (and that’s a big but) the best age to retire for happiness varies on individual needs and goals.
From millennials dreaming about early retirement to baby boomers who think they should stay on until 70, each person will have unique personal factors influencing their decision.
The big piece that most people miss when planning for retirement is they only plan for their finances. If you’re familiar with our content, you know about our obsession with planning out the non-financial stuff, like pursuing your passions and your sense of purpose.
We encourage you to take a look beyond finances and use our 5 Rings of Retirement framework to find more clarity. Find ways to boost your energy in the areas of:
- Growth — challenge yourself to continue to grow, learn, and evolve
- Community — deepen your relationships and finetune a sense of belonging
- Health — beyond physical health, your mental and emotional health needs, too
- Giving Back — it’s worth considering non-traditional forms of helping others
- Finance — use money to support your interests and goals in the other 4 Rings
When you’re intentionally weaving in activities, people, places, and events that light you up from the inside out, that’s a surefire way to secure your happiness in retirement.
So what’s the best age to retire for happiness?
Any age, really. As long as you find joy without constraints and restrictions, it’ll be the best retirement ever.
Best Age to Retire Early
Finally, let’s cover the best time to retire early — in other words, when you retire before the official retirement age.
Retiring early certainly has its appeal. All that rest, relaxation, and the time to pursue your passions seem enviable. But deciding to retire earlier than the official retirement age shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Before taking the leap, there are some things to consider to avoid making a mistake.
A meta-analysis of over 100 studies pulled 15 factors that can influence the decision to retire early, from family-related and income-related reasons to job satisfaction and mental health:
While there’s a lot to unpack, the general consensus was that those who decided to take the plunge and retire earlier than expected made the right call.
But the emphasis here is on decided. If early retirement was forced, the consequences weren’t quite so positive.
So if you’re considering retiring early, take the time to consider all your options.
Done right, it can be a very rewarding experience — you just have to make sure it’s the best age for you.
Best Age to Retire? It’s Unique to You
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the best age to retire, there is an answer that’s unique to your situation, dreams, and desires.
Whether it be for health, happiness, or early retirement — you’ll have to take into account your own set of circumstances and make a judgment call that works best for you.
Consider these four key factors:
- #1 Official retirement age — determined by your country’s laws
- #2 Best age to retire for health — influenced by genetic predisposition, job characteristics, physical activity, and social connectedness
- #3 Best age to retire for happiness — to achieve a fulfilled retirement, find balance across the five rings of retirement
- #4 Best time to retire early — with 15 factors influencing this decision, you need to ensure you’re prepared to retire early (at any age)
So whatever you decide, make sure it’s the right fit for your lifestyle, that you’re prepared, and that it brings a little more sunshine into your life.
And if you’re on the fence, reach out for a free breakthrough session. Cyn has a knack for helping people make the right decision — she’ll help you get to where you want to be.
Maybe retirement isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it definitely can be tailored to fit your best life.