Categories: SA Valuer Blog547 words2.1 min read

Can South Africa Become the Retirement Center of Europe?


January 17, 2024


South Africa is a wonderful place to live – if we can just get rid of poor governance and crime. Europe, on the other hand, is a wonderful place to live if only it had a better climate, better law enforcement, and was less crowded. No place is perfect.

Europe also faces a serious housing problem, where housing is unaffordable for the young and unsuitable for the retired. How would you like to live in a double-storey house when you are in your 70s plus?

Compared to Europe, housing in South Africa could be offered to retirees at a fraction of the cost and at a much lower living cost too. On a large scale, it should easily be possible to provide 60m², 2-bedroom flats with a carport, for R9,000 per month, including regular servicing. That would be around £400 per month. Average rentals, outside London, are closer to £750 per month with no garden, off-street parking, no security, and lots of stairs.

Can you imagine developing large retirement schemes in areas around South Africa for these retirees? What about a 2000-unit scheme with an attached clinic and boutique hotel? They would be able to live here for 50% of what it currently costs them with a much higher standard of living. While we are initially looking at British retirees, there is every reason to look at nationally oriented retirement villages for people from France, Germany, and Holland.

A big advantage is that these units would bring in foreign exchange of about £800,000 or R19 000 000.00 per month, though the real amount to the country would be about double this when one considers daily living and health expenses.

Discussions would need to take place because it would be a national advantage to the UK government to move these retirees to South Africa, as for each retiree that moved to South Africa, a living unit would be opened up in the UK. It would also reduce the demand on their National Health. These developments would include clinics for day-to-day health requirements on-site, and private hospitals would benefit from income for health services that their retirees would need to pay for either by way of health insurance but also from contributions from the savings for the NHS for the UK Government.

How would South Africa benefit? Massively in every way. Firstly, from the building of these schemes and the building material manufacturing, then from jobs that are created on-site at the rate of about 1 job for each 5 units. Local economies would really benefit from all the spending by these retirees. Many of the – UK retirees already have relatives that live in South Africa, and there would be regular air travel to and from Europe to allow them to go back for visits and their relatives to come out to South Africa.

In effect, this would be a huge effective export opportunity. Our thoughts would be to do this by way of consortium development, to allow for local people to get involved at a very affordable level, but it would also leave the door open for expatriate investors to bring outside funding into the country.

Written by: Mike Spencer

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