Skip to main content

Time to get real about retirement!

By July 25, 2012May 24th, 2018No Comments

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

No Comments

  • Jilly says:

    Jackie, sounds like a brilliant idea … not that I have any skills, I’m afraid, but I have a husband who is one of life’s fixers … if it’s broken, he will worry at it like a terrier until it’s fixed! No land to offer either, I’m afraid, but I’m sure that if you persevere and get the word out, something will present itself. Well done!

    • Jaydee says:

      Hi Jilly,

      I did reply to you a couple of days ago, but don’t see the reply on this page, so I am writing again – probably I pushed the wrong button!

      Thanks for your comments! You seem to have a husband just like my late father.

      I will keep you posted if anything comes of my dream in case you would like to be a part of it or know someone else who would.

      Best wishes,

  • anotheroldie says:

    Jackie, now you are talking. I have been thinking along these lines for quite some time. In fact a few of my friends have discussed this. Not on the scale you envisage (which I think is GREAT !) but perhaps only a large enough house. I think a very secure place where you could do thiswould be in Orania. No, I am not kidding. Those guys are so self sufficient it is frightening. Also they are very hard working people with lots of empathy. The only problem I forsee is the land and services. You will not be able to afford land in a town therefore the countryside is the only other option, somewhere affordable and where there is no land claim on. Also somewhere where there are still services : water, electricity (this can be sorted though) sewage etc. Where this place is in SA, I do not know because there is nowhere without serious service problems. Believe me, I think you have a great idea and it can work. I also think there are many in exactly the same position as yourself. Anyway, I will also em you because i think we would be able to share many ideas.

  • anotheroldie says:

    My apologies Jackie, would you mind contacting me on :

  • Paula says:

    have you thought about contacting the Abbeyfield association.?they have widened their scope to include quite a few different housing models.
    best wishes Paula

  • Jaydee says:

    Hi Paula, I’ve never heard of Abbeyfield Association, but I’m going on the web straight away to see what they are about. Thanks!!!!!

  • Linda says:

    Absolutely brilliant idea. We live in a Park/Plett Home complex in KZN. Maybe something like this could work. However, one just needs to get the right “mix” of people together. Unfortunately, there are always the “doers” on the one hand, and the “moaners” on the other. I wish you all the very best for the future. I will “keep watching this space”. God Bless.

    • cathy.gerber says:

      hey Linda, I saw your comment and got really interested to hear where you are in KZN and how much it costs, because I too have thought of retiring into a plet home in Natal. Would you mind corresponding with me? I would surely appreciate

  • Jilly says:

    Hi, Jackie … sorry didn’t see your comment earlier. This subject has been rolling over in my mind and I remember so many beautiful manor houses in UK that are stunningly carved up into ‘apartments’ on two floors, each with its own slice of garden, plus the communal grounds. Surely something like this would work … Cape Town and Johannesburg certainly have their share of stunningly beautiful old very large houses. Worked in UK! What do you think? Jilly

    • Lyn Andrews says:

      On that note, I remember big English homes being divided up into several rooms/apartments, with several people in one big house. A kind of “Golden Girls” scenario. My grandmother lived in a huge English house which was divided up into six apartments – the “Matron” had one apartment. There were also a couple of small cottages in the garden, which were occupied by elderly couples. They all shared the rent and the expenses. Worked well.

  • foreveryoung says:

    Been thinking for some time that I would get a group of people to share my house in a couple of years time. (No stairs and enough space. Busy fixing at moment. Think it would work very well. Just need to get the right people and one could be self-sufficient. This is my plan b as I call it. Some people laughed, but seem to now be thinking along the same lines. One would not have to be in each others space all the time, but be there for all the right reasons or am I living in dreamland. Don’t think so though. (Caring, safety, companionship and working together for a great future. Anna

  • liana olivier says:

    I’m new to this forum, this plan seems to be brilliant but I can see a few snags, 1: it will be hit by higher rates as it will not be reacon as 1 property 2: Govt and SARS will get their nails into it and 3: we do not stay fit and healthy and what then.
    would love to hear some comments on 1, 2 and 3 mentioned. Liana

  • cathy.gerber says:


  • baasnaas46 says: This is the website of Scott Cundill and his Majestic Village near Nottingham Road. He started a similar type of development and maybe he can assist with some ideas

  • Jaydee says:

    Hi to all of you who commented on “Time to Get Real About Retirement”. To be honest, I thought interest had run out by now and I haven’t been looking at the Readers Post since about December last year – Sorry!!!!

    Yes, many people are interested! However, I am still looking for the financial, legal and building experts who have got the knowledge to see the practical implictions which I know nothing about.

    Anyone know of anyone?

    I am going to look into the Scott Cundill web site – thanks for that info Baas Naas!

    I’ll post anything new that comes up. Please keep your ears open for the NECESSARY PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE to help us achieve our dream.


  • Jaydee says:

    Hi All,

    Glad to report that I have just managed to purchase a little cottage very reasonably in a lovely little town in the Drakensburg. I need to replace the roof for which the Bank has granted me a loan. On the property is a very large “servant’s quarters” which I will be rebuilding and redecorating to make another little two bedroomed cottage. And then, hopefully I will build on a mirror image of the original cottage attached by one wall to the original cottage, and have three tiny houses to accommodate myself and two other couples or people. The community will have begun!

