Revealed - what's really on the bucket lists of Britain's over-55s?

18 August 2015

  • Seeing the Northern Lights comes top of the post-55 bucket list
  • Travel dreams make up seven of the top 10 wish-list experiences
  • But one in seven don’t expect to tick off any of the items on their bucket list

Seeing the Northern Lights, travelling on the Orient Express, and enjoying a round-the-world trip are the activities that most over-55s would like to tick off on their ‘bucket list’ of things to do before you die, according to new research from Prudential1.

The freedoms to access pension savings that came into force in April have renewed debate and speculation among many people about what they and others would do if they received an unexpected windfall.

Prudential’s research reveals that 90 per cent of over-55s have a bucket list of activities they would still like to tick off and it aims to separate the fact from the fiction by identifying what really makes up these lists.

Travel dominates the bucket list for most over-55s – accounting for seven of the top 10 most popular activities. Nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) of those aged over 55 say they would like to see the Northern Lights in their lifetime, making it top of the list, while 28 per cent dream of experiencing the luxury of travelling on the Orient Express and over a fifth (22 per cent) want to go on a cruise. Other foreign adventures on the list include visiting one or all of the Seven Wonders of the World (18 per cent), and 13 per cent have set their sights on travelling along Route 66 in America.

In many cases the bucket lists are far less glamorous than many would imagine – the eighth most popular choice, listed by 14 per cent of over-55s, is very simply to retire. That figure is no surprise when compared with responses to previous research by Prudential where one in 10 of those who’d planned to retire in 2015 said they’d now have to stay at work until they’re over 71 years old before they could afford to give up. 

The findings showed a relatively high degree of pragmatism among the over-55s, with one in seven (14 per cent) admitting they don’t really expect to fulfil any of the ambitions on their bucket list.

The research also shows that for some people it’s never too late to learn or to start something new. Nearly one in eight would like to learn a foreign language, and one in 12 have the ambition to write a film script or a book when they have more time.

Stan Russell, retirement expert at Prudential, said: “Many people view retirement as a golden opportunity to do the things they’ve always wanted to do, and our research shows a bucket list with a mix of exotic and pragmatic ambitions. Planning ahead to help achieve a retirement income that will support these ambitions is vital.

“With all the options now open to over-55s wishing to access their pension savings, a consultation with a professional financial adviser is even more important to enable savers to achieve the lifestyle they desire when they retire.

“Irrespective of the recent changes to the rules, the fundamentals of pension saving remain true – saving as much as possible as early as possible during your working life is the best way to secure the most comfortable retirement.” 

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