When would be the right time to retire? This thought would have crossed our minds several times. Two or three decades back, if you posed this question to someone, the answer would have been an easy and obvious one- finish education, join an organization, have a stable career with hardly any job changes during the working years, and retire at the stipulated 58 or 60 years of age with all accumulated terminal benefits- PF, gratuity and pension and lead a simple retired life with this corpus. But today, given the job uncertainty and frequent job switches, increased cost of living and lifestyle problems and stress, when to retire has become a difficult decision to make.
After some thinking and feedback from people, I have arrived at the conclusion that in the current times, there is no ideal retirement age and it all depends on two main factors, apart from health, of course, which is an area of concern as one ages.
Your work profile
People working for MNCs and private organizations- the ones which pay very well, but also extract a lot of work with people most often than not working on weekends and travelling frequently for work. These people are aware that they will not be able to sustain such a hectic work life for long, hence aim at building an investment portfolio, saving enough for themselves and their kids and then calling it a day, without waiting to turn 60- the standard retirement age.
For those employed with government organizations and PSUs and leading a stable career with fixed working hours and holidays and a pay hike every few years or on promotion, these prefer to stick on to the job, enjoy all the fringe benefits provided by the employer, and retire at the normal retirement age with a decent pension and savings in the form of PF/gratuity.
Then, there are those of us who are entrepreneurs- self employed, and really enjoying their work. Such people usually tend to work beyond the retirement age, till their health permits, as for them work is their passion, not just a means of livelihood.
Financial status and responsibilities
People with a sound financial status through savings or inherited wealth can afford to think of retiring early. Same goes for people with high paying jobs and less dependents- the DINKs (Double income no kid) or the DISKs (Double income single kid) as they are known. It is not uncommon to see such people take semi retirement. They quit their jobs early, and take up some fancy hobbies or part time assignments which are close to their heart and which also gives them some income. But those who are in the middle class or upper middle class, self made and with dependents cannot afford do so.
But in general, an important thing to keep in mind is, while retiring early allows you to enjoy a longer retirement period, it means that one has less time to build up a sizeable retirement kitty. And those who retire late are able to save more, but get less time to enjoy it!