Trends that will define retirement living in 2022
MAIN IMAGE: Gus van der Spek, owner of Wytham Estate
Gus van der Spek of Wytham Estate
Retirement living is fast becoming one of the most in-demand sectors in the local property market.
The heightened demand for retirement living is driven by more and more people over 55 choosing to downsize from their family homes and the sector is evolving to keep up with the lifestyle requirements of this new demographic.
“2021 saw a significant shift in the features and amenities that prospective homeowners were looking for when deciding where to spend their golden years,” explains property developer and owner of Wytham Estate, Gus van der Spek.
“In 2022 we anticipate that retirees will continue to seek out a living option that allows them to retain their independence and the lifestyle that they had enjoyed previously whilst having access to the comfort and medical attention that will become increasingly necessary as they age.”
Keeping an eye on global trends and demands on local shores, Van der Spek highlights six trends that he believes will define retirement living in 2022:
Globally, the average age of retirement is 65, but this number drops to 55 in more affluent population groups, according to Bloomberg Wealth. The Covid-19 pandemic has played a significant role in accelerating the route to early retirement for those who can afford it.
Another factor influencing this is the need for ‘lock-up-and-go’ living. “While Wytham Estate is still geared at the over-65s, an increasing number of retirement estates are now accepting residents over 50. A younger group of residents will inevitably change both the dynamic and the design of retirement estates as they may seek out an estate that promotes more active living and allows for families to visit regularly,” says Van der Spek.
Multi-generational living is poised to be another major trend in 2022.
Defined as a “living arrangement with more than two adult generations living under one roof,” multi-generational living has long been a popular practice in South Africa, with many retirees opting to move into a ‘granny flat’ or a garden cottage on the same property as their family.
Globally, there is a new trend of retirement estates building units with space for a live-in carer, including adult children, to stay with frail-care residents.
“Retirement property developers are constantly looking for innovative ways to improve the experience of their residents, and there is research to indicate that being close to family can help improve the mental and physical health of the elderly,” explains Van der Spek.
“While it is unlikely that this trend will be adopted in every development, we do expect to see an uptick in retirement estates, offering temporary accommodation to family members in the form of on-site hotel rooms and the like.”
Retirement lifestyle villages
The more traditional old age homes have long had a negative stigma attached to them and are often associated with cramped living conditions and ‘jelly and custard’ cuisine. Van der Spek feels that while this does not apply to every old age home, this reputation may have contributed to the huge demand for retirement lifestyle villages and estates from modern retirees in recent years.
“The new generation of retirees want bright open rooms, on-site sports facilities, landscaped grounds to go for walks in and much more,” he says. “This obviously comes down to a resident’s affordability and the level of medical care they require, but in general we are seeing a huge push for separate units on one large property rather than a single room in a building as the case in more traditional old age homes.”
“An ‘age in place’ policy – also known as home-based care – means that if you’re living in a retirement village or estate, we’ll bring care services like nursing to you instead of you going to a frail care facility,” explains Van der Spek. This trend has been embraced globally and is fast becoming the preferred approach to modern aged health care.
This ‘best of both worlds’ option appeals to retirees who are conscious that their health needs monitoring but don’t require intensive medical care round the clock. It also helps them to retain their independence for as long as possible and keeps costs down with care charged on an ‘as you need it’ basis.
Van der Spek anticipates that the major retirement property design trends for the year will look to enhance the feeling of ‘community’ by incorporating open spaces and multiple gathering areas.
“We also anticipate an increase in ‘green’ design, such as incorporating solar panels and rainwater collection points. These features will be even more in demand should Eskom’s proposed tariff increases pass, with residents looking to save on electricity costs as much as possible.”
Most in-demand province
‘Semigration’ – moving from inland cities to the coast – has spiked in South Africa since the beginning of the pandemic and the rise of remote work and retirees has been no exception. The Western Cape has become the most popular destination for retirement living, with the Garden Route, The Winelands and Cape Town as the most sought-after areas.
“The biggest retirement trend for 2022 is the focus on quality of life and the Western Cape offers great weather, beautiful outdoor spaces and city infrastructure. The lifestyle that the province offers is a natural attraction for retirees,” van der Spek concludes.