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Developing Properties in Non-metro towns

The growth of the small town

Why unconventional towns are now cool

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

The growth of the small town

Why unconventional towns are now cool

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

3 min read

Unconventional towns have suddenly become cool. Young buyers are finding properties in non-metro towns financially attractive.

They want to take advantage of lower prices and enjoy the medium- to long-term growth that investing in property in these towns brings. What’s more, they’re also keen to benefit from the lifestyle that’s on offer – clean air, country living and a laid-back lifestyle.

Popular George

Popular non-metro towns include George, McGregor, Barrydale, Paternoster and Wilderness, to name but a few.

Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property Group, says: ‘Take George, for instance, with its own airport and extensive facilities and amenities including good schools.

‘This is considered the “capital” of the Garden Route with buoyant activity in recent years. By extension, it attracts businesspeople wanting to relocate, semigrators and retirees seeking a gentler way of life in an appealing environment, among others, all looking to acquire primary residences or leisure property with a view to future relocation.’

Lightstone’s research shows that recent property purchases in George (between February 2021 and January 2022) were made across all age groups, suggesting that this non-metro town in particular holds broad appeal.

However, 43% of recent buyers fell into the 36–49 years of age category, while 16% comprised young adults aged between 18 and 35 years of age, thus supporting the theory that these types of towns are attracting young professionals and families.

But should developers take note of this trend and create more developments in non-metro towns to cater to this demand?

Here Anton Malherbe, Noble Resorts’ new development and sales director, offers his view.

What is the definition of a non-metro town?

Anton Malherbe (AM): Generally, they are towns with fewer than 50,000 people.

What is the demographic of the people now moving into non-metro towns? Is it only the young, as Pam Golding’s research suggests, who move there?

AM: There is a spike in interest from younger families, work nomads and retirees whose living aspirations have changed as they look for a better quality of life. The appeal of cheaper properties, more space, and a peaceful lifestyle within a smaller, tight-knit community are big factors driving this trend.

What is the appeal of non-metro towns?

AM: House prices in the non-metro towns are generally lower than in urban or metro areas. So, buying in these areas is more affordable. The country environment comes with better air quality and access to outdoor activities that improve your mood and quality of life.

One of the biggest differences in living in the non-metro towns is the people; typically these areas have active communities, with churches, schools, and other such groups at the centre of community life.

What are some of the disadvantages that residents should be aware of? Are developers addressing these disadvantages in their future developments?

AM: Consideration should be given to:

  • Availability of healthcare services. Developers overcome this by having on-site medical services; for instance, Noble Resorts Allesverloren will have an onsite pharmacy, clinic and, for its residents who need specialist care, they will also have a frail and memory care unit.
  • Consistent power and water supply. These issues are solved by including backup power generators or solar solutions into the development plans as well as grey water or rainwater collection in the event of water shortages.
  • Some smaller towns don’t have police stations. Developers usually address this by providing triple-layer specialised security.

What’s the appeal for developers – is it typically cheaper to build there?

AM: Land is normally cheaper. It tends to be slightly easier to process applications because the smaller municipalities are more efficient with lighter workloads.

The post-pandemic trend of people looking to live in the country has also become an appealing factor for developers to consider developing outside of metros.

What’s the disadvantage for developers building in non-metro towns?

AM: It can be more expensive to build in non-metro towns when the developer must transport building material in. And the availability of bulk services can make the build challenging in these outlying areas.

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