Upcountry buyers seek retirement homes on West Coast

Upcountry property buyers who once regarded the Cape West Coast as just an appealing holiday destination, are finding the region has many more attributes.  

Pam Golding Properties (PGP) reports a surge in demand from Gauteng-based buyers in particular, who are looking to purchase retirement homes in the area.  PGP’s MD for the Western Cape metro region, Laurie Wener, says the trend has been noticed along the entire stretch of coastline from the Western Seaboard of Cape Town up to Melkbosstrand, Langebaan, Paternoster and beyond.

“Previously, the West Coast was dominated by the leisure market,” Wener says, “with upcountry buyers only expressing an interest if they were seeking a holiday home in the area.  At the time it was regarded as somewhat remote and under-developed to be taken seriously as a destination for retirement.  But recent infrastructure development has changed that picture quite considerably, and we are now finding that former leisure buyers who have enjoyed years of happy holidays in the area, are starting to look seriously at settling there permanently for their retirement years.  This has led to a surge in activity levels after a long period of sluggish sales along the West Coast.  The upturn became noticeable in December last year (2011) and has continued unabated through the first quarter of 2012. Buyers are realising they can acquire excellent value for money and a wonderful coastal lifestyle, while still being within easy reach of major amenities and even an international airport.  The opening of the West Coast Mall in Vredenburg and the Netcare Blouberg hospital have both been key factors contributing to this shift in mindset.”

PGP’s area manager for the West Coast, Stephanie Wynne Cole, says the demand is coming mainly from cash buyers, looking for homes priced anywhere from just under R1 million to around R3.5 million.  Whilst some are buying for complete retirement, others are opting to semi-retire to the West Coast, taking advantage of modern technology to work from home and commute to Cape Town if they need access to major business facilities and travel.

“We had a very busy December/January festive season in Langebaan, specifically with regard to interest from upcountry buyers” she says, “and the interest certainly hasn’t waned into the new year.  We have sold a further five properties to Gauteng buyers since January (2012) and still have a number of clients busy looking for retirement homes at present, mainly in the R1.5 million to R2.5 million range.  The relatively low crime levels in the area are a huge draw-card for those who’ve been used to living behind high walls and electric fences, and who now want to retire to a simpler, safer, traffic-free lifestyle.  Langebaan’s beautiful lagoon with its wealth of watersports activities and birdlife is the cherry on top.”

Another West Coast town benefitting from the trend is Velddrif, incorporating the sought-after marina of Port Owen, where many homes have private jetties.  Situated on the estuary of the Berg River, the town offers a wide variety of properties at extremely competitive prices – for example, Wynne Cole says one can obtain a beachfront plot from as little as R1.2 million, or a two-bedroomed apartment overlooking the yacht basic for under R1.1 million.  Riverfront plots can be obtained from R825 000, while houses can range in price from as little as R650 000 to up to R15 million.  “The laid back lifestyle, tranquil atmosphere and slow pace of life make this an ideal retirement destination,” she concludes, “so it is no wonder that our new PGP office in the town has been enjoying a number of enquiries from retirees.”

The options for potential West Coast retirees are not limited to small towns – those wanting to live within the urban limits of Cape Town itself also have plenty of choice. PGP’s area manager for the Western Seaboard, Ivan Swart, says the Blouberg beachfront is very popular with Gauteng retirees, and sees particular demand for two-bedroomed apartments with sea and mountain views, priced under R2 million. Also popular are secure estates such as those in Royal Ascot, Big Bay, Sunningdale and Blouberg surrounds, as well as the Atlantic Beach and Sunset Links golf estates.  “Buyers here are typically relocating from larger homes in Johannesburg or Pretoria,” he says, “and want the peace of mind of living in a secure complex, as well as the ease of accessibility offered by the area’s excellent transport infrastructure.  Most buyers in these estates expect to pay between R1.5 million and R3.5 million for their retirement home.  We find that our upcountry buyers in particular are impressed by the value for money on offer along the Western Seaboard – they can obtain a sizable property with many more luxury features than their budget would stretch to in more centrally located parts of the city.”

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