Retiree's life is like that of a retired

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Retiree's life is like that of a retired

Retirees in Tales from the Golden Age discuss their expenditure, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.

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

My biggest challenge was adapting to a less demanding and busy lifestyle after dealing with outbreak responses ranging from the West Nile virus, Zika, H1N1 and the COVID-19 pandemic. My excitement of dealing with these public health concerns is often lost, but I felt that it was time to move on to a more leisurely lifestyle. I was still in good health and able to be a active retiree while I wanted to retire.

As I retired in the spring, I began to enjoy more outdoor activities like golf, biking and gardening. My girlfriend and my friends had a great time relaxing and focused on activities like reading, writing and cooking. I have a list of things to do in retirement, such as volunteer work, relearning how to play the piano, some non-scientific writing and travel.

I had some work done to help me wind down including writing book chapters and research papers and helping graduate students from the university. After a year, 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. The work is part-time, and it has not affected my retirement schedule, including the number of golf games I sign up for.

My own personal investments and a pension were all that was necessary for me to get ready for retirement. I also have a rainy day fund and am mortgage-free. My benefits on the Canada Pension Plan were higher if I took it at age 60, even though I waited longer for the payments. I wanted to enjoy the money sooner rather than later, and have a strong foundation of savings and investments to draw from in retirement.

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

My advice for those heading into retirement is to plan for the change in pace and lifestyle. Also, consider the different stages of retirement in your life. As you grow, you may not be as physically fit as you'd think, or your health could change. My friends were surprised 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. However, I have adjusted well, and look forward to learning and doing new things to supplement my current interests and hobbies.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Are retirees in Canada interested in discussing what life is like now that you are no longer working? The Globe is looking for individuals to participate in its Tales from the Golden Age, a feature that explores the personal and financial ramifications of retirement.