Port Elizabeth may be one of SA’s most underrated cities

Port Elizabeth is one of those South African cities that is frequently overlooked in favour of bigger, busier hubs like Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

Although it certainly used to be a sleepy little town, in recent years Port Elizabeth has grown into a sizeable cosmopolitan city, driven by a thriving industrial sector.

The lifestyle in Port Elizabeth is very much influenced by its natural surroundings. Often called “The Windy City”, it hugs the shores of Algoa Bay, whose warm waters play host to some of the country’s top aquatic sports. The lively winds make it a prime sailing and windsurfing spot, and the warm temperatures, diverse marine life, and numerous reefs and wrecks make it a favourite with scuba divers looking for underwater adventures.

On land, the area has a number of highly-regarded nature reserves, including the famous Addo Elephant National Park. Safaris, canoeing, hiking, and birdwatching are just a few of the activities on offer, and the wild flowers in the area draw crowds of visitors in season.

“PE’s residents are as diverse as their surroundings,” says Bradley Murray, the Rawson Property Group’s PE premier franchisee. “There’s a great community culture and a rich, vibrant history, and the atmosphere is one of family, friends, and quality time.”

This sense of community can be clearly felt in PE North, where Murray began his career in property. “It’s not a wealthy area,” he says, “and the average household income is only about R8 000 a month. The homes tend to be small – some as little as 45m² in size – but the atmosphere is one of unity and heritage, despite the social struggles that the community faces.

“The culture of property is also a little different here, and transfers can take a bit longer than in other areas. Property has steadily increased in value, however, which makes buying a home in PE North a smart investment.”

On average, a house in PE North costs around R300 000, although prices range from R180 000 to R1.2 million depending on location. Facilities like hospitals, schools, public transport and public security are all easily accessible, and community events like live music festivals and sports tournaments are common occurrences.

Lonwabo Fololo, the Rawson Property Group’s PE diamond franchisee, echoes Murray’s sentiments about the vibrant community spirit in the northern suburbs. Focusing on less urban areas, like Motherwell, New Brighton, Kwazakele and Dwesi, as well as the expanding beachfront suburb of Bluewater Bay, Fololo describes his experience of PE as a great reflection of the New South Africa.

“If you look at a place like Bluewater Bay, you see a vibrant, coastal suburb, with a diverse and cosmopolitan population sharing a sun-drenched, beach lifestyle,” Fololo says. “Then you have Motherwell, where all kinds of people gather to watch concerts or sports matches on the big screen at the Nelson Mandela Peace Park. There’s a lot of community stuff happening all over PE, and it makes for a great atmosphere.”

According to Fololo, freestanding houses in township areas sell for anything from R150 000 to R600 000, whereas more suburban environments see prices of R250 000 to R1.5m. You’ll find more expensive properties in the southern suburbs of PE, along with top-quality private schools, well-stocked shopping malls and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

Port Elizabeth’s airport is also to the south of the city – something that may have been inconvenient if PE’s compact design didn’t mean that all suburbs are just a few minutes’ drive away.

“With its natural beauty, community-oriented lifestyle, vibrant population, and affordable property, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of South Africa catches on to the spirit of Port Elizabeth,” says Fololo.

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