More South Africans are moving to these inland ‘zoom’ towns

 ·29 Jan 2022

The advent of work from anywhere and the resultant migration of families within South Africa has not only had a ripple effect on Central Business Districts around the country. The new ‘zoom town’ phenomenon is also moving inland, where it was initially predominantly restricted to coastal towns.

Towns in the Overberg in the Western Cape, traditionally holiday or retirement destinations, are experiencing an influx of permanent residents, say property experts at Meridian Realty.

Antonie Goosen, principal and founder of Meridian Realty, said sales figures show a definite increase in terms of permanent residents moving from cities into smaller towns as families seek a better lifestyle.

“Meridian agents in smaller towns are seeing an increase in sales and permanent residency in some of South Africa’s smaller and most scenic towns. People are not only seeking out coastal locations, but also inland locations that offer outdoor, country living.”

Two notable examples of this are Greyton and McGregor in the Western Cape. They have both seen an unusual number of residential properties sold in the last two to three years, he said.

“Greyton in the Overberg area of the Western Cape is a good example. Although most roads in the village are dust roads, the infrastructure is sophisticated and service delivery is commendable.

“The village still maintains its Cape vernacular architectural heritage, which has been well preserved. Greyton recently won the Kyknet ‘Dorp van die Jaar’ competition and is a popular weekend-breakaway destination,” said Goosen.

Permanent move over holiday homes

Christoff Coetzer, Meridian Agent in Greyton, said he has seen a substantial increase in transactions in Greyton.

In 2019, the total number of homes sold in Greyton was 37, with 26 sold in 2020 and 93 homes in 2021, which is over a 100% increase compared to the previous years.

“People are not just moving from inland areas; we are seeing a lot of movement from Cape Town. Greyton offers families in Cape Town a location out of the city to raise children, while not being too far from the city.

“In addition, Greyton offers good primary schooling in two government and one private school. Plans are also underway to develop a high school,” said Coetzer.

Coetzer said the ratio of permanent residents versus holiday residents buying holiday homes has changed dramatically. “The demographic setup in town has changed over the past number of years. In the past, permanent residents were typically pensioners and now there are many young families moving onto the village.”

His buyers are predominantly from the Western Cape and Gauteng, but there is a noticeable influx of international buyers from the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium.

Goosen said Greyton and McGregor are connected by more than just the famous Bosmanskloof hiking trail and the beautiful Breede River valley.

“The Zoom town trend seems to be moving inland. Both villages have seen an influx of permanent residents with increasing sales over the past two years. Semigration has certainly spanned longer than the Covid pandemic, however the pandemic and new working arrangements have certainly accelerated this trend,” he said.

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