Retired Member Newsletter

What is retirement really like?

Retirement has a different meaning for everyone – from exploring the world, to finding a new vocation, to donating your time to a meaningful cause.

We sat down with three recently retired OMERS members to see how they are settling into their retirement. These interviews have been summarized here.


Karen Matthews

Age: 60
Retirement date: June 30, 2013
Former employment / employer: Human Resources Manager, Kingston Police
Lives: Kingston

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1. How long did it take for retirement to sink in? What are your retirement highs and lows?

The Monday after I retired, I woke up in bed and thought, “I’m so lucky I’m retired. I can do whatever I want right now.” It was a total sense of freedom. I adjusted quite naturally. I’ve been busy and look at retirement as another job. Some highs include biking, kayaking, volunteering and spending time with my husband and grandchildren. I volunteer with Home Base Housing, a not-for-profit organization that provides supportive housing services. I am also a director at the Municipal Retirees Organization of Ontario (MROO). It’s a great organization of retirees that help protect the pension and improve quality of life for OMERS pensioners.

Sometimes I find it a little difficult to find time to juggle everything I want to do – between activities and volunteer work. Sometimes I have to say “no” to commitments – that’s a low for me! Retirement is really a wonderful part of our lives.

2. What did you do to get ready to transition from the working world to retired life? How did OMERS help?

I planned to retire early, and my husband was already retired. I wondered how I could afford to do it. For one year, I tracked every expense in a spreadsheet. It was a revealing exercise. I took the amount of money I would receive if I got my pension and lived on that for a year. To my surprise, I had no problem achieving what I wanted for my lifestyle.

I also used the Retirement Income Estimator on myOMERS and contacted Client Services. OMERS was very patient when running my numbers. My pension came in right on time and it was the exact amount they said I would be getting. I was grateful for Client Services’ help.

3. What is on your retirement bucket list?

I’d like to do some more travelling and long hikes with my husband and spend time with our five grandchildren – it’s about living life to the fullest. I want to keep volunteering with MROO because it keeps me connected to retirees and people I wouldn’t have normally had the chance to meet.

Lori Kivi

Age: 59
Retirement date: July 31, 2016
Former employment / employer: Accounts Receivable, City of Thunder Bay
Lives: Thunder Bay

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1. How long did it take for retirement to sink in? What are your retirement highs and lows?

I eased into retirement comfortably.

After my last day of work, my husband and I headed to our summer place for a week to relax, fish and spend time with family and friends. In September, we went on a two-week road trip, throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, and we attended the Ryder Cup.

Retirement has allowed me to appreciate the little things more often than when I was employed. I can’t think of many lows!

2. What did you do to get ready to transition from the working world to retired life? How did OMERS help?

After 41 years working, it was a hard decision to make because I loved my job, but I felt like it was time to go. I thought about retirement while on holidays. When I returned, I met with Human Resources, who then contacted OMERS to see what I was eligible for. OMERS gave me information regarding my qualifying dates to retire with no penalty. That information made the retirement transition much easier. My interactions with OMERS were all easy and positive.

I also told my doctor that I was contemplating retirement, and he advised that I would need to keep both physically and mentally active. Point taken! Not long after this discussion, a volunteer opportunity became available with MROO, and I am now the alternate director for Zone 8. Even though I’m no longer working, I can stay active in the community.

3. What is on your retirement bucket list?

My husband is in pre-retirement, so we enjoy travelling together. We’ve visited Las Vegas, Portugal and British Columbia. We’re also going to Hawaii in April. I’ll continue to volunteer with MROO. In 2017, I will also get involved with the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Shawn Gaffney

Age: 61
Retirement date: April 1, 2014
Former employment / employer: District Fire Chief Mississauga, Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services
Lives: Waterdown

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1. How long did it take for retirement to sink in? What are your retirement highs and lows?

I had a couple of weeks of vacation to use up before my official retirement date. A retired friend phoned early one morning and asked if I had “done it yet.” I asked what he meant. He replied, “Check your bank account. Your OMERS pension will be in the bank this morning and you didn’t have to go to work!” That is when it sank in. Things haven’t really changed for me, as my wife is still working and I keep pretty busy. The low point is that I had an opportunity to work with some terrific firefighters and wonderful people and their spouses who have unfortunately passed away far too soon to fully enjoy their retirement years.

2. What did you do to get ready to transition from the working world to retired life? How did OMERS help?

I attended several OMERS seminars over my last 15 years of employment. I always read the annual reports and information on omers.com. A couple of recently retired firefighters told me that the biggest adjustment would involve managing your finances differently, as you only get paid once a month rather than bi-weekly. Other than that, everything is great. I think Wayne Gretzky gets credit for the saying, “I miss the dressing room, not the game.”

3. What is on your retirement bucket list?

My wife and I stay healthy to get as much return on my OMERS pension as possible, at least until we’re 95. Since retiring, we have done two cruises through the Panama Canal and the Baltics. I am working part-time as a travel consultant and I hope to increase my current list of over 65 countries and islands visited. We have another Caribbean cruise next February and are heading to Ireland in March.

Do you have a retirement story to share with your fellow OMERS retirees? For a chance to be featured in an upcoming communication, contact us through our Website Feedback.

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