There is nothing like a weekend bolthole to leave the stress of city living behind. This is just one of the contributions that millennials have made to the Cape property market. In addition to the demand for rentals, it has meant more demand for residential and tourism property in the countryside.
This is according to Ian Badenhorst, MD for Seeff Country and Karoo, who says excellent road infrastructure and accessibility means you can head out of the city late afternoon on Friday and reach your country escape in time to enjoy a braai and sundowners with friends and family. Better yet, you can relocate here for a better quality of life. Often, buyers from the cities can sell up and buy cheaper in the countryside and still have money left to invest in a business.
It’s no surprise then, that many towns are seeing a rise in permanent residents and a notable shift with more millennials investing and moving here. At the same time, many 50-plussers are leaving the cities and moving to the countryside. Most small towns tend to cater well for a cross spectrum of buyers, says Badenhorst.
Stunning sunsets and scenery and a quality lifestyle make for a complete reboot and antidote for stress. Internet connectivity has been a game changer, he says.
The security, good schools, healthy and wholesome living and access to basic amenities all add to the allure. Also, you are generally not too far from commercial centres offering more advanced services. Children can walk to school and ride their bicycles and you can still enjoy a sense of community.
Although investing in countryside property is more about the lifestyle than capital value, Badenhorst says most towns offer good investment prospects with steady growth, especially the agricultural centres and tourist belts.
Rentals and property prices are very competitive compared to the cities, and you can still find value below R1 million to R1.5 million.
The cost of living tends to be lower and you can live and eat healthier with access to local produce, fresh meat, eggs, milk and vegetables, ideal for organic living, another fast-growing millennial trend, he says.
The African countryside lifestyle also appeals to foreign visitors and buyers, especially Germans, Brits and Americans who either own property or are interested in investing.
Seeff’s agents pick three off-the-beaten-track towns trending right now:
1. Napier in the Overberg
With just over 3 000 households, Napier is truly ‘small town’, but is fast becoming as popular as Montagu, Greyton and McGregor. Annual events such as the Voet of Africa Marathon and the Patatfees draw scores of people, according to Elaine Hodgson, an agent with Seeff.
It is just over two hours’ drive from Cape Town in the Cape Agulhas region of the Overberg between Caledon and Bredasdorp, thus a quick weekend getaway. The Soetmuisberg and surrounding farmlands provide excellent scenery, and there are good basics such as an OK MiniMark, clinic, primary and high schools and plenty of eateries and tourist attractions.
Property prices range from between R1 million to about R5 million for a well-maintained 1928 Victorian main house with an income-producing three bedroom cottage, outbuildings, entertainment area and swimming pool. The finishes are excellent and include shaker-styled cabinetry, chandeliers, modern bathrooms and Oregon pine floors in the cottage.
At around R5.9 million, you can invest in a 1.2ha smallholding that has a large 750sqm architecturally-designed country house with modern finishes, five bedrooms, a braai and jacuzzi, four-car garage, immaculate garden, paddocks and stabling or workshops/storerooms and other outbuildings. A solar system provides power for all lights and some of the appliances during outages. The current owner also keeps a small flock of sheep and chickens.
2. Bonnievale in the Breede River Valley
Neil Rademeyer, an agent with Seeff, says Bonnievale, about two-and-a-half hours from Cape Town, is becoming a popular weekend bolthole with about 30% of recent buyers here being millennials.
The Breede River is the lifeblood of this fertile valley which is surrounded by the Langeberg and Riviersonderend Mountains. In addition to the usual attraction of wineries and wine estates, the town also offers cheese, with producers such as Parmalat, Mooivallei Suiwel and La Montanara.
Property prices range from about R1 million to just over R6.5 million for the 896sqm old Bonnievale Hotel which has been beautifully renovated and offers nine bedrooms (currently rented out on a permanent basis), kitchen, dining and bar facilities, an office, outside braai area and swimming pool, garaging and parking. On a 1 512sqm erf, the hotel’s claim to fame includes the kykNET TV series, Dwaalstêr, which was filmed here.
3. Colesberg in the Karoo
Famous for the ‘karretjie people’ which includes the San and Khoi people who live in self-made shelters and move from farm to farm during the shearing season, Colesberg is a popular stop-over on the N1 between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
Although a bit further inland, Elza Kapp, an agent with Seeff, says it offers quintessential Karoo landscapes and sunsets. It is becoming a popular bolthole and now boasts an aggressive agritourist sector with 1 700 beds and restaurants which can seat up to 1 340 people. The Y2Karoo Mountain Bike Race has become a big attraction over the last six years. It takes place in August and, the agent says some 500 entries from across the globe and about 1 000 spectators are expected.
Property options including a fabulous selection of Karoo-style houses, generally with cool summer stoeps. Prices range from around R800 000 to R3 million for a Cape Georgian double-storey house built in 1835 by Thomas Plewman, an 1820 settler. It was also the venue where a meeting took place between President Paul Kruger and the British government in 1894. The property currently operates as a guesthouse and comes with eight guest suites and a private living area for the owner. The price includes furniture.
Finally, Badenhorst recommends that you always work with a local area specialist who knows the town and property market to ensure that you are investing wisely.