What Is Retirement Really Like?

November 01, 2017
Whether your retirement is 30 years away or just around the corner, you may wonder what life in retirement is like with an OMERS pension. OMERS sat down with retired member Max Sutton to learn more.
Max Sutton

Name: Max Sutton
Age: 70+
Retirement Date: March 31, 2001
Former Employer: Burlington Hydro

  1. What did you do before retirement?

    Before retiring, I worked at Burlington Hydro as a technical support analyst in the Information Technology (IT) department. My job involved hardware, software and communications, which was always interesting. Throughout my career, I witnessed the changes to the IT industry – migrating from tape, disk, desktop terminals, laptops to today’s world of smartphones, apps and web technology.

  2. Tell us about your family, interests and hobbies.

    I have a wonderful family. My wife, Dianne, and I recently celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary. We have three married sons and four wonderful grandchildren. The grandchildren are at a fun age, and we always enjoy attending their sporting events.

    I’m passionate about diving and have been fortunate to do a lot, especially in retirement. I’m an advanced dive instructor for recreational diving, as well as a nitrox instructor for technical diving. My other passion is learning about my family’s history. I enjoy tracing the Sutton ancestry. Fortunately, I was left with a large volume of information, passed on to me from my late relatives, so I can build on that.

  3. How long did it take for retirement to sink in? How did OMERS help with your transition?

    I took early retirement in 2001, as OMERS offered a window without penalty if I chose to retire. In some respects, I didn’t plan well enough. I actually missed working, so I returned to the workforce by taking part-time work. After nine months, I realized I wasn’t happy, so I stopped working. I really didn't have a plan until that time. I was replacing work with work, so my transition took a year before I was comfortable.

    I attended every workshop or available OMERS information session in my last five years of employment, where I learned a lot about my pension. Dianne and I also hired a financial planner to review our finances and make recommendations – a critical decision for us. I also learned about the Municipal Retirees Organization Ontario (MROO) and reached out for answers. MROO provided options and answers to decisions that have to be made when you lose your group health and life insurance benefits, usually at age 65.

  4. What are you excited about in your retirement – both short term and longer term?

    Dianne and I will be going on a comprehensive trip to China and other parts of Asia, likely a cruise, in early summer 2018. We have read and heard so much about the wonders of that part of the world.

    We know, in time, that we will be moving, so the word "decluttering" comes up very often. Both of us are committed to paring down what we own. We believe in donating, and much of our material things go to homeless shelters or missions. If we were to stay in our home for many years, I would renovate our kitchen. Kitchens are where we live — good things happen there.

  5. What advice and/or tips do you have for OMERS members approaching retirement?

    I would suggest that there are two phases in planning your retirement: look at the financial side and look at what you want to do in your retirement. When you have the answers, your retirement will be easier. There is a lot of advice to listen to, so start with OMERS, join MROO and meet with a financial planner. You will be amazed at how they analyze your situation.