COVID-19's impact on the lifestyle of people over 50 | Stannah

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Written by Nathan at 23rd June 2021

COVID's Impact on the Lifestyle of People Over 50

COVID's impact on senior lifestyle

Key Takeaways:

  • 1 in 10 respondents over 50 were interested or had moved to a new location due to the pandemic. 
  • 1 in 3 people over 50 planned to semi-retire.
  • On average, people over 50 were looking to work 21 hours per week in semi-retirement.
  • 58.4% of people over 50 planned to travel during their (semi-)retirement. 

Covid’s impact on the lifestyle of people over 50

The unexpected and devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have had a significant impact on the global population. Although the pandemic has affected everyone in some way or another, the lives of people over 50 seem to have changed most significantly.

These lifestyle changes have had weighty consequences that won’t soon be forgotten. However, looking at these changes through an optimistic lens, they have given people over 50 the opportunity for more flexibility such as the ability to work remotely, move to new destinations, and go into semi-retirement. 

Many people over 50 have had to adapt their plans in terms of work, retirement, and living arrangements due to COVID-19. For some, this provided welcome lifestyle adjustments, but for others, it derailed their carefully laid plans. 

To find out exactly how the older generation felt about working remotely, semi-retirement, moving locations, and pandemic-caused lifestyle changes in general, we surveyed over 1,000 U.S.-based participants over the age of 50. This survey was designed specifically to determine how this generation has been most impacted by COVID-19.

What’s it like working in a remote landscape?

To start, we asked respondents about their sentiments on working remotely and its advantages and disadvantages. Working from home instead of the office has been one of the most significant changes caused by the pandemic. For a generation who has spent most of their adult lives working from offices based on the traditional 9-to-5 structure, this was a profound shift.

When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely, people over 50 seemed to find the lack of a commute (75%) and saving money on gas and transportation costs (72.9%) most beneficial. Similarly, participants found the flexibility of choosing their own working hours (53.9%) and an improved work-life balance (46.3%) to be very advantageous. Although there were many pros in working from home or remotely from another destination, respondents did dislike some aspects of the experience. Namely, a lack of relationships with co-workers (41.4%) seemed to be a bigger con than feeling isolated or lonely (27.4%). Additionally, 31.5% of participants disliked video meetings. This was most likely exacerbated by a lack of adequate technology or knowledge as most homes weren’t exactly work-from-home ready when the pandemic struck. Most importantly, it seems as though people preferred a choice about where they work, and 44.5% of respondents said they would like to return to in-person work tomorrow if it was safe to do so. 

Reasons for moving to a new location

Next, we asked participants if they had moved or planned to move because of the pandemic and what made their new location more desirable than their last one. The pandemic persuaded millions of Americans to move – mostly out of big cities. With extended lockdowns, cramped city living spaces, and the ability to work or learn remotely, many chose to move to more desirable locations. 

It seemed as if people over 50 had followed this relocation trend, as more than 1 in 10 respondents had moved or were planning to move in the near future. However, it is interesting to note that the desire to move varied depending on age. For example, 13.2% of people in their 50s and 60s had moved or were planning to move to a new place, compared to only 3.6% of people in their 70s.

Although the majority of Americans moved to locations where they could enjoy more space, people over 50 had other reasons in mind. According to respondents, areas with a lower cost of living (62.5%) were most desirable. This age group was also more likely to move to locations with warm climates (44.8%) than a cold climate (5.2%). Other factors that played a role in their decisions were available opportunities for activities and hobbies (55.2%), as well as proximity to family (35.4%).

How the pandemic has changed retirement plans

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only severely affected the economy but also people’s personal finances. This has forced many individuals to reconsider the timeline for their retirement. 

As a result of this global crisis and strain on the economy, many people over 50 didn’t feel secure enough to retire according to their original plan. One in 10 respondents had made changes to their retirement plans due to the pandemic.

