Should you invest in senior living for your retirement?

By Isabelle Coetzee

Once you retire and your responsibilities and needs have changed, you may consider moving into a senior living community.

But what do you really know about these facilities? We consider the options, the issue of life rights in property ownership, and some general misconceptions about senior living.

Tip: Don’t start your retirement while you’re deep in debt. Consider debt consolidation today.

What are senior living communities?

According to Gus van der Spek, founder and owner of life rights management company Manor Life, senior living is a term that covers a range of options.

These include residential lifestyle villages aimed at over 65s, assisted living facilities, and the most comprehensive frail care facilities.

“The right home is the one that works best for you,” says Van der Spek. It depends where you are in your life stage and what you are after. If, for example, you are pursuing a more active and social lifestyle, then residential lifestyle villages are probably the most appropriate option for you.”

When it comes to retirement planning, new developments are leading the way in terms of care, safety, and maintaining the lifestyle that people are used to.

“With baby boomers looking to shift their focus to a lifestyle that combines entertaining and care, there is an increase in demand and enquiries for retirement developments,” says Van der Spek.

He points out the following trends.

  • In the case of retirement estates, ease of access to amenities and facilities are key. Security and safety, convenience, and a home designed for leisure and comfort are becoming top priorities.
  • A home-based care model will become more prevalent as we go forward, with satellite specialised care facilities offering the cover needed by a relative minority.
  • There’s been a recent uptick in the number of retirees choosing to emigrate, particularly to sought-after coastal areas. Here they can enjoy comfort, convenience, access to amenities, and tranquillity.
  • Another trend is the demand for life rights rather than sectional titles when it comes to financing.

READ MORE: Is it wise to invest in industrial property?

Which senior living options offer the best value for money?

Van der Spek says that choosing to purchase property that offers life rights rather than buying a sectional title property, as was the case traditionally, is becoming an increasingly popular choice in senior living.

“Simply put, life rights buy you the right to live in a home in a retirement facility for the rest of your life,” says Van der Spek.

He explains that life rights offer great benefits for those looking to retire, such as no transfer duties, no special levies, extensive facilities, reduced costs of living, and developers having an interest in the property.

What misconceptions are there about senior living?

Van der Spek says that most families consider senior communities as a type of "old-age-home", but this couldn't be further from the truth.

“Nowadays these estates are designed for leisure and lifestyle, with consideration given to the age group which they cater towards,” says Van der Spek.

“Once the kids have moved out, expansive lawns and big homes are superfluous. Maintaining large properties becomes a chore and a somewhat thankless task,” he says.

In contrast, Van der Spek says, the best retirement lifestyle villages offer simplified staffing options, easy access to primary medical care, high-end security, and centralised kitchen and communal facilities.

“The key is the simplification of these facilities, giving you more time to do the things you have always wanted to do, and the freedom to lock-up-and-go, knowing that while you are away everything just works,” he says.

Plan ahead for the day you retire. Save a portion of your income in a retirement fund.

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