Unretiring: Thinking of going back to work?

Unretiring: Thinking of going back to work

Are you retired but thinking of going back to work? Unretiring is becoming increasingly common. There are lots of different reasons why some people decide to return to employment or start a business, and it’s not always due to financial pressures. If you’re currently considering your options, we look at some pros and cons of unretirement.

“One in 10 retirees have returned to work or are considering doing so.”
Paragon Bank

During the pandemic, there was a surge in early retirements. As a result, many people thought they could retire comfortably but are now looking to return to work. But finance isn’t the only reason people unretire; it can be due to social and health reasons.

Why are people going back to work?


For some people, retirement might not be living up to their expectations. When you have been working all your life, especially in a fulfilling career or business, retirement could seem a little lack-lustre. Without a clear plan of what you will do with your new free time, you might become bored and need mental stimulation. If you have worked in a team or alongside colleagues for many years, you might also miss the social aspect of being at work.


At the time of writing, many people are experiencing the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. As a result, an increasing number of people are returning to work to pay the bills. A study by Paragon Bank revealed that 42% of surveyed retirees felt worse off this year compared to 2021, and 4% returned to work in 2022. In addition, rising energy, fuel, and food bills are forcing retirees to find funds by selling shares and by dipping into their pension savings.


Many people complain about their fitness levels falling after retirement. However, depending on the type of job you did before retirement, you may have enjoyed a greater level of fitness. For example, walking to and from work or carrying out manual tasks. In addition, the pandemic has led people to start prioritising their health, which includes staying active and a greater focus on wellbeing. A good level of physical fitness also helps to maintain your mental health.

Unretiring – the pros and cons

Whether it’s for financial, health, or social reasons, unretirement has advantages and disadvantages.

Here are some of the pros of unretiring:

  • Stay connected socially. Many people miss the daily “banter” of work colleagues and workplace outings and can feel socially isolated in retirement.
  • Earn extra income. Top up your pension and savings so you have more money to pay the bills and enjoy your lifestyle. This could also give you greater financial security when you finally do retire.
  • Maintain fitness levels. Whether you had a manual job or a lengthy walk to work, staying active will keep you physically fit, boosting your health and mental wellbeing.

Here are some of the cons of unretiring:

  • Reduced free time. Don’t underestimate the lack of your newfound free time. If you are going back to work for social reasons, why not list some activities where you can meet new people? Various groups designed for retirees include fitness, crafts, and sports clubs.
  • Stress and responsibility. Although returning to work might seem like a good idea, the novelty can soon wear off once you’re back to dealing with daily workplace problems.
  • Potential tax problems. The Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA) applies to anyone drawing flexible pension benefits. So, you will need to ensure you don’t fall into a tax trap. Please speak to our team for tax relief advice on pension contributions.

If returning to work on a full-time basis is too much for you, then you could consider semi-retirement. This might involve working part-time, setting up a small business, or a ‘side-hustle’ to bring in some extra income. For more information on taking early retirement, see our previous blog, Are mini-retirements the new early retirement?

Returning to work after you have retired is a big step and needs to be considered carefully. If you’re thinking of going back to work, make sure you have discussed your situation with a professional financial planner. We can help you plan your income, so you can enjoy your current lifestyle and protect your savings for when you finally retire.

If you are considering retirement or unretiring, get in touch to speak to our financial planning team for advice.