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It happens to all of us — one day, you’re in high school or college and dreaming of a limitless future. The next, you’re signing up for AARP and nervously wondering if your nest egg will remain uncracked long enough to sustain life throughout your suddenly imminent golden years.
Although the concept of retirement remains largely unchanged, how you live out those years has shifted dramatically. Following are seven key ways in which your post-work life is likely to differ sharply from that of your parents.
You’re more likely to delay your retirement date
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A growing number of Americans appear to have reached the same conclusion: Dreams of sipping colorful drinks on a deserted beach are just going to have to wait a while.
In a quarter-century, the percentage of workers expecting to retire after the age of 65 more than tripled, from 11 percent in 1991 to 37 percent in 2016, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
However, don’t get too discouraged by these numbers. Recently, American workers have become a bit more optimistic about their ability to retire early. The percentage of workers who plan on postponing retirement has dropped from 22 percent in 2013 to 13 percent in 2016.
Even more interestingly, the percentage of workers who actually retire after age 65 — as opposed to simply expecting to do so — remains more modest, rising from 8 percent in 1991 to 15 percent in 2016. And studies have shown that a substantial percentage of those who plan to work after age 65 will do so because they enjoy their jobs.
You’re more likely to live downtown than in the suburbs
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The stereotype suggests that retirees want a quiet home in the country, undisturbed by the noise of modern life.
The reality is quite different. In fact, retirees are flocking to urban centers to live out their golden years. AARP cites a report from TenantCloud, a property management software service, revealing that about one-third of all urban applications are for renters who are older than 60.
You’re more likely to head outdoors for fun
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Americans of all ages increasingly look to the great outdoors and nature when planning activities. Activities such as camping biking and birdwatching are growing in popularity among all age groups, according to the Physical Activity Council’s 2018 Participation Report.
Older adults are particularly drawn to anything that gets them out among wildlife, including fishing and wildlife walks.
Two activities long associated with retirement — golf and shuffleboard — are conspicuously absent from the list. That is more evidence that today’s retirement is not your parents’ retirement.
You’re more likely to be healthier
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Good news for aging folks who worry about their bodies suddenly falling apart: Today’s retirees can expect to enjoy much better health than retirees of earlier generations.
From 1998 and 2012, the percentage of adults ages 80 and older in fair or poor health dropped significantly, from 43 percent to 34 percent, according to an Urban Institute Report.
Alas, tomorrow’s retirees might not fare quite so well. Between 1992 and 2010, the percentage of adults ages 51 to 54 who reported fair or poor health jumped from 17 percent to 22 percent.
The source of this bad news? An increase in the rate of people diagnosed with diabetes, largely a result of our high-fat, junk-food diets and rising obesity rates.
You’re more likely to live abroad
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For generations, retirees have used their free time to travel. Now, a growing number of such folks are choosing one-way adventures, with no plans of returning home.
The percentage of Americans retiring abroad jumped 17 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to an Associated Press report. A little under 400,000 retirees are now expatriates, and that number is expected to grow.
Some countries are more attractive destinations than others. In fact, one country — Costa Rica– is especially desirable for its cheap, modern health care, as we reported earlier this year.
You’re less likely to downsize
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As workers near retirement, they traditionally have expected to downsize to more modest –and less costly — digs. However, that rule appears to be more myth than reality for millions.
A joint Merrill Lynch-Age Wave survey found that half of retirees did not downsize in their last move, with 30 percent actually “upsizing” into a larger home.
The reason? These retirees want the room for family members to visit or stay.
You’re less likely to leave an inheritance
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Better not show this one to your kids: An HSBC survey of workers in 15 countries and territories — including the U.S. — finds that 23 percent of today’s workers prefer to spend all of their savings rather than to leave the cash to children. In fact, just 9 percent intend to save as much as possible and pass the money on.
What other changes have you noted in today’s retirement life? Share your observations by commenting below or our Facebook page.