What is the retirement age in South Africa and being prepared

The retirement age in South Africa depends on how people plan for it. A Business Tech survey done in January 2022 reported that 76% of 2 702 readers save less than 15% of their salaries for retirement in South Africa. More startling is that 35% of this middle-class group indicated they don’t save. About 61% of the respondents allocate 10% or less of their income to their future. The upside is that 23% are putting away more than 20% of their income into savings.

In a similar survey conducted by 10X Investments in October 2021, they reported that 35% of respondents under 35 were optimistic they could meet retirement below the age of sixty in South Africa. Similarly, only 4% of respondents over 50 believed that to be possible.

71% believe they will need to work past the age of 64 or won’t be able to retire in South Africa.

what is the retirement age in south africa

You can work as a consultant after you retire.

What is the retirement age in South Africa?

These are concerning statistics when you consider that the retirement age in South Africa is between sixty and sixty-five years of age. Most South Africans only start thinking about saving for retirement when it’s too late. The younger a person begins saving; the less one needs to worry about retirement as it draws closer. 

The general rules of thumb are:

Age you start saving

What you should save


Contribute 15% of your income to retirement savings


Contribute 24% of your income to retirement savings


Contribute 43% of your income to retirement savings


Contribute 60% of your income to retirement savings

One also needs to consider that people are living longer with the advancement in health and technology. The retirement age in South Africa, or anywhere, will get later in life.

Five things to consider when planning retirement in South Africa

1. South African law on retirement

Non-government employees cannot be forced into retirement at any specific age unless the employment contract stipulates otherwise. 

Some private and public companies offer work as freelancers or consultants after retirement. Check with your employer if there are opportunities available like this before your retirement age in South Africa arrives. Discussing this before signing an employment contract would be even better.

Make sure your health is taken care of.

2. Use retirement vehicles to build equity

Life can be fleeting. You may wake up one morning realising you have hit your retirement age in South Africa and aren’t ready for it. You don’t want to be scrambling for something to keep you busy or the finances to do it.

Make sure you save as much of your income as possible in a savings vehicle like a provident fund or retirement annuity. Don’t withdraw these funds before your retirement age; otherwise, there are severe tax implications in South Africa. 

Without a will in place, sorting out an estate can be a battle.

3. Plan for your health needs

When your retirement age arrives, medical aid may disappear if your employer contributed to it. An employer won’t continue to fork out money for medical schemes. Discuss options with an expert and ensure the transition is seamless and covers all you need to stay healthy. Health risks hit an upward curve with age, so plan and budget before it happens.

4. A Will is a cornerstone for retirement planning.

Long before your retirement age in South Africa, you should have a Will in place. A will is vital whether you are wealthy or not, have many assets or not or have children or not. 

In South Africa, only 30% of citizens have a Will in place (2021), and most plan for it at the last minute. If you pass on without a Will, all of your assets become ‘intestate’. 

Intestate Succession means the government controls your wealth and decides how to manage what you have left behind. There are stories of families waiting up to 15 years to wind up an estate due to an invalid will or no will. You don’t want to leave your family the burden of sorting this out. 

Your retirement savings in South Africa can be passed onto your family without complications when your Will is solid as a rock. Fortunately, products like SmartWill make creating a Will seamless and comfortable as you can do it online from your couch. SmartWill ensures all of your assets are accounted for, kept safe and get into the hands of those you want to have them.

5. Are you emotionally prepared for retirement in South Africa.

Having a vision for your retirement age in South Africa is paramount. Once the emotional high of retiring is over, it is easy to feel lost. There can be a season of disillusionment as there is time available to you that wasn’t there before.

There may be feelings of boredom, loneliness and uselessness. If not expected and planned for, these feelings can lead to depression. Pursue a passion you couldn’t get to when you were working. Or do volunteer work and be sure to add some fun activities to your daily routine.