Rental essentials for seniors

The Baby Boomer generation is renowned for being non-conformist – and its members are once again doing things differently when it comes to deciding where to live in their later years.
“Not only are they downsizing, which is to be expected,” says Gerhard Kotzé, MD of the RealNet estate agency group, “but now a large percentage are choosing to rent rather than buy, which is quite surprising since ‘Boomers have typically been big advocates of home ownership.”
In SA, he says, this may be happening to some extent because of the shortage of affordable purpose-built accommodation (retirement villages or homes) for the over-50s, “but we also find now that many seniors here are renting rather than buying for similar reasons to their counterparts elsewhere in the world.
“Recent research in the US, for example, showed that many ‘Boomers – the oldest of whom turned 70 this year - want the flexibility to move easily and stay close to their children and grandchildren who now relocate for work reasons much more often than they used to.
“Others just don’t see themselves as being ready for a retirement village and want a low-maintenance, in-between home that they don’t have to worry about too much while they travel, study, start a new business or think about where they might actually like to retire.”     
But whatever their reason for renting, Kotzé,says, ‘Boomers should take the following into consideration to ensure that their tenancy will be as pleasant and trouble-free as possible:
*Less work for you. Lock-up-and-go flexibility is the name of the game if you are going to rent, so make sure that all home maintenance and upkeep is included in your lease – especially if there is a garden or yard that needs looking after. You should also look out for homes that are freshly painted and that have modern appliances, plumbing and electrical fittings, so that there is less risk of time-consuming faults and malfunctions.  
*Accessibility. Avoid rental homes with stairs, different levels and difficult-to-access cupboards and storage spaces, especially if you plan to stay for quite a while. Look for modern elevators in multi-storey buildings or direct garage-to-home access in ground-level homes, as well as other universal design features such as walk-in showers, level floors throughout and task lighting in the kitchen. Just because you are renting doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality, comfort or convenience.
*Community. Choose a rental home that offers easy access to the things and places that interest you – such as places to study, or galleries, restaurants, music venues or theatres. And if you are renting in a complex, choose one with community facilities that you will use, such as a pool or a gym or braai facilities.
*Security. This is paramount, especially if you plan to travel a lot. Choose a rental home that has burglar bars and security gates on doors even if it is in a secure complex or building, and a proper lock-up garage. Put in a rented alarm system if it does not have one and consider some cameras linked to your smartphone that will enable you to monitor activity in and around the home whenever you are away.

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