Proactive Retirement Planning: A Checklist


Retirement is an exciting phase of life that allows you to finally reap the rewards of your hard work and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. Planning for this time in your life should not be left to chance; if anything, taking a proactive approach to retirement planning is key to ensuring a smooth transition into a safe and secure retirement.

At The Village Retirement Group, we understand the importance of thorough retirement planning and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve done all you can to prepare for your future. That is why we’ve put together a handy checklist to simplify the process and ensure you have all the bases covered to help you transition smoothly into your desired retirement lifestyle.

The Planning Essentials

Whether you’re in your 20s and looking to be proactive in your retirement planning or in your 50s with a family, the process remains largely the same. You should begin by considering when and where you want to retire and your desired retirement lifestyle.

Once you have these initial considerations, it is time to start planning for your retirement. This step involves determining how much income you’ll need to support your desired lifestyle, assessing your future income options, and lots and lots of budgeting. This may seem daunting; however, with careful planning and guidance, you can set yourself up for a fulfilling retirement.

Think About When You Want to Retire

The first thing you should think about when you dive into the world of retirement planning is when you want to retire. Whether you’re dreaming of an early retirement or planning to work a few more years, there are a couple of factors to consider, namely:

Do you want to retire completely, or do you want to semi-retire first?

Determining whether you want to retire completely or semi-retire first and continue working part-time plays a considerable role in deciding when to retire. Semi-retirement offers the flexibility of reducing work hours or exploring part-time opportunities while still savouring some aspects of retirement. This approach can provide a smoother transition from full-time work to retirement and allow for a gradual adjustment to a new routine.

Some individuals may prefer to retire as soon as possible, while others may choose to work a few more years or semi-retire to boost their savings and/or fulfil their personal goals. Ultimately, the decision about how and when to retire differs for everybody, but it’s important to know what you want in order to plan effectively for your retirement.

Do you have enough savings/superannuation to cover your expected retirement period?

Another important aspect of retirement planning is assessing your financial readiness. This involves determining whether you have enough income, savings, or superannuation to cover your expected/desired retirement period. For example, if you’re looking to retire in your 50s, do you have enough income to last the next 30 or so years?

If you’re retiring in Australia, it’s also important to know that although Australia doesn’t have a set retirement age, the national Age Pension only becomes available between the ages of 65 and 67 (depending on the year you were born). Keep this in mind, as it may influence your retirement budget, savings goals, and timeline.

Think About Where You Want to Live

When planning to retire, considering where you’ll live is a huge decision that requires a decent amount of forethought. When choosing your retirement location, there is no wrong or right answer, and the best option will differ for everyone. However, it’s good to think about:

Do you plan on staying in your current home?

If you plan to stay where you are, it’s important to consider how well-connected and accessible your current home is. Many retirees choose to stay in their homes, particularly if they’ve paid off their mortgage, but even more so because it’s where they feel most at ease.

However, you should consider factors such as accessibility, maintenance requirements, and whether your home may or may not be able to meet your future needs as you age. For example, do you live on a steep incline? Do you live on a large property that may become difficult to maintain? Consider whether your current home aligns with your vision for retirement or if you prefer to explore other, more supportive living options that better suit your desired retirement lifestyle.

Do you want to live close to family/friends?

One of the most important considerations when determining where you want to live is proximity to loved ones. For many retirees, being close to family and friends is a top priority. Other than the most obvious reasons, living close to family and friends can provide you with a support system and opportunities for social interaction when needed.

In times of need or during life’s milestones, having loved ones nearby can offer comfort, assistance, and a sense of security. Whether sharing a meal, celebrating a special occasion, or simply having someone to talk to, being close to friends and family in retirement can significantly enhance your retirement experience.

Do you need to live close to public transport or other amenities?

Another factor that may influence your decision on where to live in your retirement is proximity to essential amenities and public transport options. It may be hard to predict your future, but thinking about your potential mobility and accessibility needs can help you make an informed choice that supports your independence and convenience as you age.

Living in an area within close proximity to amenities and reliable public transport can make it easier to maintain an active and engaged lifestyle during retirement should you lose your confidence or ability to drive as you age.

Do you want to retire in a different state or country?

