A study of 2,000 UK adults who are either planning to, or have taken an early retirement, found that more than a third (32 per cent) wanted to enjoy the freedom of being unemployed while still being healthy and fit enough to enjoy it.
The second most popular reason behind the decision to retire early was financial security, with 26 per cent saying they could afford not to work.
While a quarter of those surveyed said they would like to retire by 60, 20 per cent of people said they will be aiming to leave working life by the age of 55.
Other factors influencing people’s decisions include the desire to spend more time with their family or finding that working is too taxing and stressful.
Of those that have retired early, 68 per cent said they are happier and 44 per cent said their relationships with family members had improved. An additional 34 per cent said they now have better friendships.
While early retirement resulted in better personal lives, it also negatively impacted the finances of almost half of those (47 per cent) that had taken it.
Aviva, the insurance company who carried out the survey, said the pandemic had led people to reevaluate their priorities.
“The turbulent times we’re living through have given many people pause for thought to consider their work-life balance and think more seriously about what makes them happy,” Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva said.
“Our findings suggest the dream of an early retirement is very much alive and kicking, but there are many factors to consider along the way and the current uncertainty about the future does not make this an easy decision.”
McQueen said those who aspire to retire early should implement “small saving habits”, such as putting aside any end-of-year bonuses for the future.
“It’s also important to learn from the lesson that, while happiness soars in retirement, many people find their finances take the strain when they retire early and money worries are one of the biggest factors resulting in people returning to work,” he said.
“If you aspire to retire early, it’s vital you plan your finances to be sustainable for the long-term.”
Additional reporting by PA