6 Questions to ask before buying a retirement property

Whether you picture yourself living your golden years in a vibrant retirement community, jet-setting from a lock-and-go home base, or settling in a quiet cottage by the sea, choosing the right retirement property isn’t a task to be taken lightly.

According to David Jacobs, Gauteng Regional Sales Manager for the Rawson Property Group, these are the top 6 questions everyone should be asking before making any retirement property decisions.

  1. Will I be close to friends and family?

Most retirement-aged people will have spent a number of years in one town or neighbourhood, setting down roots, building a friend group and being with family. While retiring to a quaint cottage in a seaside town may sound idyllic, Jacobs cautions people not to take their community ties for granted.

“It’s very easy to say, ‘My kids and my friends will come visit me,’ but in reality, life often gets in the way,” he explains. “The last thing you want to do is end up feeling isolated and alone in your retirement. If you’re not joining a community where you can easily forge new ties, I’d definitely suggest staying within comfortable reach of the people you love.”

  1. Will I have easy access to the amenities I need?

Realistically, most retirees reach an age where they’re not comfortable driving long distances. That makes it important to find a retirement property close to the amenities you may need. Jacobs highly recommends retirement buyers check out the shops, restaurants, parks, social clubs and medical facilities in a neighbourhood before deciding to move in.

  1. Will I be safe?

It’s a sad fact that we become more vulnerable to crime as we get older. Your retirement property should be a sanctuary where you (and your belongings) feel safe and secure. 

“Security is one of the biggest draw cards for community living in retirement,” says Jacobs. “Both retirement-specific and ordinary sectional title developments offer far more sophisticated security than your average freehold property.

“It’s also comforting to have neighbours nearby who will notice if anything happens to you or your property,” he adds. “Freehold homes may offer more space and privacy, but can also be more isolating.”

  1. How much maintenance will I need to do?

Getting older inevitably makes basic home maintenance like mowing lawns and clearing gutters a lot more difficult to DIY. Unless you’re great at organising contractors, Jacobs suggests opting for a low-maintenance property that won’t take too much effort to keep in shape.

“This is another draw card for sectional title properties where a significant portion of maintenance is handled by the body corporate,” he says. “Of course, if you’re an avid gardener, you’re going to want to opt for a townhouse or ground floor apartment rather than the lowest maintenance option of a lock-and-go apartment.”

  1. What costs will I need to budget for?

All properties come with monthly bills. Freehold properties have rates, water, electricity and sanitation services, and sectional title properties add levies to that list as well.

“Retirement communities often have much higher levies to pay for value-adding services like social clubs, healthcare and communal dining, for example,” says Jacobs. “You’ll need to weigh up the value these might add to your life to figure out if they’re worthwhile for you.”

Jacobs also cautions buyers to make certain they understand the full implication of any life rights conditions that may apply to retirement properties.

“These can make a big difference to your estate, which may or may not factor into your decision,” he says.

  1. Are there any restrictions that may impact my freedom?

Your retirement should be a time to enjoy life’s pleasures, not a time to be limited in what you can and can’t do.

“If you’re buying into a sectional title development, in particular, you’re going to want to read the code of conduct to check any restrictions,” says Jacobs. “A lot of places may not be pet friendly, for instance, which would be a dealbreaker for fur parents. Ultimately, your chosen property needs to support your ideal lifestyle as well as any activities – and cohabitants – that will bring you joy.”

Thinking of making a move to a comfy retirement property? For all your buying and selling needs, contact the Rawson Property Group on 021 658 7100 or email marketing@rawsonproperties.com 
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