Country towns flourish as semigration trend grows

The move towards "semigration" is growing in SA and boosting the demand for property in many country towns.

The term semigration (from semi-emigration) refers to those who seek a better quality of life away from urban grime, crime, congestion and stress, but who are not prepared to leave South Africa.

"And anecdotal evidence suggests that many small, lesser-known towns of the various provinces are now benefiting from this trend, which is at variance with the reports of a new brain drain from the country," says Realnet property group CEO Tjaart van der Walt.

"Recent problems with electricity supply and political changes have arguably catalysed the trend and while power and other problems are being encountered everywhere in SA, seemingly a quieter, less crime-ridden, less congested way of life in smaller towns is sufficient compensation for many people."

Various factors are contributing to the semigration trend, he says, the widespread perception of rising crime, notwithstanding police statistics to the contrary, probably being top of the list.

"Consequently buyers in the quieter country centres cover a wide range of ages and income groups, including young executives who have already made their mark in the business world and are prepared to commute or run 'virtual' businesses, and middle-aged 'retirees' from the corporate world who are buying or starting up entrepreneurial businesses in their new home towns.

"Others are artists and craftsmen who are flocking to be part of flourishing new or established artists' communities such as those in Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, Tzaneen in Limpopo and Clarens in the Free State."

Van der Walt says new developments on the Vaal and around Hartbeespoort dam are also clear beneficiaries of the semigration trend, as are the towns of the East Rand, Grahamstown and the charming town of Graaff Reinet in the Eastern Cape, and Paarl, Wellington, Riebeeck Kasteel and Darling in the Western Cape.

"And many other towns along the coast that used only to be holiday destinations are now also experiencing a sharp rise in the number of permanent residents keen to enjoy a better quality of life year-round."
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