More than 85 per cent of over 50s feel they retired too early, according to a large scale study by SunLife.
At a time when the talk in government is about raising the state pension age, currently 65 for men and 63 for women, amid fierce opposition, the survey of 50,000 over 50s seems to point to a desire to work longer.
For those over 70, almost 9 out of ten (88 per cent) said they feel they retired too early.
On average, those that are retired or semi-retired think they did so two and a half years too early. Those aged over 70 think they retired three years too early. Less than 10 per cent think they retired too late and just 5 per cent they got the timing right.
A fifth of retirees are earning money in other ways. Thousands of people who retired from their main job have gone on to start their own business, while 18 per cent earn money by doing things like selling items on ebay, renting out property, private tutoring, exam invigilating and working for the elections office.
Others are using their skills to make crafts and cakes to sell while others even model for art classes.
Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife said: “Our research shows that people aged 50 and over feel 10 years younger mentally and almost four years younger physically, so, far from being ‘over the hill’, people in their 50s, 60s and 70s are feeling fit, healthy and sharp, which could explain why so many feel they gave up work too early and why so many are starting new careers.”
One respondent switched her high-powered, high-paid job to work locally and it has changed her life for the better.
The 53-year-old said: “By leaving a very stressful job where I had to travel all over England, I am now working part time in the local coffee shop in my village and couldn't be happier. I earn a great deal less, but I am near home and my ageing father for emergencies. I don’t waste any time or money commuting, and feel quite happy."
Chris Daems, a director of Cervello Financial Planning, says: "I find while some of my clients continue with paid work after retirement but most opt for voluntary roles to fill the gap after work."