5 Surprises About Retirement

Terri Spath |

Retirement, once viewed as a well-deserved chapter of life, now presents today's retirees with a unique set of challenges. In an era marked by soaring inflation rates and the unpredictable swings of financial markets, if you are approaching or already in retirement, you are faced with a delicate balancing act. Unlike younger counterparts, who may have the luxury of time to recover from financial setbacks, you may have a more limited margin for financial surprises. Despite recent fiscal uncertainties, retirees are painting a vibrant picture of happiness and purpose in their lives, even as they grapple with financial vulnerabilities.

A recent report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies delves into the surprising facets of retirement, encompassing both the joys and unexpected challenges that retirees encounter. Here are 5 revelations about retirement that caught our attention and that we think may offer you valuable insights.

  1. The most common positive sentiment associated with retirement is the feeling of freedom. On the flip side, the prevailing negative sentiment often linked to retirement is the concern about health decline.
  2. Surprisingly, the fears that retirees experience during retirement are not as daunting as one might expect. Concerns about running out of money, declining health, long-term expenses, and the fear of losing independence tend to be less pronounced among retirees compared to older workers who are approaching retirement.
  3. The timing of retirement can catch many by surprise. Among current retirees, the median age at which they leave the workforce is 62, with a significant 58% of individuals retiring before they reach 65. In contrast, among current older workers who are yet to retire, approximately two-thirds anticipate working beyond the age of 65.
  4. Unexpected early retirements are often not driven by reaching a specific financial "number." Rather, they frequently result from health-related issues, accounting for 45% of such cases, and employment-related reasons, like job dissatisfaction or organizational changes.
  5. Interestingly, partial retirements, where individuals gradually reduce their work commitments, are relatively uncommon. While fewer than one-quarter of retirees initially expect to cease working entirely, more than 40% ultimately make the choice to retire completely.


In the ever-changing landscape of retirement, where financial markets fluctuate and life takes its own unpredictable course, one thing remains constant: resilience and adaptability help meet surprises. Despite the challenges and unexpected turns that retirement may bring, there are solutions that forge a path filled with freedom, overcoming fears, and making decisions that suit your unique circumstances. Navigating the complex terrain of retirement with the right perspective and thoughtful planning can mean that this stage of life is fulfilling and rewarding. So, whether you're already savoring the freedom of retirement or preparing to embark on this adventure, take heart in the knowledge that you have the power to shape your own retirement story and make it truly remarkable. We understand.