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Tips for buying a 'city pad' and best compact cars in 2019

15 Jan 2019

City living is on the rise and according to the United Nations, two out of every three people will live in cities or other urban centres by 2050. Africa will soon have its first megalopolis, when the two growing cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg meet. With this rise in urbanisation, people are adjusting their lives to fit into the city landscape, opting for funky urban apartments and smaller, more compact cars.

One of the many 'woes of urbanisation' is parking, so choose a smaller, more compact car, and make sure you select an apartment block that has good parking space.

We asked George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, and property specialists Peter Cameron, Managing Director of Cameron Owen James Luxury Real Estate, for their practical tips on buying the ideal apartment and a car to go with it.

“If you have just moved to the city and are looking for a sense of community, choose an apartment block which has a dedicated area for residents to meet,” says Cameron. “This could be in the form of a pool, gym or restaurant.”

“Security is one of the most important factors to take into account when buying a city apartment,” says Cameron. “Does the building have the correct security measures to make you and your family feel safe? Speak to the other occupants and confirm it has not been a soft target for crime.”

Find out what the ratio is between owners to renters, advises Cameron. “A higher ratio of owners is a sign the complex is well run and stable, renters are often young and have more parties that may be disturbing.’’

This brand new two bedroom, two bathroom home in Brettenwood Coastal Estate, KwaZulu-Natal, has 155sqm of floor space, sea views, two parking bays and is 15 minutes from King Shaka International airport. It is selling for R2.9 million with no transfer duty - click here to view.

"Make sure you read through the body corporate rules, this will give you a good idea on how they plan to maintain the building and if it will remain visually appealing,” says Cameron. “As we are relying more on the internet for our tablets and TVs, also make sure the complex has good internet access and ask if it’s part of a levy for the building, or is it up to you.”

Finally, he suggests you spend some time at the building during the day and the night. “Is it noisy? Are there vagrants around the entrance at night? Do your homework, make sure it is the right environment for you to live - and to thrive in.” 

Which cars best suit the move to urbanisation?

"One of the many woes of urbanisation is the associated parking challenge,’’ says Mienie. "So the obvious answer is a ‘small one’, one that isn’t much bigger than your bathroom, in fact.”

The Fiat 500 is "best for turning heads" and has a 0.9-litre two-cylinder TwinAir engine with a claimed fuel consumption of just 4.6 litres/100 km (urban cycle).

Here Mienie gives his top five cars for city living:

1. Best for fuel consumption – BMW i3

One of the best features of this car is its fuel consumption: zero, assuming that you’re running exclusively on the electric motor (a range extender internal combustion engine is also available, should you have range anxiety).

2. Best for turning heads – Fiat 500

The Italians are masters of style, and this much is evident in the little Fiat 500. This iconic city car boasts retro styling and a 0.9-litre two-cylinder TwinAir engine with a claimed fuel consumption of just 4.6 litres/100 km (urban cycle). Go for the 500C, which is a convertible, if you fancy the idea of wind in your hair.

3. Best for parking – Smart fortwo

Its unrivalled length of 2.69 m and turning circle of 6.95 m make the smart fortwo a sensational city car. It comes with a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive for added driving fun. 

4. Best for cost of ownership – Toyota Aygo

If you consider aspects such as aftersales service, the cost of parts and resale value before buying a car, you can do no better than the Aygo. And it even looks good too.

5. Best for driving fun – Mini John Cooper Works

British racing legend John Cooper managed to turn a tiny family car into a legendary racing car back in the 1960s – and the Mini John Cooper Works has been born out of that heritage. Its two-litre, four-cylinder TwinPower turbo engine will see you hit 100 km/h in just over six seconds,’’ concludes Mienie.

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