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South Africa – An Attractive Retirement Destination

While many South Africans may still be looking to retire overseas, a local company is targeting UK and US citizens in a bid to encourage them to retire in South Africa. 

Carrick’s primary focus is advising on international wealth, but the reality is that many investors also look to Carrick for property advice – whether it’s investing in real estate offshore or in South Africa. To service this need, Carrick Property partners with key developers to unlock valuable real estate investment opportunities.  

“Buying property as an investment overseas instead of SA is appealing as it can be extremely profitable and is an important part of portfolio diversification,” says Craig Featherby, Carrick CEO. But we also have residents who prefer to remain here as well as investors from international markets looking to retire in South Africa. Our country is attractive to foreigners for a variety of reasons, in addition to the favourable exchange rate which enables them to enjoy affordable luxury, we have a sunny climate, a top-class tourism industry, outdoor living, an English-speaking community and good medical facilities.  

“An interesting new arm of our business is our partnership with a programme called Retire 2 South Africa,” says Bradd Bendall, Carrick Group Sales Director. “It’s based on a US government-backed programme which encourages its citizens to retire to other countries which are more affordable. The South African initiative envisages bringing 1 000 families a month from the UK and the USA to live or retire here. 70% of them would be people who would generally invest in property. This opens a unique real estate advisory channel for us, focusing on financially viable property investments and retirement planning, something we are eminently skilled to do. It is, for want of a better explanation, a reverse golden visa programme.” 

Retire 2 South Africa is the vision of two South Africans who believe our country can compete with the best destinations in the world and are putting their time and resources behind making this a reality. “It’s a bespoke service dedicated to retirees wanting a new and affordable quality of life,” explains co-founder Jill Wilmans. “We provide a personal concierge service linked to retiring to South Africa and are connected to local specialists to ensure we can offer an end-to-end service, including securing the right residency option, facilitating finances through secure and regulated channels, and connecting retirees with the experts in property, healthcare, connectivity, lifestyle and entertainment – all the services you need when relocating to a new country.” 

The company came about when Wilmans noticed a gap in promoting SA as a premier retirement destination. Ten years ago, the more popular countries to which to retire were France, Spain, Portugal and New Zealand. “That started changing about three or four years ago. Now, seven out of 10 are actually in South America, driven largely by a programme in the US where citizens are relocating to a country where they can afford to retire.” Wilmans was intrigued as to why Columbia can attract 5 000 retirees from the US, but Cape Town can’t and started talking to her now business partner and co-founder of Retire 2 South Africa, Candice Magen, who has 15 years’ experience in residency and immigration law. They researched why people were coming here, why people weren’t and where they were going instead, as well as the key drivers behind retirees’ decisions. Realising some of the challenges were due to legislation and processes, they have spent a lot of time engaging with stakeholders and government. 

There are many benefits of having internationals retire in South Africa, says Wilmans. They introduce new money, they spend money, they don’t take jobs and are not on the government health package. “They are absolutely no burden to the country at all, instead they add huge economic value.” 

To make this campaign successful, it needs to be addressed as a collective, adds Magen. Financial relocation, for example, is a minefield if you don’t have the right advice. This is where a partner like Carrick will step in – to assist with all the elements involved in financial relocation including investment solutions, tax legislations and estate planning. 

“We have just opened a new office in London, so we are perfectly positioned to assist UK retirees with their financial relocation,” says Bendall. The presence of a UK office means Carrick has feet on the ground to service a client base that has assets in both countries and can also add its support to the marketing campaign to get international retirees to our shores. 

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