Saturday 17 April 2021
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Is it cheaper living ‘outside’ of Windhoek?

The city Windhoek boundaries have been substantially broadened and now include what previously was classified as farmland as little at 8 years ago.
Areas such as Omeya, Finkenstein Estate, Herboth’s Blick and Auas View were all established on the periphery of the city with the idea of not quite adhering to the regulations of the city, thus not having to pay rates and taxes, making use of boreholes thus not using the city’s water supply etc., and when they were now included into the city with the new prescribed boundaries, many may find themselves owing thousands of dollars to the city of Windhoek in rates and taxes at the very least dating as far back as 2010.
As it stands now there is a huge disparity between what Windhoek residents in the heart of the city pay for electricity – about N$5,000.00 for a 3 bedroom one bathroom home, according to one source – and what residents in the gated communities pay, which comes to on average N$1,200.00 for a 7 bedroom, 6 bathroom house in Finkenstein Estate for water and electricity, because they make use of boreholes and are fitted with solar panels inside their gated community as told by a reliable resident of Finkenstein Estate.
The Estate boasts a game farm to which the residents have regular and free access for hiking and will soon be sporting a recreational club house for adults and a playground for children to enjoy.
There has been a rumbling under the ground that has slowly been bubbling over regarding the rising costs of living in and just outside of the capital city.
The natives are becoming restless at the apparent continuous rising costs of rent, rates and taxes and are unearthing some questionable practices.
The Patriot asked some questions to get to the bottom of this and to answer the question “Is it cheaper living outside of Windhoek?”
We delved into this question with Sebastian Kamungu of Osona Village which is situated about 50 kilometres or 30 kilometres drive outside of Windhoek towards Okahandja.
Osona was established as a private residential area under the Okahandja municipality and caters to a middle class market of Namibians, offering food, affordable housing at a location which is easy to commute.
Affordable does not mean free, however and the residents pay for their water and electricity on a pre-paid basis as well as their rates and taxes which are paid to the management team of Osona which in turn pays the Okahandja municipality.
There are of course plans to expand and the number of residence at area as it is still in the beginning stages.
Erven are is priced at a fixed rate per m2 and the properties are sold at merely a 15% mark-up to make it affordable.
Kamungu is adamant that all their dealings are above board and in accordance with the agreement between Osona and the Okahandja Municipality stating that it is to the benefit of the residents of Osona that they pay their levies to the management committee and the committee in turn pays it over to the municipality at Okahandja.
How practical is this though, since in the long run the municipality is said to take ownership of the community.
Residents at Omeya also pay rates, taxes, water and electricity to their management committee which in turn pays over to City of Windhoek, a practice which is also questioned since questions are arising about the sudden rising costs of water that residents are charged, up to a staggering N$9,000.00 per month according to one source.  It is still cheaper than living in Windhoek though.
Rehoboth residents have it pretty good too. They are only 80 kilometres away from Windhoek, most new developments and some private residents have opted to add pre-paid water to the already pre-paid electricity option and for the most part it is working out well.  Until NamWater decides to cut off the water supply for the entire town due to non-payment from the town council.
Rent in Rehoboth is also famously affordable and the town is well developed with all amenities available and accessible in the town.
With the advent of so many gated communities and the extremely high land and property prices in Windhoek a very different picture is painted.
Naturally people gravitate to Windhoek in search of jobs and a ‘better’ lifestyle. Many often are in for a rude awakening when they are unable to afford or get access to even the most basic amenities most of which are basic human rights.
Human rights according to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights include the right ‘to own your own things, food and shelter to all, the right to education’ among others’.
Many of these rights are unfortunately not enjoyed by the many people trying to make a living in Windhoek where in a large number of cases people end up having no shelter, no work and even no food, in part due to the high cost of living in the capital city.
On the other end of the spectrum we find that even who are in the ‘have’ find that even though they may qualify for as much as N$500,000.00 home loan they are still unable to afford a home in Windhoek and are thus forced to rent.
Rental payments in Windhoek are staggering and in these gated communities, although you have ‘more security’ and ‘benefits’ there are hidden costs such as levies and other fees that push up the amount you pay monthly exponentially.
This of course effects your pocket in various ways since there are other obligations that one has to attend to and often it leads to one leaning heavily on financial institutions just to get by and maintain a certain standard of living.
When our old people get evicted from properties they have lived in all their lives and have defaulted on their rates and taxes because they are pensioners, now owing N$20,000.00 and their houses get sold out from under them for that debt, is that the democracy we have fought for where the elite pay a fraction of what the poorer and less advantaged Namibians pay?  Never has the adage rung truer that ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer’. This leads one to conclude that it is indeed cheaper to live in the towns and developments outside or on the peripheries of Windhoek.
Depending on individual financial capabilities there are options to choose from and that are palatable to the individual, which has people flocking in their droves to live just outside the city yet simultaneously have easy access to the city.
As the country expands and as the Harambee plan comes better into effect it is hoped that migration to the capital city is curbed and then even more work opportunities will be had in other towns.
As it stands it is fairly easy to travel to and from work – if you are employed in Windhoek – from Rehoboth and Okahandja and these are at most an hour’s drive to and from Windhoek daily.
It might hard on your body but it will definitely allow your pocket to breathe easier.

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