Over 10 years we help companies reach their financial and branding goals. Maxbizz is a values-driven consulting agency dedicated.




411 University St, Seattle


Retirees sell large houses to buy cozy smaller ones – Business Daily

More and more retirees are selling their large houses to buy smaller ones that meet their comfort and convenience. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK
Picture this: you settle in your retirement home only to realise that it is either too big for you and your spouse or too far from the golf club and your social networks.
Discovering that the house where you will be spending the rest of your days does not support your mobility needs can be devastating, especially when you spent your entire career saving up for it.
You may also suddenly find yourself unable to pay for small routine repairs and maintenance when you have barely any money coming in anymore.
Yet this is the reality for thousands of professionals who suddenly find their homes either unlivable or unsustainable as soon as they quit active life, thanks to planning and financing blunders.
Clive Ndege, the head of sales at Superior Homes, says the most commonest mistake retirees in Kenya make is to invest in a retirement home in the countryside after working in cities all their life, warning that this creates isolation and loneliness.
‘‘Putting up a retirement home in the village takes you away from amenities that you will need in your old age such as hospitals. You need to be as close to health facilities as possible as old age often comes with health complications,’’ he says.
At most clubs in Nairobi, some older members arrive in the morning to have breakfast and to meet their friends. Some use the gym facility or swimming pool. They will stay on for lunch before leaving later in the afternoon. Mr Ndege says this routine compensates for a lost active life.
‘‘Many people choose to relocate to the countryside assuming they will be able to walk around and stay active. In reality, though, it is mostly in urban centres where gym facilities are. This way, they can work out regularly.’’
Isolation, he adds, is the biggest agony retirees suffer as soon as they leave active life at work.
‘‘You are coming from interacting with many people at work to a lonely life at home. Your children will have moved out and the only time they are around is during visits and family events. Loneliness and idleness will drive you to the grave fast.’’
It is for this reason that more and more retirees are selling their large houses to buy smaller ones that meet their comfort and convenience. Mr Ndege says this is a trend in the Kenyan property market.
He notes: ‘‘You will want to sell your six-bedroom house in Runda to move to a two-bedroom house in a less exclusive neighbourhood that allows you to interact with more people.’’
He says this helps in cutting down on the cost of maintenance of a large home. ‘‘There is less income for the individual in retirement as they rely on pension to get by. Get only the space that you need. You do not need to spend so much money to invest in a home that will only be relevant in five to ten years. You might struggle to sell off the home as you seek to downgrade.’’
On financing, he says many people fall into the trap of investing in retirement homes based on their current income, overlooking the fact their income will take a dip in retirement. ‘‘Pension is paid in a lump sum. You want to minimise your expenditure so that you can enjoy it for a longer period.’’
For those who opt to finance their homes through mortgages, he advises that it is imperative to budget based strictly on one’s financial capacity.
‘‘It is better to acquire a retirement home through what you have accumulated over the years rather than asking your relatives to do it on your behalf. This will burden them, especially if they have their mortgage running.’’
Conscious of all that could go wrong with a retirement home, S.T. Wainaina, a retired former CEO of Women Enterprise Fund and a financial consultant, says he deliberately avoided committing to any physical location or a particular type of home.
‘‘I have seen elderly people shift from [their retirement homes in] Kinangop because of the cold that causes arthritis to settle in Naivasha, Laikipia, or Malindi, which are warmer. Others move abroad,’’ says Wainaina.
Life’s circumstances change, he says, making it difficult to live in a home one worked so hard to acquire.
‘‘It is a lonely experience to live with your spouse or alone in a large museum-like house. The last chapter of life reverts to where it all began: being alone.’’
Design of retirement homes should be conscious of old-age realities, he says. ‘‘It is pointless to save colossal sums of money for your retirement only for the money to go to modifications of your home to accommodate your new needs,’’ Mr Wainaina points.
In response to the special needs in retirement, developers in Kenya are now pumping billions of shillings to put up homes for retirees, either for sale or renting. These villages are designed to ease movement and typically come with convenience features such as large and wide doors and hallways.
Fadhili Village in Athi River that is owned by Superior Homes, for instance, is one such development that promotes community living. The property has one and two-bedroom bungalows and comes with communal lounges and kitchens and an area for physiotherapy services for residents. There is no demarcation between the homes.
Such homes feature anti-slip floors, walk-in bathrooms and are often fitted with sitting and mobility aids such as grab bars.
As homes for retirees gain traction in the country, there is a growing need to constantly change both features and ownership arrangements.
‘‘Our clients ask us to build three-bedroom houses to accommodate their grandchildren whenever they visit,’’ says the developer.
For others, it is easier to rent than buy to avoid the complexity of transferring ownership when the buyer passes on.
To buy a home or rent in such purpose-built properties, one must be 55 years or older. ‘‘If you allowed anyone to buy, some of the finishes you have invested in to make it convenient for the elderly would be useless. You also risk creating antagonisms by putting old and young people together owing to their preference differences.’’
To buyers and tenants, Ndege says one should make their investment in a retirement home count. ‘‘After all, it is most likely going to be your last biggest investment.’’
[email protected]




Financial.co.kewas founded by Mr. Jospeh Muongi Kamau. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science and a Certificate of proficiencty in insurance.