The grey-t escape – how the average 70 year old lives today

  • The average 70 year old spends more than 11 days a month being socially active
  • Annual income is only around £3,000 less than that of the average 30 year old
  • A third are still in some sort of employment
  • Has six times more debt than they have savings

The average 70-something prefers Elvis to Cliff Richard, reads nine books a year and most likely drives a Ford, new research reveals.

Most septuagenarians get by on just over £300 disposable income a month, a third are still employed and the average 70-something still has £31,504 of debt, results showed.

They receive 24 family visits a year and rate The Shawshank Redemption as the best film, with Only Fools and Horses unbeatable when it comes to TV.

The study of 2,000 people in their 70s found the average respondent had been in a relationship for more than thirty years.

Regrets? They have a few – mainly that they should have travelled more, while one in seven lamented the one that ‘got away’ where a romantic pursuit didn’t work out.

Other regrets were found to be wishing they’d saved more and having a better job too.

The research, commissioned by Nationwide Savings, also found classical music was the most popular genre of choice, closely followed by pop.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, 71, Britain’s most famous explorer, said: “While getting old can be a pain in the neck, it’s a pleasure to see that it’s not just adventurers of my age who are still active and are actually far better at keeping up with ‘the times’ than younger generations might think.”

The average yearly income for a person in their seventies was found to be £21,617 – slightly less than the average 30 year old who pulls in £24,763.

A third of those polled are still employed, while the same number get by living on a private pension, according to results.

On top of that the average respondent has £5,227 in savings but just under £27,000 of mortgage debt still and credit card debt of just over £1,500, results showed.

Once bills and other spending is accounted for, the average respondent had £300 of disposable income each month – preferring to spend it on eating out, followed by holidays abroad

And the average 70-year-old manages one trip overseas per year, results showed.

They’re also most likely to drive a hatchback and will do five active things per week – most likely the gym or a long walk.

And when not being active they’ll watch more than 16 hours of TV per week – with Only Fools and Horses, The Two Ronnies and Fawlty Towers rated the best shows.

When it comes to films the most popular was The Shawshank Redemption, followed by Schindler’s list and The Great Escape.

Queen narrowly pipped ABBA to the post of best-loved music act, while the Beatles and Elvis Presley were also among the top five.

Those aged 70 plus are slightly more likely to have a cat than a dog, but over half the population studied did not have a pet.

Health is the driving worry for people upon reaching their seventies, though a third still worry about saving money day to day and more than a quarter worry about paying their bills each month.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, Head of Savings and Mortgage Policy at Nationwide Building Society, said: “Age is just a number - so it's encouraging to see our latest life stage study breaking some common misconceptions by highlighting the active lifestyle of many 70 year olds, along with their working status and spending habits.

“That's not to say that older people are without worries - with health and wealth remaining concerns for many. Both show the importance of preparing for retirement, keeping active and protecting what's important.”


  • ANNUAL INCOME: £21,600
  • OVERALL DEBT: £31,504
  • MORTGAGE: £26,851
  • CREDIT CARD: £1,518
  • OTHER DEBT: £3,135
  • SAVINGS: £5,227
  • CAR MODEL: Ford
  • FAVOURITE FILMS: Shawshank Redemption, Schindler’s List, The Great Escape
  • FAVOURITE TV SHOWS: Only Fools and Horses, The Two Ronnies, Fawlty Towers
  • TV TIME PER WEEK: 16 hours 20 minutes
  • FAVOURED TV TYPE: Drama, Documentary
  • BOOKS READ: Nine per year
  • FAVOURITE MUSIC: Queen, ABBA, The Beatles
  • FAVOURED MUSIC TYPE: Classical, pop
  • EXERCISE PER WEEK: Five sessions – gym or walks
  • BIGGEST WORRIES: Health, money, partner’s health
  • BIGGEST REGRETS: Not travelling enough, not saving more, romantic partner that got away
  • RELATIONSHIP: Married – together for 30 years 5 months on average
  • PET: Cat
  • TIME IT TOOK TO BUY FIRST HOME: 1 Year 8 months

Notes to Editors

1 The poll of 2,000 adults aged 70 to 79 was carried out for Nationwide by online market researchers,, and took place between 18 January and 1 February 2016.


  1. Queen
  2. ABBA
  3. The Beatles
  4. Elvis Presley
  5. Buddy Holly
  6. The Beach Boys
  7. Bee Gees
  8. Neil Diamond
  9. Frank Sinatra
  10. Nat 'King' Cole


  1. The Shawshank Redemption
  2. Schindler's List
  3. The Great Escape
  4. Titanic
  5. The Dam Busters
  6. The Bridge on the River Kwai
  7. The King's Speech
  8. The Sound of Music
  9. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  10. The Graduate


  1. Only Fools and Horses
  2. The Two Ronnies
  3. Fawlty Towers
  4. Dad's Army
  5. Downton Abbey
  6. Allo 'Allo!
  7. Last of the Summer Wine
  8. Steptoe and Son
  9. Blackadder
  10. Are You Being Served?

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