Comfortable vs modest retirement – how much will I need?

You may have grand plans for travel, leisure and living the good life in retirement, but how easily will these things be within your reach?

When the daily grind is getting us down, it’s easy to dream of retirement as a utopian time where we’ll have the freedom – and money – to enjoy life to the full.

But how easily will the reality live up to our expectations?

You may have heard references to how much money you’ll need for a comfortable retirement.

Assuming you own your home outright and are relatively healthy, the current figure stands at $43,695 a year for single Australians and $60,063 a year between the two of you if you’ve got a partner.1

But what exactly does a comfortable retirement look like? How does it differ from a modest retirement lifestyle, at $24,270 a year if you’re single, or $34,911 a year for a couple?2

We take a look at a few key areas to see how your retirement budget might affect your lifestyle, according to Super Guru

However, this is a guide only – everyone has different priorities and ideas about what constitutes a comfortable lifestyle.  

And with careful planning, and clever budgeting and saving, you’ll be in a better position to get the most out of your money, so that even those living on a more modest retirement budget may still be able to afford some of life’s little luxuries. 


It’s estimated those living a comfortable retirement lifestyle will be able to afford one annual holiday in Australia, while those on a modest retirement budget will be limited to one or two short breaks close to home each year.3 Of course, saving over a few years will give you different options.

Dining out

If you’re living on a comfortable retirement budget, you should be able to regularly eat out at restaurants, while those on a modest budget will probably only be able to afford infrequent meals at cheaper restaurants.4

Enjoying a drink

Bottled wine is within reach regularly for those with a comfortable retirement budget. A modest retirement budget may only extend as far as cask wine.5

Your home

A comfortable retirement budget may enable you to update your kitchen or bathroom once in a 20-year period, but those with a modest budget will probably only be able to afford repairs, not renovations.6

Your car

You should be able to afford to buy and run a reasonable car on a comfortable budget, but a modest budget means you’ll probably have to settle for an older car.7

Leisure activities

If you plan to regularly take part in a range of leisure pursuits, you’ll need a comfortable retirement budget. A modest budget is likely to only cover one paid leisure activity, done infrequently.8


If how you dress is important to you, you’ll probably need a comfortable retirement budget to afford to update your wardrobe regularly with good quality clothes, as on a modest budget it’s likely you’ll need to be more careful with what clothes you buy and you won’t be able to update as frequently.9


Just Cuts or pensioner special day will most likely be the limit for you if you’re living off a modest budget in retirement. To afford a better salon, you’ll need to be living a comfortable retirement.10

Are you on track? 

If you’re not sure if you’ll be able to afford the retirement you’ve fantasised about, check your super balance to see where you stand. If you’re an AMP customer, you can do this by registering or logging in to My AMP.

You can also compare your super balance to the average in your age range in Australia, to see how you stack up against your peers.

If you’re on track for a comfortable retirement, it is estimated that singles will need retirement savings (calculated in today’s dollars and assuming you draw down all available capital and receive a part age pension) of $545,000, and couples will need $640,000.11

It’s not too late

If you had grander plans for your golden years, but you’re not currently on track for the type of retirement you want it’s not too late to do something about it.

There are several ways you can give your super a boost including:

For more help in achieving the standard of life you want in retirement, speak to your financial adviser or, if you don’t have an adviser, find one using our online tool or by calling us on 131 267.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.