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New careers mean changes at home

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Retirement is not what it used to be

The growing trend for over-50s and retirees to continue working throughout their golden years, and even embark on new careers, is having an impact on the types of homes they are looking to live in.

The retirement years today look very different to those at the start of the century with many over-60s continuing to work out of choice or necessity, and radical corporate changes forcing many in the 45 to 60 age group to find new employment or, in many cases, start their own businesses.

“With life expectancies continuing to rise, many over-60s these days find that they don’t have enough saved up for a traditional retirement,” says Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of the RealNet estate agency group.

“At the same time, many people who were counting on staying in corporate jobs to build up their retirement funds are being retrenched in their 40s or 50s and forced to make other plans.”

The result, he says, is that an increasing number of people over 50 are not “winding down” at all but, instead, instead seeking to beef up their educational qualifications or re-skill so that they can forge a second career or start a business that will take them through to 70 or even 80, depending on their health. And such decisions are more often than not accompanied by a desire for a change of lifestyle and a new home.

“With their children grown and a new career or business on the horizon, we see an increasing number of middle-aged people selling their family houses and moving to more secure and easily managed properties.

“Indeed, this is a major factor in the rising popularity of upmarket apartment and townhouse developments in older suburbs.”

Kotzé says the main attraction of such homes for second-career buyers is the promise of lower and more controllable maintenance costs and more sophisticated physical security measures, which would be costly to install at a stand-alone home.

“In addition, many of these buyers are actually upgrading, in the sense that their new home will have the modern features and some of the ‘luxuries’ they always promised themselves but could not afford while raising a family.”

For those buying new homes off-plan, he advises that they only deal with reputable and financially-sound developers.

Preferably, second-career buyers should also choose homes that will allow them to “age in place” if they wish without making too many changes, he says.

Useful design features to look out for are flat, open layouts without too many stairs; non-slip bathroom and kitchen flooring; easy-to-open doors and windows; accessible kitchen cabinets; lower light switches and plug points and at least one shower with sturdy handrails.

“Given the increasing importance of green building, buyers should also be on the lookout for homes and developments that feature solar geysers and power supplies and excellent water storage and recycling facilities.”

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