Buying a smallholding: the lure of the country

2016-10-20 06:00

There’s a growing trend worldwide for couples and families to ditch the city lifestyle for something a little less fraught.

And among them are the “greenshifters” – those who not only want to move to the country, but also to give up urban life altogether and work on their own smallholdings.

“We’re noticing more and more couples aged 40 and over with small families and above-average incomes looking to invest in smallholdings,” says Chas Everitt Nelson Mandela Bay principal Charlotte Vermaak. “They’ve reached a stage in life where they no longer want the stress of city living.”

But making a move from suburbia to the countryside isn’t always easy.

“It’s vital for people making a move like this to make friends with others who are more experienced and can act as mentors,” adds Vermaak, a former “farm girl” herself.

To prepare for such a lifestyle change you need to:

• Get expert advice on your preferred location and the type of property you want to buy.

• Avoid the temptation to make such a drastic change that everything familiar is shunned in a single move. “It’s not advisable to move straight from, say, Walmer where everything you need is on your doorstep, to the remotest countryside,” advises Vermaak.

• Check with locals to see what the area is like and whether it is likely to change and if there are any major areas of development in the next ten years expected.

• Do your sums. A country home is often cheaper than one in the city but might cost more to maintain. And your transport costs will probably be higher as you’ll use more fuel in your car to just ‘pop’ to the nearest shop.

• Check that you will be able to get along if one or both earners in the household want to change from a high-paying job to a smaller income from working the land. “A good tactic is for one adult to keep their job, as this stable income should be enough to get a bond,” says Vermaak.

“Living off the land is very hard work and requires determination and patience. But it’s an immensely satisfying lifestyle and worth the hard graft,” she says.

(-Chas Everitt)

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