Pensioners 'shunning seaside retirement for upmarket cathedral cities'


Wealthier pensioners are increasingly shunning the traditional dream of a retirement by the sea in favour of living in an upmarket cathedral city or a bustling market town, a report has found.

St Albans, Salisbury, Kendal, Bury St Edmunds, Yeovil, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bangor in North Wales are among the top places affluent retirees are flocking to, according to credit checking company Experian.

Experian said that with a growing pensioner population as people live for longer, several diverse groups of retirees are emerging.

It identified four distinct groups - Smarties (senior market town retirees) who have moved to smaller market towns to enjoy a comfortable retirement; Diamond Days - an elite group of jet-setting pensioners who tend to live in the South East of England; Senior Security - pensioners who are financially comfortable but tend not to take risks; and finally Vintage Value - who are among the country's poorest pensioners.

Using profiling techniques, Experian looked across the country to see where these different types of pensioners are most likely to live.

The top towns for the elite Diamond Days retirees - a breed of "affluent suburbanites" who tend to be in good health, are mortgage-free and have large amounts of spare cash after retiring from high-flying careers - include St Albans, Epsom, Guildford and High Wycombe.

Meanwhile, the Smarties are part of a growing trend of better-off retirees who instead of staying in the family home or moving to the coast as they might have done in the past, are downsizing and freeing up some cash to enjoy life in an attractive town or small city.

Experian said pensioners in the Smarties group are in particularly high concentrations in Dorchester, Salisbury, Bury St Edmunds, Yeovil, Kendal, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bangor.

Richard Jenkings, lead consultant at Experian, said of the wealthier pensioner groups: "In the past, people would go on holiday to the seaside and then a lucky few would then retire to those same resorts.

"Today we still see this happening, but a rising trend is for better-off retirees to move not to the traditional seaside resorts, but instead to pleasant, often historic, cathedral cities and quality market towns.

"Furthermore, our research shows that the elderly, affluent suburbanite is a now well established fixture in parts of the UK, particularly in the South East of England. These folks typically have significant amounts of disposable income and are looking to enjoy life to the full in their golden years.

"In general they will be in better health, have higher pensions and savings and be more active than most pensioners of similar age. As a consequence, their consumption of goods and services is likely to be higher than their less affluent peers."

Experian said firms could be missing a trick if they fail to fully recognise the power of the "grey pound".

It said there is an increasingly tech-savvy set of over-65s, with large amounts of disposable income, demanding more from brands in terms of products and offers tailored to their needs.

In the travel and tourism industry, for example, the over-65s now spend £1.3 billion more on travel per year than they did 10 years ago, while the under-35s spend around £920 million less, Experian said.

Separate consumer research from Experian found 68% of over-55s describe themselves as financially comfortable - although 29% of this group are still concerned about their financial future.

Among those who describe their finances as comfortable, 78% are mortgage-free, 27% have more than £100,000 in savings and 12% own properties as investments, the research among 2,000 people found.

But the research also found a substantial gap between the "haves" and "have-nots". Some 30% of over-55s said they are not financially comfortable - and of these, 22% expect to be paying their current mortgage into their 70s or later.

Meanwhile, among the more risk-averse Senior Security group, the seaside resorts of Blackpool, Torquay and Southend-on-Sea are particularly popular, according to the findings.

Pensioners in the Senior Security group tend to have chosen to remain in the family home rather than selling up and they are less likely to have invested in new technology.

Many pensioners in the Vintage Value group can be found in Sunderland, Motherwell, Merthyr Tydfil and Bootle, the research found.

Experian said that with their health needs growing and incomes declining in this elderly group, many will need increasing levels of support.

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