Opportunities for retirees are increasing but for those seeking the best investment, it’s worth keeping up to speed with trends and being prepared to invest earlier
Investors see South Africa as a land of retirement opportunity. Yet, despite our clement climate, excellent private healthcare providers and an increasing number of new retirement estates being built to meet demand, retirement planning requires careful financial consideration. Comparing all the investment options well ahead of time and registering early is key. For many years, retiring to a leading estate in the Cape was the trend, but with multigenerational mature lifestyle estates on the increase countrywide, the whole balance has changed. Interestingly, recent strategic planning and a more holistic approach to the reality of retirees’ needs in KwaZulu-Natal is paving the way for increased retirement development in the province. We look first at the creation of what could be retirement’s leading province in the near future, and then, on page 56, we compare a selection of estates and developments in the rest of the country.
Retirement haven of KwaZulu-Natal
For developers of retirement villages and estates, getting the numbers to crunch while still meeting retirees’ needs, pockets and expectations is often a tricky recipe, and one of the major reasons why there has been a bottleneck of retirees and retirement options. This has been particularly applicable in hot property areas such as the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, where property/land prices are at a premium. The advice always given to retirees is ‘retire near where you live’ or ‘don’t move away from friends and family’. Yet available facilities – particularly affordable ones – have waiting lists of 10 years or more. Tongaat Hulett Developments (thdev.co.za) – or THDev – has vast land holdings in KwaZulu-Natal, and the increasing clamour by retirees for suitable developments prompted it – through Rainmaker Marketing – to conduct intensive local and international research into retirees’ fine print. The North Coast in particular ticks many retirement boxes, from climate to easy access to air travel and the seaside. The upshot is that retirement developments are now part of the broader THDev plan.
The impact of longevity
Although THDev is not the only facilitator in this space, it is driving the concept of KwaZulu-Natal as the country’s most desirable retirement capital. It is not at all far-fetched. For some time, developers have reported that up to half the interest in KwaZulu-Natal as South Africa’s retiree haven emanates from Gauteng. A factor affecting financing of retirement is longevity. Globally, average life expectancy has increased by five years since 2005. The over-60 market has been the fastest growing population group over the past five years. More retirees, living longer and stronger, also means there is often a shortfall in retirement savings. Retirees downscaling focus as much on finance as on size. But there is good news, because ground is breaking throughout the province on retirement facilities. uMhlanga has always had a few highly sought-after retirement villages, but increasingly, there are villages within gated estates so a range of age groups can live together or as neighbours.
Brettenwood Coastal Estate (brettenwood.co.za) in Ballito is a good example. ‘There was a shortage of North Coast retirement products,’ says sales director Peter Cameron. ‘We wanted an estate where grandparents could live in the best retirement village in the province, and their children could live down the road in a freestanding house or within an apartment, all within the safe walls of Brettenwood.’ Phase one, two and three sold out between 2008 and 2015 — a total of 159 homes. Values have increased by 40%. In Salt Rock, Palm Lakes Retirement Village (palmlakesfamilyestate.co.za) is located within Royal Palm Property Holdings’ Palm Lakes Family Estate. More than 500 homes range from full title to sectional title and flats, and there is an Aldem Health Care (aldem.co.za) onsite clinic for basic healthcare services. A medical levy includes all primary and emergency healthcare as well as emergency ambulance services, and there is optional home care and frail care services.
The North Coast has two new developments, one high-end, the other more affordable. Alongside Zimbali is Lazuli (lazuliestate.co.za), aimed at the elite 50-plus market. Glenn Hesse, MD of Cenprop Developers (cenprop.co.za), describes Lazuli as an ‘upmarket, brilliant location, young retiree sectional title lock-up-and-go units with sea and/or golf course views, from R3.5 million to R7 million’. ‘We’ll have a fabulous gym, 25m heated training pool, 30m eco-pool, 4ha landscaped gardens, dams, wetlands, a business centre with offices to buy or rent, staff allowed, pets permitted and a wellness/care centre (not frail care) for short-term, five-star recuperation,’ Hesse says. ‘Picture Oyster Box-style accommodation for a few days.’ Phase one includes about 100 units, the first 23 under construction; phase two will comprise 30 units, and there will be 40 freehold sites for bespoke homes.
