Around one in two potential downsizers have experienced increased loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic and are looking at moving into an over 50s community to find a new friend or partner, a survey of Downsizing.com.au readers has found.

The survey of 56 readers sought to understand how COVID-19 has influenced the mindset of potential downsizers when it came to social and romantic interaction.

The survey’s results found that:

  • 48 per cent of respondents either agreed, or strongly agreed, that the COVID-19 pandemic had made them more isolated and lonelier than before
  • 51 per cent either agreed, or strongly agreed, that COVID-19 had increased their need for social interaction opportunities
  • 59 per cent said they were looking at moving into an over 50s community to find new friends
  • 17.86 per cent - or nearly one in five - said they were looking at moving into an over 50s community to find a partner

According to the survey, the most preferred social interaction opportunities were:

  • Outdoor spaces where people can meet and chat (83.3 per cent)
  • Trips and tours (70.37 per cent)
  • Pool (68.52 per cent)
  • Group dinners (61.11 per cent)
  • Pet-friendly communities (61.11 per cent)
  • Happy hours (55.56 per cent)

Dances and discos were only rated as important by 35.19 per cent of survey respondents, while a “great bar” was only backed by 25.93 per cent.

Some 82 per cent of people who filled out the survey were women, with 75 per cent living in a typical residential setting (such as a house or apartment). 53 per cent of survey respondents were in their 60s with 31 per cent in their 70s.

Downsizing.com.au has prepared a series of case studies of people who’ve made new friends and even found romance in over 50s communities - read these case studies here

Romance bloomed at over 50s community

Falling in love was the last thing on their minds when Barry Goodin and Del Tandy both moved to Halcyon Lakeside in 2019.

“It was not on my mind at all, I moved to Halcyon Lakeside for fun and friendship,” Barry said. 

But fate had other plans for this dynamic duo.

The first thing Barry noticed about Del was her kindness and sincerity, while Del said she could tell from the start that Barry was a loving, kind and happy person. 

“We met at a couple of functions and said ‘hello’ and that was about it,” Barry remembered.

After chatting, Del and Barry discovered they had both attended Nambour High School, lived in the same area and knew each other’s family and friends.

A couple of days later, Barry asked Del out for a coffee.

Suddenly something clicked and there was a spark there,” Del said. “We went to the New Year’s Eve function together and danced the night away,” Barry added.

“We have been together ever since.

“When I moved to Halcyon I was so delighted to be here and so happy, then when I met Barry it was like a double whammy. I thought, wow, the universe works in magical ways.”

Comment from our CEO

Downsizing.com.au CEO Amanda Graham said the report illustrated the increasingly important role that over 50s communities were playing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This survey has shown that during the pandemic, over 50s are increasingly aware of the risk of becoming socially isolated and lonely in their suburban home, without a safe, supportive and friendly community around them,” Ms Graham said.

“Instead, they are looking at moving into an over 50s community, where they can still live independently and come and go as they please - but have the benefit of more support, more activities available, and importantly, a variety of opportunities to socialise with new neighbours, make new friends and even find new partners.

“This survey helps explain one of the reasons we have seen increased interest in downsizing to an over 50s community since COVID-19 came on the scene.”