Life doesn’t always turn out the way we would have liked it to. Mine certainly hasn’t – has yours? I imagined that one day I would retire well catered for by a hardworking husband assisted by my added income once the children reached high school age. We would have a beach cottage and travel the world visiting all those places I’d read about.
But – here I am in my late 50’s, nearing retirement age, with all my earnings spent on just surviving day to day. I haven’t even managed to see much of South Africa, let alone go overseas! Oh yes, I do have a retirement fund, but this only came into being about 15 years ago, and the pittance it will pay out will not go very far with the incredible rise in the cost of living! What will I have to live off in twenty or thirty years time? I certainly do not want to become dependant on my children, and I cannot afford to move into one of the lovely retirement centres. I cannot picture myself living in a bed-sitter in the poorer part of a centre city area, where I am too scared to leave the building for fear of being mugged.
So, my “dream” or “vision” came about: I would like to find a group of like-minded, similarly “impoverished” people who want to build a group of tiny houses, perhaps 50sq. metres each, on a small holding in a rural district where land is still affordable. Probably some type of modular house or even a rondavel type cottage. Just the basics – one bedroom, one bathroom, practical kitchen and lounge/diningroom with a covered parking space. All about the size of a mobile home, but more stable and secure. Settlements all over the country could be established to cater for people who want to be near their families and friends in a specific area.
Then the group would become self supporting, each person creating their own income. A communal workshop barn would need to be built where items for sale could be produced. Possibly previously disadvantaged people in the area could be trained to produce goods such as leather shoes, handbags, carpets, woven goods etc. As I said in the beginning, this is still just a dream, and it would depend on who was part of that particular community as to what goods would be produced.
This group of people could also establish a type of Kibbutz system. Maybe one or two could cook the main meals; some could maintain the buildings; some could supervise the planting of vegetables and gardens; mechanics could fix vehicles, carpenters could produce wooden goods. Nurses could assist in areas of health. Maybe the group could run a tea garden or a pancake parlour on the premises with a gift shop stocking goods that the community have made in their spare time: jams, cakes, jewellery, pottery, art, stained glass, wooden items, home made items etc. In other words, they will still be bringing in personal income through the hobbies they have practised all their lives, or they could learn a new hobby that will bring in some extra cash. Also, when someone is ill, the others in the community could help nurse them, take them to a Doctor and look after their pets etc. In other words, each person in that community would commit to helping to take care of each other .
I imagine that the least amount of money needed to build a tiny house would be about R200,000.00 – maybe a brilliant architect along with a good builder could develop a practical, secure, fireproof, weatherproof, burglarproof abode at an even more affordable price?
Could this dream become a reality? I honestly don’t know. I am merely a secretary and caterer, and have no idea of what the legal implications of such a set up would be. I don’t know if the cost of housing could be brought down to an affordable amount.
Is there anyone out there in a similar position? Maybe you are single, divorced, widowed or even still married, but life has hit you with an accident or illness of a spouse or child which led to enormous medical bills. Maybe you spent your hard earned money educating your children so that they could have a better life than you did. Maybe you just worked hard all your life, but when facing retirement, there just seems to be very little left to retire on. Maybe you were retrenched or put on early retirement for one reason or another – and there is just not enough money to move into a retirement centre and sit in the sun complaining about all the aches and pains age is bringing on! Let’s get real – no one is going to help us face the future except ourselves and there is no way one can survive on a Government pension of R1080 per month.
Now is the time, while we are still in our late 50’s to find some way of making money at home. There are so many ideas on the Internet! Look them up and see what would be exciting for you to do. Do some sensible research – not all arts and crafts are money spinners. Some home crafted goods take so much time to produce, that the time can never be adequately paid for. Take some courses. Are you computer literate? Now is the time to update your skills. Now is the time to use at least some of the income you are receiving at present to prepare yourself for your retirement. Use this time to get together tools and knowledge to produce some goods or skills which will in turn bring in money. Study marketing, interior decorating, horticulture, photography, art – whatever gives you back your enthusiasm for life, explore it, check out the potential of it making enough money for you to live on in the future. Maybe your venture could even give others hope and income! Let us, with the help and wisdom of God, grab life and make it work for us and those around us.
I am looking for professional people (retired or still working) with a vision to help others with their knowledge and experience – architects, draughtsmen, electricians, builders, plumbers, town planners, attorneys, financial advisers, anyone who can give advice regarding economical housing, drawing up the plans of such houses, advice on the building of these houses, the legalities of a group of people living on a piece of land and supporting and helping each other and running some type of home craft or other business from the property not to mention all the other things I haven’t even thought of.
Are there people out there who have land they are not able to use? Perhaps you inherited it, but your heart is not inclined towards farming it. Maybe a group of us could use it for you, so that many people could benefit from it? I am sure that there are thousands of people in South Africa who could put their heads together and come up with workable plans for those who are willing to work through their early retirement years, but will not be able to achieve much with their individual efforts whereas, combined with other’s skills, expertise and encouragement could achieve much more.
Please contact Jackie Dittberner if you are interested in being part of a retirement Kibbutz housing scheme or if you are able to help or advise with the planning, building, financing and legalities thereof. I will try to co-ordinate things to bring about the establishment of at least one such community upon which others can be based in different areas in the country. Contact address: Mrs J Dittberner, Private Bag X313, Underberg, 3257