Retail from the Golden Age has been a challenge

Retail from the Golden Age has been a challenge

In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees discuss their spending, savings, and whether life after work is what they expected.

After more than 30 years in infectious disease research and public-health microbiology, I retired in the spring of 2022, a few weeks before my 64th birthday. My last post was as acting director-general at the National Microbiology Laboratories in Canada. I was also an associate professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Manitoba, Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease.

The biggest obstacle to me was adapting to a less demanding and hectic lifestyle after dealing with outbreak responses ranging from West Nile virus, Zika, H1N1 and the COVID-19 pandemic. I often miss the excitement of dealing with these public-health concerns, but I found it was time to move on to a more leisurely lifestyle. I wanted to retire while I was still in good health and could still be a active retiree.

My retirement meant that I would enjoy more outdoor activities like golf, biking and gardening in the spring. It was a pleasure to relax and concentrate on activities like reading, writing and cooking for my girlfriend and our friends. I have a number of things to do in retirement, such as volunteering, relearning how to play the piano, some non-scientific writing and travel.

As a graduate student, I had some work to help me wind down including writing book chapters and research papers and helping graduate students from the university. After about a year into retirement, NML asked me to take on some part-time jobs. It helps me keep a toe in public-health microbiology activities and infectious disease science. And since the job is part-time, it hasn't affected my retirement schedule, including the number of golf games I sign up for.

I was well-prepared for retirement with a pension and my own personal investments. I also have a rainy day fund and am mortgage-free. I made the decision to take my Canada Pension Plan benefits at 65, even though the payments would be higher if I waited longer. My goal was to enjoy the money earlier rather than later and have a robust foundation of savings and investments to draw from in retirement.

I'm not worried about my retirement money despite the market's ups and downs, despite rising inflation and the market's ups and downs. I do look for deals on groceries and other household items on the weekly sales flyers. I used to tease my dad when he retired, and now I'm doing the same thing.

My advice for anyone heading into retirement is to plan for the change of pace and lifestyle. What are the different stages of retirement. If you are older, your health could change or you may not be fit as you age. My friends were surprise when I decided to retire. They couldn't envisage me not working as a 'lab rat' and being challenged by the next emerging infectious disease. My interests and hobbies have been improved, but I have adjusted well, and I look forward to learning and doing new things to supplement my current interests and hobbies.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Are retirees from Canada interested in discussing what life is like after leaving the workforce? The Globe is looking for people to take part in its Tales from the Golden Age feature, which examines the personal and financial ramifications of retirement.