Skip to main content


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?
  • Do we stay in our own home?
  • 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? Would you like to co-share?  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: Retirement Age

The unique challenges of Retirement: Challenge #2 – Working in retirement

The unique challenges of Retirement: Challenge #4 – Health

Finding your sense of purpose in retirement



  • Donald Pillai says:

    I am a pensioner and have just bought a home. I was wondering if there is there is any concessions for pensioners to help reduce the exorbitant transfer duties and costs. Also is there any concession for first time home owners?

    • Marilynh says:

      Dear Donald

      Not that we know of, I’m afraid. This is something that we will explore in the future.

      Kind regards
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • maureen count says:

    We are looking for an affordable retirement village in kzn, can someone please help. There are so many out there but out of our budget of R2 million. All are too small. We’d like a single story around 150 square metres.
    Are we looking for something that just doesn’t exist?!

    Would really appreciate some input.
    kind Regards
    Maureen Cout

    • Marilynh says:

      Dear Maureen

      I’m afraid that YEI is unable to help at this time. We have approached a property network in KZN but regrettably have not heard back from them. We will, however, concentrate our research on this, and should we come up with anything, we will get back to you.

      Sorry we can’t help you at this time.

      Kind regards
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • Sheila Schutte says:

    Try the Hibiscus Retirement Villages. There are currently 3 ( Ramsgate, Margate and Pennington) and they are currently building a 4th in Widenham, Umkomaas

    Don’t take our place now 🙂 !

    Sheila Schutte

  • maureen count says:

    Thank you Sheila, We’ve just come back from looking at a development called Renishaw Hills in Scottburgh and love it. Will look at your suggestions also.

    Thanks you.


    Good day, I am a pensioner, a white female, single, aged 63 and am seeking accommodation in the Western Cape – I live in a flat in Wynberg for the past 40 years and have usufruct (life rights)

    I can be called at: 021-7611866


    Lorraine Heinemann

  • Linda Sawdon says:

    Hi everyone any information on socalled Marigold homes – this is a type of cohabiting together. Heard it mentioned on the odd ocassion as an answer to above . I live in Plumstead , CapeTown in a modest cottage with limited income – cannot afford these retirement complexes in Cape Town – even Evergreen M/Berg out of price range!!

  • Bertha says:

    Good Evening to everyone, I am a widow over fifty, looking into opening up a co-housing in Johannesburg -this is mainly for people who are single and lonely – they would still have their space, and still have people around. Large open gardens, large bedrooms with ensuite. There are two large cottages with two bedrooms, there are three small apartments and four bedrooms ensuites in the main dwelling.
    This is giving someone space in a beautiful setting, where they can lockup and go or entertain their family if they visit or friends. It would be small and personal and unique. Giving someone a peaceful environment to live in and yet not be lonely.
    We have a large dining area, where breakfast , lunch, and dinner is served.
    Would anyone be interested in this type of living?

    • Bernardine says:

      Hi Bertha this is an old stream. I am looking for sonetjjng like what ypu are talking about for my mom and possibly my dad too. How can I reach you please? I also in joburg Bernardine

Leave a Reply

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