Large numbers of cash-strapped householders expect to be still paying off their mortgages in retirement.
A third of people are also concerned about having enough money to live on when they give up work, according to research into pensions commissioned by Zurich Life.
The survey found that one in five of those with a mortgage is so heavily indebted they expect to be still paying off the home loan when they cease working.
An even higher proportion of renters have given up on dreaming of owning their own home.
Some four out of 10 people expect to be forever renters, according to the survey carried out by iReach Insights for Zurich.
A third of people are concerned about having enough money to live on when they retire.
Less than half of all workers have an occupational or private pension to supplement their State pension.
The research found that more women than men are facing into retirement without a pension.
And a third of those who do not have a pension say they have no intention of ever setting one up.
The State is planning to put a new auto-enrolment pension in place, one which will see those who do not have an occupational pension automatically enrolled into one.
But it won't be introduced until 2022, as the start date has been delayed a number of times.
The scheme will see workers contributing up to 6pc of their wages, with that amount matched by employers. The State will contribute €1 for every €3 put in by workers.
The State has been considering a pension plan for low and middle-income earners for 21 years now.
Zurich's head of retail distribution and propositions Jonathan Daly said his company's research found that 31pc of Irish people were very concerned about having enough money in retirement.
This proved that there was a significant cohort of Irish people who felt they should be contributing more for their later years, he said.
"Starting a pension is one of the smartest decisions you can make and the best way to ensure the lifestyle you want in retirement is to take ownership of it now, so that hopefully by the time you retire you'll have built up a substantial pension pot."
Over half of workers believe they should be personally responsible for looking after their retirement fund.
This compares with around a third of people who believe the responsibility should sit with the Government, and a further 18pc who believe that employers should be accountable, according to the survey.
Mr Daly said Zurich welcomed the publication last month by the Government of proposals on how the auto-enrolment system might work.
But he added: "However, auto-enrolment will not come into effect until 2022 at the earliest, so people should start planning for their retirement today by talking to a financial broker."
For those who plan to set up a pension in the future, just 12pc expect to do so in the next year, with most looking at one to five years.