Cape Town is Still the Semigration Capital of South Africa
Over the last decade, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of South Africans choosing to emigrate or semigrate. While there has been much said about the former, less has been said about the latter – until recently. But what is semigration, for those who may be unaware?
Semigration, sometimes known as semi-emigration, is the act of relocating inside your own nation. While this term may lead one to wonder, “Isn’t that just moving?” semigration is distinguished by the reasons for the relocation. They, like emigrants, expect that a change of place would lead to a better life; nevertheless, unlike emigrants, they believe that a better life may still be had inside South Africa.
Those who want to semigrate do so in quest of a better quality of life away from the risks and tensions of city life. As a result, it’s no wonder that Gauteng, particularly Johannesburg and its environs, has been the worst hit by the migratory trend. Concerns regarding the long-term physical and psychological impacts of urban stress have been exacerbated by a rise in crime events within the city. With this in mind, it’s ironic that Cape Town, which the SAPS has called the country’s most crime-ridden region, is such a popular destination for migrants.
COVID-19 Driving Semigration to the Western Cape
Many organizations have had to rethink how their workers work as a result of Covid-19, and they now enable their employees to work from home. Professionals are no longer limited to their city residences, but may live in a location that combines the best of both work and living worlds, allowing them to spend less time traveling to work and more time on what matters most.
This has been further driving the semigration trend. According to Alexa Horne, managing director of Dogon Group Properties, while semigration to the Cape is not a new trend, the pandemic has increased the amount of people moving there, making it simpler for professionals to live, work, and play in their favorite province.
The Cape’s appeal has long enticed professionals who would formerly commute to Gauteng for employment during the week and return to their families in the Western Cape on weekends. The need of working away from home and commuting was a disadvantage and a reason why fewer individuals were migrating to the Cape.
According to FNB commercial property finance economist, John Loos, in the short term, the Western Cape province may be the likely outperformer. This is based on his opinion that the Western Cape’s capacity to recruit semigrant talents and buying power – both of which are critical for economic growth – has lately improved.
“The Western Cape has been the most popular semigration destination for many years now, due to the perception of the province as having a great lifestyle coupled to significant economic opportunity. It has also been seen to be a region where provincial and local government is relatively well-run.
“And as time has passed, communication and information technology has enabled businesses and individuals to be more removed from the major economic hub of Gauteng,” he said.
James Vos, mayoral committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, says “Targeting digital nomads as part of our overall destination marketing strategy will become part of the City’s new international campaign when the time is right and when it is safe to do so.”
Further, the provincial administration of the Western Cape has made a formal request for the creation of a ‘remote working’ visa, which will allow overseas tourists to remain longer and work remotely while in the country.
This means an appealing value proposition for investors, particularly those buying in Cape Town. Anecdotal evidence supports this: BetterBond, a mortgage originator, saw a 49% increase in the number of people looking to buy properties in the Western Cape in the first three months of 2021, compared to the same period last year. This should also revive the short-term letting market, otherwise known as the AirBnB economy.