How much do I need to retire in New Zealand?

By MAS Team | 23 March 2023

Many people want to know how much money they need to retire. It’s a question without a single answer – the amount you need depends on what kind of lifestyle you want to lead. 

Keep reading to learn more about how much money you need to retire.

Planning for a good retirement

Starting to plan for your retirement is one of the most important, and most ignored, financial questions in most Kiwis’ lives. In 2022, Te Ara Ahunga Ora, the Retirement Commission found 65% of people aged over 55 had no plan or only a “vague plan” of how they would fund their retirement. 

Most of us will qualify for New Zealand Superannuation when we turn 65, and the majority of us contribute to a KiwiSaver scheme, but for most Kiwis, this won’t be enough to pay for the kind of lifestyle they imagine they’ll have when they stop working. 

Life would be a struggle on NZ Super alone

When you turn 65, you will probably start receiving New Zealand Superannuation. As of February 2024, a single person living alone gets $992.74 a fortnight (after tax) and a couple gets $1,527.28 a fortnight (after tax). The reality is New Zealand Superannuation on its own may not be enough to live on.

This means you will probably need additional savings from KiwiSaver and other investments to achieve your desired lifestyle in retirement. How much extra? Well, that depends on the lifestyle you want and how long you live. The good news is that the earlier you start, the more time you have to save for a comfortable retirement. Learn more about KiwiSaver for every life stage.

an elderly retired couple sitting on a beach watching the sun set

What kind of retirement lifestyle do you want?

A good place to start figuring out how much you need to save for retirement is to use the MAS KiwiSaver Retirement Calculator. By inputting a few simple details, you can find out if you can expect to have enough income in retirement, as well as how long your money might last. The calculator also allows you to test different KiwiSaver contribution rates, to determine whether you are currently contributing enough to achieve your retirement savings goals. 

Our KiwiSaver Retirement Calculator uses data from Massey University’s New Zealand Retirement Expenditure Guidelines which calculates how much weekly income people need to live in retirement. The calculator provides expenditure requirements for three different lifestyle options in retirement: Basic, Comfortable and Custom.

Notes

The calculations below assume you invest in a balanced fund, retire at age 65, and your life expectancy is age 90. They are also based on you living mortgage free in your own home by the time you retire.

Basic retirement budget

According to the latest Massey University New Zealand Retirement Expenditure Guidelines, published in 2023, a basic retirement budget for an individual living in a metro area (i.e. Auckland, Wellington, or Christchurch) that provides a modest standard of living is expected to require $42,966 a year. If you’re a single person, you’ll receive $25,811 from NZ Super annually (after tax), leaving a shortfall of $17,154 each year in retirement. The research suggests you would need to save an additional $355,000 (in today’s dollars) to cover your retirement income gap.

So even if you are looking at a modest lifestyle with few luxuries, it’s important to start saving for retirement as soon as you can.

Comfortable budget

The next step up is a ‘comfortable budget.’ This means you’ll still have to be careful with your money but you will be able to live with a little more freedom. For example, you’ll have enough to choose more expensive items in the supermarket and maybe take an inexpensive holiday now and then.

A comfortable budget for an individual living in a metro area is assumed to require $60,480 a year. After receiving $25,811 from NZ Super annually (after tax), you will have a shortfall of $34,669 each year in retirement. The Massey report suggests you will need to save an additional $717,000 (in today’s dollars) to cover your retirement income gap.

What if you want more in retirement? 

You may want more than this for your retirement if you’d like to travel more, continue giving to charity, and have the financial freedom to help family and friends.              

If you fit into this category then you should think about the lifestyle you want to live and how much it will cost. 

To fund a retirement lifestyle that allows for these extras, you will need to save a bigger nest egg than those on a comfortable budget. The MAS KiwiSaver Retirement Calculator allows you the option of selecting your own living expenses in retirement.

a retirement savings jar of coins being held by someone

How to increase your retirement savings

If your results using the MAS KiwiSaver Retirement Calculator are short of the income level you want in retirement – don’t panic! There are ways to boost your savings.

You could consider increasing your KiwiSaver contributions or starting another investment programme to build your retirement nest egg. 

If you’re a professional earning a good salary and you’ve still got 20 or more years until retirement, you’d be surprised what disciplined investing can do for you. Some people even manage to achieve financial independence that allows them to reduce the amount they work well before they reach 65. Learn more about FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) strategy.  

If those options aren’t available to you, there are other ways to supplement your NZ Super once you get past 65. 

Many Kiwis continue to work past 65 either by choice or necessity. Many MAS Members who work in professions choose to continue working either full-time or part-time well past 65 to either supplement NZ Super, to continue building their retirement nest eggs, or simply because they enjoy what they do. 

Family homes are also a significant source of retirement money for many Kiwi homeowners who have paid off their mortgage and choose to downsize from their large family home or take out a reverse mortgage, which are offered by several New Zealand banks.    

Make a plan and take advice 

No matter what your financial situation and age, the most important thing you can do now is to start making a financial plan for your retirement. When it comes to money, nothing is more true than the old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

If you’re already a MAS Member then your greatest planning resource might well be our MAS Advisers. Unlike many other financial advisers, MAS Advisers aren’t paid commission, which helps ensure their advice aligns with your best interests.

Talk to one of our helpful advisers today or learn more about MAS KiwiSaver.

Medical Funds Management Limited is the issuer and manager of the MAS KiwiSaver Scheme. The Product Disclosure Statement for the MAS KiwiSaver Scheme is available here.  

MAS only provides advice on products offered by its subsidiary companies. Advice is provided by MAS or by its nominated representatives (who are all MAS employees).

Our financial advice disclosure statement is available at www.mas.co.nz or by calling 0800 800 627.

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