COUNTRY CLASSROOM More parents living away from cities are choosing to home school
their children. Picture: Wolfgang Eckert
"Just as modern technology makes it possible to work from anywhere in the world, the internet has also assisted those wanting to home school their children."
The desire for more tranquil living away from the city is seeing more people homeschooling their children. Many other buyers making the move out of the city enrol their children into local schools, agents say.
Yael Geffen of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty personally knows a family which moved from Fourways in Gauteng to Thabazimbi, a mining town in Limpopo. They bought a game farm there and run three Airbnbs off their property.
“Their child went from a private school in Fourways to a local school in Thabazimbi. He prefers his new life of riding bikes, playing outdoors, target shooting and learning about game.
“The husband commutes when he needs to, but mostly runs his business remotely from Thabazimbi.” For families making such a move, their reward is a sanctuary, more space and perhaps an outdoor lifestyle where they feel less restrained than in a city. For children, it promotes more outdoor play and appreciation of nature.
Just as modern technology makes it possible to work from anywhere in the world, Just Property’s Shaun du Bois says the internet has also assisted those wanting to home school their children.
While there does appear to be growth in homeschooling, Jeremy Barnes from Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate says there is still strong demand for mainstream schooling.
To this end, the new Generations Schools Campus, which has just been completed at Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie, has been the answer to many aspirant Kommetjie and Scarborough residents’ prayers.
“Fish Hoek offers schooling options, as does Westlake, which is a relatively short commute from Simon’s Town and Fish Hoek. “Some children are driven to school every day, but there are also parents who have their children in schools in the suburbs as weekly borders, believing this provides the ideal environment for children to flourish without enduring arduous commutes.”
Tech allows us to leave cities behind
Ironically, the technology keeping people attached to jobs and the outside world 24/7 is the same technology that has the power to allow them to break away from it all.
Jeremy Barnes, of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate, says as it develops more, the need to be in an office will decrease, leading to decentralisation and making it easier for people to move away from established hubs.
Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty’s Chris Cilliers says the trend of moving further away from city life has been enabled by technology which allows people to work remotely or commute between cities, choosing to live where it best suits them.
“For these buyers, estate homes are especially popular. Many, like De Zalze in Stellenbosch, have on-site clubhouses, with wi-fi and coffee on tap, which doubles as informal office areas.”
Val de Vie in Paarl caters specifically for this growing trend by building office blocks on the estate which residents can rent, Cilliers says. For those who need a less formal space, they also have a shared office facility.
For many, living “further away” means living in another city altogether, says Paul Stevens, chief executive of Just Property. And if the always-full early morning flights between Port Elizabeth and Joburg, and from the PE to Cape Town, are anything to go by, this is also a growing trend.
“There are six flights from PE to Joburg between 6.30am and 8.30am on a Monday, and many occupied by the same people each week, so I would argue the demand is there.”
Commuting by road is also attractive. Using Hartbeespoort, where many people working in Joburg, Rustenberg, and Pretoria choose to live, as an example, Stevens says: “There are residents there who get up at 4 am to commute long distances to work, returning after 7 pm but living at the dam because of the after-hours and weekend lifestyle benefits.”
In the Cape Peninsula, buyers are looking for remote peaceful living on the coast so areas such as Kommetjie and Scarborough are high on the list, with Fish Hoek and Simons Town also drawing enquiries, says Barnes.
While many permanent residents in remote locations are professionals working from home, and travelling occasionally, there is a “small number” who commute daily, but this would be confined to the Southern Suburbs. The more attractive outlying areas become, the more development takes place there. In KwaZulu-Natal, this is being seen in the Nottingham Road area, says Shaun du Bois, principal of Just Property in Pietermaritzburg.
“What was once a sleepy village often attracts more people and retail and industry follow the demand.” He says Hilton has experienced large growth and the community has conflicting views on their quiet town transforming into a busy one.
Quiet life attracts families
Onrus is a popular holiday destination offering various activities, include hiking, trails and surfing, and families are choosing to live there and in Hermanus because of the “excellent” educational opportunities, says Annemarie Gaigher, Pam Golding Properties agent for Hermanus, Onrus and Elgin.
“The improvements in employment, educational and medical opportunities in the area have led to considerable demand for these properties, and the rental market is also booming,” says Nicola Lloyd, the group’s area manager for Hermanus, Onrus and Elgin.
Lightstone property data shows the town is attracting younger buyers, with 31% of recent sales being to those younger than 35. “Buyers want to escape the city lights, traffic and noise when moving to Elgin and Grabouw,” says agent Monique Halfpenny