Want to retire to the prettiest town in South Africa? Think you can’t afford it? Think again! For as little as R250 000 you could be living in paradise…that’s if you ignore the growing crime, criminal cops, propaganda publicity and self-serving bastards who call themselves politicians – if you’re South African, you’re probably die-hard so you probably can.
Before i give you examples of amazing deals that you can get, let me tell you truths that Knysna Tourism and Knysna Municipality will never tell you!
There have been many false property articles during this Recession! The goal has been to get you to “grab a bargain before prices go up again”. The first problem is that the house or flat you are buying is worth far less than the depressed price it’s at. Secondly, no one knows when or if prices will rise. Even the salespeople have stopped putting a date on it (such as “next year”). The Knysna market has been so bad that there are regularly adverts attempting to recruit new estate agents to replace the ghosts of the Recession. It’s hard to live if you don’t sell a house in a year (and that’s a real example of someone i know…who use to own 4 cars but now lives off his wife’s shopgirl earnings). Such stories are sadly common.
The biggest problem for our town was the credit boom. As happened in so many places around the world, local government allowed an excess of holiday homes to be built. The short-term gain was rates – a tempting must when the minority of Knysna supports the majority under the rule of grossly inflated municipal salaries. Short-term gain equalled short-sightedness as property prices boomed into horror fantasy. Construction attracted work-seekers so that current reality is a bigger population living in squalor whilst more houses than one can count are empty.
Unlike a city whose foundation is made stronger by a multitude of business types, Knysna stands one-legged on income derived directly or indirectly from tourism. With an insufficient supply of tourists, the spin-off service industry took a massive belly punch. From masseurs to restauranteurs, printers to beauticians, income plummeted. Even alcohol, the most reliant product, has been a letdown – at first, sorrows got drowned in bars but inappropriate spending ran out so that alcoholics now hide at home. Several establishments have changed ownership several times, each time at a loss. Trying to run a small business in Knysna is only for the foolhardy, brave or exceptionally clever.
Vastly less business combined with soaring rates, water and electricity costs has radically altered the heart of our town. “Who closed down this week?” is regular conversation for us bottomless coffee aficionados. Empty shops in the malls has become a natural part of our scenery. The small guy is out. Mostly empty, national chain stores at ridiculously reduced rents have removed the small town ambiance Knysna was famous for.
Read Part 2 here.