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#ImStaying: Locals relocate to KZN, Eastern Cape

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Many South Africans will make this the year they relocate away from the hustle and bustle of a busy metro. By Bonny Fourie

The start of a new year often has people re-evaluating their lives and vowing to make changes that will make them happier. For some, these goals might be small.

For others, they involve relocating to others parts of the country to change or improve careers or live more balanced lifestyles. Escaping big city life – which brings with it traffic congestion, crime and stress – is a big push factor for many South Africans aiming to live simpler lives in smaller towns.

Semigration to any major city, however, tends to be cyclical and occurs more often towards the end of the year, says Mike Greeff, chief executive of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate.

“This is as people try to start the New Year in a new space, begin new jobs or move closer to schools their children will attend.” This year there will be a rise in semigration, believes Yael Geffen, chief executive of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

“There is a new reality of living in South Africa where a lot of South Africans who were on the fence about emigrating have embraced the decision to stay – to face and accept the challenges. They will choose a lifestyle that suits them best, which may not be where they currently live.”

For many, KwaZulu-Natal will be a big magnet this year, while the Eastern Cape will also see “a lot of movement going forward”. “Both are priced right and are developing regions.

They are enticing to semigrants, especially as the lifestyles they offer are great. “These areas will especially appeal to the growing number looking to move out of the major metros,” Geffen says.

She says the Western Cape has seen “a substantial increase” in semigration over the past few months, and Cape Town will also continue to be an enticing destination as it offers arguably the best all-round lifestyle in the country.

“The city boasts some of the best schools, industrial and tech hubs plus incomparable natural beauty.” While it is difficult to ascertain exact semigration stats without detailed deeds office data, Tyson Properties director Jonathan Davies says, anecdotally, it appears semigration has slowed over the past year.

Before that, there was an increase in the numbers of Joburg buyers moving to the Western Cape. Among the reasons were sellers opting for lifestyle changes and investors attracted to the province’s buoyant property market.

“From a Joburg perspective, many semigration moves are to the Western Cape, especially when the person moving is still employed. Other reasons are retirement, job transfers and seeking a change of lifestyle.”

He says areas that offer good municipal governance; access to services and facilities; growing business nodes and popular lifestyle offerings will attract those looking to semigrate this year.

Semigration moves are often spurred by business and career opportunities, says Just Property’s Pieter Janse van Rensburg, adding that while more retirees are leaving Gauteng than leaving the Western Cape, an “overwhelming number” of those semigrating from the Western Cape go to Gauteng for work purposes.

However, the Western Cape has flourished into a technology-focused city for business, so he says new opportunities have attracted high-flying career minds to the province.

Citing StatsSA data, Arnold Maritz, co-principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Cape Town’s southern suburbs, says fewer than 1% of South Africa’s estimated population of 58 million move from one province to another each year.

“The reasons why people migrate between provinces have not changed significantly. “We expect similar migration patterns for the future.” 

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