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An increasing number of South Africans are opting to move into smaller properties earlier in life. Contributing factors include convenience, lifestyle changes, and a desire for security. Urban areas remain popular for staying in contact with friends or extended families, but plenty of retirees are also opting for new locations and a change of environment. Where are they going?

Smaller, earlier

KwaZulu-Natal has seen a surge in retirement developments designed to attract over-55s. Evergreen will bring its successful life rights retirement estate model to this province when construction on three luxury developments starts towards the end of this year. Two Evergreen villages in Umhlanga Ridge and Zimbali Lakes near Ballito will house residents in coastal, subtropical upmarket accommodation, whereas Evergreen Hilton will provide a charming countryside alternative in the Midlands.


A simpler life

Unsurprisingly, the Garden Route remains a top retirement destination. Devmark Property Group’s The Plettenberg Manor retirement village in Plettenberg Bay is 80% sold out. When completed by mid-2021, this sectional title development will offer 102 luxury homes and 24 luxury apartments.

The trend towards downscaling echoes a philosophical need for a simplified lifestyle. “Generally, once couples retire, they’ve been empty-nesters for some time and are looking to clear out their homes and live an easier, simpler life,” says Jawitz Properties Midrand property consultant Sue de Klerk. But smaller homes don’t have to mean a smaller life.


“Scaling down is never easy,” says Laurie Wener, senior executive: Cape developments, Pam Golding Properties. “The challenges come in making the decision to find a suitable property and adjusting to what you really require when the children have moved out.

“You may also need to accept the fact that smaller is not necessarily cheaper. There may be a premium on newer, more secure, higher-demand property, but the saving will come in the reduced maintenance and upkeep.”

Many developments put the focus on minimalist homes that have multiple amenities within reach. What makes these so attractive to investors?


Devmark’s CEO Hein Ehlers says offering retirees an opportunity to scale down and modernise is one benefit. “Our luxury homes and apartments at Langebaan Manor are spacious enough for retirees to keep those items that are close to their hearts,” says Ehlers.

With estimated completion by the end of the year, this Langebaan development features West Coast architecture in five house types and two apartment options.


Different perspective

Evergreen Lifestyle brand ambassador Arthur Case’s take is that more mature residents now welcome the opportunity to downscale. “There’s a generational changing of the guard with regard to retirees,” he says. “The oldest baby boomers are now in their early 70s and their perspective on retirement is very different.”

Many modern boomers remain active, generate an income, and travel in their spare time, according to Case. “Yesterday’s retirees were known to hold onto stuff, furniture, memories of yesterday, and tended to clutter their smaller retirement homes. Baby boomers are different: they believe less is more and want to downscale their homes while upscaling their lifestyles. Lifestyle retirement villages tick this box.”


These seniors want new and fresh, not institutional and dated. Slightly smaller modern spaces with state of-the-art appliances and design such as the luxury homes at Val de Vie Evergreen in the Winelands are a good example, says Case. Phase 1 is operational, with 81 of 640 units now occupied. Here retirees can use the Evergreen communal facilities, including a clubhouse and bowling greens, and access facilities on the greater Val de Vie estate. All Evergreen homes are purchased on a life rights model.

Ehlers says demand for homes in Devmark’s The Retirement Collection developments has proven time and again that retirees can live happy, fulfilling lives. “Our residents are social and enjoy life to the fullest, and our garden and house-cleaning services give them the opportunity to lead a lock-up-and-go lifestyle and travel. Furthermore, they have the time and space to practise their hobbies and pursue their interests.”


New generation

Identifying Cape Town’s undersupply of quality offerings, Rabie Property Group developed its Oasis Life retirement lifestyle residential offering for a “new-generation retiree”. Current Northern Suburbs developments include the family estate Clara Anna Fontein in Durbanville and Burgundy Estate between Durbanville Hills and Milnerton. “We take the utmost care to design practical, contemporary homes with beautiful landscaping and surrounds for an older resident,” says Rabie director Miguel Rodrigues.


At Clara Anna Fontein Oasis Life, freestanding homes combine comfort and style on a secure lifestyle estate, where mature residents have views of the Durbanville hills. Rabie’s life rights model ensures quality facilities, gardens and common areas, allowing mature residents to “submerse themselves fully into a great retirement lifestyle”. Of the 60 homes in the first phase, only 25 are still available.

According to Anton Malherbe, sales and marketing director, Harbour Bay Village in Hout Bay, their development offers resort-style luxury living with state-of-the art amenities, medical care and security. Prospective retirees can pick and choose between lockup-and-go luxury apartments or exclusive garden cottages or villas.


Financial stability

Downscaling can be a mechanism towards increased financial stability. Ehlers recommends buying now to retire later. “Our estates offer full ownership. You purchase the property in your name and own it outright under a sectional title or freehold scheme, which means you can reap the benefits of capital growth and be able to bequeath it in your will.”

Full-ownership property can be purchased at any age but is only let to tenants older than 50. “This will give you an immediate income while you plan your future retirement, but at today’s prices,” says Ehlers. “With a limited supply of full-ownership retirement villages and a high demand for this type of accommodation, it makes an investment in any well-run development an attractive option.”

With a limited supply of full-ownership retirement villages and a high demand for this type of accommodation, it makes an investment in any well-run development an attractive option HEIN EHLERS, CEO, DEVMARK PROPERTY GROUP


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