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How to rent while navigating un-retirement

In a society that still very much values homeownership as the pinnacle of success, one generation is increasingly rocking the boat. Baby boomers, the oldest of whom turn 70 this year, are opting for the flexibility typically associated with rental accommodation, rather than homeownership, as they enter retirement.

According to Gerhard Kotzé, MD of RealNet, the trend of retirees opting to rent rather than buy as they downsize is rather surprising as this is the generation that has always been big advocates of homeownership.

Recent research in the US showed that these individuals rate flexibility as the most important requirement of their accommodation. “They want to be able to move easily and stay close to their children and grandchildren who now relocate for work reasons much more often than they used to,” explains Kotzé.

Other reasons given are that some are just not ready for a retirement village and want a low maintenance, in-between home that they don’t have to worry about too much while they travel, study, start a new business or decide on where they actually want to settle for retirement.

While many of these reasons hold true for South Africans, Kotzé says that another big deciding factor is the shortage of affordable, purpose-built accommodation for over-50’s.Whatever the reason for renting instead of buying, Kotzé believes that there are some tips that will help ensure the tenancy is as trouble-free and pleasant as possible.

Four tips to ensure you’re lock-up-and-go vision is a reality

Retired couple enjoying their retirement

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Lock-up-and-go flexibility is the name of the game if you are going to rent, so make sure that all home maintenance and upkeep is included in your lease – especially if there is a garden or yard that needs looking after. You should also look out for homes that are freshly painted and that have modern appliances, plumbing and electrical fittings, so that there is less risk of time-consuming faults and malfunctions.


Avoid rental homes with stairs, different levels and difficult-to-access cupboards and storage spaces, especially if you plan to stay for quite a while. Look for modern elevators in multi-storey buildings or direct garage-to-home access in ground-level homes, as well as other universal design features such as walk-in showers, level floors throughout and task lighting in the kitchen. Just because you are renting doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality, comfort or convenience.


Choose a rental home that offers easy access to the things and places that interest you, such as places to study, or galleries, restaurants, music venues or theatres. And if you are renting in a complex, choose one with community facilities that you will use, such as a pool or a gym or braai facilities.


This is paramount, especially if you plan to travel a lot. Choose a rental home that has burglar bars and security gates on doors even if it is in a secure complex or building, and a proper lock-up garage. Put in a rented alarm system if it does not have one and consider some cameras linked to your smartphone that will enable you to monitor activity in and around the home whenever you are away.


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