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The Western Cape is still top choice for semigrants

The Western Cape remains South Africa’s favourite destination for semigrants.

The Western Cape remains South Africa’s favourite destination for semigrants.

Published Dec 14, 2021


The beauty of the Western Cape and the idyllic lifestyles on offer in many of its small towns continue to lure South Africans from around the country.

This ongoing semigration is by no means a new or recent phenomenon, but has increased following the boom in remote working that now allows people to live away from big cities or busy commercial hubs.

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Lightstone data reveals that 35% of people moving provinces are going to the Western Cape. This is compared to the 31% it was in 2020.

And BetterBond’s bond application volumes for the 12 months ending November 2021 show a 27% increase in applications from the Western Cape, says chief executive Carl Coetzee. Interestingly, 46% of semigration buyers are moving to smaller but more expensive properties in the province, says Lightstone.

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Arnold Maritz, co-principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Cape Town’s southern suburbs and False Bay, says most of the property sectors in Cape Town have fared well this year compared with some of the country’s inland cities.

“We’ve also seen a promising revival at the top end of the market which saw the brunt of the downturn.”

He says the pandemic has initiated a trend of people moving away from the larger metros to smaller towns and coastal areas, due to their new-found ability to work from home, sparking a new wave of semigration to the Western Cape.

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Even as people start returning to the office, the hybrid work model implemented by many companies still allows people to live a few hours away from their work places as they need to be in the office for only part of the week. This continues to bode well for the Western Cape which, says Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, “remains the one province that is still able to deliver”.

“For example, the ability of the City of Cape Town to keep businesses and residents at stage 1 when Eskom has everyone else in the country at stage 2, will reinforce its appeal.”

For those not able to afford a home in the Cape Town metro housing market, second tier and coastal towns in the Western Cape will remain appealing as desirable lifestyle destinations.

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“These include areas on the Cape’s Whale Coast such as Hermanus and Onrus, and Boland towns like Somerset West, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington, as well as George on the Garden Route.”

Alexa Horne, managing director of Dogon Group Properties, says there has been “a surge” of semigration this year, with many buyers relocating to Cape Town from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The semigration trend looks set to continue in 2022, but buyers who are considering such relocation, especially to a small town, should ensure they know what to expect, says Marcél du Toit, chief executive of residential property platform Leadhome. Many people who moved to smaller towns or coastal destinations in 2020 to flee the urban sprawl have since discovered that their new lives are not all they expected, he says.

Although Du Toit’s personal experience of uprooting his young family from The Big Smoke of Johannesburg earlier this year for a quieter, prettier life in the Western Cape is so far a positive one, not everyone has been as fortunate.

To ensure your semigration dream does not turn into a nightmare, he shares the following tips:

Think with your head, not your heart: Just because a place is great for holidays, does not mean it’s a great place to live. You have a totally different set of needs for the place where you live and work, as opposed to the place where you lie on the beach and drink cocktails. Make a list of your key priorities for your new home, and stick to them.

Consider renting before you buy: This will allow you to experience the area as a resident, find out what the people are like, what the weather is like, and what local amenities are available.

Check out the amenities: If you’re going to be doing remote work, a reasonable internet connection is non-negotiable. But take some time to weigh up the broader amenities in the area. How near are you from schools, hospitals, shopping centres, entertainment and airports? If you have to be driving 90 minutes just to get to a doctor, this may be a problem.

Access to friends, family and support structures: Living in a small town often means you are far away from your friends and family, and it is only when things go wrong that you realise the value of a support network. If you don’t have one in your new town, you may struggle.