How to choose the best place for your retirement

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

With people living longer, fuller lives, it is important to choose wisely when deciding where to spend your retirement.

Have you ever visited an area and boldly stated that this is where you’d like to retire one day? You wouldn’t be alone. Most of us have a dream of living in some idyllic spot close to the sea or in the mountains, but as we get older the decision to uproot and move to some far-flung destination can have major consequences.

That little cottage on the beach may seem like the perfect place to retire, after all what could be better than waking up every morning, breathing in the sea air and walking for miles on a golden beach? Actually, there’s far more than the location to consider when you finally take the plunge and decide to scale down in order to enjoy your retirement years.

“Many people who buy into a retirement estate that’s situated in an area where they have spent the majority of their lives, only do so after they’ve realised that friends and family are far more important than a perceived idyllic lifestyle,” says Gerrit Brandow, a director of Central Developments, which has developed 11 retirement estates, including the recently launched Celebration Retirement Estate in Gauteng.

"What should be remembered is that the longer a person has lived in an area, the more likely he will have put down roots, built up a solid group of friends and have been actively involved in the community in some way. People often don’t realise the importance of having friends and family close by until the excitement of the move and the novelty of living in a completely new area has died down.

“It may not seem like a big deal mainly because promises will be made that children will visit. However, the fast pace of life often intercedes and although children may well want to visit more often, they simply don’t have the time. It’s also not necessarily easy to make new friends as we get older and although an older buyer may not think that having the occasional friend around will have much of an impact, sadly it can make all the difference to a happy retirement,” he says.

One of the reasons often cited for wanting to move to some far-flung location is security. People assume that crime is lower in less built-up areas and while this may be true to some extent, it certainly doesn’t mean that the area is crime-free and that they will automatically be safer.

“Security is a prime concern for South Africans and is certainly one of the more important aspects in all our retirement villages,” says Brandow. “Whether we like to admit it or not, we do become more vulnerable as we get older and therefore need to take extra precautions to keep ourselves and our belongings safe. Unfortunately, the cost of securing our homes has become more expensive and those who have to work within a strict budget may find they have to cut corners as far as security is concerned.”

Another magnet for retirement buyers is price. The price of property in certain coastal areas and remote country places is often lower than expected. And while this may be seen as a good reason to invest, it should be remembered that property price growth is generally slower in these places, which could impact any profit made when it comes time to sell.

Those who are considering making a move should review all of the implications before making a final buying decision. Retirement is not the time to be thinking of life in the short term, mainly because people are generally living longer, healthier lives. Think ahead and plan accordingly, ensuring that your new home will meet all of your changing needs as you get older.

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