Semigration has become a prevalent trend since the Covid-19 pandemic, with many people’s ability to work from anywhere, with microdata-based indicators suggesting a spike in families moving from Gauteng to the Western Cape.
The allure of the Cape has for many years been the reason many people commute each week but now that those same people can work from home there is an ever greater pull out of the big cities.
Somerset West and environs are becoming an increasingly popular choice due to proximity to Cape Town International Airport for those who commute, the availability of housing in secure estate developments, good schooling, spacious homes with dedicated workspaces, the beach a few minutes’ drive away and mountain views to top it all.
Graham Sayer, executive head at Somerset College, an independent, co-educational school in the Winelands of the Western Cape, said that the school has seen a noticeable increase in admissions requests from families outside of the region.
“The reduction in commuting demands on parents for professional reasons has meant less stress and separation in families,” he said.
“Before Covid the trend was less obvious, but approximately 30% of our admissions are from families wanting to relocate to the area from Gauteng and because we have boarding facilities some send their children ahead. This number has steadily increased since the beginning of the year,” said Sayer.
“We get approximately 20 inquiries per month which is an increase from the 4 or 5 we used to receive from Gauteng.”
The Somerset West, Stellenbosch area has always been an attractive lifestyle option for families moving from other parts of South Africa but historically many families were unable to move due to work commitments and relatively few professional positions available in the Western Cape, said Sayer.
“There were a number of families who moved to the area and the breadwinner would commute to Johannesburg on a weekly basis. However with the Covid pandemic and a new flexibility to work from anywhere, the opportunity to move to the Helderberg whilst continuing with their current jobs became possible for a greater number of professionals.
“It is apparent that families are choosing the beautiful location, wide open spaces, access to oceans and mountains, the well maintained infrastructure, greater security and good schools when moving to the area,” he said.
Many of the families from Gauteng who apply to the College are familiar with and wish to continue the IEB curriculum for their children. There is a host of outdoor activities in the area for all age groups and children can grow up in a less urban and congested environment whilst still having access to technological advances.
This evidence supports much of the buying activity reported by many local estate agencies. Alexa Horne, managing director of Dogon Group Properties said that ex-Gauteng residents and semigrants from other provinces are buying more properties in the Western Cape than ever before, adding that an increasing number are snapping up properties close to good schools, amenities, and lifestyle offerings.
“Semigration to the Cape is by no means a new trend, however it is one that is sharply on the rise due to Covid-19 which has birthed a new era of remote working – making it easier for professionals to live, work and play in their preferred province – no longer having to wait until they retire to live by the sea.”
“The allure of the Cape has long been pulling professionals who in the past would commute to Gauteng in the week for work and return to their families in the Western Cape each weekend. The need to keep working away from the family and to commute was a draw-back and a reason that more people were not relocating to the Cape.”
Now, remote working, online work login’s, Google Meet, and Zoom have made it so much easier for families to pursue their dream of moving to Cape Town, said Horne.
The main reasons for this swell of relocations are people looking for a lifestyle change and wanting quality of life in beautiful surroundings, as well as good schooling for their children and increased safety and security in general.
Cape Town boasts some of the best schools in the country as well as access to what are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, as well as mountains, vineyards, open spaces – the list goes on.
“We are seeing theat many of those relocating are looking for larger homes – houses that are big enough to accommodate extended family – like grandparents – as well as provide space for a home office.”