Swopping the Grind for Semigration
Does a gentle stroll towards a more peaceful future feel like the right fit for your family? Perhaps semigration is the answer you’ve been looking for. We look at ways to swap the grind for the outdoors.
Stepping Out of the Rat Race
Living life at your own pace has never been more attractive.
Until very recently, remote work seemed like a fanciful futuristic prospect – something our children might enjoy, but surely not us. Yet, the realities of the global pandemic and the ability of technology to rapidly pivot its focus based on market demand has brought this future tantalisingly close.
Flying the Coop …but Landing Nearby
Semigration (relocating within a country’s borders) is a growing trend in South Africa. Small towns offer not just the promise of a greater sense of community, lower crime rates and cleaner air, but a better life in general, without necessarily cutting ties with your home country.
Even before the COVID 19 pandemic, the number of homeowners choosing semigration was on the rise. Data analytics group Lightstone recently published findings highlighting the increase in relocation within South Africa’s borders. According to them as many as 15% of homeowners who changed properties in the three years preceding 2020 did so in a move from a big city to a smaller town.
COVID uprooted how we live and work. The already strong trend towards semigration has merely accelerated.
Many people are no longer geographically bound by their jobs. Couple this with the fact that the South African climate is ideal for outdoor pursuits (one of the few “safe” leisure options still available to us) and an increased focus on physical and mental health, it is no wonder that many South Africans are contemplating a move out of large cities.
Choosing the Simple Life of Semigration
Even Hollywood A-listers are doing it. With supermodel sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid choosing to move back to their family farm for the duration of the pandemic.“The farm has really made me remember, and bring back to my life, my most simple pleasures,” Gigi told Harper’s Bazaar.
Working remotely has opened our eyes to the time we used to waste on our daily commute to the office. The loss of daily office socialisation can lead to an increased need for a safe bubble of friends and family to share our lives with – only this time, we get to choose our company.
Who Gets to do it?
There are two groups of potential relocators in South Africa. Firstly, we have individuals who were forced to live close to their office, but away from their support group of family and friends, due to their job. The growing trend for these people is a move back to their support structure. Relocation back to suburbs and “hometowns” not only cuts the cost of expensive city living, but also allows a greater connectivity with loved ones and opportunities to become home-owners. Buying a house in the suburbs can often be comparable in price or even more affordable than renting in a city.
Secondly, families with children. Online learning has quickly become an acceptable norm for most children. This, coupled with parents working remotely, now allows families the opportunity to move to a more relaxed, rural location.
Gentle Shifts, Not Giant Leaps
Even within cities, there is a steady move away from major transport routes and into outlying areas with access to several outdoor relaxation options. Gauteng and the Western Cape are favourite destinations, with suburban areas of Pretoria and Cape Town drawing in the most relocators.
According to Lightstone most people in the Western Cape and KZN who have left cities in favour of small-town life have remained within provincial borders. People leaving the big metros in Gauteng have favoured other provinces, with the Western Cape and KZN being the most popular destinations, but Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and North West gaining favour.
Making the choice to uproot yourself and your family should not be done lightly. But before you look across oceans and continents for your new home, why not just take a drive down that winding dirt track where the highway ends and see if joy isn’t perhaps waiting for you in Vryheid or Vrede.