Many South African over-60s, who are still in their homes, are exploring alternative options for accommodation in retirement. There are several big questions around retirement when it comes to housing/accommodation:
- Should we be downsizing?
- Where are we going to live?
- Where will I live if my health deteriorates?
Signs that it could be time to explore alternative options for accommodation in retirement:
- You are either retired or preparing for retirement
- All of your children have moved out of the family home
- There are rooms in the house that are not being used
- It is becoming increasingly difficult to manage a large home and garden
- The costs of maintaining the family has become a burden due to being on a fixed and/or limited pension.
- You feel it’s time to be living a simpler life so you can lock up and go, have more time with family and friends and travel to those bucket list destinations
Where do you want to live?
Do you want to live in a smaller home, a retirement village or a flat within a retirement complex? Do you want to live near friends, your children and grandchildren, in the country, the city or by the sea? What sort of climate are you looking at? Do you want to be close to medical facilities? Or do you want to stay in your family home?
Let’s look at three options for accommodation in retirement.
To downsize or not – that is the question!
Downsizing means moving from your family home to a smaller home, simultaneously reducing the amount of possessions that you own.
Thoughts to consider when downsizing
- Research, research, research and then plan, plan, plan
- Downsizing can bring about an emotional rollercoaster. Don’t move on impulse and make sure you do your homework thoroughly to ensure that you are prepared emotionally before moving.
- We can’t emphasize this enough – run the numbers before you start packing. Check out the financials, the total cost of downsizing. Consider all the hidden expenses. And when you think you are ready to make a decision – consult a Financial Advisor for assistance in crunching the numbers.
- Consult three or four estate agents – get a realistic estimate on your home’s current market value.
- It has probably been a while since you last bought a home. Don’t forget to factor in all the additional costs – legal fees, estate agent commission, moving costs, levies, maintenance, security and all possible hidden costs.
- Consider your friends and family. Some say that as you get older, your social network becomes even more important than your family. If you move, will you be further away from good friends?
- Are there activities that you would enjoy in the new vicinity? Are there health-care services available? What sort of transport is available?
- Will you be able to live in your new home for a long time? Does it have the features that enable ageing?
- Be honest about why you are considering moving. Consider the financial reasons and the practical reasons. Assess your current and possible future needs so that you can reach old age with dignity and comfort.
- How about renting in the new area for a year before you sell up the family home? This will give you a good idea of what your new location is like throughout the year, and whether moving to this new area is the right move for you.
Benefits of downsizing
- You will simplify your life
- You will reduce your accumulated lifetime possessions which have probably become a burden
- Downsizing could mean easier, cheaper, less stress
- You could increase your retirement pot
- Your home-maintenance and utility bills will reduce for years to come.
- Lock up and go and travel more frequently
Moving to a home within a retirement village
- Properly investigate the governance, costs and services of a village before you commit yourself
- Do your homework and visit a number of retirement villages. Inspect their facilities, and talk to staff and residents
- Know and understand the type of purchase option that the retirement village is offering i.e. Sectional Title, Share Block Scheme and Life Rights
- Specifically ask about the cost and type of care – the frail care as well as specialised care. Ask if carers are available to stay in homes, if required?
- Do some research on the developer, their track record and reputation
- Ask about the financial stability and the reputation of the village owner/developer
- Ask about levy increases from year to year, and enquire if there are any special/additional levies or costs involved in the ongoing use of facilities
- Ask if there are any potential developments for the village
- Ask if an emergency system is available and regularly checked?
- Ask about the security measures in the individual residences as well as the surrounds?
- Speak to your Financial Advisor and obtain his/her advice
Benefits of living in a retirement village
- More affordable living – facilities and services can be provided at a lower cost than if you were paying for them as an individual.
- Social contact – being part of a community of like-minded people gives you priceless social contact, companionship, interaction and physical and emotional security.
- Onsite specialised health and frail care – this is a huge benefit as you age and get to the point where you need medical or nursing care.
- The convenience of “lock up and go” in a secure environment
- Plus all the benefits of downsizing – see above
Staying in the family home
Thoughts to consider when staying in the family home
- Will you be able to afford the upkeep and maintenance of the family home?
- Do you have family and/or friends who live in the vicinity who could help you in times of need?
- Can you walk to the shops in the event when you are no longer able to drive?
- Are you prepared for multi-generational living? There is a worldwide growing trend towards multi-generational living – where adult children and their families are moving into the family home, and baby boomers are looking after ageing parents.
- Can you adapt your current home to meet your physical and financial needs in later life?
- Have you investigated home care? Have you got the space for a carer to stay? Can you afford a carer? It’s best to investigate your options in advance, rather than in the time of crisis.
- If you need more income – have you considered renting a room or granny flat on AirBnb or turning the garage into a bedsit for a more permanent tenant?
The Bottom Line
We get back to the importance of retirement planning – consulting a Financial Advisor and/or Life Coach brings about a sense of realism, and highlights things that you might not necessarily have considered. A Financial Advisor who you trust will help you walk through a financial decision such as this.
Further articles in this series:
The unique challenges of Retirement: Challenge #1 – Retirement Age – click here
The first in a series of You’ve Earned It articles looking at key retirement challenges and important issues facing retirees in South Africa today.
The unique challenges of Retirement: Challenge #2 – Working in retirement – click here
Working in retirement has become essential for many South Africans in order for them to bolster retirement savings, maintain their lifestyle in retirement, and just to exist…