Secure Retirement Living Can Be Affordable

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

As stark as the realities of growing crime levels in South Africa may be to young families that are able to work toward a secure lifestyle, increased awareness of the safety of our senior citizens is essential.

While very little can compete with the opportunities afforded by a planned retirement or good financial management, varying options apply at different levels of retirement income.

In catering for the retirement market, property developers and real estate agents have, over the past 20 years, excelled in its provision of secure private lifestyle estates for well-heeled and middle class retirees. An outdoor lifestyle is growing in popularity, as is the provision at some estates, which allows investors of 50 years of age to also become residents. At other facilities, independent living for parents and grandparents is arranged by building or refurbishing the ground floor units of large freestanding houses. When added to any number of sought-after services and facilities readily available at exclusive security estates, this feature enables different generations within one family to co-exist in the same environment, yet in separate homes.

However, non-profit organisations for the retirement community, and also real estate agents, say that optimum health, social interaction and regular entertainment within secure surroundings, need not be limited to wealthy senior citizens only.

Shortages of secure retirement living options in the affordable market are creating increased demand, and new developments are coming to the market. Charles Robertson of Visual Property Development, which is due for listing on the JSE ALTX Exchange, says that trends show a preference among the retirement community in Cape Town’s northern suburbs for downscaling into affordable, yet secure, lifestyle estates.

Visual is planning the development of the My Place retirement facility, which will comprise apartment suites within the secure environment of Stellendale Village, along the Stellenbosch Arterial in Kuilsriver. My Place will offer buy to let opportunities to members aged 50 years and older of lower income level communities, and monthly rentals ranging between R3 000 and R4 000.

Other affordable alternatives that offer a sense of security within a safe living environment are set within gated townhouse complexes, or within smaller security estates. Sectional title units, apartments and share block accommodation are popular options among retirement communities.

However, the long term provision for the regular payment of monthly levies has to be considered. Depending on individual investment contracts of buyers and tenants, levy payments can be either be fixed amounts, or subject to annual inflationary increases. This will reduce the monthly income or interest earned on investments of retirees.

The process of searching for the most suitable retirement home for sale or to rent, is considered time consuming and onerous by most. However, says Sandra Govender, Senior Manager Social Work at The Association for the Aged (TAFTA), the process can be simplified by consulting with the appropriate professionals who specialise in secure retirement accommodation.

TAFTA provides secure, accredited accommodation options for various stages of retirement. Options range from “strictly independent” to assisted living and frail care suited to different income categories, both for rentals or life right investments. Govender says the security of residents is prioritised on a 24 -hour basis. Modern security procedures and appliances include intercoms, access control codes, checking of visitors’ tags for different floors in buildings at the end of every day, plus 24-hour cameras and security guards on duty in and around buildings. TAFTA also employs the services of a team of screened and accredited in-house domestic and healthcare workers.

Other organisations that assist with affordable accommodation for senior citizens, to name but a few, include the Bill Buchanan Association for the Aged, the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged, and Natal Settlers Homes.

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