A key focus for the 2022 RRIP is housing and the impact it has on retirement for New Zealanders, with particular attention on the experiences of Māori and Pacific Peoples.

Overall research found that home ownership rates are declining due to a lack of affordable housing which has implications for both current and future retirees.

The underlying assumption of NZ Super was that Kiwis would reach retirement age with a mortgage-free house. As this changes, and more New Zealanders work longer to pay off mortgages or rent, the design of NZ Super may need to reflect this.

Long-term many New Zealanders will be renting or paying off mortgages beyond 65 years. By 2048, 40% of retirees will rent, equating to 600,000 people, which will impact New Zealand’s housing landscape creating the need for suitable housing stock as a cohort of older renters reach retirement.

Older people need appropriate and affordable housing.

Across the life course, people need housing that is appropriate to their needs, including affordability. Considerations for older people include accessibility, so that they can safely and easily move around their home, as well as having suitable connections to public or private transport.

In the past, many older people retired with a mortgage free house, although rates of home ownership were lower for Māori and Pacific Peoples. Even homeowners who were not mortgage free had the option to downsize, either to release equity, or have a more manageable living space.

However, the housing options available to seniors are changing, due to recent significant increases in house prices and fewer smaller houses (including fewer ‘pensioners flats’). More older people never became homeowners, or were required to sell their homes, so they are reaching retirement as renters.

Alongside this, there is a small but increasing movement towards alternative living arrangements, such as co-housing, some seniors are ‘flatting’, and there is continued use of ‘granny flats’ and multigenerational living.

Housing experiences for New Zealand adults aged 65 years and older

This research by Massey provides insights to better understand the housing experiences of older people. The report considered the housing situation of 65–74-year-olds and the 75 years plus using data from the Health, Work and Retirement longitudinal study.

Both age groups were generally well-housed and happy in their homes. However, there was an association of poor housing conditions with poor mental health, lower quality of life, and increased falls. Poor housing conditions include lack of neighbourhood satisfaction, accessibility, and trust (in neighbours). Due to the clear pattern of relationships shown between wellbeing and housing in older age, more planning must be put into the provision of appropriate quality housing and neighbourhoods for an ageing population.