    I have my eye on the neighbours property which also has a little house on it and a large servant’s quarters.

    If God has opened each impossible door for the first three dwellings, who knows what other doors may open, and the above article’s dream may be achieved! WATCH THIS SPACE!!!

  • Rei Wille says:

    Sounds like a great idea. If anybody is interesting in doing something like u suggest in the Eastern Free State Ficksburg contact us we have land with lots of water and fertile ground available Best wishes and good luck Rei Wille

    • Jaydee says:

      Hi Rei Wille

      Sounds great! Thanks for the offer! Anyone with the expertise to set up a similar self supporting complex for seniors? You won’t get many offers like this – grab it and run with it – NOT FOR ANY FINANCIAL GAIN!!! The reason to bring something like this about must be to assist seniors who just don’t have the money to retire gracefully in a fancy retirement centre, but still have the brains and possibly physical energy to do something to support themselves together with a group of other people. The aim is: low cost but secure housing. To give and receive assistance from the rest of the group. For each person living there to remain independent as cost effectively as possible and for as long as possible.


  • Mdizman says:

    My heart goes out to all those seniors who experience financial hardships in their old age when it is too late to turn back the clock. One of the drawbacks of the capitalist system is that there are numerous super rich people out there who can financially support struggling people without denting their wealth but who fail to empathise and instead turn a blind eye.The obsession withwealth accumulation tranforms good people into wealth monsters.

    May the good lord provide solutions and relief to those in distress.


    • Jaydee says:

      Hi Mdizman,

      I’m really not looking for anyone’s financial help. What I need is the expertise and hands on work of experienced Architects, Lawyers, Builders, Plumbers, Electricians, (anyone who has expertise and good ideas on how to build economical, secure, housing and is willing to contribute their knowledge; and anyone who can work out the legalities of such a housing scheme and is willing to share their expertise without charge). We have brilliant retired people in South Africa, who can still offer so much in the way of advice and can invent new, better, simpler ways to do things if they would open their hearts and minds and explore what they know and adapt it to the needs around them. How many Doctors, Professors, and other learned people are sitting in their comfy retirement homes reading the newspaper, complaining about the world around them and their aches and pains? I desperately want to stir them up to some action to help others through their knowledge.

      Just imagine if there was a working community of seniors in every little town, and several in the larger cities. Thousands of seniors who would be supporting themselves for an extra 10 – 20 years. Thousands of people who would be assisting each other in their communities. Thousands of people who could be passing on their skills to children or adults who have never been able to afford schooling or education or skills training. Mechanics training up young mechanics, secretaries teaching typing and office skills, craftsmen teaching their crafts. Retired teachers giving extra lessons. Farmers sharing their knowledge. Nurses teaching how to care for the sick. Everyone making a contribution and earning a living – not aiming to get rich, but aiming to live healthy lives while contributing to others by way of their knowledge and skills.

      Of course, there are people who are old and too frail to create any income for themselves and they do need financial assistance just to survive.

      However, I believe there are thousands of us who if shown how, can live economically, build cosy, secure homes in a community and support ourselves financially and assist each other practically, and give back to those outside the community in need of skills and education . Where possible people should not be encouraged to sit back and rely on others to support them when they are quite capable of doing something to support themselves i.e making products, growing food, teaching skills, writing books, fixing things, arts and crafts etc.

      So, I don’t want anyone’s money – I just need your expertise – Please?!


  • Marilynh says:

    Mdizman, Jaydee, Rei

    Thank you for your interesting and relevant comments. We hope that our members continue to use this forum to voice and share their ideas and concerns.

    The old saying of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink” rings true in this conversation of “Time to get real about retirement”. Jaydee put forward her concerns and ideas to the YEI community, and has taken the enormous step of putting her plan into place and making it work. Rei has come to the party and added further possibilities. Let’s hope that the folk out there who are in a position to assist others in distress take this on board and advise how they can assist.

    I’m going to highlight this conversation in the next e-Newsletter, as other readers may be able to contribute their ideas and assist in taking these fascinating ideas to the next level.

    Let’s see where this conversation goes.

    Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • Marilynh says:

    A gremlin has crept in resulting in three lost comments posted by a YEI member – I am putting the comments back on this post in my capacity as YEI Editor – Marilyn

    Hello all,
    I am new to YEi and so excited to have come across the post. “Realistic about Retirement” I have been working on the ground with people over 50 for the past 2 years. I have done extensive research on the baby boomer generation. My assessment – the majority of us are in dire straits. Solution – self-sufficient communal kibbutz style living on a farm. Borehole water, solar heating, organic fruit and veg. Training and spa type conference centres to generate an incomes. The challenge is to find like minded people willing to take charge of their lives and create a brighter future. Would love to share ideas with others who feel the same way. Please Email me on

    Hi Jaydee.
    I have been chipping away at the implementation of all your ideas for a while now. Chatting to someone at the moment who has 565ha. If a trust is formed clearly stating guidelines, between like minded people this is all possible. It is the only way to navigate increased longevity in a failing economy. Kindly contact me on

    Hello Rei Wille,
    Your offer to Jaydee sounds amazing. Perhaps Ficksburg could be the pilot project. Very interested. Please contact me on

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.