WORDS: GEORGINA GUEDES | IMAGES: TER HOLLMANN & GOOGLE MAPS
A combination of relatively affordable houses, quaint, tree-lined streets, and two shopping roads, make this a residential destination that appeals to all ages.
Property in Melville comprises – almost entirely – small, attractive houses. There are some apartments closer to the main roads, and areas that have been zoned for student accommodation are seeing densification. This means there’s a mix of student and family homes in the area.
Graphic designer Sarah Glasser has lived in Melville almost her whole life. “My mother started renting homes here when I was a toddler, and we just kept moving around in the area while I was growing up – with occasional hops over to (the neighbouring suburbs of) Auckland Park and Westdene.”
Sarah studied fine arts at Wits, while living at home with her mother, then moved into a digs in Melville with a couple of friends as she started her career. “It’s really a great place to live and grow up,” she says. “When I was younger, there wasn’t a weekend night that I wasn’t out on 7th Street, eating, drinking and jolling.” Because Sarah worked as a freelancer, she didn’t have to move from Melville to be close to an employer, and when she and a boyfriend started looking for a place to live together, there was no reason to move from the suburb.
They rented a beautiful, old two-bedroom house in a quiet street. “The relationship didn’t last, but I kept the house and moved a girlfriend into the other bedroom to help with rent,” she says. That was in 2014, and Sarah stayed on in her rental house for another four years, acquiring a new boyfriend, who then became a husband. “Although we loved the rental house, the owner wouldn’t sell, so last year, when I fell pregnant, we bought a little house of our own – in Melville, of course.”
She says the house is perfect for her and her husband, with one drawback. “It’s gorgeous with a pretty, manageable garden, wooden floors and pressed metal ceilings. The only problem is that it has three bedrooms, whereas we’d been hoping for four – because I work from home, and we’ll probably want another baby one day.”
Melville is not a particularly school-dense area. It has its own government school, Meldene Primary, and Roosevelt Park Primary is nearby. It’s near enough to Parkview Junior and Senior Primary, and Parktown High School for Girls. Auckland Park Preparatory School (APPS) for Girls is also in a neighbouring suburb. “When our daughter is old enough for formal schooling, we’ll see if my business is doing well and if we can afford APPS, and otherwise hope like anything that we’ll get into Parkview Junior,” Sarah says.
Melville is a prime destination for out-of-suburb visitors who are keen for a bite to eat and a drink, so its residents are naturally delighted to have all these options on their doorstep. “The places we go to have changed over the years,” says Sarah. “Whereas in the past, I might have spent quite a bit of time at Sixes, now we go out to eat at the Countess, or for a coffee at De La Creme.”
She says that as a new mother, Bambanani, with its child-friendly menu, friendly child minders and expansive play area, is becoming more and more appealing. “The food is surprisingly good for adults as well,” she says. “It has an eclectic menu with something for everyone, and it’s all well prepared – with lots of gluten-free and vegetarian options.” She says that her husband is excited that Ba-Pita has reopened in Melville. “He says it’s not the same as its Yeoville roots, but it’s good for a bit of nostalgia.”
For shopping, Sarah heads to the local Spar, 27 Boxes, nearby 44 Stanley, Emmarentia, or even Cresta. “It really depends on what’s on the shopping list and on how much of a rush I’m in,” she says. Along with a new baby, she and her husband have also recently acquired a dog, which they walk at Emmarentia Dam in the evenings, along with everyone else and their canine friends from all the neighbouring suburbs. “It’s so pretty there, and full of people, so it feels perfectly safe. They say there’s even an otter there, but I’ve never seen him.”
Melville has evolved with Sarah’s lifestyle, and since she’s lived there for almost all of her 31 years, there seems no reason for her to move on. In Melville, for Sarah, home really is where the heart is.
I love living in Melville because I know every shop and restaurant, and the people are my people – fun and open minded and a little bit unconventional
SARAH GLASSER, RESIDENT
- Book a hike through the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve and experience nature and wildlife in the middle of the city.
- Experience a mix of retail, crafts, foods and interesting people at the 27 Boxes “container mall”.
- Travel back in history with a tour of the Lindfield Victorian House Museum in Auckland Park.
- Bamboo Lifestyle Centre offers you a mix of art, food, hairdressers, fashion and home-made goodies.
- If you are an art lover, visit the UJ Art Gallery for weekday exhibitions rich with cultural and historical references.
- The Ant Café: cafe and pizzeria that takes you back through the eras with pop-art and iconic references lining their walls
- Pablo-Eggs-Go-Bar: whether you are a morning person or not, you can look forward to breakfast, and try menu items such as the signature red shakshuka with Yemen flat bread
- The Countess: an authentic American smokehouse combined with well thought out, fresh artisanal food
- Cafe Picobella Trattoria: Italian decor and delicious food
- Bambanani: where the kids get to enjoy an outdoor play area while you enjoy a tasty meal
Places to Stay:
- The Melville Turret Guesthouse
- Pablo House
- Saffron Guest House
- The View Boutique Hotel
- Ginnegaap Guest House