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Words & images: Supplied

For many retirees, living longer has to be balanced against diminishing retirement funds – sell the family home and financially downsize.

Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive, Pam Golding Property group, comments, “With people experiencing ever-increasing longevity and remaining active well into their senior years, there’s been an ongoing shortage of suitable, affordably-priced retirement accommodation across all sectors of the market.”

Chris Cilliers, chief executive and principal, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Winelands, says, “The current retirement market is the baby-boomer generation, very different from their traditional, conservative predecessors. Conventional retirement does not cater to their needs.”

Proximity, accessibility, affordability

Affordability has been a key driver for KwaZulu-Natal Midlands retirees, but it goes beyond that. “The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is popular because retirees are getting a relaxed lifestyle in a country environment, but still have access to amenities and leisure activities,” says Golding.

Shaun du Bois, principal, Just Property Pietermaritzburg, believes, “Excellent medical facilities are also a drawcard there. In addition, Durban and King Shaka International Airport are only an hour away.” He believes Midlands’ retirees come primarily from Gauteng,

“When it comes to locations like the Cape Winelands, many people essentially select regions similar to favourite vacation spots,” says Richard Gray, CEO, Harcourts South Africa.

On the flipside, he feels that generally, retirees move inland to provinces like Gauteng to be closer to family. “Young couples moving to CBD hubs like Joburg often move away from their families to pursue careers. When their parents retire, there’s usually a great desire to be closer to their children and grandchildren”

Far enough, but near enough

“The Cape Winelands has become an increasingly popular retirement destination because it offers a tranquil country lifestyle in scenic surrounds, yet is less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town and close to numerous popular attractions. This has led to a spike in development in this sector, with most of the new properties being more lifestyle estates than traditional retirement homes,” says Cilliers.

Gray adds, “Take Paarl – it’s central, nestled in the mountains and only a stone’s throw from Stellenbosch and the city. It also remains a lifestyle-orientated location, with abundant property options catering to all budgets.”

Belinda Driemeyer, area principal, Pam Golding Properties Pietermaritzburg and Midlands, notes the advantage of proximity to the airport, not only for those with families overseas. “It’s also popular with those from Europe – the surrounds are similar to what they’re used to, but the weather’s far nicer!”

Retirement components within gated estates

Golding explains, “There’s a trend of retirees moving away from traditional retirement homes, opting for more flexible, active living within an existing residential community – for example, a retirement component or village within an established residential development or security estate which offers an array of benefits, leisure amenities, as well as on-site medical facilities or easy access to hospitals and clinics.”

There’s something to be said for the normality or community aspect of multigenerational living. Driemeyer says a number of the gated estates in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands have plans for retirement components: Intaba Ridge, Pietermaritzburg, Garlington in Hilton, and – now sold out – retiree units in St John’s Village, Howick.

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