Property Advice

City dwellers are moving to country areas

Private Property South Africa
Sarah-Jane Meyer |
City dwellers are moving to country areas

Estate agents around the country have been reporting an increasing trend of buyers leaving behind city conveniences in favour of small-town living – along the coast as well as in more inland rural areas.

“Now that more people are working from home, they no longer need to be close to the city. Young professionals, families, and retirees are all looking for a more laid-back lifestyle,” says Wouter Joubert, franchisee at Rawson Properties Helderberg.

Generally, the biggest attractions are more spacious properties, less traffic, access to good schools, established neighbourhoods, and a sense of community. Safety and security are also important considerations as smaller towns tend to experience less serious crime than most major cities.

At present, low interest rates are helping make small-town properties more affordable for those who’ve dreamed of escaping the city, but have been put off by the cost.

Relocation costs

You can usually buy a large, more luxurious property for the same price you would pay for a smaller home in the city. However, before you put your city home on the market, it’s important to calculate the real cost of moving.

You need to budget for the following once-off costs:

  • Transfer fees that apply when you buy a new home.

  • The cost of selling your old home.

  • The expense of moving all your belongings.

  • Any renovations to your new home.

Ongoing expenses could include:

  • Ongoing maintenance to the home. Rural prices may be higher than in the city as some services are not as readily available.

  • Increased transport and vehicle maintenance if you will be living in a remote area.

Connectivity

A strong motivating factor for many young people during the Covid-19 lockdown is that they are already working from small spaces in the city, without the perks that used to make city living fun and cost-effective. A move to the country would give them more space at a lower cost.

To make this move feasible, you need good internet and cellphone connectivity. However, many of the smaller towns are already optic fibre-ready and have all the IT services needed, as more IT specialists are also finding country living appealing.

Other considerations

  • Retail – Even if you don’t need a large mall on your doorstep, make sure the basics like bread and milk are available not too far away. You may be lucky enough to find a farmer’s market nearby.

  • Medical facilities – Most people need at least a good local general practitioner for emergencies. Even for specialist medical services, though, it’s preferable not to have to travel too far.

  • Schools - If you have schoolgoing children, make sure the local school is suitable, and not too far from your home.

  • Water and electricity – Some of the smaller rural towns experience erratic water and electricity supply so you may need to install solar power, heat pumps, or a generator as well as some water tanks.

  • Roads – If you will be in a very remote area with poor roads your city vehicle may need to be upgraded to a 4x4 or an SUV.

  • Recreation – Make sure the activities you enjoy are available and safe to take part in, like hiking, swimming, or cycling in nature. Congenial cultural activities are also important.

  • Community living – Talk to locals before your take the plunge, to gauge if they are friendly and welcoming or distrustful of strangers.

A knowledgeable estate agent should be able to provide all the information needed for making the transition from city to rural living a pleasant experience.

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