Pub lunches and buying a pet: The low-cost lifestyle changes you can make to be happy in middle age

Emma Haslett
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Want to be happy? Get a pet (Source: Getty)

Alright, so the older generation may be the most well-off - but according to new research, splashing the cash won't necessarily make you happy.

A study by retirement income specialist Age Partnership has put together the definitive list of lifestyle changes over-55s can make to stay happy as they get older - and it turns out it's the little things that count.

According to the research, eating out once a month is the best, and lowest-cost, way to stay happy (although Age Partnership estimates this at a decidedly low-end £4.31 a week), followed by monthly organised day trips (£4.62 - won't get much bang for your buck there), and "being in a club" (£5.62).

Read more: Happiness of men over 55 boosted by cars and societies

Buying a dog or cat also ranked highly, at £22.75 a week - as did "high quality/M&S ready meals twice a week" - which, at £15.00 a week, is a treat worth giving yourself.

Meanwhile, those in older groups - over-65s and over-75s - said "buying gifts for grandchildren" would make them happiest. Aaaah.


  • Pub lunch once a month - £4.31 a week
  • Organised day trip once a month - £4.62 a week
  • Being in a club - £5.67 a week
  • Gifts for grandchildren - £14.48 a week
  • M&S ready meals - £15.00 a week
  • Getting a pet - £22.75 a week
  • Holiday - £23.44 a week
  • New conservatory - £153.85 a week
  • New car - £523.44 a week
  • Campervan - £769.23 a week

That said, if money is no object, going on holiday is apparently the lifestyle change most over-55s are hankering after, with 76 per cent saying it would improve their happiness, while buying a conservatory was also seen as helpful - although, at £153.85 a week, it's a pricey one.

Still, once retirement hits, it seems people are spending with gay abandon, according to separate research by Canada Life.

Spending among retirees has increased 53 per cent in the past 10 years, to £17,465 per household, its research suggested today.

And spending on "fun" - booze, "cultural pursuits", entertainment, restaurants and hotels - is outstripping the amount they spend on essentials (food and clothing). In fact, it's risen by £13.6bn in the past 10 years.

"The silver pound is growing in strength, and as the UK’s retired population swells, its spending power will only increase further," said Richard Priestley, executive director of Retirment Income. No kidding.

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