Conversations around where to retire are taking a different tack as pandemic-induced economic pressure increases. Is SA or Mauritius more appealing?
WORDS: DEBBIE HATHWAY – PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
The global work-from-home trend now entrenched by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an uptick in property sales in smaller cities and towns (and islands, for that matter) as people swap city commutes for quality of life. Decisions to move are based on proximity to family, affordability, lifestyle, safety, security and healthcare. The order of priority depends on life stage and financial wellbeing. That said, Consolidated Wealth certified financial planner Peter Nieuwoudt flags the need for a long-term strategy to plan and save for retirement – even for those who might not be there yet. “Investing isn’t a sprint; it’s more like a marathon. You need to focus on cultivating the discipline and persistence necessary to achieve your financial goals,” Nieuwoudt says. Yet the best-laid plans can go awry. “As the cost of living skyrockets and savings dwindle, purchasing quality retirement accommodation in a secure community with the necessary amenities may no longer seem viable,” says Chris Cilliers, CEO and co-principal of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands.
“Life rights, the fastest growing scheme on the South African retirement landscape, offer unique advantages to retirees with less capital to invest but are often completely misunderstood,” he says. Life rights are ideal for those who prefer to leave the challenges and costs associated with house ownership, maintenance and sale to others while maintaining their lifestyle. Essentially, a capital investment by the retiree secures the right to occupy a unit in a lifestyle estate for the rest of their life, while the developer retains ownership. If the investor relocates or dies, the unit is ceded back to the development and the investment amount becomes part of the deceased estate. Buyers are urged to seek advice if necessary to ensure they understand the commitment before signing the contract. It is important to know what events qualify for a refund (usually death or relocation, but only once there is a replacement buyer), how long the refund will take and how much it will be. The latter would depend on the particular contractual agreement. Val de Vie Evergreen in Paarl is one option for those interested in a life right investment. This project won Best Leisure Development in the World at the 2021 International Property Awards, shortly after winning the category for SA in the regional vote. Even if a buyer is not ready to move in now but wants to get in at today’s prices, they can secure the deal and let the property for up to five years. The development is marketed by Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty and the Evergreen sales team. Unit prices range from R3.45m to R5.5m.
Meanwhile, residents at Oasis Life in Century City just north of Cape Town are attracted by its hospitality-based lifestyle. “Besides standard features such as security and modern, top-quality homes, we build our clubhouses in the first phase so that residents can enjoy a variety of facilities from the time they move in,” says Rabie Property Group director Mariska Auret. These include primary healthcare suites, a restaurant, a gym and multifunction rooms. “We do not offer frail care but our developments are close to hospitals and our residents have preferential access to the Oasis Care Centre in Century City,” says Auret. In Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs, Auria Senior Living has acquired a majority interest in Woodside Village, Rondebosch, which is currently being refurbished.
Auria develops, owns and operates gold-standard senior-living communities, with the award-winning San Sereno in Bryanston as its flagship. Its latest project, Royal View, is a 122-apartment senior-living development at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club. Sales commence in Q2 2021. “We refer to senior living because this stage of one’s life is not about retiring. It’s about a different set of needs and lifestyle choices defined by happiness, security, peace of mind and health,” says Auria founder and CEO Barry Kaganson. “Our aim is to develop communities that anyone over the age of 70 will choose for their high-quality lifestyle and amenities, whether they need assistance or not.”
This year South African buyers continue to demonstrate a strong appetite for offshore property investments. Portugal still enjoys the biggest demand, with the ultimate goal being EU citizenship, followed by Mauritius as well as Grenada, where US residency is a possibility. Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, says Mauritius sales were strong in 2020 despite the global lockdown and travel restrictions. This is expected to remain the case in 2021. “Mauritius as a retirement destination is difficult to beat, given its easy lifestyle, good weather, beaches, water sports, golf courses and sports clubs. Over the past 10 years, the facilities aimed at an active healthy lifestyle have exploded with a host of options both within residential estates and in the towns,” says Pam Golding Properties Mauritius director Richard Haller. “A large contingent of South Africans aged 55+ has chosen Mauritius as a place to reside full or part time.” What’s more, the island has the best Covid-19 record in Africa – a major incentive to move. Haller’s recommendations in the north include Mont Choisy Golf & Beach Estate in Grand Baie. Located on a lush site opposite Mont Choisy Beach, the estate is ideal for retirees wanting to enjoy estate living with a host of facilities.
“Mauritius as a retirement destination is difficult to beat, given its easy lifestyle, good weather, beaches, water sports, golf courses and sports clubs” Richard Haller, director, Pam Golding Properties Mauritius
“For those wishing to adopt the famously laid-back island lifestyle and make Mauritius their permanent home, one of only 20 boutique units at Les Résidences de Mont Choisy is for you,” says Haller. Key to its success is the combination of housing and services that allows residents to access swimming pools, a restaurant, a spa, fitness facilities, a beauty salon, a bar lounge and the exclusive Espace Club on site, should they wish to relax in their own environment. This 2Futures development is operated by Aegide-Domitys, the French leaders in senior residence living. ENL Property Limited consultant Rob Hudson highlights the government legislation that enables foreign investors aged 50 or over to apply for a renewable 10-year residency permit under certain conditions if they want to make Mauritius their home. “As a retiree, one does not have to spend the $375,000 on a property to obtain the residency permit. Therefore, at about R2.7m, the ENL Group’s two-bedroom apartments in Moka Smart City represent a far more affordable home option,” says Hudson. Moka Smart City is 10 to 15 minutes’ drive from the capital Port Louis and 30 minutes from the island’s international airport. Because many of the tech and financial services companies have moved to this area, it is now the economic heart of Mauritius, much like Sandton was to the Johannesburg CBD about 25 years ago. Ultimately, the maxim “home is where the heart is” applies. The toss-up is between a world in one country and the little island that could. Heads or tails?