The prevailing idea of retirement housing is the stereotypical old age home, a rather soulless, hospital-like environment where old folk survive, but certainly don’t thrive.
But things are changing, owing to South Africa’s large, growing population of older people, and the obvious gap in the market to house them comfortably and meaningfully. Tastefully appointed retirement villages are springing up all over the country, offering a community environment and access to amenities such as a clubhouse, gym and shops, as well as a downscaled, more manageable and secure lifestyle.
‘We’re definitely seeing an increase in the demand for upmarket retirement housing in South Africa, especially with the consistent rise in life expectancy in the country over the past 10 years,’ comments Arthur Case, CEO of Evergreen Lifestyle retirement villages.
Case says that Amdec Group, after identifying this growing section of consumers, established Evergreen Lifestyle, a division specifically focused on the provision of retirement accommodation. Evergreen now has several retirement villages – Broadacres in Gauteng; and Bergvliet, Diep River, Muizenberg, Lake Michelle and Noordhoek in Cape Town. December 2017 saw the launch of its gem, Evergreen Val de Vie in Paarl, which is their largest retirement village to date.
Apartment living in these retirement villages is especially popular, says Case. At Evergreen Broadacres, 24 new apartments have been launched for sale, with 108 new apartments planned. In Muizenberg, there are just eight units remaining, while Evergreen Noordhoek is under construction and, on completion, will have 150 units.
This speaks to the affordability factor, which is key for retirees. Thus the life rights model, whereby you purchase a home purely for the remainder of your life, is a robust trend in retirement villages, as the homes are more affordable compared to freestanding or sectional title properties.
Life rights is the purchasing model at Evergreen villages. ‘A life right provides the retiree with secure accommodation throughout his or her life, and that of a spouse, without their having to take responsibility for the maintenance of the property,’ explains Case. At Evergreen Val de Vie, in the country’s premier lifestyle estate, prices for life rights start at R2.78 million.
Life rights are especially suited to the elderly with dementia. Enter Livewell Villages, in Bryanston and Somerset West, which offer stunning luxury dementia care suites for exclusive lifetime usage ranging from R520 000 to R1.4 million, depending on their size, elevation, location on site, whether they have a view and other amenities such as garden access, balcony or verandah. A specially designed therapeutic programme offers a series of entertaining and rewarding activities that can be enjoyed by residents as well as day visitors. The residence is pet-friendly and Livewell conducts ‘pet management’ on behalf of the residents who wish to bring their pets. The monthly levy covering the 24/7 specialised care and other day-to-day services is R45,780 for Somerset West, and R49,050 for Bryanston (single occupancy).
Retirement lifestyle developers today are focusing more intensely on meeting the constraints, but also the needs and desires of today’s retirees, many of whom still work and do sports and hobbies with younger people.
This is the vision behind the Langebaan Country Estate retirement village being planned for launch in July, where residents will have access to every amenity in the estate along with direct access to quality healthcare, all within this visually spectacular and highly secure environment.
‘The established comforts within the Langebaan Estate will all be available to the retirement village residents, with the addition of full frail care facilities and assisted living for extra peace of mind,’ says Craig Scott, the developer.
Investors here are being offered freestanding and apartment life right units, all with optional care packages, with a levy stabilisation fund that will further secure their investment.
Similarly, the planned Harbour Bay Village in Simon’s Town will offer its retirees world-class amenities, benefits and conveniences, including a medical centre, shopping centre, eateries, and fitness and leisure facilities. And here, you can own your home, at prices starting from R1.59 million for a studio suite.
Supply of upmarket retirement property is especially limited in Gauteng, and only a few of these developments allow full ownership, or do not have age restrictions for buyers or investors.
One of these is the recently launched Celebration Retirement Estate in Fourways, where you can buy units from R810,000 and rent them out to tenants aged 50 or over for between R7,500 and R15,000 per month. Due to the high demand and limited supply of this calibre of retirement property – clearly evident in the 100 units sold at Celebration within the first 14 days of its launch – these properties also resell three times faster than other types of residential property.
‘Celebration Retirement Estate is the best retirement investment available in the market, offering returns on investment of up to 20% per annum from the first year,’ says Gerrit Brandow, director of Central Developments, which boasts a retirement portfolio of 11 developments, all of which offer on-site frail care facilities, a lifestyle centre and various amenities such as a dining room, recreation hall, hair and beauty salon, doctors’ consulting rooms, library, and so on.
Another opportunity is in Heritage Estate in Modderfontein, east of Sandton. A mature lifestyle estate offering 126 lock-up-and-go sectional title residences priced from R1.32 million to R2.6 million, with annual levies at around 1.5% of the sales price.
Set in peaceful landscaped gardens and covering four hectares, the centrepiece of this Estate is the stately Heritage House, built in 1910, which is being renovated to accommodate a dining hall, library and gentleman’s bar. The gardens overlook the Pavilion – built in 1925 – which will house a coffee shop.
TruCare Age-Well Solutions offers assisted home care and an onsite nurses station offering primary health care and wellness plans. The health fee is billed separately by the healthcare provider. Municipal rates and taxes are also billed separately from the levy and are the responsibility of the sectional title unit owner.Daily meals can be ordered for residents and the Estate is pet-friendly.
Further east is Eastlands Mature Lifestyle Estate in Kempton Park, which also offers sectional title homes, along with extensive wellness, healthcare and frail care facilities in a secure, beautiful setting, all managed by the leading authority in senior living, Geratec.
Over the past few years, the KZN South Coast has seen a much deserved spike in interest by retirees and investors alike. This is not surprising, as the warm seaside weather and vast expanses of natural land create an intoxicating mix that imbues the whole region with a laid-back mood and healthy way of life.
Also, one of the area’s biggest selling points is value for money. Retirees can look to invest in a well-constructed, sizable unit suited to their individual living requirements without having to go over budget. The new Renishaw Hills, near Scottburgh, is tapping strongly into this market.
Renishaw Hills is being established within the 350-hectare Mpambanyoni Conservation Development, and will be made up of several interconnected residential and commercial villages surrounded by pristine coastal forest and ocean views.
‘The maisonettes offered in Phase 2 sold quickly, with buyers attracted to the quality construction, incredible value for money and exquisite location,’ said Phillip Barker, managing director of Renishaw Property Developments.
KZN Midlands is also a magnet for retirees, and here you’ll find the idyllic St John’s Village near Howick, a 160-hectare country estate of which 65 hectares is open space, exclusively for over 55s. Here you can design and build your own Natal verandah-inspired home, or buy a sectional title one for upwards of R1.92 million.
Ultimately, the wider the choice grows, the better off today’s retirees will be.