New Zealand Seniors’ latest report found that more than one in three (35.8%) New Zealanders over 50 are considering moving to a different region, despite 2020 and the state of the property market.
The new Living Purposefully in 2021 report is part of the New Zealand Seniors Series, a research programme focused on better understanding the latest attitudes and perspectives of Kiwis over 50. With over 500 senior Kiwis surveyed, the study found the most motivating factor for wanting to relocate is the cost of living (35.1%), followed by wanting to be closer to family (25.3%). Over a third (36.0%) of respondents wanting to move indicated the regions are the destination of choice, and seven in 10 (70.9%) were looking to move closer to the coast.
Wendy Alexander, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ), said, “In the last three years, the national median house price has risen by 47.6 per cent from $560,000 to $826,300, so it’s not surprising that the cost of living is the number one driving factor behind seniors looking to relocate to a different part of the country.
“Many seniors may be looking to take advantage of cost savings that can be achieved by moving to a more affordable part of the country - especially if they’ve been unable to pay off their mortgage before retiring, which is becoming more commonplace in recent years.”
Despite New Zealand’s skyrocketing property market, just over one in 10 (13.2%) have considered or purchased an investment property over the last year.
Therese Waters, New Zealand Seniors Spokesperson and Head of Communications, Content & Research at Greenstone, said, “We conducted this research to better understand how Kiwis over 50 have adapted following 2020 and how this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has shaped their view of the future.
“An overarching theme of the research, and perhaps unsurprising, was that this demographic places huge importance on family. Given the fact COVID-19 forced many families to be apart last year, they are now looking to spend more time with their loved ones and possibly relocate to be closer to them.”
“It’s also reassuring to see that this group are largely optimistic about the future. Given the tumultuous and uncertain time that we are living in, it is great to see that New Zealand’s shift and strong response to the pandemic has given them hope for the future of their country,” added Waters.
According to the report, the events of 2020 has seen nearly three-quarters (72.3%) of Kiwis over 50 experience some shift in their pre-COVID mindset. The most considerable shifts focused on world issues (48.7%), learning to not worry about the small things (42.6%) and the desire to spend more quality time with family (39.9%).
Priorities also shifted with over half (58.2%) placing more importance on their health. Connecting with family and friends (49.2%), and how they spend their money (41.0%) were also areas they have prioritised after COVID.
Almost two-thirds are inspired to get more out of life (64.5%). Travel is at the top of the list of bucket lists, with over half (53.3%) acknowledging they are likely to take a big holiday within New Zealand this year. Two-fifths (43.7%) said the life of a grey nomad is appealing. Two in 10 (23.4%) agreed it provides a sense of freedom, and state they simply like travelling (22.4%).
Despite the drastic events of the last year, seniors still feel mostly positive. They feel optimistic about their families (90.8%), their local communities (88.1%) and New Zealand’s future (83.0%). In contrast, three-fifths (62.2%) are pessimistic about the future of the world.
“This past year has been incredibly difficult for everyone and there is no doubt that we have all had a shift in mindset. However, the new priorities of seniors may be different to the rest of New Zealand,” said Dr Ngaire Kerse, the Joyce Cook Chair in Ageing Well, University of Auckland.
“Given the nature of the pandemic and its effects on the age group, it’s understandable that the Kiwi Seniors are rating their health as their top priority.”
“But it’s no surprise human relationships were also high on the list of importance for Kiwis over 50. Given we were all kept apart from our loved ones over various lockdowns, half of seniors are now prioritising connecting with their family and friends.
“In tough times, it is common for community bonds to strengthen, particularly in later life. It’s refreshing to see that this age group felt overwhelmingly positive about their relationships following the year we had,” added Dr Kerse.
Further insights from the research can be found on the New Zealand Seniors website here.