NOT packing for Perth

Regular electricity outages, traffic gridlock, a wave of shocking crimes and general pessimism in South Africa’s financial heartland is driving its residents to increasingly migrate to Cape Town, says Alliance Group Chief Executive, Rael Levitt. “For the first time in many years our offices in Johannesburg have been inundated with enquiries from Johannesburg and Pretoria residents wanting to sell their local houses, businesses and assets in order to relocate to Cape Town,” explains Levitt.

Levitt says that their Cape Town Alliance offices are receiving a flood of requests from buyers who are looking to settle in the Western Cape and are searching for homes for their families and new businesses to purchase.

“We last saw this level of ‘semigration’ in the mid 1990s when many Johannesburg and Pretoria residents who did not want to emigrate, saw Cape Town as an option to remain in the country whilst having a lifestyle far from what they perceived as existing in a tense Gauteng.”

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, one of the biggest factors that boosted the upmarket Cape residential property market wasn’t a huge influx of foreigners but rather a huge influx of wealthy upcountry residents who boosted demand and property prices to stratospheric levels. According to Levitt, a couple of luxury properties along the Cape Atlantic Seaboard, the Boland and Constantia Winelands areas where sold to German, Irish and British buyers but the vast majority of upmarket buyers were wealthy Gautengers who wanted to relocate their families to the more tranquil Cape. “In fact, this bred a whole new generation of business commuters whose families and principal residences relocated to the Western Cape while they preferred to commute to their place of business, normally in Johannesburg. The ‘weekend-Capetonian-weekday-Gautenger’ was the one who boosted airlines, hotels and car rental businesses in Johannesburg as they shared the week between two provinces.”

Over the last five years the trend of ‘semigration’ seems to have cooled off and sometimes reversed itself, with several head offices moving to Johannesburg including financial services group Old Mutual and BOE’s acquisition by Sandton-based Nedbank. Levitt believes that recent events, particularly daily power outages and a spate of violent hijackings has suddenly made the Cape seem like a better, quieter, easier and cheaper option that London, Sydney or Los Angeles.

“Since January, there seems to be a pessimistic outlook in Johannesburg and one can feel this negative attitude wherever you go with dinner party conversation quickly turning to the topics of either moving to the Western Cape or leaving the country altogether. All of a sudden we received a spate of new instructions from people selling their homes and businesses in Gauteng because they want to quickly relocate. January was particularly busy because families wanted to get their children into local schools before the start of the new school year."

According to Levitt Cape Town’s urban areas as well as the outlying Cape Platteland and the Garden Route are the recipients of these relocations. There are also many who see the Eastern Cape and Durban’s North and South Coast as a closer ‘semigration’ option, but the largest enquiries are about the Western Cape.

Whilst the property market in the luxury coastal areas seems to be experiencing a mild downturn in line with international trends, the wave of ‘semigration’ is providing a significant boost, keeping estate agents and furniture removal companies very busy in these areas.

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