Deciding where to live has a big impact on your happiness and enjoyment of life.  It’s an important consideration, even when you retire.

“There’s a common misconception that the best place to retire to is at the coast,” says Arthur Case, the CEO of Evergreen Lifestyle, a leading provider of retirement living in South Africa and a division of the Amdec Group. “In fact, the range of factors to consider makes this choice more complicated.  It goes beyond the prospect of a holiday lifestyle near the sea.”

For a start, you need to consider proximity to close family members, especially children and grandchildren. “Depending on one’s relationship with their family, retirement can be an incredibly satisfying opportunity to enjoy quality time with your grandchildren. You can even become part of your grandchildren’s daily lives, helping with homework, school activities and leisure time.  It can also be a great help for your children to know that you’re available to call on to assist when they are at work”.

“While a Skype or telephone call can keep you up-to- date with your family, that’s no substitute for the face-to- face contact you’ll have when you spend time physically together,” Case points out. If you remain fairly close to where you previously lived, you can also still keep contact with your existing network of friends, at the same time as you are building an additional group of companions in your new environment.

Part of your retirement planning also needs to take into account potential medical issues that may crop up as one ages.  Being close to a hospital or medical facilities is a significant consideration.

According to Case, “This is where people sometimes have problems when they’ve chosen to move to a small country town or to a game farm far from any sizeable town – idyllic because of the natural beauty and the quiet but problematic when the retiree suffers a medical setback.  If someone, for instance, has had a heart attack and needs ongoing monitoring after coming out of hospital, it’s not practical if they live a distance away from a suitable medical facility.”

Another factor is the size of a retirement village. Bigger is often better, say developers who search for large enough open land on which to build.  The size is a vital way of keeping ongoing costs down. The more homes that can be built in the village, the less the individual contribution to maintenance charges will be.  “You are effectively splitting the fixed costs among a larger number of people,” Case explains, “and so the levy each one has to pay is kept down.”

Evergreen Lifestyle goes through a thorough process when selecting where to build a new lifestyle village.  “Ideally, we focus on offering our retirees a place that will allow for the lifestyle benefits, such as proximity to beaches at our Noordhoek and Muizenberg villages, or the country life offered at Broadacres in Johannesburg.  But we also know that people will want to be close enough to facilities needed for day-to- day living, like shopping and medical services, and so we take these considerations into account too.”

This article was first published by Property Wheel on 22 June 2017.