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Why city slickers are now opting for countryside living

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More people are leaving the hustle and bustle of cities for the peace and pleasures provided far out of town

“Convenience, “proximity” and “easy access” are the “in” phrases associated with property today as people look to live closer to work and school, and minimise time spent in daily traffic.

There are, however, those who give up the convenience of live-work-play precincts and homes in centrally located areas in return for more tranquil surroundings and a slower pace of living further away. And not all are retirees.

“The move away from the urban hustle and bustle has been a growing trend for a number of years, especially for families with schoolchildren who have to be taken to school daily and driven around to an array of activities,” says Chris Cilliers, chief executive and principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands.

Growing traffic congestion and noise pollution and an ever-increasing pace of life, are driving this move to more tranquil areas where she says families have a variety of outdoor activities on their doorsteps such as cycling and hiking, wine farms and markets.

This trend of living away from it all is also growing in Joburg, says Yael Geffen, chief executive of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, who says families are choosing lifestyle living with either home-schooling or local area schools for their children.

But this would only really “make sense” for people with a more flexible schedule who can work remotely, or commute. It is not as appealing for those who have 9 am to 5 pm jobs and are office-bound.

“Those families would rather invest in a second property for weekends away such as at the Vaal River, Hartbeespoort, Velgewonden, Magaliesberg and Waterberg.”

Those who can make a permanent move do so to enjoy bigger living space in more tranquil surroundings away from the city where they can more easily indulge in their hobbies or sports, most of which are nature and outdoor driven, she says.

Although Bloemfontein is not as developed as other metros, about 8% of buyers there look to live away from the busyness of city life in areas such as Quaggafontein, Beinsvlei and Groenvlei, says Pano Joannides, franchisee for Century 21.

Those people who make this choice do so for a slower pace of living and less noise pollution. However, they often still drive to take their children to school and commute to work as Bloemfontein does not yet have excessive traffic issues.

Properties further out of the city are more expensive due to the much bigger erf sizes, Joannides says. Lifestyle properties are increasingly in demand, agrees Jeremy Barnes, regional manager of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate in the South Peninsula.

“This demand stems from professionals who are able to work remotely and only have to travel to present the finished product. In this case, commuting would primarily take place to fulfil schooling requirements.” Such moves facilitate a wholesome lifestyle away from the rush of the city, Barnes says.

“Those choosing to make these moves are firm advocates of work-life balance, and these areas offer them all of that and more in abundance.” 

More bang for bucks out of city

A GOOD BUY: Homes further away from the city generally offer better value. Picture: Supplied

In addition to the benefit of location, buyers looking to buy homes away from the city can get “more bang for their buck”, depending on where they are going, says Yael Geffen of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

Jeremy Barnes from Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate says in strong growth areas, such as Simon’s Town, Scarborough, Kommetjie and Noordhoek, there is “excellent value” to be had when comparing these areas to the hubs that enjoy quality education facilities on their doorstep.

“By way of example, there are in excess of 25 properties on the market between R1.8 million and R3m that would accommodate family units. However, as one moves within the area to properties in positions with sea views and beachfront exposure, prices do increase.”

The only pitfall for these property owners says Geffen, is they need to travel quite far if they want more than basic shopping. 

Estates cater to specific needs”

HORSING AROUND There is growing demand for estates which offer equestrian facilities. Picture: Val de Vie

In a listless market where the top end characteristically bears the brunt, the lifestyle estate sector continues to hold investor interest with consistently strong demand for homes in estates which offer exceptional lifestyles or cater to specific needs.

“Ultimately, they offer the best of both worlds – the convenience of easy access to top-class amenities which have been tailored to meet their needs as well as a tranquil and secure lifestyle,” says Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty’s Chris Cilliers.

“This is especially true of equestrian estates as horse owners generally want to live close enough to their horses to be able to ride regularly and with minimum fuss.” However, due to ongoing urbanisation and densification, they are often faced with lengthy commutes in increasingly congested traffic to reach rural stabling areas and the high cost of these stabling facilities.

“Equestrian people have a unique set of requirements. They want secure and carefree living for themselves, and they want a secure and healthy environment for their horses with space and exercise facilities and safe areas for outriding.


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