Time to look to the country

If you long to downscale to a simpler lifestyle free of the work pressures, security risks and high rates and taxes associated with cities and large towns, now might be a very good time to move to the country. “The reason is that small towns currently have even more to offer potential residents than peace and quiet, and that is good value for money in residential property,” says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group.

According to the FNB Property Barometer, he notes, the major metro price index showed a 4,7% increase in the first quarter of this year, while the index for what the bank calls “holiday towns” showed a 6,9% decline for the same period. And in real terms, the average house price in big cities was R1,1m, compared to an average of R794 000 in the holiday towns.

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt says Absa’s latest figures also reflect price increases in most metropolitan areas during the first quarter, and some startlingly large increases in major holiday / second-home destinations such as the Cape West Coast, the Garden Route and the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

However prices in the more rural provinces such as the Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga were still in decline.  “In short, what these stats show is that it should be possible to sell up in the city and have a nice chunk of change left after you’ve bought a home in the country. “Of course there are caveats, and no such major move should be made on impulse.

If you would have to commute to work back in the city every day in heavy traffic, for example, the allure of a country home would probably soon be eclipsed by frustration and high fuel bills. “On the other hand, it is a really bad idea to sink all your pension money into a village business until you have lived there for a while, done some serious number crunching and feel sure it will work.    “But if you already have or can quickly start a home-based or online business, or if you are an established teleworker, this may just be the time to make your great escape.”

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