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RETIREMENT: Moving on with vigour

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Forget the rocking chair – today’s retirees intend to pursue active lifestyles and need an opportunity to do so

The retirement property market is quite possibly the most evolved segment in recent years as retirees no longer see their golden years as a time to merely enjoy the quiet life but to actually live their best lives.

Today’s retirement property offerings are keeping pace with these changing outlooks. Gone are the days when retirement homes were simply cottages scattered in park-like surroundings or apartment buildings dedicated to older citizens, or where retirees spent their days watching TV, knitting or gardening. 

These pastimes are, of course, still enjoyed by many over-60s, and beautiful gardens are still hallmarks of the ideal retirement setting, but today’s retirees are after much more: they want to go to the beach, to play golf, to gym, to cycle, to run, and to meet friends.

Unfortunately, there are not enough attractive retirement places available, nor at the right prices for most South African retirees.

This fact is recognised by the country’s leading retirement village developers, who are furiously trying to meet the demand.

Stand-alone retirement villages and those within established lifestyle estates are being constructed to meet the growing need for tranquil yet exciting living environments. Life Right options are also increasingly being offered to help those who, unlike older people who can afford to pay millions for estate homes, have only their modest suburban homes to sell.

Globally, Life Rights are the most widely used retirement accommodation structure and were introduced in South Africa during the late 1960s. Before this option, retirement properties followed the normal sale process – an outright purchase of a sectional title unit or freehold property or a lease agreement.

Life Rights, explains Craig Scott, developer of Langebaan Country Estate, who will launch their Life Rights retirement village, The Village, this year, is a form of lease agreement with the property developer and is often referred to as a life-lease: a lease agreement for which you pay upfront.

“The ‘purchaser’ can, for instance, pay R2 million upfront for a unit in a Life Right structure. You have paid for your right to occupy the unit (and the estate) for yourself and your partner, and now own the right to live in the unit for the rest of your lives, no matter how long you live.”

This mitigates a monthly bond repayment or rental payment and in most cases the owners are subject only to a consumption levy from the estate. The benefits of Life Rights are “numerous”, the most notable being:

The upfront payment leaves you with no monthly bond repayments or rental costs.

When you or your partner dies, the surviving partner continues to live in the unit.

You have a “real right” to your unit in property law and are guaranteed the right to live in the property.

If you remarry, your new spouse may occupy the unit with you, but will not have any right to the Life Right ownership.

You act as a lessee, so any maintenance of the property is the responsibility of the developer.

Upon the death of both owners, the purchase price is refunded to your heirs, usually at 100% (although they will not benefit from any extra value accrued over the years).

Life Right proceeds can be nominated to a beneficiary and fall out of the normal deceased estate red tape. ¡ No VAT on the sale or transfer duties and no registration fees.

You have a secured return of capital invested.

Resale is the responsibility of the developer.

Today’s retirement villages offer a full lifestyle package

GOOD YEARS Retirees do not want to sacrifice their way of life. Picture: Supplied

Lush green lawns, landscaped gardens, cycling and running tracks, gyms, swimming pools, bowling greens, tennis courts and golf courses are some of the attractions luring retirees to new age retirement villages and estates.

In addition to these lifestyle features, holistic healthcare and cutting-edge health technology are being prioritised, says David Britz, sales and marketing director for Multi Spectrum Property (MSP), developers of the Buh-Rein Retirement Village.

Open to residents from the age of 50, the 87.62ha Buh-Rein Estate in Cape Town’s northern suburbs epitomises all that today’s over-60s are after, including its own clubhouse with two restaurants, a heated pool, wellness salon, hairdresser, beautician and massage therapy.

“There is also a gymnasium with shower facilities, deli, library with internet access, bar/refreshment area, courtyard with water feature and ample seating, lapa with indoor and outdoor braai facilities, and a function hall which can accommodate 500 people,” says Riaan Roos, MSP chief executive.

The Zevenwacht Lifestyle Estate also knows what retirees are after with the world-class wine estate offering a hotel, cottages, spa, cellar, restaurant, pool, tennis courts and walking and jogging trails. In addition to top-class security, the estate also focuses on world-class healthcare.

The major difference between the former traditional retirement properties and those being developed today boils down to these lifestyle changes.

Craig Scott, of The Village at Langebaan Country Estate, says retirees want to be able to downsize their homes without sacrificing their lifestyles. 

“Progressive retirement village operators have a clear understanding of today’s retirees’ wants and needs and are setting new standards in their services and facilities. These include the provision of quality health and frail care, security, worldclass hospitality and technology, along with village and home maintenance and refurbishment.”

Scott says residents of The Village at Langebaan Country Estate not only benefit from sport and recreational facilities, including golf, bowls, tennis and gym, but also gain access to restaurants, salons, coffee shops and spas. Other valued trends of modern retirement living, he says, are multi-generational communities, and digital advancement in fitness and healthcare.

Separate flatlet adds value

GRANNY’S SPOT Garden cottages are proving to be popular for elderly parents in
need of retirement home. Picture: Supplied

Many elderly parents are moving in with adult children after retirement because of the shortage of suitable retirement properties in South Africa.

An increasingly high cost of living, and the fact properties in most new retirement villages are out of the financial reach of the average pensioner, are also behind the trend.

Having a granny flat can be useful in addition to being able to generate rental income either before, or after, it is needed for an elderly parent.

Granny flats are also useful as teen pads, home offices, or guest properties for visiting friends and family.

To benefit, granny flats need to be well-designed, and this usually entails having a separate entrance and an outdoor space, even if small.

Granny flats built a fair distance from the main house are also more likely to suit unrelated tenants. When the time comes to sell the property, having this additional building will add value and appeal. 

Downsize sooner for benefits

EARNING Many retirees use their skills or hobbies to make money and stretch their retirement savings. Picture: Sam Chen

Middle-aged homeowners who are looking ahead to their golden years are making an early move into retirement estates. This is a change from the traditional trend of elderly homeowners moving only when they reach retirement age.

Most lifestyle estates today cater for residents of all age groups, making it possible for people to move in when younger and then remain in the same estate when they retire.

This saves not only on costs but also takes the stress out of a major move in later years. Moving house is known as one of the most stressful aspects of life’s journey, and doing so when elderly and possibly emotional, can be upsetting.

By moving earlier, however, retirees get to continue living a lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. Some retirees even continue working or use hobbies to create income to help fund their retirement. 


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