Thursday, 19 November 2009

Not as bleak as I thought

I found out some good news.
  • By the time I reach state pension age in 2033, I will have worked exactly 30 years and 4 months--just enough to qualify for the full state pension. I have sent in my pension forecast application to see how much that would be, but as a rule of thumb I've done some preliminary figures using the 'average' state pension.
  • I used a Social Security calculator to see what I would qualify for having worked for 15 years in the US. It was more than I thought.
  • I sent off to Arkansas Teacher Retirement to see what I will receive based on the years I taught in the US. It was more than I expected, PLUS I can start drawing it 7 years before I reach state pension age here. So I can be investing that money!
  • I am in a local government pension scheme, which it turns out is the best pension scheme available in the UK. It will leave me better off than I thought.

So I took these sketchy preliminary figures and added them together. According to that first draft of a forecast, I will be drawing pretty much the same amount in retirement that I earn now. If the same is true for Derek (we are working on his now), then our income in retirement will look a lot like it looks now. Which means if we never get to buy a house, it doesn't matter. If we can afford rent now, we can afford rent then. I can't imagine us ever needing to live better than we do right now. We are perfectly comfortable with our level of spending and our lifestyle.

I'm trying to be realistic about this whole house-owning thing. Until the early 20th century, the majority of people in the UK did not own their own homes (only 30% did). In Europe today, 2/3 of Germany rent their accommodation. Half of Austria does. Of course, in Europe they enjoy much stronger tenants' rights, but still. Owning a property is not the be all and end all of existence, nor is it a guarantee of security for the future. It's just a big fat headache is what it is. And a major financial burden.

Maybe someday we'll buy a house, but if we never do, I'm not going to sweat it anymore. I'd rather have a big fat pension than a miserable little house.

Anyway, I have an interview next Wednesday for a job in a library near where hubby works, which whould be a promotion for me, and our chance to move to the south of the county where things are 'nicer' (if more expensive). It's just a temporary 12-month post, but I can take it as a secondment, if I decide to take it, so at least I'll be assured of a post in the county council when the year's up. Nervous about it--it's all human resources. But I guess experience in that field would be good to have. People always need HR.

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