Not ready to stop work? Try ‘pre-tirement’

As a long and, one hopes, illustrious career draws to a close it is only natural to imagine doing other things; to wind down, indulge personal interests, prepare for a new phase of life.

But growing numbers of people in their sixties are choosing to eschew spending their time on the golf course, and instead work past retirement age and take the chance to switch to a hobby job, a part-time role or a portfolio career. In short, it is time to “pre-tire”.

Only a minority do so chiefly or solely because they cannot afford to stop working. More commonly, people say they do not feel ready to retire: they enjoy the challenges and social networks associated with their careers and would get restless if they gave up work altogether.

Hence the growing trend of “pre-tirement” whereby people may switch to a part-time role with their employer or take up something different. By continuing to earn an income they can supplement their pension or, in many cases, look forward to a more comfortable retirement by deferring it.

Research for the Prudential, the financial services group, has found that for each of the past five years slightly over half of working adults in their mid-forties and older said that they were considering working past their retirement age or were already doing so.

Pre-tirees include John Field, 66, who three years ago gave up his career as a solicitor to become a magician. Previously magic had been a hobby but in pre-tirement he is paid to entertain passengers on cruise ships and teaches magic classes for U3A, which provides talks and classes for retired and semi-retired people.

Mr Field, from Ashtead, Surrey, said: “I have travelled all over the world on cruise ships, having been booked to do magic shows for passengers. I have also set up close-up ‘magic for grandparents’ classes through U3A, and tour the south of the UK giving talks on Houdini and demonstrating tricks.”

Prudential commissioned an online survey by a polling company, Research Plus, of 10,605 non-retired British adults aged 45 and older, including 1,000 planning to retire this year, and found that 51 per cent said they would keep working if this would guarantee them a greater income in retirement.

With the average length of retirement slightly longer than 20 years, 34 per cent of those planning to pre-tire said that they did not feel ready to retire and 26 per cent said they did not like the idea of retiring and being at home all the time for such a long period.

For 30 per cent their motivation was to carry on topping up their retirement fund. It found that 20 per cent wanted to earn money from doing a hobby or starting a business, 29 per cent would look for a different job while 28 per cent wanted to shorten their hours with their employer. Only 9 per cent planned to continue full-time in their present job.

Stan Russell, a retirement income expert at Prudential, said retirement was increasingly becoming “more of a process than a single moment in time”.

He said: “A period of pre-tirement, where people choose to delay their retirement plans, change jobs, earn a living from a hobby, or go part-time, has become the new norm for retirees.”


  • Crafts There is money to be made in selling artisan goods such as knitting, candles, soap, handicrafts and wood carvings at fairs or online
  • Gardener Many householders are too busy to maintain gardens or lack green fingers and are happy to pay for help
  • Barista Coffee shops offer short daytime shifts, which can be appealing
  • Interior designer Home makeover television shows are testimony of the demand for advice on redecorating and furnishing houses
  • Handyman Some hardware chains like hiring older staff with DIY skills to advise their customers on the shop floor