There's A Place for Us

Let me take you way back to the mid 1980's, just after the infamous Rubicon speech, when many Johannesburg families were seriously considering packing for Perth. At that time they had a small problem. What to do with their elderly parents when they finally said goodbye to good old South Africa.

One option was to find them a nice flat with a little balcony and a view. It had to be in a neighbourhood where everything was close at hand. Where there were shops and grocery stores and sidewalk cafes and restaurants and movie theatres - all within easy walking distance. It should also be a clean, safe and cosmopolitan environment. And hopefully the unit they bought would be somewhat affordable. Then the family could settle into their new Australian home with the peace of mind that their parents would be happy back in SA. Believe it or not, at that time many people chose Hillbrow - as it ticked all the right boxes.

Fast forward to 2017 and there are many couples deciding where to buy their first home. Several factors will affect their choice. First and foremost will be the value-for-money proposition. After all, in the current recession money's too tight to mention. But cash will not be the only issue. Proximity to work and play will be another. Most people want to live closer to their jobs. Commuting in Johannesburg is no fun these days. I can remember when there was such a thing as a rush hour in this town. Now almost all day is rush hour. New home owners will also want to visit the mall to do their shopping, catch a movie, or have a meal. Let's also talk about schools. If a good one is within walking distance of the property, then that would be a huge bonus.

And finally we must discuss the elephant in the room - security. A few years ago young buyers were leaning towards townhouses because they were perceived as being safer. As of today, I am seeing a swing back to free standing homes. This might be because buyers don't particularly want their neighbours right on top of them. Or maybe it is the very high levies that have to be dealt with in a complex.

Or that potential buyers have rented in a complex and been robed. Certainly one big advantage of a free standing home is that you get space and privacy - and the option of organizing your own security.

We all know the world is changing, Johannesburg is changing, and obviously first-time buyers are changing. Now let's spare a thought for all those elderly parents, trapped in their run-down buildings, terrified to go out onto the mean streets of Hillbrow. Yes places do change - and sometimes quite dramatically.