11 March 2016

The life of the average UK 70-something

Today’s 70-somethings were born just after the end of the war – in the original austerity Britain. So how are they managing their money in the current financial climate, and what do they get up to in their spare time?

According to our research, those aged 65-74 are twice as likely to use a smartphone compared with 2012, according to Ofcom. Age UK reports that 62% of Brits over 70 hold a driving license . And Nuffield Health claims that septuagenarians are more likely to go to the gym than any other age group.

Following on from our recent study of people in their 30's, we surveyed a group of 70-somethings to find out what trends are emerging in the older population.

Money matters

The average income of a 70-something is £21,617, which mostly comes from State Pension and private pensions. 22% are still in full-time work, and 19% have income from investments.

Most of their income goes on housing costs and bills – 74% said this was what they usually spent their money on. Food and groceries, insurance and household goods were also high on the list.

With an average of £301 disposable income each month, few 70-somethings are big spenders, but when they do have some spare cash, they prefer to spend their money on travel (43%), eating out (51%) and groceries (44%).

The average UK 70-something has £5,226 in savings, and 74% are debt-free .

30% wish they had saved more, listing it as one of their regrets about life so far. 34% worry about saving money, and 28% worry about paying the bills.

Living situations

Of the 70-somethings who own property, it took on average less than 2 years to save up for their first house. But 21% have never purchased a home at all.

The average age of their first house purchase was 28.

The majority – 57% – live with a partner, 9% live with their children and 25% live alone. Of those who have a spouse or partner, the average length of their current relationship is 30 years.

Lifestyle choices

Despite not having a lot of disposable income, most septuagenarians get out and about regularly. Every month, they take on average:

  • 1.76 trips to restaurants
  • 1.36 nights down the pub
  • 2.82 visits to the family
  • 4.8 exercise sessions (including gym, walks expeditions).

The average number of books they read each year is 9.39.

Drama is their favourite genre of TV (69% prefer it) and favourite programmes include Dad’s Army, Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers. The average 70-something spends 16.3 hours watching TV each week.

The most popular musical genre is classical (20%), but pop is also popular, with artists including ABBA, Queen, Elvis Presley and Adele ranking in the list of favourite acts.

Favourite films among over-70s are: Titanic (28%), The Great Escape (28%), Shawshank Redemption (30%) and Schindler’s List (29%).

33% wish they had travelled more - something they have in common with many 30-somethings.

The typical 70-something

Relationship status: Married
Income: £21,617
Car: Ford hatchback
Hobbies and interests: socialising, travelling, DIY and time with grandchildren
Pets: Cat

Research conducted by OnePoll for Nationwide among 2,000 UK adults aged between 70 and 79 between 18 January and 1 February 2016.

Thinking about your financial future?

Explore our range of savings accounts

The content displayed on our recent news and articles page is for information purposes only, and is accurate at the time of publication. The information will not be maintained, and so we cannot guarantee that at any given time the information will be up to date or complete. Please verify any information you take before relying on it.

Nationwide is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites. Nationwide does not make any recommendation or endorse any advertising, products, services or other content on such external websites. Views expressed on third party websites are those of the public and unless specifically stated, are not those of Nationwide.

Most popular

Alfred’s story


We're taking a look back at our first ever mortgage customer in 1884, Mr Alfred Idle.

You may also be interested in...

Our helpful guides

We've created a range of helpful guides to help you make better financial decisions regardless of your circumstances. Find out more about owning property, growing wealth and planning for life events.

Our products

Whether you are after a current account, a savings account or even looking for a mortgage, Nationwide has a range of great products that could help you, no matter the situation.