£21,000 a year is the minimum needed for a comfortable retirement

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October 14, 2021 - Steve Collier

£21,000 a year is the minimum needed for a comfortable retirement

How much income do we need in retirement? It’s a question that can be difficult to answer, but new research tells us that we need at least £21,000 a year as a single person to live a moderate lifestyle, rising to £35,000 if we are living as a couple.

More of us are saving in a workplace pension than ever before: but we also have more information, more choices, and more responsibility for our retirement savings. It can be overwhelming.

Whilst many of us are saving for the future, not all of us know exactly where we are heading with this plan, and if the sums we are saving will achieve the future lifestyle we expect.

The new research report called ‘The Retirement Living Standards’ hopes to help answer these important questions. The research has been independently carried out by Loughborough University, and has been developed to help us to picture what kind of lifestyle is achieved based on very solid retirement income figures.

The standards within the report show what life in retirement looks like at three different income levels – minimum, moderate and comfortable – and what a range of common goods and services would cost for each.

An income of £21,000 a year is defined as a moderate retirement living standard, and covers a typical single person retiree’s basic needs. These calculations are based on the assumption that a mortgage has been paid off and that the person is living outside of London.

To provide an idea of the lifestyle £21,000 a year provides, the researchers tell us that a person could expect that it would cover:

  • Paying for some help with property maintenance and decorating each
  • Budget for a £47 weekly food shop.
  • Have a 3-year old car which is replaced every 10 years.
  • Holiday for 2 weeks in Europe and a long weekend in the UK every year.
  • Budget of £730 for clothing and footwear each
  • Afford to spend approximately £30 for each birthday present


The report suggests that £11,000 a year of income would provide a single person with ‘minimum’ income level, and for a couple £17,000 is needed. On the other end of the scale a single person with 34,000 per year would enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, and this rises to £50,000 for a couple living together.

Having a retirement savings pot big enough to provide this level of income for life can feel daunting. However most people save for retirement in a number of different ways. For many people their private and state pensions (full state pension for 2021-22 is £9,339 per year) can make up a significant proportion of this income.

The Retirement Living Standard Report is intended as a guide for those planning their retirement savings and can be the first step towards answering that very personal question: how much do I need to save? It is the first step towards defining a clearer, personalised financial plan.

An independent financial adviser can help you to take the next steps, to explore your existing saving plans and to ensure you are on track to meet your goals.

To find out more about saving to retirement, to have your existing pension plans reviewed or if you are approaching retirement age to find out how to turn savings into an income, then reach out to our Furnley House team of advisers who can help. Call 0116 269 6311 or email info@furnleyhouse.co.uk





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