Land at Sibaya Coastal Precinct (discoversibaya.co.za), bordering Umdloti, is the massive multiuse development being strategically released to developers by Tongaat Hulett. The first retirement product is due to be launched in the first quarter of this year. ‘We have adopted four pillars that will be the overarching ethos in every retirement development that Carmel Care plans to initiate – lifestyle, care, security and sustainability,’ says Wesley Smith of Carmel Care Properties (a division of Carmel Care), which is behind the 400-unit development. ‘As a development team, our main objective is to create an opportunity where seniors can embrace retirement and live active, healthy lives within a lifestyle estate at a price point most suited to a larger segment of the retirement market,’ says Smith. Rainmaker Marketing’s research indicated that 27% of the market seeks a price point between R2 million and R4 million. This product is tailored to meet this midmarket segment. Pets are allowed and each unit has an allocated storage facility.
What are your options?
KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast has always been considered a more affordable retirees’ haven and there are numerous retirement or lifestyle options that follow the life right model. Three Umdoni Retirement Villages are nonprofit organisations that offer affordable accommodation, but have a long waiting list. More recent sectional title offerings include Wesley Properties’ Lakeview Lifestyle Retirement Village in Scottburgh, which offers an over-50s lifestyle estate complete with clubhouse, indoor and outdoor pools, and other amenities. When complete, it will total 98 cottages, 14 one-bedroom flats and 28 bedsits, with frail-care facilities at affordable rates. Also in Scottburgh, Renishaw Hills Lifestyle Village (renishawhills.co.za), part of the Mpambanyoni Conservation Development, is focused on the environment.
The design philosophy includes interconnected villages, solar panels, grey water harvesting, passive cooling and patios for natural ventilation. Phase one of the plot and plan designs is complete, phase two, recently launched. Ultimately, there will be 350 standalone homes and 170 flats. There is an on-site health service. Says developer Phil Barker of Renishaw Property Developments: ‘The properties are sold under sectional title, which is a community scheme encompassing individual ownership of properties (via title deed) plus an undivided share of common property.’ However, there are other options for buyers. There are excellent options in the Upper Highway area – Hillcrest Country Retirement Estate (hillcrestretirement.co.za); developers Roy Alderdice and Julian Beare’s Rob Roy Luxury Retirement (robroylifestylevillages.co.za), where phase four of 16 flats, called Inverness, has recently launched; and the over-50s lifestyle village of Le Domaine (ledom.co.za) in Inanda Road.
KZN’s retirement capital
But the retirement capital of KwaZulu-Natal is Howick. From a tiny village fringing the Midlands, it has become the choice of retirees from Pietermaritzburg, Gauteng and other parts of South Africa in equal measure. Affordability, pricing, climate and country living are the drivers. Vaughan Armstrong, director of Logivest 9, the company which developed Amber Ridge, Amber Lakes and Amber Lee villages, part of the Greater Ambers retirement complex (amber-valley.co.za), says Howick began as a retirement destination in 1989 when Ian and Rob Taylor developed the 400-unit Amberfield Village. Amberglen and Amber Valley (completed by the Taylors’ associate, Terry Aupais) followed. The last 30 units of Amber Lee are planned for this year.
A growing market
Armstrong says Amber Valley was the beginning of the Greater Ambers, a complex of independent sectional title villages (Amber Valley, Ridge, Lakes and Lee) co-operating to their mutual benefit in the sharing of services, facilities and management personnel. ‘This co-operative arrangement results in minimal duplication of facilities and services. It also results in substantially reduced levy payments because of the economies of scale of contributions towards operating and maintenance costs from the residents of about 1 100 houses,’ says Armstrong. The average size of units in the Ambers is about 155m2, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study and a double garage. Such a unit in 2016 sold for R2 million. Purchasers in the early phases of Amber Valley have seen an annual escalation in the value of more than 15%. Many units are rented out.
Hesse is developing St John’s Village (stjohnsvillage.co.za), a multigenerational, multiuse country-style estate where fishing, designated vegetable/herb allotments for residents, pets, The Orchard House coffee shop and more replicate village life. ‘It’s ideal for families, either in The Vineyards as one huge family unit in a larger home or separately with grandparents in The Arboretum or The Orchards and the younger family in The Vineyards,’ says Hesse. There are a range of options: sectional title, freehold sites to design and build a home within architectural guidelines, or ready-built homes from subdevelopers. Hesse says The Meadows will be released in April or May, a ‘pocket’ focused on families with children. Completed houses sell for between R1.795 million for a freestanding, sectional title unit and R3.6 million for a double-storey family home.
