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Longer lives push up the demand for retirement accommodation

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People no longer wish to live in old age homes

Those looking to retire today are healthy and living longer than their predecessors, and most are far from ready to exchange a productive working life for a nursing home rocking chair.

These baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are at the forefront of the changing face of retirement accommodation, says Sandy Geffen, executive director of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa.

“Members of this generation are different from their more traditional and conservative predecessors, and are looking to extend their independent lifestyles well into their golden years.”

Geffen says to meet these changing needs, developers in this sector have shifted their focus to create more holistic offerings with an emphasis on lifestyle, wellness, and vitality, and this includes hospitality and fitness facilities.

Many of these developments now accept residents from the age of 55 as a growing number of empty-nesters no longer want the responsibility of large homes and prefer to move just once rather than downsize and move again five or 10 years later.

Pam Golding Properties’ research department found demand for this new style of retirement living would keep increasing as the percentage of South Africans over the age of 60 looks set to double to 15.4% of the total population by 2050.

“This is a growing market because people reaching retirement age – whatever that may be – no longer wish to move into an old age home but would rather move into a retirement estate where they can enjoy the usual estate amenities and medical care,” says Pam Golding chief executive Andrew Golding.

People are living “considerably longer” so this is a new market, plus this age category is also leading a far more active life, hence the change in demand for a type of lifestyle, he says.

“KwaZulu-Natal is a prime market for this because the year-round clement weather is ideal. 

The Garden Route and Cape’s Atlantic Seaboard are also popular, the latter attracting people selling freehold homes to move into lock-up-and-go apartments.”

Last year saw a spike in retirement developments in the country and Arthur Case, chief executive of Evergreen Lifestyle, says the industry is set to grow even further this year.

“One of the biggest concerns for people nearing retirement,  is whether they will outlive their assets. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, people throughout the world are living longer than ever before so it is important to plan for life potentially long past the average retirement age.

“In South Africa, average life expectancy among the middle class is now 79 for men and 83 for women. More than 6% of South Africans are aged over 60, and this figure is expected to double over the next 30 years. Demand for housing for the elderly is set to intensify.”

This, he says, has resulted in increased investment in retirement developments, with many new retirement villages now being built throughout South Africa.

Another emerging trend in the retirement market is mixed-use developments which combine general residential accommodation and a retirement village on one property, says Chris Cilliers, chief executive and principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Winelands branch.

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