An alternative to emigration? This small SA city has both a 'dorpie' feel and a McDonald's drive-thru

2019-09-13 11:45
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Due to the complications involved with emigration, 'semigration' or relocating have become South Africans' answer to a better life for them and their families.  

Earlier this year, Business Tech reported on South Africa's so-called 'super-commuters' - those who live on the Garden Route for its high quality of life, and commute back and forth to Jozi for work. A big player is the George Airport that makes it all so much more possible, a streamlined journey. Chas Everitt International property group found that George, Sedgefield and Knysna were very high 'super-commuter' destinations, seeing an obvious spike in Joburg residents choosing to semigrate/relocate here. 

Gorgeous George is not just the name of a hip new Cape Town restaurant. George is a gorgeous small city on the Garden Route. Boasting small town living with all the offerings of a big city, you get that 'dorpie'-feeling while also being able to visit a McDonald's drive-thru. 

It is quiet, but not boring. It hosts church bazaars, but also has some of the best artisan coffee shops in the country. Countryside with a side of cosmopolitan. 

WATCH: Take a 40-minute flight to feel fancy at Fancourt - George's iconic luxury golf estate 

I visited George a few weeks ago, and went on a guided tour of the city. Our guide told us that about five families a month move down to George from Johannesburg. "It is very safe, you see," he says. 

Expatica notes that many families move to luxury golf estates in the area which already have excellent security measures in place, thus further guaranteeing the safety and security of residents who life in this part of the Garden Route. 

And the high quality of life was not only confirmed by our George guide, but Numbeo, a international online database of user-submitted information, that listed a life index stipulating that George is in fact the best city to live in in South Africa.

It has a moderate level of safety (much higher than most big SA cities), it has excellent healthcare facilities, a very favourable climate, low pollution levels and has very little traffic congestion. Rent is also cheaper here than in most big cities like Johannesburg or Cape Town. In George, you are likely to spend around 20% or less of your salary on rent. This is not the case in Cape Town, for example, where people tend to spend up to 26% of their income on hiring the roof over their heads, an Adzuna study found earlier this year according to Exchange Capital. 

But the city feels less diverse than other cities in South Africa. And our tour guide for some reason points out to us that the town is predominately white.

It's glaringly obvious that socio-economic inequality is still split strictly down race lines in this small city that's seeing an influx of city-slicking families in search of safer and greener pastures.

But with a high school named PW Botha, I can't help but ask, "Who is really welcome?"

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