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Shifting gears: SA's treasure trove of options for the over-60s

Category SA Property Market

South Africa offers an exciting array of residential choices for senior home buyers and there is high demand in this sector of the real estate market from local as well as a rising number of international over-60s.

Homes in designated retirement villages and estates are also becoming a popular investment option, especially among younger buyers who are choosing to secure cottages or apartments in new developments and then let them out until their own retirement. Vacancies are generally very low as are rental defaults, and the yields are favourable.

Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, notes that the over-60 demographic is now growing at a rapid rate due to longer lifespans and that the need for senior accommodation is increasing as a result.

"However, 'retirement' is now a very different prospect from what it used to be, because it is so common to find people still working or even starting new business ventures in their 60s, and still extremely active and independent well into their 70s. Consequently, many people are not ready to move to the old age homes or care centres we used to think of as suitable senior accommodation until they are over-75 or even 80, and the type of home being sought by those in their late 50s and 60s is extremely varied."

The two things most people of this age do seem to have in common, though, is the desire to downsize and live more simply, and the need to make their retirement savings last longer than they originally thought, so there is a definite preference - worldwide - for smaller, low maintenance homes, as well as locations with a pleasant climate and a relatively low cost of living, he says.

"The residential options available to such buyers in SA include lock-up-and-go apartments and townhouses in secure sectional title developments as well as houses and cottages in purpose-built retirement villages that have all manner of 'active lifestyle' facilities and their own frail-care centres and are sold on either a life-rights or a sectional title basis.

"Also, in the same way that golf and lifestyle estates now often incorporate apartments and townhouses that are affordable for young, first-time buyers, many of these developments are starting to include a senior housing component for buyers who are ready to scale down from big family homes but still want access to luxury estate facilities like golf courses, club houses, sports centres, wellness spas and excellent security - and prefer to live in a multi-generational setting."

Everitt says this trend is attracting more global retirees to SA, which is already favoured for its climate, relative affordability, good IT and communications systems, range of leisure activities and sizeable expat population. It is estimated that the country has more than 2m foreign-born residents and there are also many semi-retired or retired "swallows" from Europe, the UK and the US who already own second homes in SA, where they come to escape the northern winters.

The most popular areas for retirement buyers in SA include:

*The Garden Route along the Southern Cape coast, with towns such as Mossel Bay, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay being world-renowned for their picturesque natural surroundings, top-class golf courses, excellent private medical facilities and a wide choice of upmarket retirement villages and lifestyle/golf estates such as Fancourt, Goose Valley, Oubaai, Pezula, Pinnacle Point and Simola.

*KwaZulu-Natal, where the most sought-after locations are the Midlands towns of Howick and Hilton, as well as the small towns, villages and lifestyle estates all along the warm Indian Ocean coast, including Amazimtoti, Scottburgh, Margate and Ramsgate to the south of Durban, and Mount Edgecombe, Zimbali, Ballito, Simbithi, Blythedale and Princes Grant to the north.

*The Cape Winelands and especially Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Somerset West, an area that is home to world-renowned estate developments such as Erinvale, Boschenmeer, Pearl Valley and the Val de Vie Winelands Estate, which recently added an Evergreen retirement village to its range of residential offerings.

*The spectacular Whale Coast, including Kleinmond, Stanford and Gansbaai as well as Hermanus, which is the top whale watching destination in the world and also boasts beautiful beaches, excellent retail and medical facilities and top lifestyle estates such Arabella and Hemel & Aarde;

*The Nelspruit/ White River area in the warm lowveld, close to the world-renowned Kruger National Park, where there are now several retirement estates, including Bataleur, Rubicon and The Rest, all designed to maximise enjoyment of the beautiful natural surroundings.

"The metropolitan areas of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria also offer a plethora of options for senior buyers and investors," says Everitt, "but it is important to establish whether you are buying into an ordinary sectional title or estate development or a specifically designated retirement development which falls under the Housing Development Schemes for Retired Persons Act.

"You should seek the advice of a qualified and independent professional such as an attorney or estate agent, who will also be able to advise on the differences between purchasing ownership and life rights and the possible long-term effects on your finances. If you are buying a new property, we would also strongly suggest that you deal only with reputable developers and estate agents with a track record of success in similar projects."

*This article first appeared in the February 2020 edition of Premier, the official guest magazine for the Bidvest Premier lounges in domestic and international airports.

Author: Meg Wilson

Submitted 14 Feb 20 / Views 143