Cape Town CBD and Century City lead growing urban rental movement

Neighbourhoods, News



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A healthy work-life balance is the holy grail of modern society, and cutting down on time-sinks like long commutes has become a fine art. Work-from-home and telecommute solutions are increasingly popular amongst Cape Town’s young professionals, but what about those of us who work (and love working) in one of the Mother City’s vibrant – if congested – CBDs?

“We’re actually seeing two trends when it comes to rental properties in cities like Cape Town,” says Jacqui Savage, National Rentals Manager for the Rawson Property Group. “The first is remote working – people renting in outlying suburbs and working from home. The second is inner-city living – living and working in the CBD.”

The latter, Savage says, has proven highly popular with professionals in the under-35 age bracket, who are opting out of the traditional suburban lifestyle of their parents.

“Low maintenance, high-convenience and ultra-social lifestyles are the goal,” she says. “Who wants to waste precious free time mowing the lawn on Sunday afternoons when you could be tasting artisanal gin at the latest neighbourhood market?”

Admittedly, those living in Cape Town’s CBDs will likely have to sacrifice a little on space – urban apartments are often stylish, but compact by design. Parking can also be a challenge, but this, Savage says, is far less of a problem for the young professionals of today.

“Trends definitely point towards public transport use overtaking private vehicles in younger age-groups,” she says. “Between services like the MyCiti Bus Network and e-hailing apps like Uber and Taxify, most urbanites can get away without private-use vehicles.”

This, Savage says, makes proximity to transport hubs just as important as business and entertainment districts for urban renters – one of the many reasons Cape Town CBD and Century City are reportedly leading this market segment.

“The latest figures for Century City show 36% of buyers are under 35,” says Savage. “According to our local Rawson rental franchises, tenant statistics are even higher in that age group.”

Cape Town CBD shows a similar leaning towards the youth market, with 30% of recent buyers under 35. The majority (43%) of purchases in this particular urban hub, however, are between 36 and 49 – a result, Savage says, of the area’s larger and more established business district coupled with a thriving tourism industry bolstering the buy-to-let market.

“In terms of rental investments, it’s tough to beat these vibey CBDs,” she says. “Demand is consistent, there are opportunities for both short and long-term lets, and the properties themselves tend to be well-maintained, well-secured, and either newly built or recently renovated.”

Purchase prices, while higher than some other South African cities, are also less exorbitant than many would believe. In Cape Town’s CBD, there were over 200 sales under the R3million mark between December 2017 and November 2018. Century City totalled 155 sales in the same price bracket over the same period of time.

As for returns on investment, Savage says the rental market has come under fire from recent economic pressures, suppressing growth to more moderate levels than in previous years. However, she says this has not affected the long-term investment potential of these urban properties.

“If anything, this market is poised to skyrocket as soon as the economy turns around,” she says. “re-urbanisation is a growing trend that supports a very desirable lifestyle for our modern, young professionals. That’s one of our highest-growing demographics, and a very promising market from both a sales and rentals perspective. It’s really an ideal time to get a foot in this market – price growth may be slow for now, but the upswing is coming and those in a position to take advantage of it will do very well.”


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