The ’15-minute neighbourhood’ concept may not be new, but since COVID-19 hit our shores it is certainly a trend that has had new life breathed into it within South Africa’s property market. Add to that the current spike in fuel costs and you have the perfect conditions for this lifestyle trend to grow and flourish. Rainmaker Marketing’s Director, Stefan Botha, whose award-winning agency specialises in the property sector, shares his insights about why SA is experiencing this growing property trend.
There is no question that convenience is key and the work from home trend due to COVID-19 has caused most consumers to opt for lifestyle and comfort when choosing their home. This alone probably explains the increase we have seen first-hand over the past two years in developments across South Africa that offer consumers work, schools, entertainment and important shopping amenities on their doorstep.
The concept of living 15 minutes away from everything, or within walking distance, is thought to improve one’s quality of life which according to our National Residential Property Trends for 2021 has become a number one priority for consumers since the pandemic. This concept of “living locally” is something that has been spoken about for years but seeing it being unpacked and this vision being realised in a growing number of instances has brought new life to many areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Johannesburg as well as in Cape Town. All our existing research and observations from the market support the fact that, in general, people will trade size for security and location every day of the week – especially if they can enjoy greater recreational benefits within close proximity of where they sleep.
The concept of 15-minute neighbourhoods stems from the 1920’s where it was made more popular in 2019 in Paris. I believe other parts of the world like South Africa are now adopting this preferred living arrangement due to two major factors. The first being “hyperlocalisation” as a result of Covid-19 where people are understanding the importance of community and are wanting to avoid the hassle and escalating costs linked to transport, as well as climate change. The current increase in fuel costs as of March 2022 in South Africa, is only going to further cement this need to live, work and play within a smaller perimeter.
Take for example the newly launched WATT CLUB in Durban’s CBD where work, life and play are central to the offering for consumers who will save on transport costs and time choosing to live in this beautiful sanctuary situated in a prime location. Johannesburg has also recently seen HQ Sandton, a new residential development launched in the heart of Sandton, that is set to meet the demands of consumers wanting to live and work in Africa’s richest square mile but with an affordable price tag. Cape Town’s successful launch of Station House Sea Point that has over 15 lifestyle amenities built into this luxury development that achieved R310 million in sales in under 3 months, is also testament to the fact that “hyperlocalisation” is undoubtedly here to stay and is no longer exclusive to Europe.
Furthermore, in places like Durban Central and Umhlanga Ridge Town Centre – developers are seeing the need for people to live in well established, amenity rich areas; areas supported by a precinct management. This movement was reinforced in a recent property webinar that I facilitated where Sandton Central’s Precinct Manager, Elaine Jack drew reference to the fact that the pandemic highlighted the live-work-play concept and that Sandton’s vision has revolved around the notion of a 15-minute neighbourhood. According to Elaine, they have been actively trying to encourage the residential property market in Sandton so that people can now live near their places of work and have quick and easy access to the places they like to play.
This sentiment is most definitely echoed with a development such as HQ Sandton, where it offers facilities such as a rooftop garden and bar, a restaurant, a gym, and the actual development is situated in prime location – all walking distance from Sandton City Mall, The Gautrain and 5 minutes from the M1. Even with a development in Durban like Umhlanga Arch that has become a trendy tourist and local hub, you’ll find many business people from all over Umhlanga walking in. Its prime location, being close to some of Durban’s biggest corporates, allows the development to draw in many people to live, work and play.
With 15-minute neighbourhoods, homeowners and investors are weighing up the costs of this convenient arrangement with home price, travel costs, etc. dictating what in the long run will be deemed as most cost-effective. Based on our National Residential Property Trends survey for 2021, we can confidently say that location is a key driver for property growth. The closer people are to everything they need, the better.
Another rising trend is mixed-use developments, because they cater to the growing desire for convenient, appealing, and sustainable areas where people have everything they need “on their doorstep”. The idea that your area, your space, allows for everything you could need ticks the box of people getting their precious time back. From an investment perspective, buying into these developments within such neighbourhoods and central urban spaces is an attractive option because the demand for rental is so high.
The 15-minute neighbourhood vision is definitely making itself at home in South Africa and I believe we’ll also see more of an uptake of this trend in 2022 and beyond on the international property scene as well. Locally I think we’ll see more urban and inner-city renewal happening with developers like Homii leading the charge with the WATT CLUB being the first of many developments to be rolled out nationally that looks to reactivate underutilized spaces, and appeal to consumers’ desires to improve their quality of life while reducing traffic, mitigating their carbon footprint and minimising unnecessary time normally spent travelling. This aligns to a growing trend seen nationally around the conversion of retail and commercial opportunities within key business districts in order to satisfy the demand for those wanting to enjoy the benefits of live, work and play within safe, walking proximity.