Conversations around where to retire take a different tack as pandemic-induced economic pressure increases. Is South Africa or Mauritius more appealing?
WORDS: DEBBIE HATHWAY – PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
The global work-from-home trend is seeing an uptick in property sales in smaller cities and towns – and islands for that matter – as people swap out city commutes for quality of life. Decisions to move are based on proximity to family, affordability, lifestyle, safety, security and healthcare. The order of priority depends on life stage and financial wellbeing. “With the cost of living skyrocketing and savings dwindling, purchasing quality retirement accommodation in a secure community with the necessary amenities may no longer seem viable,” says Chris Cilliers, CEO and co-principal, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands. “Life rights, the fastest growing scheme on the South African retirement landscape, offer unique advantages but are often completely misunderstood,” she says.
Life rights are ideal for those who prefer to leave the challenges and costs associated with house ownership, maintenance and sale to others while still maintaining their lifestyle. Essentially, a capital investment by the retiree secures the right to occupy a unit in a lifestyle estate for the rest of their life while the developer retains ownership. If the investor relocates or dies, the unit is ceded back to the development and the investment amount becomes part of the deceased estate. Buyers are urged to seek advice if necessary, to ensure they thoroughly understand the commitment before signing the contract. It’s important to know what event qualifies for a refund (it’s usually on death or relocation but only once there’s a replacement buyer), how long the refund will take, and how much it will be. The latter depends on the contractual agreement.
Val de Vie Evergreen in Paarl is one option for those interested in a life right investment. The project won Best Leisure Development in the World at the 2021 International Property Awards, shortly after winning the category for South Africa in the regional vote. Even if a buyer is not ready to move in now, but wants to get in at today’s prices, they can secure the deal and rent out the property for up to five years. The development is marketed by Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty and the Evergreen Sales Team. Units range from R3,45m to R5,5m.
Residents at Oasis Life in Century City, a short distance north of Cape Town, are attracted by its hospitality-based lifestyle. “In addition to standard features such as security and modern, top-quality homes, we build our clubhouses in the first phase so that residents can enjoy a variety of facilities from the time they move in,” says Rabie Property Group director Mariska Auret. Facilities include primary healthcare suites, a restaurant, various pause areas, a gym, and multifunction rooms. “We don’t offer frail care, but our developments are close to hospitals and our residents have preferential access to the Oasis Care Centre in Century City,” says Auret.
In Cape Town’s southern suburbs, Auria Senior Living has acquired a majority interest in Woodside Village, Rondebosch. This is currently being refurbished. Auria develops, owns and operates gold-standard senior- living communities and has as its flagship the award-winning San Sereno in Bryanston. Its latest project, Royal View, is a 122-apartment senior-living development at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club. Sales commence Q2 2021. “We refer to senior living because this stage of one’s life is not about retiring. It’s about a different set of needs and lifestyle choices defined by happiness, security, peace of mind and health,” says Auria founder and CEO Barry Kaganson. “Our aim is to develop communities that anyone over the age of 70 will choose for their high-quality lifestyle and amenities, whether they need assistance or not.”
South African buyers have continued to demonstrate a strong appetite for offshore property investments, with the biggest demand unequivocally still for Portugal, with the ultimate goal being EU citizenship, followed by Mauritius and Grenada – which offers a path to US residency. Andrew Golding, chief executive, Pam Golding Property group, says Mauritius sales were strong in 2020, despite the global lockdown and travel restrictions. This is expected to continue in 2021.
“Mauritius as a retirement destination is difficult to beat, given its easy lifestyle, good weather, beaches, water sports, golf courses and sports clubs. Over the past 10 years, the facilities aimed at an active lifestyle have exploded with a host of options both within residential estates as well as in the towns,” says Richard Haller, director, Pam Golding Properties (Mauritius). “There’s a large contingent of South Africans aged 55+ who have chosen Mauritius as a place to reside full- or part time.” What’s more, the island has the best coronavirus record in Africa, which is a major incentive to move.
Haller recommends a few suitable developments for retirees in the north, starting with Mont Choisy Golf & Beach Estate in Grand Baie. Located on a lush site opposite the beautiful Mont Choisy Beach, the estate is ideal for those wanting to enjoy estate living with a host of facilities. “For those wishing to adopt the famously laidback island lifestyle and make Mauritius their permanent home, then one of only 20 boutique units at Les Résidences de Mont Choisy is for you,” says Haller. Key to its success is the combination of housing and services that allow residents to access swimming pools, a restaurant, spa, fitness facilities, beauty salon, bar lounge and the exclusive Espace Club on site, should they wish to relax in their own environment. This 2Futures development is operated by Aegide Domitys, the leaders in France for senior residence living.
Rob Hudson, property consultant for ENL Property Limited, highlights the government legislation that enables foreign investors aged 50+ to apply for a renewable 10-year residency permit under certain conditions if they wish to make Mauritius their home. “As a retiree, one does not have to spend the US$375,000 (± R5,5m) on a property to obtain the residency permit, and therefore the ENL Group’s two-bedroom Moka apartments at approximately R2,7m comprise a far more affordable home option,” says Hudson. These are located within Moka Smart City, which is about 10 to 15 minutes’ drive from the capital Port Louis and 30 minutes from the international airport. Because many of the tech and financial services companies have moved to the area, it’s now the economic heart of the island. Ultimately, the maxim “home is where the heart is” applies. The toss-up is between a world in one country and the little island that could. Heads or tails?