Life after retirement

What can you expect?

To find out, we spoke with Wayne McNiven about his retirement, pension and active lifestyle as a recent retiree in Sidney by the sea.

What was your profession before you retired?  

I worked at Vancouver Community College as an instructor. The program, called Career Awareness, helped students with learning difficulties prepare for work.  I did that for 30 years and loved it. I also became quite involved in the union – I was  a  shop steward for about 12 years – and did a lot of work with a variety of committees within the college community.      

When did you start planning for retirement?

I retired two and a half years ago. I started planning really seriously about five years before that. The College Pension Plan is incredible – I love it. Right from the get-go, when I started investigating, I found that everyone was so helpful; there were also many workshops available and a very friendly user website. When I talk to people [about retirement] I tell them you need to go to this site, you need to register and you need to start planning.  

Being so active with the various committees at Vancouver Community College, I realized that I would need activities upon retirement. One of my big interests was art, so about five years before, I took that more seriously and got involved with art courses which has become a very fulfilling activity right now. In fact, one of my paintings is presently at an art exhibit at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster.

I would say, plan early for retirement – because the more information you have available as you progress towards retirement, the better it is.

How do you spend your days now that you’re retired?

Moving [from Vancouver] to Sidney has been wonderful. We did it backwards; most people sell their house and move into a condo, but my partner and I had always lived in condos and then we moved into a house. It’s a completely different ball game because there’s so much involved, but we’re loving it. There’s a huge garden, so I’ve been out there about four hours a day getting that in shape.

Health has become more of an interest, too. I’ve always been a healthy person and did exercise, but I think it’s so important, as you retire, to keep up your health and do lots of physical activity. We recently got a puppy, so we probably walk six to eight kilometers a day with our dog. And then of course, you meet all those people with dogs – it’s like a whole new world out there!

How did you feel when it was time to stop receiving a paycheque and start receiving your pension?

I had mixed feelings because I loved my job so much, but as the date approached, I just became so excited about leaving. Essentially I just eased into retirement. My partner said it took him two years to ease into retirement, and it took me two cocktails!

One of the things I’ve heard from so many people who’ve retired is, “how did I find time to work? It’s so busy.” And you know, that’s true; one gets involved in so many things!

What advice can you give about retirement?

Plan ahead. Be informed. Talk to other people. I think getting involved is a good way to plan, as well. Explore activities that you have an interest in so you can leave work and get into these things outside of work. Be active because that’s so important.

And if you have any baggage, let it go; retirement is about enjoyment! At work you think “who’s going to do this when I leave?” – but actually that’s all in our heads!

Having a pension has made a world of difference. I am very fortunate to be part of a healthy and supportive pension plan. Prepare now while you’ve got the time.


Wayne McNiven, retired member

“Plan early for retirement, because the more information you have…the better it is.”