When it comes to picking a place to raise their children, most parents want the same things – a safe area, great schools, friendly neighbours, walkable shops and a short commute to work.
But of course, finding all those things in one neighbourhood is not always easy – and in Johannesburg it has been made more complicated in recent times by increasing traffic congestion that has prompted even those without children to start favouring the more central suburbs again, and by the zoning restrictions applicable to many highly-rated schools that have caused the housing demand in certain “feeder areas” to rocket.
These factors have led to a shortage of homes for sale in many of the most child-friendly areas – and thus to premium prices. However, most residents of these areas will tell you that it’s worth every penny to live in these exceptional parts of the city, which include:
Parkview: Established more than 100 years ago, this is a heritage suburb close to Zoo Lake right in the centre of Johannesburg, and is arguably the most sought-after family suburb in the city, says Rawson Property Group area franchisee Justin Smith
“There is a perennial shortage of homes for sale here, and prices rise steadily year-by-year, no matter what the state of the overall property market. The area is exceptionally safe, thanks to the long-running Safe Parkview initiative run by the Parkview Residents’ Association together with the SAPS, and it is renowned for its quiet streets and village lifestyle.”
“The residents of Parkview can and do take their children and dogs to the park, walk to the local shops, and meet up with neighbours for coffee. They also have an outstanding selection of top-notch schools within really easy reach – including Parkview Junior and Senior Primary, Jan Cilliers, Japari, The Ridge, St Katharine’s, Auckland Park Prep, Parktown Girls’ High, Roedean, Kingsmead, King Edwards, St John’s, McAuley House and the German School – and the suburb is also handy for older children who are going on to Wits or UJ.”
“And of course it is also just a short commute from Sandton, Rosebank, Parktown and even the CBD for parents who need to get to the office.”
Consequently, Smith says, it is not surprising that those who do manage to secure a home in Parkview are reluctant ever to move – which is the main reason why there is always a shortage of stock.
“In fact, the attachment is so strong that many people who grow up here decide that they also want to bring up their children here, and end up taking over their family properties from their parents – which explains why so many of the original character homes in the suburb, which featured Oregon pine floors, stained-glass windows and pressed-steel ceilings, have now been extensively renovated and modernised in recent years.”
Homes currently for sale by the Rawson Property Group in Parkview include a large three bedroom, two bathroom family home with three living rooms, study, pool, three garages and a separate two bedroom cottage that is priced at R4,9 million.
Kensington: Located to the East of the Johannesburg CBD, this area has often been compared to trendy Melville, in that it has a large number of resident artists and other creatives. “In recent years, however, it has also become a favourite with young families who appreciate its exceptional location with regard to good schools, shops and recreational facilities, the international airport and the freeway system providing easy access to most parts of Gauteng, says local Rawson Property Group franchisee, Tracy Eales.
“The suburb has lovely tree-lined streets and is also safe and clean thanks to the sterling efforts of the “I Love Kensington” association. Many of its 1920s homes have also been renovated and modernised in recent years, underlining their owners’ confidence in the area.”
Schools in the area include Leicester Road Primary, Kensington Primary and the Jeppe high schools for Boys and Girls, as well as the co-ed Queens High while the private schools in neighbouring areas include Assumption Convent, Bishop Bavin, Crawford, Reddam House, Saheti, St Andrew’s School for Girls and St Benedict’s College in Bedfordview and Holy Rosary School in Edenvale.
Shopping facilities include the local Queen Street precinct for quaint restaurants and antique shops, the Bedford Centre, the Darras Centre and the Eastgate Mall as well as the new China Town market. The suburb’s residents can of course become members of the world-renowned Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club and the area also includes the historic Rhodes Park, a popular spot for dog walking and family outings.
Eales says there are about 5200 freehold properties in Kensington, and the average stand size is just over 500sqm, which makes for a tight-knit and friendly community. There are some larger stands near the Bedfordview border and the more expensive homes offer some lovely views from the hillside. The average home price is around R830 000, making it affordable for young families who wish to renovate. Larger, well renovated homes closer to Bedfordview can sell for over R2 million.
Dainfern Golf Estate: With safety being the primary concern for many homebuyers in Johannesburg, the city’s best-known golf estate remains the neighbourhood of choice for the families of top businessmen and professionals – and those of foreign executives working in SA on contract.
“And Dainfern does offer many attractions apart from its two golf courses,” according to Lisa Burgess and Steve Goosen, the Rawson Property Group franchisees for the estate, “including restaurants, tennis and squash courts, swimming pools, children’s playgrounds and a network of hiking, jogging, cycling and mountain biking trails, all within a highly-secure environment with access control and regular patrols.”
“It also has its own shopping centre and of course a top-rated private school, Dainfern College. Located on Broadacres Drive, this also caters for Gr0 to Gr12 learners from the surrounding Dainfern Ridge, Dainfern Valley, Fernridge and The Fields estates, and it is safe for them to walk or cycle to school.”
There are about 1200 homes in Dainfern Estate now, and most are set on 1000sqm stands. Sizes vary, as do prices, but the average purchase price of a family home here is now around R5 million.