How Much Do You Need to Have for a Comfortable Retirement?

With many of us now saving into a workplace pension, it can be easy to assume we’re on the right path to retirement and tick off pension planning on our to-do lists.

Thanks to auto enrolment, most of us are now placed directly into the pension scheme without having to take any action, with pension payments automatically deducted from our monthly wage. Auto enrolment has made a massive difference into growing pension pots, however with the low levels of engagement now required to set up a pension, it can be easy to overlook the actual amount we are saving and how this might play into the bigger picture of life after work.

When you search the internet for a definitive figure of how much your pension should be, you will likely be met with a myriad of percentages and fractions which can be overwhelming and confusing. This vast range of figures exist because everyone’s retirement picture looks different, for example, carrying on mortgage payments into retirement could absorb a large chunk of pension, while others may not have this expense. The amount you need to live on in retirement will vary from person to person and depend on several factors such as outgoings and lifestyle.

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has established the Retirement Living Standards to help you picture the kind of lifestyle you could have in retirement and how much you will need to achieve it. The aim is to cut out the confusion that often surrounds retirement planning and give tangible figures for people to aim towards.

The standards are based on 3 categories of lifestyle:

• Minimum - Covering essential needs with some left over for fun
• Moderate – Offering more financial security and flexibility
• Comfortable – More financial freedom and some luxuries


The standards illustrate that in general a single person will need about £10k a year to achieve the minimum living standard, £20k a year for moderate, and £30k a year for comfortable. The hope in introducing these figures is that going forward they will be become a rule of thumb in everyday life similar to the “5-a-day” concept. Like 5-a-day, this can be briefly summarised as 10k-20k-30k or for couples, it's 15k-30k-45k. Within these categories there are also detailed breakdowns of approximately how much would be spent on items such as food and drink, clothing and leisure so it is easier to paint an entire picture of how your pension will be spread across costs.

  Single Couples
Minimum 10k 15k
Moderate 20k 30k
Comfortable 30k 45k


Considering your pension value sooner rather than later can make a huge difference in ensuring you are on track to lead the lifestyle you want in retirement. For more information on the Retirement Living Standards visit

Use our My Pension tool to view your current pension value and perform calculations to see how much your pension would increase if you remain in the scheme until retirement.

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