Joburg, Cape Town and the Garden Route
When it comes to retirement in KwaZulu-Natal, the market is there and growing. But there are also retirement leaders in Joburg, Cape Town and the Garden Route. When considering a retirement destination, priorities could include location and specialist care as highlighted by these options.
Leaders in style
Situated between Pretoria and Johannesburg, Waterfall Estate (waterfall.co.za) is a satellite city with its own hospital, schools and central business district. It will ultimately contain three mature lifestyle developments, the first being Waterfall Hills Mature Lifestyle Estate. It has received two CNBC International Property Awards: Best International Retirement Development in the World and Best Retirement Development in South Africa, and the Globals 2011 World’s Best Retirement Resort.
La Clemence (laclemence.co.za) is a luxury retirement village in the Cape Winelands that, when complete, will incorporate 138 architect-designed homes, offered for freehold ownership. The village has been designed to be a modern interpretation of the Cape Dutch style, amid beautifully landscaped gardens. It launched in 2005 and has sold out in each of its four development phases. As it nears completion, most of the homes in the development are already occupied, although some homes are available for resale.
It also offers frail care and subacute facilities for both long- and short-term stays. And although the idea of leading style in retirement is usually focused on freestanding homes, there are many who would prefer to retire into apartmentstyle living. One to watch is a new retirement hotel concept under development in Plettenberg Bay that provides high-end retirement accommodation in luxury one-and two-bedroom apartments, with either sea, river or mountain views. The Plett Platinum, as it is called – developed by Chas Everitt (chaseveritt.co.za) – is located in the hub of Plett, with easy access to boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants. The apartment block will have a reception area, luxury lounge, dining room, library, gym, spa, pool and hair salon. It will also have a frail-care suite with a state-of-the-art care centre and nursing station, but assisted living will take place in the residents’ apartments. Apartments are available on a sectional title basis.
Leaders in value
While for most retirees, their choice of a retirement home is dictated by location, comfort and amenities, many still want their asset to appreciate over time. Many non-retired investors are now considering the value contained in retirement developments. According to the Collins Group (collinsgroup.co.za), one of South Africa’s largest private developers, retirement estates are becoming an exceptionally lucrative prospect as they experience great capital appreciation and rental returns. The Collins Group’s Mount Edgecombe Retirement Village (merv.co.za), for example, is a particularly good investment opportunity. It is secured with a deposit. Then, after 18 to 24 months, the first payment is made on transfer, with the property already enjoying a 20% to 30% capital growth in that period.
‘An example of retirement investments experiencing capital appreciation can be seen within established retirement estates in uMhlanga,’ says Murray Collins, director of the Collins Group. ‘Certain units have appreciated by more than 200% over a two-year period and rental income, on a moderately sized three-bedroom unit, fetches between R16 000 and R20 000 per month. This makes for an exceptionally strong and stable annuity income once the unit is paid off.’ Hein Ehlers, CEO of the Devmark Property Group (devmark.co.za), agrees: ‘Retirement villages have proven to be some of the best property investments with high returns being the order of the day. Some of our retirement villages have shown capital growth of 40% over three years. This is phenomenal growth.’ Their star returns performer has been Helderberg Manor in Somerset West, which stands among their other successful villages including Cle du Cap, Heritage Manor, Onrus Manor, La Vie Est Belle, Villa Cortona and Plettenberg Manor
Leaders in location
The Garden Route, Cape Town and the Winelands include leading retirement villages, making them attractive options – especially for those who want to either buy freehold and build a house large enough to holiday together with family while living within an estate with all the frail care amenities. In the Winelands, MSP’s Zewenwacht Lifestyle Estate (zevenwacht-lifestyleestate.co.za) includes views of Table Bay and False Bay from its own lookout point. It offers 99 upmarket two- and three-bedroom units with double garages for over-50s and has a close link to fully equipped frail care. Interest by younger buyers has revealed the rising trend in investing in a retirement property while still working. Nooitgedacht Village, which is located in the historic Nooitgedacht Estate (nooitgedachtestate.co.za) in Stellenbosch, is a mixture of residential, commercial and retail components that cater for all phases of life – from young couples starting a family to retirees. This is another example of integrated, multigenerational estates offering retirement homes within the village, so that owners can interact with the community and benefit from the shared facilities.