Some retirees dream of exploring new horizons in a different state or country when they retire. This can provide a fresh start, a much-needed change of scenery, a well-deserved change of pace, and the opportunity for new experiences. If this is your goal, consider the logistics of relocating, such as:

  • The country’s healthcare system
  • Do you need to meet specific eligibility requirements?
  • What are your rights as a pensioner/retiree in your chosen country?
  • Does moving states/countries impact your pension entitlements?

Consider Your Desired Lifestyle

When beginning retirement planning, the advice we always give is to envision your desired retirement lifestyle. Retirement is your chance to live life on your own terms, so look inward and consider what your ideal retirement lifestyle looks like and how much it may cost. Do you want to stay active, engage in hobbies, or pursue new passions? Or would you prefer a more relaxed pace, focusing on personal interests and spending time with loved ones?

Consider questions like:

  • Do you plan on travelling?
  • Do you plan on downsizing?
  • Do you plan on working/volunteering, etc?
  • Do you plan on moving into a retirement village or over 50s living community?
  • What hobbies or activities have you always wanted to do but never had the time?

Defining your desired lifestyle will help you set realistic goals and prioritise your retirement planning efforts.

How will your lifestyle in retirement differ from your current lifestyle?

Another one of our top retirement planning tips is to consider how your desired retirement lifestyle will differ from the one you’re living now. Retirement often brings changes in priorities, daily routines, hobbies, and the time you have to spend on various activities.

Knowing the difference between your ideal retirement and your current life can help you make more informed decisions about where to live, how to budget, and how to plan your retirement to make the most of your golden years.

How will your pre-retirement budget differ from your retirement budget?

As you probably already know, budgeting is key to savings – whether you’re saving for your next vacation or your retirement. A key aspect of planning for your desired retirement lifestyle is understanding the difference between your current and anticipated retirement expenses. A comprehensive budget should cover the following monthly costs:

  • Housing expenses (rent/mortgage, rates, body corporate, housing insurance, maintenance/upkeep costs)
  • Utilities (electricity, water, internet, gas)
  • Food (groceries, take out, dining out)
  • Personal care (clothing, toiletries, cleaning supplies, new household appliances/furniture)
  • Health (medical appointments, health classes, gym membership, medication, health insurance, special dietary needs)
  • Entertainment and Leisure (TV/streaming service subscriptions, games, hobbies, movie/theatre trips, holidays/day trips, social activities)

By comparing your pre-retirement budget with your retirement budget, you can identify potential gaps and make adjustments as needed. Don’t worry; it’s not as daunting as it sounds; we’ll cover this in the next couple of sections.

Assess your Future Income Options

Throughout your life, your salary typically acts as your primary income stream. However, as you enter retirement, your income inevitably changes. Moving from a consistent salary to more diverse income sources during retirement requires careful planning and consideration and will ultimately make your transition to retirement a hell of a lot easier.

It’s important to assess your estimated income streams against your future retirement living costs. Take into account your desired retirement lifestyle to ensure that you have enough financial resources to cover your expenses comfortably.

Retirement income streams generally involve:

  • Superannuation
  • Govt Age Pension
  • Personal savings
  • Income from investments, e.g. real estate, dividends, interest payments etc.
  • Salary (if you choose to work in retirement)

Consulting with a financial advisor who specialises in retirement planning can provide valuable insights into optimising your retirement income. They can also help you develop a strategy to maintain your standard of living while meeting your retirement savings goals.

Start Saving For Your Retirement

Once you’ve considered the above, it is time to start developing a robust financial plan for your retirement. It is one of the most pivotal retirement planning strategies we recommend, as it serves as the blueprint for your financial security and well-being during your retirement years.

As outlined in our Best Way To Save For Retirement article, setting a financial plan for your retirement involves numerous steps, including:

  1. Conducting a financial audit & setting your retirement savings goals
  2. Setting up voluntary automatic payments to your super
  3. Setting up salary sacrifice contributions
  4. Developing a smart investment strategy
  5. Reducing existing debt before entering retirement


Please take the above points as general guidance when developing a financial plan for your retirement. When you do want to get started, it’s important to work with a financial adviser. Doing so will allow you to create a comprehensive strategy that ensures you will have the money, information, and resources you need when you eventually retire.

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