Although many people felt the need to delay retirement completely, a number of participants were considering semi-retirement. Investopedia states that semi-retirement is when people choose to gradually transition between working full time and retirement by reducing their working hours. Of the respondents we polled, 15.4% were already semi-retired, and 17% were planning to semi-retire. Because of pandemic-related restrictions, the majority (67.4%) planned to work remotely while semi-retired. Even though full retirement may not be possible for some people, there are many benefits to being semi-retired. Participants indicated that the reduced stress and pressure (72%) followed by having more time to spend with family (52.1%) were factors. Furthermore, 44.2% stated that semi-retirement would give them more financial flexibility, while 41.5% felt that semi-retirement would keep them from getting bored at home. Nearly 1 in 5 of our respondents further considered keeping their work-provided health insurance, as well as the tax benefits that come with being semi-retired. 

A plan for semi-retirement

Semi-retirement looks different for everyone, and the majority of people plan it to suit their intended lifestyles. The plan then depends entirely on personal preferences and income needs. In most cases, people don’t go into semi-retirement for the money but rather to work fewer hours or because they enjoy the work they do.

Respondents planned to work an average of 21 hours per week once semi-retired, which is approximately 50% less than when working full-time. They also desired or needed an average weekly salary of at least $490 to make the effort worthwhile and to maintain their lifestyle. However, when looking at people that were already semi-retired, the average weekly income was $394, indicating that maybe they worked fewer hours, or got paid less than what they were hoping for.

However, it seems participants were mostly unwilling to find a new position for semi-retirement. Just under 60% said the most desirable job would be their current position but with fewer hours. Only 18.3% wanted to remain in their field but seek work from another employer, while 13.3% of respondents wanted to work as independent contractors or consultants within their field. Although there was little interest in this option, working as a consultant or freelancer is one of the top job recommendations for semi-retired individuals. 

What trips are retirees planning?

Although the retirement timeline has changed for most people over 50 since the pandemic has struck, there is a silver lining. Working remotely while semi-retired provided ample opportunity for travel that normally just wouldn’t be possible.

One of the many benefits of retirement is the ability to travel more often, and it is definitely a consideration for the people who planned to semi-retire. Fifty-eight percent of respondents were planning to travel during their (semi-)retirement. Additionally, more than 1 in 4 respondents planned to travel while working remotely. 

With the current COVID-19 restrictions, the vast majority of participants were planning to take a domestic road trip (72.6%). In addition to this, there was still significant interest in international travel (55.9%). Other popular retirement trips included national parks (45.8%) or enjoying a cruise (28.3%). Cruises are not only a fun way to enjoy traveling but have also become a new lifestyle choice as some retirees decide to fully retire on cruise ships

Retirement bucket lists consisted of visiting the Grand Canyon (27.2%), seeing the northern lights (26%), going on a cruise (22.1%), and visiting all 50 U.S. states (21.9%). Furthermore, 13.2% of respondents were planning to visit the Louvre in Paris or to travel to Egypt to see the pyramids (11.4%). 

Bravely moving forward into an unknown future

The lifestyle and future plans of people over 50 have been irrevocably changed since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Between needing to adapt to new ways of working, moving locations, and having to come to terms with altered retirement timelines, there is a lot this age group needs to deal with in our “new normal.”

As more people over 50 adapt to working remotely from home, moving to new locations, and being semi-retired, it’s vital that they minimize any risks associated with this new lifestyle. Stannah stairlifts offer comfort and security for people who are spending more time at home and need to navigate it safely and securely. Handle any lifestyle changes, such as a move to a new location, with ease with Stannah’s high-quality and reliable stairlifts that are designed to ensure safety.


This study uses data from a survey of 1,053 people over 50 located in the U.S. Survey respondents were gathered through the Prolific survey platform where they were presented with a series of questions, including attention-check and disqualification questions. 38.7% of respondents identified as male, while 61.3% identified as female. Respondents ranged in age from 50 to 79 with an average age of 64. Participants incorrectly answering any attention-check question had their answers disqualified. This study has a 3% margin of error on a 95% confidence interval. 

Please note that survey responses are self-reported and are subject to issues, such as exaggeration, recency bias, and telescoping.

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