Cape Town has recently been named on a number of lists as one of the best cities in the world for remote working. This is good news for the city, which is targeting digital nomads as part of their overall destination marketing strategy. Yet many locals are moving the other way.
There’s a growing number of South Africans who are looking towards ‘semigration’ to take them away from their traditional offices in big cities and into permanently remote working scenarios. And they’re doing this not only to change their work habits but to take them to better lifestyles in smaller towns, especially along South Africa’s coastal regions.
The semigration movement is also seeing a reinvigoration of many coastal towns themselves, inhabited largely in the past by retirees, and which are now experiencing an influx of younger families who in the past were tied logistically to lives in big cities.
Such is the nature of work these days, many of us could try out working in these towns for a short stint, maybe even moving between a few of them. A digital nomad roaming in our own country. Who needs Chiang Mai when we’ve got Durban’s North Coast? What is the criteria for these towns? Beautiful natural surroundings, great leisure activities on offer, and – most importantly – plenty of working spaces and great cafés to work from.
The attractions of Hermanus are well known throughout the country. Anyone who has been there over the festive season can attest to that. It has the classic Western Cape trio of mountains, beaches and vineyards. For digital nomads, however, the co-working space in town might be the most important feature. Co.Unity Workspace is a modern and well-run hub with strong wi-fi, private offices for day-to-day hire, hot desks and an impressive little cafe on hand.
2. Plettenberg Bay
There have been stories coming out of the Garden Route that the area has experienced a proper influx of ‘new locals’ since Covid hit. This makes sense, in that if you can work from anywhere, surely the hills between Wilderness and Plett would be close to the top of the list? Knysna is an attractive option but Plett has better working spaces on offer. Spacebuddies is a co-working office space, which offers ‘productive, shared work spaces, flex-desks, private offices and meeting areas.’ The Double Shot Coffeeshop is also a good place to work with free wifi, a quiet atmosphere and fresh homemade baked treats.
Home to one of South Africa’s most-loved hotels, The Oyster Box, Umhlanga also offers a few impressive co-working spaces. The Treehouse Workspace is true to its name with a lot of greenery around its offices that include meeting rooms, co-working desks and private offices. Flexible Workspace has five business centres around the country with one in Umhlanga.
The land of mist and dairy farms has a lot of incredible attractions and activities on offer nearby. The Midlands Meander, Drakensberg and KZN coastline are all within easy reach. Within Hilton, they have Head Office, a membership-based collaborative workspace. They offer the full whack of what you’d want in a co-working space – from private offices to hot desks, with intimate meeting rooms to a professional boardroom, a private call booth and their own café and barista.
Known for wine, rugby and the country’s longest main road, Paarl also makes for an attractive remote-working location. Workshop17 has six co-working spaces around the country, but the Tabakhuis is its most remote. This historic building was once used as a storage facility for tobacco, which has been transformed into a work and meeting place. Tabakhuis offers over 140 hot desks, 16 private offices, 4 semi-private offices, meeting rooms and boardrooms along with a fully equipped seminar room and café.