Forty years ago, old-age pensioners were perceived as stooped, white-haired and often quite grumpy old people killing time until they died, but times have changed, and the modern retiree has plenty of options.
They (whoever they are) say that 60 is the new 35, so retirement is a time to embrace change, and do all the things you missed out on when you were busy raising a family, and working round the clock. This could be freaking out the kids, because Gran’s on another Tinder date while Gramps is off the grid backpacking in Bali, or it could be a simple change of scenery and a move out of the city and into the countryside.
Why put up with the city stress of noise, traffic and security concerns when you could be enjoying the small-town freedom of endless space, peace of mind and room to breathe, and where younger family members will eagerly spend holidays?
Groenkloof Great Brak Retirement Villages
Location: Situated on the Garden Route, Great Brak is a tranquil village that meanders along the banks of the Groot Brak River and Lagoon, and ends at an idyllic beach that extends uninterrupted for over 20 kilometres. The majestic Outeniqua mountain range creates the perfect backdrop for this attractive, laid-back little town. It is easily accessed right off the N2 highway and offers the best of the quiet country life, being just 25 kilometres from Mossel Bay or George, both of which have all the shops, amenities and convenience of city life. George Airport is a 15-minute drive away, and has daily scheduled flights to and from the major cities. Mossel Bay boasts the second most moderate climate in world, with an average of 320 sunny days a year.
Homes: 116 houses, a 50-bed care unit, 49 assisted living units, a frail care centre with 22 beds, and a sub-acute unit with 28 beds. The high-quality facebrick, roof tiles and aluminium building materials ensure low maintenance costs and levies.
Facilities: A community centre and a restaurant. Walking distance from town centre.
Security: Great Brak is considered a safe area, and the estate is fully fenced with controlled access.
Medical: Medical care is available 24 hours a day and there is a fully equipped emergency room on site.
Starting price: R2 million.
Groenkloof also has three linked retirement villages in George, and the Reebok Village is linked to Groot Brak Retirement Village.
Levies: R705 per month.
Knysna Lifestyle Estate
Location: Knysna is a dream destination situated between George and Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route. Accessed via George Airport, a 40-minute drive away, the Knysna Lifestyle Estate is just off the N2 as you approach the town and take the Welbedaght Road up
into the mountains to the peacefulness of the countryside. Knysna is a little town that has it all: mountains, forests, lakes, a lagoon, world-class golf courses like Simola and Pezula, a bustling high street, a superb Waterfront precinct and island marina, and enough attractions to last a lifetime.
Homes: 52 elegant homes in a spacious setting, with just five homes per hectare. Victorian architecture, positioned among sleepy country lanes, walking paths and green belts, with views over the lagoon and mountains.
Facilities: A clubhouse featuring a lounge, library, billiard room, communal bar, a gym, heated swimming pool and sauna. The second phase will include a bowling green, tennis court and restaurant.
Security: 24-hour access control and security patrols.
Medical: 24-hour full care services, either home-based or in the HealthCare Centre. Assisted living units are available, and bedridden patients can be accommodated.
Starting price: R4.5 million.
Levies: from R2,300 per month, plus rates from R1,500.
Other Garden Route options
The Garden Route has several well-established towns surrounded by forests, rivers, the ocean and the mountains – it really is nature’s playground and well suited for all lovers of the outdoors. Stromboli’s Retirement Village in Plettenberg Bay, the Blue Mountain Retirement Village in George, or The Caves Retirement Village in Oudtshoorn all provide stress-free living in this little slice of paradise.
The Village at Langebaan Country Estate
Location: The 450-hectare Langebaan Country Estate is situated on the edge of the West Coast National Park and the Langebaan Lagoon. The luxury homes are set around the Black Knight Design golf course and indigenous fynbos, which supports prolific birdlife, tortoises and other wildlife. All homes are pet-friendly. Langebaan, which is known as the Jewel of the West Coast, is 120 kilometres from Cape Town via the coastal R27 and about a 90-minute drive from Cape Town International Airport.
Homes: The Village will consist of a total of 323 units made up of 25 one-bedroom courtyard suites, 55 two-bedroom courtyard suites, 71 two-bedroom cottages, and 172 three-bedroom cottages.
Facilities: Residents of the retirement village have access to all the amenities on the main estate, which include a clubhouse, restaurant and cocktail bar, gym, spa, bowling green, tennis courts, swimming pool and running and bicycle trails. There is also a golf course, mashie course, driving range, pro putt course and pro shop.
Security: Access to The Village is via two top-quality access control points that are staffed 24 hours a day. The perimeter is surrounded by an electric fence monitored via a ground radar detection system. A CCTV system covers the perimeter and common spaces. Intruder alarm systems have been installed in each home, with 24/7 panic buttons.
Medical: The Village provides healthcare in partnership with Medwell SA. The Care Centre provides primary healthcare and assisted living, and a nurse is on call 24/7. Ad hoc services include post-operative and recuperation support and care.
Starting price: R1,472,500.
Other Western Cape options
The wild, rugged beauty of the West Coast – and the friendliness of the myriad tiny towns that dot the landscape where slow living and time are savoured – is the perfect setting to live each moment to the full. Fonteine Village in Malmesbury is half an hour from Cape Town, around the corner from Darling and an easy drive to Yzerfontein, the West Coast National Park and countless wine farms and farm stalls to explore.
The Overberg region in the Western Cape, best known for whale watching, glorious beaches, coastal paths and fishing villages, has some lovely quiet country-style estates, like Napier Village in the arty town of the same name, or the Larenbosch Estate in Bot River, where the Barrel and Beards Festival celebrates the harvest each year.
The Winelands extends over a large area of the Western Cape, and the Robertson Lifestyle Estate in Robertson is only an hour away from Cape Town via Du Toitskloof Pass, and on the doorstep of over 100 wine estates around town and in nearby Worcester, McGregor, Ashton and Montagu.
KwaZulu-Natal offers plenty of rural wonders. The Midlands area alone has a host of retirement villages within two hours’ drive of Durban. Have a look at St John’s Village in the heart of the KZN Midlands, as well as the variety of offerings from the Amber collection in the same area. The Evergreen Lifestyle group has villages in Hillcrest, Zimbali and Umhlanga Ridge.
The Eastern Cape, with its charming little towns, hundreds of kilometres of uncrowded beaches and gorgeous nature reserves, is possibly the most underrated province, so it’s a bit under- represented, but new developments are popping up all over the place. Settlers Park in Port Alfred, for example, offers coastal small- town living at its best.
Limpopo province is a good area for those who can’t bear to be away from the bush, and Klein Kariba outside of Bela-Bela offers the ideal setting for anyone who has the veld imprinted on their soul.