Moving to the city next year? Here’s how to find a great apartment

You just have to look at the vibrant Maboneng and Braamfontein precincts in Johannesburg or the City Bowl in Cape Town to see how the rising demand for centrally-located accommodation is speeding up the revitalisation of SA’s big cities.
“As well as those moving to the cities from country towns and villages, thousands of people - most of them young but some of them in their 50s and 60s - are now moving from the suburbs and former townships to rental apartments in the CBDs and inner city areas,” says Greg Harris, CEO of Chas Everitt Property Rentals.
“A major reason for this migration is obviously to cut down on the time and money they would otherwise spend commuting to jobs in the city, but another big driver is the desire to enjoy a 21st century, new-urban lifestyle, with places of work and study, food and clothing shops, restaurants, health clubs, galleries, theatres and nightspots all just a comfortable walk away from the front door.
“And as demand rises, more and more business owners and service providers are finding that there is a great living to be made, as well as a great life to be lived, in the city centres, with the result that whole areas are not only being re-populated, but also cleaned-up, improved and turned back into the thriving, lively, mixed-used precincts that they used to be.”
Harris says that finding an apartment close to a public transport hub like a Gautrain station or a Bus Rapid Transport stop is also important to an increasing number of young city residents, and that in this they are following the lead of their US counterparts, according to the latest national housing survey by the Urban Land Institute.
“It is also interesting that in this poll, 62% of the Millennial generation people who responded said they would also prefer to live in mixed-use developments – that is, new or redeveloped buildings that house shops, restaurants and offices as well as their apartments. This is an increasingly common occurrence in New York, London, Paris and other old city centres around the world, and now also appears to be a growing trend in the CBDs of SA’s bigger cities.”
However, while living above your local supermarket or fast-food outlet can be wonderfully convenient, mixing businesses with residential units can also be problematic if the buildings are not well-managed. For this reason, you should try always to rent in a complex with a professional and reputable managing agent that has things under control.
He says an ideal situation would probably be to live above offices, banks or retail businesses that have regular operating hours, security and minimal noise. However, that’s not always possible, and when the apartment they like is located elsewhere, potential tenants should make sure they do the following before signing a lease:
*Double-check the opening and closing times of any businesses below the apartment to prevent any clashes with your sleeping schedule. It’s no fun to be stuck in an apartment above a restaurant or bar with loud music, or a bakery which fires up its ovens at 4am. Additionally, pay attention to businesses in the area that might require lots of parking or foot traffic at night, which could add to the street noise when you are trying to sleep.
*Ask about how the maintenance and utilities payments for the building are allocated. Residential tenants should not be subsidising the commercial tenants in any way and individual water and prepaid electricity meters for each flat are best.

*Take notice of any smells that vent through the building or come through the windows. Not all restaurants or businesses have the correct ventilation or odour control systems, and while the smell of coffee or baking bread might not bother you, the fumes from the drycleaner downstairs might be an entirely matter.

*Find out about waste disposal. Does the restaurant or supermarket downstairs dispose of waste in an alley at the back of the building? This can present health and sanitation issues, increasing the risk that the building could have vermin. Ideally, mixed-use buildings should have separate trash rooms for residents, and more frequent rubbish collection to avoid trash piling up.

“As a first-time tenant new to the city,” Harris says, “you need to remember that you will be paying a large part of your earnings for your accommodation, and that you don’t have to take the first apartment that you view. Although you do need to be realistic about what you can afford, you should also make sure that you are getting the best value for your money - and a good managing agent from a reputable company like Chas Everitt Property Rentals will be happy to show you several possible options.”

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 22 Feb 2018
      An excellent credit score is one of the most priceless assets a potential home buyer can have. This tool has the power to secure favorable mortgage and refinancing rate, influencing everything from the size of the loan repayment to the interest rate on the home loan.
    • 22 Feb 2018
      What do you do if you love your home’s location and the area, but the home no longer fits your growing family’s needs? Do you stay and renovate your existing home or find a home that meets your developing criteria?
    • 22 Feb 2018
      While every owner wants to sell their property at the best possible price, overpricing a home can be the kiss of death for a sale.
    • 21 Feb 2018
      Given the hand they were dealt, government has performed a delicate balancing act which it is hoped will serve to reignite confidence in investment in South Africa, regain our global credibility and satisfy the credit ratings agencies, says Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group.
    • 21 Feb 2018
      The real estate mantra, ‘location, location, location’ remains a strong market influence regardless of the prevailing economy, with suburbs like Rondebosch enjoying the buffering benefit of being ideally situated.
    • 21 Feb 2018
      These days most buyers are using online property portals like Private Property when house hunting due to the convenience, up to date information and variety on offer. “The property portals have revolutionised the way buyers shop, but they do need to be cautious – viewing photos online is no replacement for viewing the property in person,” says Bruce Swain, CEO of Leapfrog Property Group.
    • 20 Feb 2018
      Owning a home is a milestone that most South Africans aspire to. Becoming a homeowner is a step towards growing personal wealth and owning an asset that appreciates in value over time, provided of course that the correct principles are applied during the buying stage of the process, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
    • 20 Feb 2018
      The suburb of Greenstone in Johannesburg east came to be over the last two decades. “In the beginning, it was literally just a hill with not so much as a shopping centre,” says Michael Levy, Property Consultant at Jawitz Properties Bedfordview. Today it has plenty shopping facilities and is fully built, boasting high-density, upmarket housing and residential estates, though still has a few pockets poised for commercial development.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us