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Your golden years: Moving to a retirement village may not be all plain sailing but there are plenty of advantages

Modern retirement estates or villages can be an extension of your current lifestyle. Picture: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke/Pixabay

Modern retirement estates or villages can be an extension of your current lifestyle. Picture: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke/Pixabay

Published Mar 1, 2022

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Modern retirement developments, with their focus on quality lifestyles, well-being, and community, are a far cry from the often-restrictive “old-age homes” of the past but choosing to make the move can still be tough.

Not only are you faced with the prospect of making a huge physical life change, but the idea can also affect you psychologically, depending on how you view your retirement years.

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Even if you are keen on moving into a thriving retirement community, you may be overwhelmed by the number of new accommodation choices available.

Not only do you have to choose the right home but also the area in which you wish to enjoy your golden years.

And while living in a modern retirement village or estate may be the new dream for many retirees, you will need to also take some negatives with the positives, especially if you are moving from your own home.

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UNDERSTANDING THE PROS AND CONS

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The advantages of living in such developments, says Andrew Crooks of the Hibiscus Retirement Villages group on the KZN South Coast, are plentiful and include safety and security; carefree and active living, as well as a lifestyle revolving around supportive and caring communities, and a range of services and activities for happy and healthy living.

Furthermore, in life rights villages, the hassle of maintenance, security, garden services and dealing with municipalities fall away as these are the responsibility of the organisation.

However, a negative is that you will probably need to downsize from the larger property you have been accustomed to living in.

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“This should be planned in advance and you should see it as an opportunity to declutter,” he says.

Retirement developments in which the properties are sold as sectional or full title also offer you an investment choice, says Harry Pretorius of Noble Resorts, which has retirement developments in the Western and Southern Cape.

Agreeing with Crooks, he says positives include greater security, access to health-care support, companionship and less if any, maintenance.

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“The high standard of living, with access to various services and facilities, and desirable locations are also appealing factors.” But he too cites downscaling as being a necessity you might not welcome.

“Living in a smaller unit can be an adjustment. And although each residence is built with privacy in mind, you are living in an active and social community which, if you are used to living on your own, could be a challenge too.”

Additional disadvantages you may face, says Monique Norman of the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA) in Cape Town, include:

• Getting rid of lifelong possessions while downscaling.

• A change in environment.

• The fear of starting over.

• A concern for the quality of health care.

• Being away from loved ones.

• The physical toll of the move.

• Not making the decision soon enough.

But, the advantages cannot be ignored and include the convenience of living in a secure complex with lock-up-and-go facilities, as well as an opportunity for adventure and the creation of new memories, she says.

There is often financial peace of mind and access to a quality lifestyle with a focus on physical and mental health.

Furthermore, living in such developments means you are rewarded with ongoing support as your life changes, flexibility and comfort of location. You may also be able to bring pets with you.

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PRECONCEIVED IDEAS MAY BE FALSE

Norman says retirees must also realise that modern retirement estates or villages are not old-age homes “but an extension of your current lifestyle”.

“Your choice of village should be able to adapt to your individual needs,” he says. The biggest misconception you might have concerns the difference between moving into a development with sectional and full-title properties and one that sells life rights, Pretorius adds.

You might think that you face escalating annual levies at the former but not at the latter. “This is simply not true. You pay a monthly levy at both types of developments.”

However, some developments, like those of Noble Resorts, have made provision for a contribution to be paid into a levy stabilisation fund that ensures residents are not faced with any unexpected major expenses.

Another misconception, he says, is that moving into a retirement village means that you earn no capital growth on your property.

“However, it is important to choose the ownership model of the retirement village carefully so your property remains an asset within your estate.”

Crooks says you may also wrongly believe you lose your independence when you move into a retirement estate or village, or that you will no longer have access to sports and recreational facilities or activities, or live within inactive communities.

“Secondary misconceptions may be the design of the cottages, for example, not being modern enough or not having a variety of cottage sizes to choose from.”

BE AWARE OF THE COSTS YOU MIGHT FACE

All retirees' financial needs and lifestyle needs are different, however, Norman says. At CPOA villages, for example, there is a variety of retirement rental and life rights options to accommodate people’s different financial situations.

“We offer a variety of retirement living options from independent studio apartments to luxury homes. “In our care centres we offer cost-effective modular units or private suites at competitive rates,” she says.

As another example, Pretorius says you can buy an affordable studio apartment from R1.1 million at Noble Resorts Allesverloren.

“At Noble Resorts Harbour Bay, an entry-level apartment would cost R1.795m. Buying directly from the developer means that you save on VAT and transfer duties,” he says. Crooks adds:

“There are certainly retirement estates that only the wealthy could afford but there are many others that offer affordable entry-level prices. The important factor is having options in terms of accommodation size and pricing.

“Hibiscus Retirement Villages offer a range of life rights options across our villages, from bedsitters to three-bedroom cottages, priced from around R500 000 to just over R2m.”

He says potential retirees should also factor in the levies – and find out exactly what they cover – and the costs of any additional services.

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