Why Scottburgh?

I often get asked the above question, or derivatives thereof;
It came up in conversation 3 times last night whilst away on business in Cape Town, and so, in both an effort to get myself writing again — it’s been a while; I’ve been unable to find the time to write — and to attempt to answer the question holistically, I present the below jumble of seemingly coherent words in the form of an answer-ticle (a self-dubbed article that answers a question).

Why exactly did I (we) chose to move to Scottburgh, a small seaside town of roughly 12,000* people, away from the central hub of the South Africa’s Silicon Cape (a place where my line of work is most definitely in demand and where I had an established business/reputation) a little over 3 years ago. There are many reasons, some which I present (in no particular order) below.

№ ONE: It’s a beautiful place to live

I implore you to — before your next overseas holiday trip — give some consideration to spending time along the eastern coast of South Africa. It’s an absolutely breathtaking piece of geography; from mountain to sea. Many holiday-makers choose to stay away from the South Coast of KZN during the holidays, for various reasons, but if you don’t mind the crowd, or if you can take the time outside of the normal holiday periods, if you do, to spend a couple of days on the coast, you’d be mostly surprised by the appeal of some of the smaller towns and areas that stretch from the Transkei all the way up to Durban.
Image © southcoasttourism.co.za
№ TWO: Family & Friends

A small town (aside from cost of living, which I will touch on later) is an incredible place to raise a family. It’s the kind of place where lifelong, childhood friendships are born — not that they cannot be made in the bigger cities, but you get my drift.

It’s the kind of place that forms bonds and rituals, where neighbours are not just people who share a street, but people you share dinners with, where your kids go to play or where a couch is a make-shift bed after a few-too-many-drinks at a regular Saturday braai. It’s the kind of place where your children know all the shopkeepers (normally the owners) by name and where the principal of your kid’s school is married to a friend and ex-colleague of your Dad.

True to that statement, when I moved back to Scottburgh (more on that later, too) I bumped into and saw people and friends (some I hadn’t seen/spoken to in 10 years+; some who had never left) and felt like it had been mere days since I had last seen them. I am watching my two boys forge similar bonds with their own friends. It’s magical.Connor and his best friend, Daken.Caleb and his best buddy, Brody.

Scottburgh is also about 1500km closer to myself and my ex’s families, which is good for all of us. The boys get to see their cousins a lot more now that it’s a (quick) car drive to visit. We get to spend more time with those closest to us less on the phone, and more in person.

№ THREE: It feels like home

Partly because it has been the place where I have lived the longest, in my short 30 years on this planet and partly because it speaks to my soul.

Scottburgh has always felt more to me than just a place to live or visit. It’s always felt like home. It’s not an easy feeling to explain, but it’s a feeling of revelry, of elation. From the moment I approach the turn-off and drive past the familiar stone sign of CrocWorld, the allure of the cobalt sea, the ripples sparkling and dancing in the sunlight, ignites a fire within me, a sense of wander (and even wonder) hits me like a ton of bricks; Even with the oft-heated and vocal frustration at our municipality’s lack of care and gross-mismanagement of funds, there is something about our little town that drives a tent-peg deeper into the ground beneath my feet. A foundation that refuses to break. From the timelessness of the beachfront pavilion and Cutty Sark hotel, to the seemingly endless stretch of beach. All of it speaks to me in ways not even Cape Town’s beauty has.

№ FOUR: Surf

It’s no surprise that the warm waters of the South Coast are appealing to me. I love the ocean. It’s my therapy. Aside from few months where rubber and neoprene in the form of the thinnest wetsuit/thermal vest, are a necessary evil, it’s generally a place where you can surf in boardshorts and a salt-and-sun-faded t-shirt. It is also home to some of the best surf on the South Coast of KZN and dare I say it, the world. Now, I cannot officially back up that statement, as I have not had the fortune (yet) to surf in some of the other amazing surf-spots on my list of places to travel in the world, but from the many I have spoken to who have surfed my home-break, the answer is generally the same: “It’s damn good”.
№ FOUR: It’s got good internet and all I need to run my business

Let’s face it, in my line of work, all I need is a desk, some electricity and decent access to the internet. So why on earth, if I have the opportunity of everything I have touched on above, and the upside that most of Scottburgh has access to Telkom’s 10mb ADSL infrastructure, or in my case, BitCo Wireless, would I choose to work from anywhere else?

Sure, Cape Town and JHB have access to fibre, and I do feel the impact of going from a 50mb+ line in CT to 10mb in Scottburgh, but that kind of infrastructure is coming (they’ve already laid the main fibre access, so it really is just last-mile and demand that determines when), and is not something I desperately need. Yes, uploading a 200mb .ipa file to the iOS App Store is frustrating because it takes 5 times longer and sometimes crashes, but the upsides to my living experiences far outweigh the additional costs of a 50mb+ fibre line in Cape Town or JHB.

Which brings me to my last point.

№ FIVE: Cost of Living

Let’s face it, and we all know it, having a family is no cheap exercise, and owning my own business means some months are tougher than others (and the last few have been extremely tough). When months are good, I make enough to cover my expenses and give my kids a bit extra, though I would love to make some more to be able to pay back friends that have helped me in the past (sorry Elan) and over the last few months, and actually start putting something away for the future, but I shudder to think how I would have felt in the same situation if I had the same costs as I had back when I (we) lived in Cape Town.

At a rough estimate, most of costs are reduced by more than half and some by almost two-thirds. My monthly rent for my 3-bedroom simplex (and the view I have) is borderline what you would pay for a room in a house in Cape Town without the view.

Some of my smaller expenses are not location-based and as such bare no difference, but overall, if I am sweating bullets to pay bills now, I don’t even want to begin think what it would cost to raise my family living in Cape Town. My rent in Parklands alone was almost half of my monthly budget now. That’s just ludacris. Schooling for both my boys in Scottburgh, including aftercare is less than what we had to pay for Caleb to go to creche.

So yes, I might not have the fastest internet in the world and it might be a 93km drive to the airport (whose measuring?) but if I look at everything above, and the way that I feel inside, it begs the question:

Why not?

*The 2011 census put Scottburgh’s population at 11403. We all know that a census is not an exact science (or number) and I would say it is safe to assume that the number has increased since then, though I am not able to say exactly how many, but it would seem a fair increase to around 12000. I may be far off, on either side of that, but it’s not really relevant. The count also includes the smaller outer-lying areas as well as the smaller suburbs that form part of Scottburgh, and not just the town itself, because that would be a bit of a tight squeeze.