Shortage of retirement options in Cape Town, so prepare early

When it comes to retirement most people tend to wait until they are on the verge of taking that step to decide whether they will downscale to a retirement village or apartment or whether they will just buy a smaller unit and take care of their later health care needs themselves, says Shan Hulbert, sales manager at Knight Frank Residential SA.

He believes that waiting can be a mistake, as there is a shortage of retirement options in the Cape and to provide for private healthcare outside a retirement village or estate can become very expensive.

In most cases, says Juliet Bingham, head of sales and marketing at Faircape, retired people will want to buy in an area that is familiar to them and close to their friends and family. Surprisingly, Faircape has found that having friends close by is sometimes more important than having family members living in the same area.

The norm is usually to buy a unit, and Hulbert advises people thinking of downscaling to consider buying one ahead of time, and rent it out until they ready to use it.

“Most retirement centres in the Cape, whether apartment blocks, villages or estates, have long waiting lists  -some up to 10 years – and if you wait too long, you might find there is nothing available to buy or rent when you need it,” she says.

People are now living longer and would need secure, safe premises in which to live and Bingham says that Faircape has seen the need for these and is now building its sixth development. However, in Cape Town there is a lack of land available for development and many other options might have to be further out of town.

“The facilities in retirement villages should provide for medical emergencies, with trained staff such as nurses and at least one doctor, and there should be additional help from social workers, dieticians, and other healthcare workers, as this is what many people would need in their later years. If retired people decide they would rather live in a standard apartment or townhouse and take care of their own medical or frail care in later years, while an option, the costs and logistics of this must be borne in mind.”

Another trend that is now becoming more prevalent, says Hulbert, which could be because of the lack of available units and the rising cost of property, is for parents to move in with their children, either into a flatlet or a dual living property. This has benefits for the retiring couple and their children as the grandparents are then available to help with the care of grandchildren and they, in turn, have company and can be cared for by their children and grandchildren. This traditional system works in many cases, and could possibly be the answer to any retirement accommodation shortage.

“Whichever retirement option you choose, however, should be planned for well in advance, and not left until the year of retirement to act on. Apart from the lack of retirement accommodation, the general lack of property stock at present is presenting a challenge to everyone,” says Hulbert.

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