Ever since Covid-19 put everyone in South Africa into hard-lockdown at home, estate agents have been reporting a steady increase in the number of people moving away from big cities to smaller towns along the coast or in more rural settings.
Many city dwellers are rethinking their housing choices and are deciding to make changes as fast as they can. And one of the biggest trends to emerge has been the move to quieter, more rural areas.
Possible reasons for this trend
Anecdotal evidence from a number of agencies suggest a variety of reasons for this growing trend.
- A growing desire among many families to live closer to friends or relatives who make up their extended support system.
- For younger homeowners and tenants in particular, the closure of many of the shops, restaurants and workplaces that used to make city-centre living fun as well as cost-effective.
Many young people no longer see the point of paying higher rents or home prices for tiny spaces in the inner city when they are now working remotely in any event, and can probably pay far less for a more spacious home in a smaller town.
The current very low-interest rates are also making it cheaper for many young remote workers to buy their own homes instead of renting, especially if they move out of town.
Safety and security are also important considerations. Smaller towns and villages generally experience less serious crime problems than most major cities, making this another big drawcard for city dwellers considering a move to a more tranquil environment.
How agents can help people relocate
Moving to a new town can be fraught with difficulties, which is where helpful and well-informed agents can prove invaluable.
Knowledgeable agents should be able to provide the following information:
- Are the basic amenities available? Many small towns in SA have erratic water and power supplies, so new residents may need to buy a generator, water storage tanks and some solar power panels to live comfortably.
- What is the state of the access roads? Is a more rugged vehicle required?
- Shops and medical services. Does the town have good shopping facilities, or do residents have to drive long distances to the nearest town for supplies or medical attention? Is there perhaps a local farmers’ market that supplies fresh bread and produce – and a local doctor.
- Schools should preferably be within easy driving distance, or good boarding facilities need to be available if schools are further from town.
- Leisure activities. Many city dwellers make the move because they want to spend more time in the outdoors, so they need to make sure their chosen location is close to hiking, running and biking trails, bird watching spots and perhaps a golf course or country club. For beach lovers, there should be easily accessible places nearby to swim, walk, sunbathe, fish, surf or sail.