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New year, new life? Top tips for a fresh start in a new province

Moving to a new province can be rewarding if you know what to expect and plan accordingly. Picture: Walter Torres

Moving to a new province can be rewarding if you know what to expect and plan accordingly. Picture: Walter Torres

Published Oct 29, 2023

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If you have decided that 2024 is going to be your year for a big change – perhaps a fresh start in a new province or region, then you need to start preparing now, if you haven’t already.

Semigration has been a growing trend in South Africa for years as people yearn for renewed opportunities and lifestyles in completely different surroundings, but since the pandemic and the rise of remote working, the allure of relocation is increasingly captivating.

There are, however, several factors you must consider to ensure a smooth and successful transition; jumping in without sufficient planning or thinking can backfire and leave you regretful and possibly stuck in a place, and life, that you really don’t like.

After all, Richard Gray, chief executive of Harcourts South Africa, says semigrating is not just about moving from one location to another – it's about transitioning to a new way of life.

“The decision can offer numerous benefits, but it's essential to be prepared.”

He offers these five tips:

Understand the local job market

Before relocating, it's vital to comprehend the employment opportunities available in the new region. Not all provinces have the same job market dynamics so it is crucial to research and identify industries and sectors that are thriving in your intended destination.

Investigate schooling options:

For families, education is often at the forefront of any move.

“Take the time to investigate schools in the area, their reputation, curriculum, and extracurricular offerings. A school's quality can significantly impact a child's development and well-being.”

Understand the cultural differences

Gray says each province in South Africa boasts its own unique culture, customs, and way of life, and even though the differences might be subtle, they can impact your daily life.

“Whether it's local festivals, languages spoken, or communal activities, understanding these variations can aid in assimilation.”

Cost of living comparisons

The cost of living can also differ considerably from one province to another, so you should not only look at property prices. Consider utility costs, transportation, groceries, and entertainment expenses, he says, adding that a comprehensive cost comparison provides a clearer picture of what to expect financially.”

Potential return on property investments

Investing in property in a new region also requires an understanding of the local property market's dynamics.

“Look at historical data, property appreciation rates, and rental yields. This information will offer insights into the potential return on your investment."

Post-semigration: Settling down in your new home

Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says average house prices can vary substantially across the country, so you may not be able to afford as much as you expected.

“For example, if you move down from Joburg, after having a home in the northern suburbs, and you come to Cape Town, it is going to be a mental adjustment because four beds will have to become three, or three beds will have to become two, if you want the same price.”

He also offers this advice:

Rent before you buy

As it may also take a while for you to get a good lay of the land, you should consider renting before buying a home in a new province.

“Take the time on weekends to drive through the various suburbs and get a feel for what each neighbourhood has to offer.”

Make new friends

Befriending those who live in the area can also be useful when adjusting to a new province. Locals tend to have the best suggestions for restaurants and stores, so it helps to get plugged into the community as soon as you can, he says. Until then, though, you could always make use of the ‘near me’ function on Google Maps to find out more about what the area has to offer, Goslett says.

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