To ensure that you choose the retirement complex that suits your requirements and your lifestyle it’s wise to follow some basic guidelines:

Work out your finances very carefully. As a rough guide, after you have paid for your retirement home, your after tax monthly income should be four times the levy, after all deductions, including medical aid. If in doubt, discuss your financial situation with your bank manager, accountant or financial advisor.

* Discuss the pros and cons not only with your spouse but also with other members of the family. Their advice and support at this time can be very helpful.

* As a general rule, the older you are, the closer to your known environment you should stay. It’s no fun trying to find your way around a totally new neighbourhood when you are in your seventies, not to mention changing your doctor, dentist or bowling club.

* Also, if you want to see your family and friends as often as possible, it would hardly be fair to move some distance away and still expect them to visit regularly.

* Ensure that your lifestyle will fit into your new environment. If you’re a bingo and darts lover, will you fit in with the bridge and country club set, and vice versa?

* Decide on what type of accommodation will suit you: hotel type, a flat or garden cottage.

* For friendly advice visit friends living in retirement communities, and listen to what they have to say.

* Look on this as a new, exciting phase in your life. Remember that you have to want to move. If you are doing everything under duress, this will put a lot of strain on you and your family and you are not going to make a happy transition into a new way of life.

* Contact an estate agent specialising in retirement communities. They are sympathetic, mature individuals and do have your best interests at heart.

* Have your present property valued by three different estate agencies. This will help you to assess how much you can afford to spend on your new home. Don’t forget the costs of borer free and electrical compliance certificates.


Remember, property prices are seldom stable. If you had your present home valued a few years ago, you will probably find that it has increased in value. Do NOT rely on neighbours or friends to ‘help’ in valuing your home and securing a buyer, for they may have ulterior motives. The estate agent with the most ‘SOLD’ boards in your area is the person you want to deal with.

A word of caution – it is unwise to spend all the money from the sale of your old property on your retirement home. Rather spend less and downsize. Invest the excess cash for your future financial security.