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Some work and some play make a nice retirement mix, survey finds

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Retirement isn’t what it used to be, according to a recent Merrill Lynch survey. In fact, retirement may be more like work — and that’s by choice. The survey, conducted in partnership with Age Wave, found that 72 percent of pre-retirees over the age of 50 nationwide say work is part of their ideal retirement.

However, those surveyed in the Middle Atlantic region, which includes New Jersey, had their doubts.

For instance, although 89 percent of working retirees in the Middle Atlantic think retirement is the time for new beginnings, 47 percent say they are staying in the same line of work as before their “retirement.” Both figures exceeded the national average.

“What I see happen a lot of times is, (people) stay in the same industry, but not the same company,” said James Maltese, managing director of wealth management, Merrill Lynch. “Many go on to start their own business. They tend to start off with what they know, which is the industry that they’re working in, but they do it in a different fashion.”

Maltese said many corporate executives tend to stay in their industry, just not at the same company. Conversely, business owners and entrepreneurs may go in a completely different direction — even starting a new business in a new industry.

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“It’s about tweaking, I think, as opposed to making wholesale changes for most people,” he said. “The more they think about it in pre-retirement, the smoother the transition goes.”

On the bright side, 50 percent of Middle Atlantic working retirees found the balance that part-time work provides to be the ideal retirement — the best figure nationwide.

On the downside, only 30 percent agreed that retirement work is more fulfilling than pre-retirement work — the worst figure nationwide.

Maltese said his own professional observations tend to differ somewhat from the survey’s findings, however.

“My experience is that the people that we tend to deal with tend to be more toward the national numbers,” he said.

Part of that may be people discovering that the reality of retirement differs from their expectations.

“They know something different is happening, and they think there might be opportunities for them to enjoy their life more,” he said. “But they don’t know how.”

He suggests those in the pre-retirement phase take advice from working retirees when they can.

“It gives them perspective,” he said.

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Eric Strauss

Eric Strauss

Eric Strauss is the digital content editor for NJBIZ. He has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as for a number of websites. You can contact him at erics@njbiz.com or @acerimrat on Twitter.

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