Quiet country living attracts up-country buyers to Riviersonderend

The village of Riviersonderend, located some 160km from Cape Town in the Overberg interior, is one of the Cape’s best-kept secrets, offering quiet country living, magnificent scenery, clean fresh air and affordable property.  

But perhaps it’s a secret for not much longer – Pam Golding Properties (PGP) reports that there has been a steady increase in the number of up-country buyers seeking retirement and holiday homes in the village.  While the local residential property market is small, with fewer than 20 homes changing hands in a typical year, PGP says the percentage of these homes being sold to out-of-towners is on the rise.

Sales statistics from Lightstone indicate that of the 18 sales concluded in Riviersonderend in 2011 (by all agencies), a full third were to out-of-town buyers.  So far in 2012 (as at 11 June 2012), five homes have changed hands, and two of these sales were to residents moving from other towns and cities.  PGP has recently appointed its first dedicated agent for the village, Adri Schneeberger, and she has already concluded her first sale - a R605 000 home sold to Gauteng residents who are retiring to the town.

“Most people drive through Riviersonderend in a matter of minutes, only stopping to fill up with petrol here as they make their way along the N2 highway,” says Schneeberger.  “In rushing through, they may fail to appreciate the full extent of the village’s beautiful setting, or its peaceful, relaxed way of life.  The increase in out-of-town buyers may indicate that that situation is slowly changing, but we are certainly not yet a well-known location that springs to mind when people consider moving to a smaller town.  What they probably don’t realise is that they can obtain excellent value for money here – one can purchase a large family home for approximately R640 000 to R750 000, and even the most top-end luxury residential property is priced under R1.5 million.  Small cottages can be purchased from just R350 000, while vacant land – of which there is still plenty – is priced at around R180 to R200 per square metre.  That means you can purchase a 500sqm plot for less than R100 000, and still have plenty left over to build your dream home, or to invest as a nest egg for retirement.”

“This is a tranquil village with a low crime rate, where neighbours still know each other and form a true community,” adds PGP’s area manager for the region, Le Roux van der Merwe.  “Children can still play in the streets and ride their bicycles after school, while retirees can enjoy the slower pace of life here.  It is the ideal place to buy a weekend or holiday getaway, a retirement home or a family home, if you‘re looking to escape the ‘rat race’ in search of a healthier way of life.”

Riviersonderend is largely a farming community, and most of the local small businesses support this industry.  The village’s permanent population is under 3700 people (Statistics SA).  Architectural styles vary, with  numerous examples of Cape vernacular, mock-Victorian and Cape Dutch homes.  Most homes occupy substantial plots of minimum 500sqm.  The town is nestled in a loop of the Sonderend River, reputed to have the purest drinking water in South Africa, with the Sonderend Mountains forming a breathtaking backdrop.  There are numerous hiking and kloofing trails to explore in these mountains, as well as a wealth of fynbos.  The area is also famous for its large population of the national bird, the Blue Crane.

Van der Merwe says the amenities on offer are typical of a small village – two of the major banks have branches here, as do one or two chain stores, garages and takeaway outlets.  There are several small independent restaurants, a doctor, chemist and clinic, and a local government school, offering education from Grades 1 to 12. “Some parents choose to send their children to school in nearby Caledon,” he says, “or to the private Ruens College, located 30km outside of the village.  There are daily bus routes servicing both of these schooling options.  Major shopping and hospital care is available in the towns of Caledon, Hermanus, Swellendam or Cape Town – all located within a 180km radius of Riviersonderend.  In fact, one can be on the beach in Hermanus or Gansbaai within an hour’s drive.  The village also has its own nine-hole golf course, as well as a bowling club and any number of water-based sports to be enjoyed on the river.”

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