The best retirement destinations in South Africa

Retirement means many different things to many different people. Some long for the day they can leave that nine to five behind them and never look back, while others dread the potentially empty days that await them on the other side of sixty-five. The one thing we all have in common is the need to plan and prepare, and that includes deciding where we want to spend our retirement years.

A great destination that provides plenty of entertainment, social opportunities and lifestyle amenities can turn your retirement into the happiest years of your life. We chat to Rawson Property Group representatives from two of South Africa’s favourite retirement destinations about what people can look forward to when retiring to these charming towns.

The beautiful Knysna as seen from the air

The Garden Route has always held a special place in the hearts of South Africans, so it’s no wonder that Knysna is a favourite amongst retirees. Called “The Jewel of the Garden Route”, Knysna is one of the top coastal destinations in the country, offering a vast variety of water and land activities to suit all ages and lifestyles.

“When you move to Knysna,” says Peter Southey, the Rawson Property Group franchisee for the area, “you find a friendly population that is always willing to welcome a newcomer. Whether you’re looking for a quiet lifestyle and just want to chill, or prefer to keep busy with social groups and activities, Knysna has plenty to offer retirees.”

According to Southey, there is a very active social scene for the retired sector in Knysna, including a dynamic branch of the University of the Third Age, the largest Rotary Club in the district (which covers everything from the Western Cape, to the Northern Cape, to Namibia and Angola), a Music Society and even a local choir. For those preferring their own company, however, the ocean, forests and mountains also offer an idyllic backdrop for a quiet afternoon.

Plenty of retirees opt for freehold properties, relying on the excellent medical care available from the local public and private hospitals, but there are also several retirement complexes in Knysna that offer great facilities and services, as well as frail-care. “You’ll find retirement villages on Leisure Island, in Belvedere Estate and Hunter’s Village, and even one in the centre of town,” says Southey, “but they are all fully-occupied, and have waiting lists to get in. If you’re looking for something more immediate, there is a new development in the Welbedacht area,” he reveals, “which is selling well at the moment, and there could be two or three more in this lovely part of Knysna in the near future.”

For those looking to buy, you can expect prices ranging from R1.25 million to R4 million in retirement villages, R500 000 to R3 million for an apartment, and R750 000 to R20 million for a freehold cottage or house.

To help you narrow down your decision, Southey welcomes visits to his offices, and will happily arrange a tour of Knysna’s neighbourhoods, estates and complexes to discuss the costs and benefits of each one. “Nothing in Knysna is more than fifteen minutes away,” he says, “so your ideal neighbourhood could be just around the corner.”

The tranquil Fish Hoek

Fish Hoek, just outside of Cape Town, is another very popular destination for over sixty-fives, with a similar seaside location to Knysna, but a slightly different atmosphere.

“Fish Hoek feels like a laid-back village,” describes Kim Mann, Office Manager for the Rawson Property Group franchise in the area. “People take the time to chat to each other and make an effort to develop friendships.”

With its wholesome, old-school ambiance, you might expect to find old-school facilities as well, but Kim is quick to point out that Fish Hoek has all the practical needs of its residents covered. “From looking after your car, to caring for your pets or you garden, to first-class frail-care facilities and dedicated home nursing services, you have all the help you could possibly need on hand,” she says.

As for entertainment, that’s covered too. “We have a Tennis Club, a Bowls Club, a Historical Society, a Library, several Bird Watching Clubs, churches of every denomination, and much more,” says Mann. “If you like to volunteer,” she adds, “you can also help walk the dogs at TEARS, or work with the penguins at SANCOB.”

If you like to keep active, there are many hiking trails in the area, with varying intensities to suit all fitness levels. Quieter days can be spent enjoying the beaches, numerous restaurants and cafés, or practising your golf swing at the Clovelly Country Club.

“There is strong demand for retirement complexes in Fish Hoek,” says Mann, “and places like The Avenues, Silvermine Village, Nerina Gardens, Peers Village and Carlisle Lodge typically have waiting lists. Stock is limited, but there are new developments like Evergreen Retirement Village under construction.”

Price-wise, you’re looking at around R10 000 per month for life-rights ownership in a retirement village in Fish Hoek (after the initial lump sum), but if you not a fan of complex life, you can buy apartments from R550 000 and houses from R1.3 million and up.

Mann’s advice, if you’re looking to move to Fish Hoek, is to bring your sunscreen, hat and a good book, and get ready for a warm welcome from the famously friendly Fish Hoek residents.

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