You can’t put a price on your lifestyle ‒ or can you?

11 January 2021

South Africa’s major cities have a lot to offer, but the high cost of living there too often means sacrificing many of those lifestyle perks that wouldn’t be out of reach for anyone prepared to trade an address in Cape Town or Johannesburg for one in Port Elizabeth, for example.

It’s true that you can stroll the world-class beaches in Cape Town, sample some of the world’s best wines and enjoy top-class fine dining all in the same day. That said, there’s also that infamous “Mountain tax” that can leave many (especially those without the luxury of foreign currency) seriously out of pocket.

In Johannesburg, you can shop till you drop and enjoy international-class nightlife (post pandemic, of course), but you’ll also have to learn to live with those arduous commutes, no matter where you’re headed in that city. And in Durban, you can enjoy the subtropical climate and beach lifestyle – as long as you’re prepared to wade through tourists to get there when high season comes around.

With the world more connected virtually than ever before, many people are taking the remote in remote working very seriously, and heading out of these big cities in search of a quieter – and much more affordable – lifestyle. Sometimes that means moving further out of town than they’re used to, but for others, it entails seeking out an entirely new change of pace in completely different parts of the country. 

Some of the top considerations when searching for a new home are affordability, space, location (and location, and then location again, as the saying goes), potential for extension and improvements, and the overall look and feel. Now, home buyers could potentially tick all of these boxes, by working remotely and moving somewhere much cheaper.

According to the United States Postal Service data, more than 15.9 million residents of that country have registered new addresses during the pandemic. And closer to home, many South Africans are reportedly heading to coastal areas and small towns to swap overcrowding, long commutes and high prices for a quieter, more affordable lifestyle and reduced property prices.

Port Elizabeth-based property expert Clifford Oosthuizen says that South Africa’s “Friendly City” strikes an ideal balance, boasting big city amenities without some of the more trying aspects of living in a capital.

Where you get the most bang for your buck, he explains, is in investing in the city’s burgeoning property market ‒ where trendy investment opportunities such as estate living are also significantly more achievable. He speaks from experience as Managing Director of Westbrook Lifestyle Estate in Port Elizabeth.

“There are huge discrepancies between house prices by city in South Africa, meaning buyers often have to sacrifice space for location. For those prepared to make the move out of capital cities, which is now more feasible than ever with the rapid and widespread shift to remote work, estate living is achievable for the price of what would probably get you a small studio flat in the likes of Cape Town,” says Oosthuizen.

Westbrook is Port Elizabeth’s newest suburb, currently in development, comprising nine residential villages conveniently located just outside the hustle and bustle of the city, but well within reach of its lifestyle amenities and facilities. The estate offers security, safe walkable streets, parks and play areas, a cycling and running track, top-class schooling and a Piazza-style mixed-use precinct.

The first village, The Ridge, has already been completed and is 100% sold out.  The second village, River Dale, is currently under construction and selling fast. Here, Oosthuizen shares that potential investors could get a three-bedroom, two-bathroom freestanding home, with a two-car garage in a secure estate starting from R1,335million. He emphasises that investing in the life you want now will also promise good capital gains in the long-term.

Oosthuizen’s passion for reimagining an empty plot of land and creating a lifestyle destination led him to Port Elizabeth in 2005, where he has since built more than 550 homes across the city under the Smallville Properties banner, and is now overseeing the development of Westbrook for the Amdec Group.

Port Elizabeth, he says, is a user-friendly destination with room to move as you navigate its beautiful beaches, promenade, historic architecture and excellent restaurants – from cheap and cheerful to fine dining. It is easily accessible via a local airport and the N2 highway. Perhaps the final clincher to seal the deal, he shares, is that it’s said that you can get anywhere in the city in just 15 minutes or less!

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