Until recently, cities were the place to be and urbanization was the key watchword, with experts predicting that the current global urban population of 55% will increase to 70% by 2050, but instead, as in the 1950s, the suburbs are once again becoming preferred places to live.

Kobus Odendaal, managing director of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Johannesburg and Randburg, said: “Suburban migration is definitely on the rise and is likely to increase over the next few years, which can largely be attributed to three main factors, namely prices , pandemic disruption and millennial impact.

“City living has become very expensive in recent years, property prices in and around most metros have become unaffordable for most first-time buyers and young families, and rising rents have also forced people to move to cheaper outlying areas.”

And by 2020, this was becoming a pressing issue, as living close to work was the holy grail for those who work in city centers and prefer not to spend hours battling traffic jams or overcrowded public transport every day.

“However, since the advent of Covid-19, telecommuting and flexible working hours have become the norm, and with high levels of connectivity available almost everywhere, many people can now live where they prefer, rather than being restricted to commuting areas to work is the easiest,” Odendaal said.

Born into the age of technology, millennials are now the largest demographic buying real estate, and they’re also leaving the biggest footprint in an industry that has remained largely unchanged for decades.

“Millennials have very different needs, priorities and expectations than their predecessors, and their entry into the property market has initiated a number of significant shifts in the market, but now as they age and settle down, they are following their parents. steps and heading out of town, Odendaal said.

The question many potential investors are asking is whether the exodus from cities will continue for the foreseeable future, or whether it is little more than a knee-jerk adjustment and short-term response to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Odendaal believes the answer is halfway there. “People who have survived months of quarantine in compact apartments will certainly have a new appreciation for outdoor living spaces, and families who have recently traded city life for the suburbs may not want to give up the new luxury of space.

“Others may have grown accustomed to the privacy and tranquility of suburban living, or don’t want to pay rent in the city again if it requires adjusting their belt-tightening lifestyle.

“And of course, the current work-from-home options mean that those moving to the suburbs don’t have to worry about commuting because they work from home.”

As a result, Odendaal said, we’re likely to see more demand for office space in the suburbs, as companies looking to attract and retain talent will see some benefit from locating at least some of their regional space in the suburbs.

“But at the end of the day, the CBD and major commercial centers like Sandton are still the main financial centers where business is done and money is made, and with the pandemic now a distant memory, they will always attract those who prosper on being in the center of events.”

He added that the principle of cause and effect cannot be ignored, and as high demand will always push prices up, which is already evident in sought-after suburbs, townhouses that were once prohibitively expensive will therefore become more affordable and affordable. thus again becoming more attractive to buyers and tenants.

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