Surrounded by lush woodlands, the majestic Outeniqua Mountains and close to pristine beaches with a swimmable sea, it is little wonder so many people want to make George or Knysna their home
WORDS: STAFF REPORTER – IMAGES: SUPPLIED
The 2019 Numbeo online global database named George on the renowned Garden Route the city with the best quality of life in South Africa. It’s therefore no surprise that this lush coastline is becoming increasingly popular with local and international buyers relocating for just that – a better lifestyle. “We’re definitely seeing an increasing gravitation to this region,” says Stephen Murray, area manager, Pam Golding Properties, George.
“The de facto capital of the Garden Route and undoubtedly its largest urban centre – but without the traffic congestion factor – George offers a quiet and tranquil, not to mention picturesque, alternative to city living, particularly for those who revel in the outdoors. And with its wide selection of residential properties, it caters to all price sectors, ranging from below R2m to R20m at the very top end.”
According to Murray, there are a growing number of first-time buyers and a mix of purchasers from various age groups, including retirees, who enjoy the relaxed lifestyle and spectacular scenery of the Outeniqua Mountains, the many rivers, forests, beaches and farmlands.
“The allure of the water’s edge, whether it be the beachfront or clifftops, or the 8km of beaches and inland lakes of Wilderness, this region’s surroundings and lifestyle offering are factors attracting a spectrum of buyers,” he says. “In addition to locals already happily entrenched in the George area, other buyers are from Gauteng, elsewhere in the Western Cape (including Cape Town) Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, while overseas buyers include people from the USA, Germany and UK.” He also noticed that over the past year or two approximately 50% of buyers were from outside the Garden Route region.
Security and space
Safety and security are top of mind when people are considering buying, and so is a sense of space, especially considering the lockdown restrictions. These factors all make gated estates popular, with Kingswood Golf Estate, Welgelegen Estate, Kraaibosch Country Estates and the renowned Fancourt topping the list. According to Murray, many buyers pay cash for homes on these estates where entry-level prices start from R650,000 and R1,7m, and completed homes range from R2,8m to R26,5m. Multi-generational living is also on offer as a number of the existing gated estates provide for retirement developments within.
“Aside from these sought-after estates, the average price band for freestanding family homes in George varies from an affordable R1,05m for a home in a townhouse complex, and then ranges from R1,8m to R7m in the upmarket suburbs,” says Murray. With its own international airport and situated in the hub of the country’s golfing mecca, George is less than a five-hour drive from Cape Town and about four hours from Port Elizabeth. “Great food, mountain biking, hiking, cycling, water sports, medical facilities and good schools are a drawcard for those making a lifestyle decision to relocate from major metropoles – a trend evident even prior to lockdown and currently increasingly so,” he says
Forest and the sea
Ranked second for the Best Quality of Life – and rated highest in terms of healthcare – is Knysna, another Garden Route town which enjoys a proliferation of homes within secure estates in idyllic settings.
Just 50km from George, Knysna – and nearby Plettenberg Bay – are enjoying solid demand for homes across the price spectrum, with the buyers currently from South Africa’s metros, predominantly Johannesburg. Says Gordon Shutte, area principal, Pam Golding Properties, “Buyers are mainly interested in acquiring vacant land to build their dream homes, especially in security estates but also at the Heads in Knysna and Keurbooms in Plett. Properties across the board are selling from R250,000 to R9,5m for vacant plots, to houses which are active up to R15m and particularly at the R5m mark.
“Our sales are currently well up on the same period last year. Other areas highly sought after include Belvidere, Fernwood Estate, Simola Golf Estate, Pezula Private Estate, Pezula Golf Estate, Thesen Islands and Leisure Isle in Knysna and Whale Rock, Brackenridge Estate and Schoongezicht Estate in Plett, and just about anywhere with ocean views.”