We reported on a new piece of Ipsos research sponsored by Sun Life Financial in February that found the average Canadian retiree is living on 62% of his or her pre-retirement income. While that number is below the standard 70% that many financial advisors recommend to clients, it’s high enough to support a positive view of retirement among 88% of survey respondents.

National averages don’t tell the whole story, though. The 2,006 retirees surveyed by Ipsos range in age from 38 (we had 3 at that age, believe it or not) to 80. To better understand how retirement can evolve as Canadians grow older, we segmented the data by respondent age. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus primarily on retirees in the age groups 55 to 65, 66 to 69, 70 to 74 and 75 to 80.

Here are 4 key findings:

1. Spending in retirement holds pretty steady across age groups

On average, retirees estimate spending 24% less than working Canadians on a list of basic monthly expenses that includes food, housing, healthcare, leisure/travel, entertainment, transportation, income tax and savings. In total, spending remains more consistent than we expected. Retirees age 70 to 74 spend about $300 less a month in comparison to their counterparts age 66 to 69. That’s due primarily to a drop in leisure/travel, entertainment and transportation expenses. Spending rises among retirees 75 to 80, largely as a result of increases in housing and healthcare costs.

Average monthly spending among retirees

  All retirees 55-65 66-69 70-74 75-80


















Income tax






























Total monthly spending






2. Likelihood to travel drops off at 75

There’s a real shift at age 75 in the percentage of retirees who say they travel regularly inside or outside Canada. Twenty-seven per cent of retirees 75 to 80 say they travel outside Canada regularly and 21% say the same about travelling domestically. On average, 37% of retirees 55 and older travel regularly outside (and 26% inside) the country on a regular basis.

3. Retirees 75 to 80 are less likely to say their emotional health has improved in retirement

More than half (55%) of retirees 75 to 80 say their emotional health has improved since leaving the workforce. Not a bad result, but that figure is lower than for our other retiree segments. On average, 63% of retirees 55 to 74 say their emotional health has improved.

4. Early retirement can be boring

Among retirees 55 to 65, 19% say their retirement is boring. (A remarkable 37% of retirees between 45 and 54 say the same.) Just 11% of 66-to-69-year-olds, 10% of 70-to-74-year-olds and 9% of 75-to-80-year-olds are bored. Similarly, 36% of 55- to 65-year-olds say they’re less intellectually stimulated in retirement compared to when they worked.

On a more optimistic note, an impressive number of retirees say they’re surprised by how exciting life is after work. Among retirees 55 and older, 18% say that’s the biggest non-financial surprise they’ve experienced in retirement.

When we plan for retirement, it helps to recognize that how we live our lives and how we spend our money can change over time. As the likelihood that you will live a couple of decades or more in retirement increases, a holistic retirement plan that takes into consideration your evolving income needs is more important than ever.

Dive deeper into the complete Retirement Now report