Couples need an annual income of £26,000 a year and single people £19,000 a year to enjoy a comfortable retirement, according to new research.


Consumer association Which? surveyed 7,000 retirees about their spending in retirement. It found that couples typically spend £18,000 a year on essentials such as food and drink, mortgage or rent, utility bills, insurance and clothing. This rises to £26,000 if they want a comfortable retirement, which covers the cost of essentials as well as regular short-haul holidays, recreation and leisure, tobacco, alcohol and charitable gifts.

If they want a ‘luxury’ retirement, which would provide enough to cover extended or long-haul holidays, health club memberships, expensive meals out, and a new car every five years, a couple would need an annual income of £41,000 and a single people £31,000.

Vast sums are require to generate enough income for a comfortable retirement, with calculations by Which? revealing that, on average, couples need a pot of around £155,000 alongside their state pension to produce the annual income for a comfortable retirement of £26,000 via pension drawdown.

Senior couple relaxing in vintage boat.

These calculations assume savers withdraw all of their income over 20 years from the age of 65, with investment growth of 3%, inflation at 1% and charges levied at 0.75%. If the couple wanted to buy a joint life annuity, or income for life, instead of using drawdown, they’d need a pension pot of just over £265,000 to provide the same level of income.

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For single-person households, achieving a comfortable retirement would mean a pot of around £192,290 alongside a state pension to get to an annual income of £19,000 via pension drawdown, or £305,710 through an annuity.

Becky O’Connor, head of pensions and savings at interactive investor, said: “These estimates are a useful guide for people to know the retirement that they are roughly on track for, given their current pension pot size. But the amount we should all aim for is very personal and at the end of the day, depends on circumstances and goals, such as whether you want to leave an inheritance.

“It’s important to think about the lifestyle you have now and how much you would like this to continue when you retire. If your income will be substantially lower, then unless your costs fall dramatically too, you will have to get used to a potential drop in living standards when you stop work.”

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Find out if you’re on track for retirement

If you’re not sure when you’ll be able to afford to retire, your starting point should be to work out how much you’re likely to receive from both the State Pension and any workplace or private pensions.

You can obtain a State Pension forecast from GOV.UK. To find out how much you’ve got in any company or personal pensions, you’ll need to dig out your latest annual pension statements or contact your pension provider for a valuation.

If you think you may have lost track of some of your retirement savings, you can use the government’s pension tracing service at Pension Tracing service to help you find them. However, this service can only let you know contact details for the scheme you’re searching for, and not whether you have a pension with them. You’ll need to get in touch with the scheme’s administrators directly to find this information.

Bear in mind that the value of your defined contribution pensions can go up or down, so even if your pension pot is looking healthy now, there are no guarantees that it still will when you reach retirement. It’s therefore vital to keep an eye on how your retirement savings are performing so you don’t face any nasty surprises when you stop work.


If you’re aged 50 or older, you’ll be entitled to free and impartial guidance on your pension options from the government’s Pension Wise service. However, if you want advice that’s tailored to your individual circumstances, or specific recommendations on where to invest your retirement savings, you should consider seeking professional independent financial advice.

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