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LOOK: For about R9 million you could buy a ’shoebox’ in Geneva or a luxury pad in the mother city. Which would you choose?

While the Atlantic seaboard is attracting foreign investment, some of the locals who are selling their luxury homes are moving abroad. Picture by Sharaan Muruvan/Unsplash

While the Atlantic seaboard is attracting foreign investment, some of the locals who are selling their luxury homes are moving abroad. Picture by Sharaan Muruvan/Unsplash

Published Apr 12, 2022

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If you had R8 million-plus cash to spare - would you live in a 1.5-roomed flat in Geneva, Switzerland or a three-bedroomed luxury pad with sea views in Cape Town? For many young foreign investors, it’s a no-brainer.

South Africa, and Cape Town, Atlantic seaboard in particular, is seeing more of them buying property now than ever before.

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This is according to Lance Cohen, ceo of Lance Real Estate, who in December and January sold the second and third most expensive properties ever to be sold in the country.

It’s not surprising that South Africa is seen as an enviable destination. Recent Knight Frank data showed that $1million dollars will have you living in a 15 square metres place in Monaco, 37 square metres in Geneva, 77 square metres in Miami to almost triple the size - 220 square metres in Cape Town.

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Cohen believes another reason for the resurgence of younger foreign buyers along the Atlantic seaboard is the changing work environment.

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“The Covid-19 pandemic moved workers away from traditional office spaces and the way people do business has changed. We have definitely seen an upsurge in ’digital nomads’ - remote workers who use technology to do their jobs from anywhere in the world.”

Cohen says it’s young entrepreneurs from Germany mainly, and also Sweden, that are buying here.

There are also a growing number of foreigners from other African countries in the market.

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“They love the lifestyle, the weather, food, the wine, the beaches, and because the working world has changed and people are not tied to offices, they are able to run their businesses from anywhere in the world.”

Added to that many are chasing “the eternal summer” and South Africa - for those moving from Europe - is easy and accessible with similar time zones, an easy overnight flight and no jet lag.

The looming war in Europe is also having an impact on Africa and South Africa, attracting foreigners who see the region as “far from where that is happening”. The real impact of the war in Ukraine, however, will only be known later.

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Nick Gaertner, director and chief operating officer at Knight Frank, told IOL Wealth earlier this year there was a “strong resurgence” of luxury property buying in the last quarter of 2021 and an even stronger start to this year.

And when you are looking square metre for square in the luxury market, the space you can buy is incomparable.

For instance, below is a photo of what is available in Geneva for about R8.8m.

This 1.5-roomed 33 square metre apartment in Geneva, Switzerland is on the market for about R8.8 million.

While this (below) is what you can buy in Sea Point for just under R8m. See more on this property here

This Sea Point apartment goes for just under R8 million and offers three bedrooms, sea views and all the bells and whistles. It is well over 100 square metres in size.

"We are still very cheap here compared to other world markets. The rand has also strengthened recently which is a sign of more confidence in the market,“ says Cohen.

He says remote work, value for money and that Cape Town is still cheap compared to other markets, add to the allure.

This is another three-bedroomed apartment with sea views you can buy for under R8.8m on the Atlantic seaboard. See more here

This fully front-facing unit comes with unobstructed ocean views and is the ideal space to turn into your dream home! Picture sourced from www.iolproperty.co.za

However, while foreigners are loving this piece of paradise, there is “sadly an increase in the number of South Africans leaving the country, citing that they are looking for a brighter future for their children”.

In a telephone conversation with IOL Wealth from Malta where he is at the moment, Cohen says it is mostly families who are leaving the country, willing to give up their bigger spaces and lifestyle.

Portugal which offers a golden visa, good food, a good lifestyle and where English is widely spoken, as well as Malta, where it is easy to get residency and has the only real programme where you can buy an actual passport, are all still popular with South Africans immigrating. So is Australia, America and the UK.

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