The New Zealand Seniors Series: Living Purposefully in 2021

The New Zealand Seniors Series: Living Purposefully in 2021 The Living Purposefully in 2021 report forms part of the New Zealand Seniors Series and explores the subject matters that are important to our senior community.

A little over a year ago, New Zealand was plunged into our first ever lock-down. The COVID-19 pandemic had hit our shores and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern chose to “go hard and go early”. As a nation, we have been lauded across the world as having the best response to the virus, but us Kiwis were far from unaffected.

For a nation represented by a flightless bird, we sure love flying and sadly COVID-19 put a massive halt on all the exciting things we were looking forward to in 2020, such as – travel (both internationally and domestically). Forced to self-isolate and socially distance from our loved ones, our time at home over various lockdowns had us reflecting and thinking about what we truly want in life – now and in the future.

The Living Purposefully in 2021 report forms part of the New Zealand Seniors Series and explores the subject matters that are important to our senior community. Surveying 500 New Zealanders over 50, this chapter explores our ambitions, change in life perception, retirement plans and the thoughts we have around mortality.

infographic of survey data

Although the events of 2020 altered our frame of mind, it wasn’t necessarily in a negative way despite what we experienced. If anything, we reflected in a positive way.

In fact, almost three in four (72.3%) of those surveyed experienced a shift in mindset following 2020. A common mindset change was around learning not to sweat the small stuff in life, with four in ten (42.6%) stating that they wanted to stop worrying about the little things in life. These findings make practical sense, seeing as COVID-19 had forced all of us to live in the present, not knowing what the next day, month, or year would bring.

Unsurprisingly, almost two in five (39.9%) want to focus on spending more quality time with loved ones in 2021 and beyond. On the flip side, only two-tenths (18.0%) said they want to focus more on spending time by themselves and doing things they want. Those surveyed have also become more conscious and focused on the issues of the world and what’s happening around them (48.7%), while only 16.5 percent are avoiding issues that don’t directly impact them.

After a year of uncertainty, having yo-yoed in and out of lockdowns, we truly learned the art of being prepared for the unknown.  Subsequently three in four (77.1%) have adjusted priorities.

Health tops the list (58.2%) followed by maintaining connections with family and friends (49.2%) and being mindful of our spending (41.0%).

Half (50.6%) are looking to save more money, and similarly (50.3%) spend less money. About a quarter (25.2%) are looking to sort out a will and testament this year.

Despite perceptions that the hot property market is made up of first-home buyers and investors, over a third (35.8%) have either already relocated, or are considering doing so, with the regions becoming the destination of choice for over a third (36.0%). Meanwhile, seven in 10 (70.9%) have already moved or are looking to move closer to the coastline. The cost of living (35.1%) is the biggest driving factor for those looking to relocate, followed by wanting to be closer to family (25.3%).

Going through self-isolation over the course of the pandemic had many of us reflecting on what we wanted to do post-lockdown. Almost two-thirds (64.5%) noted 2020 has made them consider what they want out of life a bit more, and just over half (51.5%) of are pondering their purpose in life.

One in five (20.1%) have a bucket list, and a further one in five (20.9%) would like to have one. International travel comes in as the top item on this list, with over two-fifths (41.0%) looking to travel outside of New Zealand. On the other hand, many want to explore their own backyard and travel domestically (21.8%). For those that have a bucket list, more than a third (35.3%) changed and/or rearranged the list of items over the last 12 months. 

Despite all the turmoil that came from the pandemic, the majority are feeling overly positive when it comes to family (90.8%) and local communities (88.1%). Possibly due to New Zealand’s fast and firm response to the global pandemic, four in five (83.0%) are hopeful about the future of New Zealand. Sadly, as the pandemic continues to rage overseas, we do not have as much hope for the rest of the world, with just over a third (37.8%) saying they felt optimistic for its future.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of the New Zealand Seniors Series – a report for seniors by New Zealand Seniors.