Here’s how to find a great city centre apartment

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Thousands of people are moving from the country to the city. If you’re making the move to a big city, make sure you choose the right apartment.

City migration

South Africa’s largest cities are undergoing major revitalisation projects to revamp the inner city areas. The likes of Maboneng (add link to this suburb on site) and Riverside precincts in Johannesburg and Durban respectively, are creating a trendy vibe in each city. As a result of this, the property market has seen an increase in the demand for centrally-located accommodation.

According to Greg Harris, CEO of Chas Everitt Property Rentals, thousands of people are moving from country towns, villages and former townships, to rental apartments in the CBDs and inner city areas.

“A major reason for this migration is obviously to cut down on the time and money they would otherwise spend commuting to jobs in the city, but another big driver is the desire to enjoy a 21st century, new-urban lifestyle, with places of work and study, food and clothing shops, restaurants, health clubs, galleries, theatres and nightspots all just a comfortable walk away from the front door.   “And as demand rises, more and more business owners and service providers are finding that there is a great living to be made, as well as a great life to be lived, in the city centres, with the result that whole areas are not only being re-populated, but also cleaned-up, improved and turned back into the thriving, lively, mixed-used precincts that they used to be.”

Apartment locations

Young people are aiming to find apartments in the city near transport systems like the Gautrain or a Rapid Bus Transport stop. This trend follows that of the USA, according to the latest national housing survey by the Urban Land Institute.

“It is also interesting that in this poll, 62% of the Millennial generation people who responded said they would also prefer to live in mixed-use developments – that is, new or redeveloped buildings that house shops, restaurants and offices as well as their apartments. This is an increasingly common occurrence in New York, London, Paris and other old city centres around the world, and now also appears to be a growing trend in the CBDs of SA’s bigger cities,” says Greg Harris.

Living above offices, banks or retail businesses with regular operating hours, security and minimal noise is your best bet. However, if this is not possible, follow the advice below before signing your lease.

How to choose your apartment in the city:

  • Try to rent in a complex with professional and reputable managing agents that have everything under control.
  • Check the operating hours of any business below or near your apartment to make sure it will not impact your sleeping patterns. Pay attention to what kind of businesses are around your apartment - if there are businesses which require a lot of parking, or have a lot of foot traffic at night, this may not be ideal for you.
  • Ask about how the maintenance and utilities payments for the building are allocated - individual meters are best. Make sure that residential tenants are being treated fairly, and are not in any way subsidising commercial tenants.
  • Take note of any odours in the building, especially those that are coming through the apartment. Certain restaurants do not have properly functioning ventilation systems and this could become a problem for you if you were living there.
  • Ask about the waste disposal system that is being used in the building. Make sure that there are separate trash rooms for residents, and that trash collection happens often enough to ensure that the area will not have rubbish lying around.

“As a first-time tenant new to the city,” Harris says, “you need to remember that you will be paying a large part of your earnings for your accommodation, and that you don’t have to take the first apartment that you view. Although you do need to be realistic about what you can afford, you should also make sure that you are getting the best value for your money - and a good managing agent from a reputable company like Chas Everitt Property Rentals will be happy to show you several possible options.”

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