Areas and Places

Irresistible countryside property, the great trek is set to continue say agents

A 9ha lifestyle farm with stunning views of the Zwartberg Mountains, ample water along with a scenic dam with an abundance birdlife, irrigation system and beautifully restored 1870s Karoo cottage. The original clay walls and reed ceilings not only boast of wonderfull character, but also add ambiance to the cottage, keeping it cool in summer. Price: R5.4M.

There was a time when the countryside was a place where you grew up and later relocated from to the big cities to seek your fame and fortune so to speak. Permanent residents in what was known as the ‘dorps’ were mostly locals who were involved in some or other industry or service to surrounding farms and local townsfolk.

“Not anymore”, says Ian Badenhorst, managing director for Seeff’s Cape country and Karoo operations.“Today, many hot spot areas of the country side are as sought after when it comes to property and tourism as the bigger centres. In fact, many small towns and areas are now imbued with iconic status and people aspire to own property or to relocate and retire there.” Badenhorst says that while there has been a marked increase in migration to the smaller towns of the countryside over the last five years, especially over the last two years, it is still nowhere near the saturation point.

Even though villages such as Prince Albert, Greyton, Stanford and even bigger centres such as Bredasdorp and Swellendam have grown in demand, there is still no decline in interest. In fact, as urbanization rises and with that traffic and stress, Badenhorst believes that the countryside is bound to see further revival.

“With house prices now heading well into the millions, even in some of the country hot spots, value seekers are likely to start honing in on the lesser known towns and villages where they can still buy for well below the R1 million price mark. The artisan revival trend so evident world-wide is likely to see growth in the smaller towns with artists of all sorts, tourism, food products and markets set to continue growing”.

“Once the trendy go-getters of the countryside head here, the media is soon to follow and before you know it, we will have a whole host of new hot spots”, says Badenhorst.

Prince Albert of course remains a firm favorite with no let up in the demand for property here according to agent, Marelize Vorster. The village is located at the southern edge of the Great Karoo and the beautiful landscape and laid-back country lifestyle remain the two key draw cards for buyers. While prices are rising due to the popularity of the village with out-of-towners from the Cape and as far afield as Gauteng and the northern provinces, she says there is still plenty of value not to mention postcard-perfection.

“Aside from a host of very pretty Karoo-styled houses in the village, priced from around R1.1 million price mark ranging to just under R10 million at the top end. There is also the option of a lifestyle farm in the area and, who does not want to own a Karoo farm”, says the agent.

“We are for example currently marketing what must rank as one of the most scenic lifestyle farms that is currently operated as a guest house. The 9ha property comes with scenic views of the Zwartberg Mountains, ample water along with a scenic dam with an abundance birdlife, irrigation system and beautifully restored 1870s Karoo cottage. The original clay walls and reed ceilings not only boast of wonderfull character, but also add ambiance to the cottage, keeping it cool in summer. Best of all, says Vorster, it is priced at just R5.4 million”.

A little further northwards, in the heart of the Great Karoo is Middelburg. Agent, Donovan Hall says that, as with most of the Karoo, it is farming country with a laid-back, no-fuss lifestyle.

“Believe it or not, but you can still buy a fabulous home here for just R695,000. The home that has just been sold is situated on four plots and has been restored. It offers plenty of living space with four bedrooms and is, according to the agent, an example of the excellent value stil on offer in the town”.

“Middelburg is a perfect base for country-lifestyle seekers”, says the agent. “You can explore the Karoo and many other attractions. There are for example stunning game lodges in the area and you are also close to the beautiful Camdeboo area”.

Venture a little further north and into the Free State and you will find the historic little village of Bethulie on the northern banks of the Gariep Dam, under two hours’ drive south of Bloemfontein. It also lies on the Cape Town/Lesotho route.

Agent, Mariaan Booysen, says this part of the country really does offer something quite out of the ordinary and those who visit the area are soon drawn here on a permanent basis.“Bethulie has for example become somewhat of a retreat for artists and is attracting buyers from across the country, from the Cape to Gauteng and and even as far afield as Durban”.

“House prices start at around R370,00 for a ‘dorpshuis’ and range to about R2.4 million for a rare historic home that dates to 1924. This historic gem was designed for the daugter of the original founder of the town by the renowned, Sir Herbert Baker. It offers about 400sqm in floor space and is set on an 8,864ha plot just outside the town. It was recently renovated and the wooden floors redone. There are four air-conditioned bedrooms”.

Unique features include 4.5 metre high ceilings, Rhodesian teak wooden doors between the dining and living room. Other extras include a new 25KVA generator. There is also an additional three-bedroomed house on the property that needs a bit of work, 300 Pecan Nut trees, two boreholes and more. The property currently functions as a guest house and the price of R2.4 million includes some furniture and fittings including the custom-made curtains to fit the huge four metre-long windows.

Closer to Cape Town, Bonnievale needs little introduction. Even here, you can still find houses priced upwards of R1.1 million to around R2.2 million for a large country house with a flat and swimming pool on a plot of just over 2000sqm.

Agent, Neil Rademeyer says the location of Bonnievale in the green Breede River Valley renowned fot is wine and fruit makes it a firm favourite with country buyers, especially those still looking for an affordable winelands lifestyle. “There are a number of wine cellars on your doorstep, but you are also close to the many attractions of the Route 62 Wine Route as well as the Paarl-Franschhoek-Stellenbosch winelands areas”.