South Africa’s smaller towns are becoming more popular

COVID-19 changed a lot about our world, including the way we work. Remote work is standard these days, with some companies even shifting to remote only.

This change meant South Africans could relook the way they live – including where they call home.

And, since it’s no longer necessary to stay in big cities to commute to the office, many South Africans are choosing to move to smaller towns for a slower pace of life.

People are moving to these towns in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal

In 2021, Lightstone data revealed that most Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) residents relocated within their province, while Gautengers moved all over the country.

Margate, Port Shepstone, and Ballito were the top three choices for those moving from Gauteng to KZN. Howick, Ballito, and Salt Rock were the top choices for Kwazulu-Natal residents relocating within their province.

Gautengers moving to the Western Cape favoured Groot Brakrivier, Hermanus, Plettenberg Bay, and Knysna. Many Western Cape residents relocating within the province also chose Groot Brakrivier, while Langebaan, Hermanus, and St Helena Bay rounded up their top four choices.

Other popular Western Cape towns include Onrus, Somerset West, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington, and George, which is on the Garden Route close to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

Remote work isn’t the only reason people are moving

Cutting down on commuting time is only one reason South Africans choose to change their home town.

According to Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of Realnet estate agency group, one of the biggest drivers is South Africans’ desire for more living space. Lower house prices in smaller towns enable buyers to purchase bigger properties, which offer generous gardens and more than enough space for bedrooms, playrooms, and an office.

Kotzé also said that other strong motivating factors include a growing desire among families to live closer to friends or relatives who make up their extended support systems.

Semigrators are also motivated by a better quality of life, including less congestion, lower crime levels, and a healthy outdoor lifestyle, as explained to the Daily Maverick by Dr. Andrew Golding, the chief executive of the Pam Golding Property Group.

Golding added that many semigrants have families, and thus good schools and outdoor lifestyle are also key considerations when relocating.

What to look out for when choosing a town

Our clients immigrate to South Africa from all over the world. Many choose to live in Cape Town, Johannesburg, or Pretoria because they’re familiar with these cities.

However, nothing stops you from moving to a smaller town once you’ve lived in South Africa for a while. Or perhaps you’re daring, and you don’t mind immediately making a smaller town your home.

Either way, consider these four factors when choosing a hometown:

  • Lifestyle: You have to consider the lifestyle you want. For instance, do you want to live close to the beach or surrounded by mountains? Do you want to go swimming, mountain biking, or hiking on weekends? Make a list of everything you’d like to include in your everyday life, and keep that list in mind when considering where to live.
  • Shops, schools, and medical facilities: Your selection of shops, schools, and medical facilities aren’t as generous in a small town as in a city. If you foresee this being a problem, you might want to consider living close to a city. For instance, you could live in Langebaan, a town on South Africa’s West Coast that’s only about an hour and a half drive from Cape Town.
  • Nightlife: Your night-time entertainment options in small towns are limited to non-existent. For some people, this is heaven, while it’s a nightmare for others.
  • Connectivity: You’ll need fast, reliable internet to work remotely and stay connected with friends and family. Many of South Africa’s small towns don’t have fibre yet, so keep this in mind.

Lastly, try before you buy, especially if you’re unfamiliar with a town. Spending weekends or holidays in a place is an excellent way to do this. Once you’re sure it’s the place for you, you can start looking at property guides to find your family home.