Nearly one in three pre-retirees say the Covid-19 pandemic has changed their retirement plans, with some now having to work longer than they expected.
Commissioned by insurer New Zealand Seniors and carried out by CoreData The Retirement Report 2022 surveyed more than 1000 Kiwis over 50 to get their views on it.
The research revealed 32 per cent of those over the age of 50 had either their own or close family members' job security impacted over the last two years.
While 28 per cent said the pandemic had impacted their retirement plans - with some (23 per cent) expecting to delay full retirement.
Joanne Reid, Age Concern health promotion and policy manager, said the Covid-19 pandemic had put more pre-retirees under financial stress.
"Some people have had to get welfare support or go to foodbanks - potentially for the first time ever in their lives.
"And ... quite a number of people over the pandemic have withdrawn hardship payments from their KiwiSaver accounts."
Reid said the challenge for older New Zealanders was that they had less time to try and recoup the savings and prepare for retirement.
And she said those pre-retirees still renting were in a more precarious situation.
"People still paying off their mortgage could get a mortgage holiday over the rough months but that wasn't available for people that were renting."
The research found a quarter worried about money on a weekly basis and 21 per cent felt financially insecure.
Only 51 per cent felt on track to retire at the age they would prefer.
Reid said some had had to push out retirement.
"Some of them have possibly lost money in KiwiSaver through when that took a dip swapping to a more conservative fund."
While others felt the need to support family members who have lost jobs or had reduced wages, she said.
"Some pre-retirees are having to factor in, if I am going to help my family, which obviously many want to do, they simply find themselves in that position of needing to keep working."
There are already about a quarter of people over 65 still working and Reid predicted that would continue to grow.
But she said there had been some positives come out of the pandemic too.
"On the plus side I think people realised there are more possibilities around flexibility in the workplace."
Reid said that meant more pre-retirees were looking to transition into retirement than just stopping suddenly as past generations had.
The research found three out of five pre-retirees found the idea of transitioning into retirement and progressively reducing work commitments rather than a hard retirement date as very or extremely appealing (62 per cent).
But 50 per cent wished they could get more support through this planning and transitioning process.
Two thirds of those surveyed either did not have a financial plan for their retirement or only had some vague plans.
And almost a third (28 per cent) who had already made the leap to retirement were considering returning to the workforce, with financial stability being the top reason (74 per cent).
Reid said planning for retirement was key to being prepared.
"Some of us are not great planners."
She said the research showed that although many wanted to plan they didn't really want to talk to someone about it.
"The embarrassment of saying our savings are not a lot, we are still paying off debt or a mortgage and we are more than 65. Some of it is just that Kiwi thing of No 8 wire, you do it yourself.
"We think nothing of paying for other goods and services but we don't want to pay for financial advice."
But Reid said a good starting point was the free tools on the Government's Sorted website.
The research also revealed a growing preference for home care as an appealing alternative to retirement villages and aged care facilities.
Around 40 per cent of respondents also agreed that the events of Covid-19 had prompted a desire to live closer to family.
Maintaining independence was the single most important factor when making those decisions.
Losing the ability to live independently was the top concern among retired Kiwis, as well as a key deterrent for selecting retirement villages.
Other key concerns included the affordability of retirement villages (40 per cent) and financial pressures more generally (40 per cent).
When Julie and her partner Karen envisaged their retirement they saw themselves living six months of the year in a one-bedroom apartment in Wellington and spending the other six months travelling and working around the world.
But Covid has shaken that up completely.
"We planned to just live in a one bedroom apartment ... but neither of us could work from home effectively when the lockdowns came so that made it very difficult," said Julie.
"The other thing we were going to do was travel and use our one bedroom apartment as a base. And that has certainly been affected."
The couple who are in their early 60s have spent the last eight months exploring other options for retirement.
Now instead they plan to build a bigger house and move out of Wellington so they will be able to work from home with the extra space and their travel plans remain up in the air.
"We did look really carefully at retirement villages and lifestyle villages because we thought that would give us the option of having a home and being able to still go away and have it maintained and be part of a community."
But Julie said the financial model felt too restrictive with the requirement to give away up to 30 per cent of the sale price and then have no capital growth.
"We are in our early 60s, it may well be in 20 years time a retirement village will be perfect for us but right now we needed to grow our money."
Building a house means Julie can continue to work from home while Karen says she will increase her hours to help pay for the new build.
Julie works in international aid and development in education and Karen is a nurse.
Karen says she didn't expect to be working four days a week in her 60s as a nurse.
"The cost of housing has escalated dramatically and our living costs will be more expensive as well because we will be living in New Zealand for longer and we will have to maintain a house rather than a one bedroom unit."
"We have really had to rejig our plans.
They are still uncertain of travelling. "We could probably go to Australia but the idea of going further afield for longer, it is hard to know.
"If we are going to be stuck in New Zealand we would rather live in a house that allows us to have more space and to have family and friends come and stay with us.
"We are more cautious about travelling for extended periods in case we were to contract Covid-19 and have to rely on a health system in a foreign country. That risk has forced us to rethink all of our retirement plans and redirect our savings into a larger home."