The history of a village is an important component of its current success, and fifteen years ago, Riverside Manor was founded on a very open and honest basis. With the plan to build 40 apartments and 109 free-standing homes and a focus on the well-being of the residents, this estate began with a lot of sincere unknowns. However, it also began with a genuine attempt to build harmony between the management and the residents, which has continued to be Riverside’s greatest asset.
From the onset, the original owners had to draw up a constitution that would guide the running and management of the estate and would outline the key factors and risks to ensure that the residents would be happy living here. The sustainability of a retirement village relies on a constitution that aligns with the short-and long-term interests of the various stakeholders and a financial ecosystem that can effectively support both.
One of the main decision items was that of the levy, which was not only defined at the start but was to be capped by a maximum increase of five per cent per annum. For perspective buyers who have spent their lives being affected by all sorts of escalations and hidden costs, the idea of being able to plan effectively for the future is a major attraction, and Riverside’s controlled levy structure continues to be an enormous plus factor in a financial climate which presents all sorts of other uncertainties.
A big component of this sustainable financial ecosystem is the necessity of a Delayed Levy Contribution, which supports this controlled levy structure and makes it financially viable for the management. By collecting the shortfall cost of the levies once the property has been sold, the residents can have greater peace of mind knowing that they can manage their wealth in a more sustainable and certain way and thereby enjoy the benefits of their long-term investment.
The management then had to understand what proportion of the levy they would need to meet their obligations. This ongoing maintenance obligation that ensures that the village remains neat and that the houses are always well-painted requires more than just an understanding of how much the paint costs or what it takes to keep the gardens going. It requires management and village trustees who are interested in the quality of the maintenance, and who understand the engineering and technical skills required to ensure that things are done in line with the constitution and in line with the residents’ reasonable expectations.
Fifteen years later, Riverside continues to present itself as an upmarket estate which ensures a level of respect and pride for those who reside here. By having a long-term view and implementing a six-year cycle maintenance plan, the management has adopted a holistic approach that ensures that all their obligations are met and that they have the necessary capacity to meet the scale and timing of the varied maintenance requirements.
Most villages have a defined cost structure, but few have the same atmosphere. When you drive through our gates, this village says hello to you, and a big reason for that is the continued focus on sustainable management of the infrastructure.
Being in the Johannesburg area meant security was also a prime focus and obligation. Riverside’s consistent historical safe and secure surroundings not only mean residents can enjoy an evening walk around the grounds, but it lowers insurance premiums on their contents policy and makes this long-term commitment even more appealing. And then of course the facilities and well-equipped health care centre including the well-managed assisted living and frail care options needed to be optimal so that they could provide the residents with the care they require and the services they need.
But perhaps going beyond the bricks and mortar are the intangibles. The staff, the culture and the people who live here. Having a sister who is known to do her utmost to care for those who are unwell, having management staff that put the wellbeing of residents above all else and living in a community that becomes an extended support structure, is what makes Riverside unique.
Fifteen years ago, it started with drafting a constitution and today Riverside has stuck to those guidelines and has offered retirees an investment that is viable as well as enjoyable. Finding the right retirement estate is about understanding these components. In my mind, it goes further than just booking a viewing and having a look at the grounds. It’s all the above ingredients that potential buyers need to fully understand in order to have a complete view. This is a very long-term decision and those looking to make this type of investment need a clear vision and appreciation of what goes into building a viable and successful estate.