Val de Vie Estate (valdevie.co.za) has recently announced that it will launch a retirement village. Again, residents will have access to top-class facilities, including frail care, but will also be integrated with the other benefits of living on this secure and exclusive polo estate. There’s a vibrant mix of cosmopolitan residents and families of all ages, all within a 40-minute drive of Cape Town. Along the Garden Route, one of the most popular choices is currently the Knysna Lifestyle Estate (kle.co.za), with both freehold and life right options, making it one of the most attractive retirement destinations on the Garden Route to invest in. Residents have the benefit of living within the picturesque town of Knysna along with magnificent views of Knysna Lagoon and the Heads.
Monte Christo Retirement Estate (montechristo.co.za) is situated on a 54ha eco-estate also along the Garden Route, with panoramic views of Hartenbos and Mossel Bay. It offers retirees a choice of property options with the opportunity to customise their own homes by choosing from a selection of top-end finishes. Of course, for many people, a beautiful location is not the only priority when selecting a retirement destination and proximity to family is their most pressing criteria. The Waterkloof Marina Retirement Village in Pretoria by Central Developments (centraldevelopments.co.za) is a prime example of such an estate. From phase one, the development will have a 24-hour frail care centre, medical consulting rooms, a restaurant, central lounge, library facility, laundry services, cleaning services, a pool and a convenience shop.
Leaders in specialist care
It can be hard for retirees to know in advance what level of care they might need in future. For this reason, it is critical to give careful consideration to the medical facilities and amenities of any retirement estate or mature lifestyle village. The very frail are often not accepted if they aren’t already residents in the village before needing care. However, according to Marlize van Rooyen, the marketing director of Retirement Villages SA (retirementvillagessa.com), assisted living is taking over from frail care, as retirees prefer to ‘age in place’ or stay in their own accommodation while receiving the care they need from mobile nursing staff. ‘Because both traditional assisted living and care centres are the more expensive components of a village, villages of the future will have to consider care in all units to prevent the current shortages in care availability from recurring and to be relevant and financially viable,’ she says.
Nonetheless, many estates offer both frail care and assisted living, based on their residents’ needs, and other upmarket retirement estates ensure that there is a high-end hospital in close proximity. Riverside Manor in Sunninghill (riversideretirement.co.za), for example, has a fully equipped frail care wing with up-to-date facilities and equipment in a tranquil setting, surrounded by well-maintained gardens. It can accommodate 18 residents, each in a private room, with 24-hour nursing care. The village is close to the Sunninghill Medi-Clinic. The Livewell Group (livewell.care), which has branches in Bryanston and Somerset West, offers award-winning dementia care that follows the international trend of making their villages as homely and comfortable as possible, while retaining ties with the outside community. Says Lou-Ann van Heerden, an occupational therapist at the Livewell Group, ‘We have responded to this by adding homely task-orientated groups. Currently we are implementing a new activity group which creates a sense of helpfulness and initiates interaction between the staff and residents.’
The residents participate in activities such as gardening, or cooking with the kitchen staff, as well as interacting with the public in the coffee shop. The Somerset Lifestyle and Retirement Village (thesomerset.co.za) in Somerset West not only offers flexibility with life right and freehold options, but residents can also benefit from a special arrangement with the Livewell Suites, the high-care Alzheimer’s and dementia clinic (2km away) and the Vergelegen Mediclinic (1km away) for more advanced needs, in addition to the village’s own health care centre. La Vie Nouvelle in Broadacres (lavienouvelle.co.za) describes itself as a retirement estate and wellness centre, and has incorporated various healthy living characteristics into its design. It offers window placement to ensure enhanced natural air circulation, site placement to achieve peak natural heating and cooling, an exercise space for elderly rehabilitation, and integration with the surrounding wetlands for peace and tranquillity. There’s no doubt that the coastal retirement industry is one to watch and while areas such as Tokai might have reached capacity for new developments, developers are showing no signs of slowing down in other equally attractive areas. And, as the industry becomes more discerning and demanding of top health-care facilities combined with improved architectural designs for more attractive villages than we have seen in the past, so the playing fields become highly competitive and more viable for younger buyers in their 50s.
Knysna Lifestyle Estate (kle.co.za) along the Garden Route includes both life right and freehold options, making it an appealing investment for buyers.