• 33% of Gen Z prioritise property over pensions – 15% more than Baby Boomers
  • Older generations more likely to rely on pensions – with 42% of Baby Boomers using this to fund retirement
  • Gen Zers face greater difficulty getting on housing ladder, with only one in ten (10%) currently having a mortgage,
  • Standard Life outlines the importance of building a diversified portfolio to fund retirement

A significant number of Gen Z (people born in or later than 1996) believe property will be their main source of wealth in retirement, according to new research1 from Standard Life’s Retirement Voice report, which reveals different attitudes between generations when it comes to funding life after work.

A third (33%) of Gen Z intend to use property to fund their retirement – slightly ahead of those who plan to use pensions (30%). This is in contrast to older generations, with Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) favouring a reliance on pensions (42%) rather than property (18%), while more Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) also see their pensions as their main asset in retirement (36%) rather than property (22%).

Percentage favouring property or pension to fund retirement

  Property Pension
Gen Z 33% 30%
Millennial 22% 36%
Baby Boomers 18% 42%

Furthermore, when it comes to how different generations view their home in financial terms, 35% of Gen Z see it as a source of wealth that they can draw on if needed, particularly during retirement, compared to only 24% of millennials and Gen X, and 20% of Baby Boomers.

Unrealistic expectations?

While many young adults intend to use their property as their main source of retirement income, Standard Life’s research, conducted among more than 6,000 people, highlights that this may not be a realistic expectation, especially given the nature of the housing and mortgage market today. Just one in ten (10%) of Gen Z currently have a mortgage that they could have started paying off, while 20% are worried about the prospect of having to pay off a mortgage in retirement. Longer lives think tank Phoenix Insights estimates that, based on current expectations, over 13 million people are likely to face ongoing rental or mortgage costs in retirement2.

Commenting on the property vs pension question, Dean Butler, Managing Director for Retail Direct at Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group said: “The fact that those closest to retirement age favour pensions gives us an insight into what most people end up doing when it comes to their retirement income. Both options have their merits but for young people it’s perhaps understandable their initial focus is on property given the significant barriers to getting on the housing ladder today. Relying on one asset alone for your retirement can be risky, so it’s sensible, if at all possible, to build up a more diversified portfolio that’s made up of different funding options and not to overlook the benefits of pensions as well as easy access ‘rainy day’ savings.

“Pensions have a number of advantages such as tax relief on contributions, and people who contribute to a pension through their employer (a workplace pension) will also benefit from employer contributions, as well as potentially benefiting from investment growth. On the downside, pension savings can’t be accessed until the minimum pension age of 55 (rising to 57 in 2028), and people with a Defined Contribution pension will need to assess how long it needs to last when considering how much to save and how much to take each month in retirement, unless they take an annuity.

“With property, there’s the option to sell before the minimum pension age but for most people, their property will be their home – so to access any money they’ll have to downsize, move to a cheaper area or consider equity release. Equity release can be valuable for people without any other assets but it’s important anyone considering this takes advice to make sure it’s right for them.”



Sarah Muir
07870 397539

James Merrick
Standard Life
07974 063067


Notes to editors:

1 Boxclever conducted research among 6,350 UK adults. Fieldwork was conducted 26th July – 9th August 2023. Data was weighted post-fieldwork to ensure the data remained nationally representative on key demographics.

2 The Longer Lives Index

About Standard Life 

  • Standard Life is a brand that has been trusted to look after peoples’ life savings for nearly 200 years 
  • Today it proudly serves millions of customers who come to Standard Life directly, through advisers and through their employers’ pension scheme.
  • Standard Life is part of the Phoenix Group, the largest long-term savings and retirement business in the UK. We’re proud to be building on nearly 200 years of Standard Life heritage together
  • Our products include a variety of Pensions, Bonds and Retirement options to suit people’s needs, helping our customers to invest and save for their future. We’re proud to offer a leading range of sustainable and responsible investment options.
  • We support our customers on their journey to and through retirement with comprehensive, easy-to-understand guidance so they can invest in the right way for their needs, and plan a future they feel confident about.
  • The value of investments can go down as well as up, and may be worth less than originally invested. 

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