Live the country lifestyle in picturesque Piketberg

The charming town of Piketberg is still relatively unknown even to many residents of the Western Cape, despite being located only a little over an hour’s drive from Cape Town.  

The town is situated on the slopes of the short Piketberg mountain range, and is surrounded by abundant fertile farmland.  Yet many glimpse it only for a few seconds, while driving past on the N7 highway en route to the Northern Cape and Namibia.  Pam Golding Properties (PGP) reports that those who do take the time to stop discover a tranquil, friendly town with scenic views and a peaceful way of life, ideal for raising children in a healthy environment.  Affordable property prices mean that it is also the ideal location for a weekend cottage or retirement home.

PGP’s area manager for the West Coast, Stephanie Wynne Cole, says the town is still primarily agricultural in nature, and is surrounded by wheat, fruit and flower farms, vineyards, and equestrian and stock farms.  Their rolling fields provide a picturesque setting for the town.  “The plateau above the town, known as “Op-die-Berg’, is one of the best cultivated in South Africa, with magnificent fruit orchards producing high quality apples, pears, peaches and oranges,” she says.  “More recently, it has also begun producing export-quality proteas and buchu herbs.  This is some of the most fertile ground in the Cape, fed by clean mountain water, and farms remain in demand here, unlike many other farming areas which have been struggling due to the prevailing economic climate.  Lightstone figures indicate that between January 2011 and mid-June 2012, more than 50 farms changed hands in the Piketberg area (across all agencies), at an average price of approximately R11.3 million.  The highest price achieved in this period was over R52 million for a 164ha farm.  However more affordable options are also available, especially in the Piket-bo-berg section, where one can for example buy a 254ha protea farm for just under R7 million.”

Residential property prices in the town itself are also extremely competitive, and have shown steady growth over the past three years.  In 2009, 18 properties changed hands at an average price of R505 000, yet by 2011, the number had jumped to 35 sales at an average of R548 000.  (Lightstone – all agencies).  Wynne Cole says one can obtain a three-bedroomed house with a double garage from around R740 000, while top-end properties with high quality finishes and views can fetch just over R1 million. Vacant land in town is priced from around R300 000 to R500 000 per plot, or from R325 000 to R412 000 in the town’s only secure estate, the Wheat Fields development located on the urban edge.  Smaller lifestyle farms are also relatively affordable, and one can purchase smallholdings located close to the town from around R2 million upwards.

Piketberg has enjoyed steady population growth since 2005, thanks mainly to its position as the administrative seat of the Bergrivier Municiaplity, which also incorporates nearby towns such as Velddrif and Porterville.  As the commercial centre of the region, it has numerous small businesses servicing the needs of the local government and farming community, as well as the PPC Cement plant, another substantial contributor to the local economy.

Located within the West Coast development corridor, the town has reasonably well-developed infrastructure, including two major supermarket chains, banks and a few retail outlets, as well as a government hospital and small medical centre. There are two government primary and high schools, as well as a private Christian school.  A private hospital is available in Vredenburg, just 86 kilometres away on good roads, while the beaches of the West Coast can be reached within half an hour.  Those willing to hike up the mountains will find themselves rewarded with a view all the way to Table Mountain on a clear day.

PGP’s MD for the Western Cape metro region (incorporating the West Coast), Laurie Wener, says the town’s population is quite varied, including a mix of retired residents, younger families who have relocated to Piketberg to escape the busy city life, and a number of entrepreneurs who have set up small businesses, or who work from home and simply commute to Cape Town when needed.

“The local tourism industry is still fairly under-developed,” she says, “but has ample growth potential.  There are some B&B’s and self-catering establishments in town, but Piketberg remains quite undiscovered, despite attractions such as the dramatic Neo-Gothic church built in the 1880’s, the San rock art in the surrounding mountains, and several old cottages dating back to the town’s foundation in 1836, many of which have been beautifully restored.  Other landmarks include the old signal cannon, and a restored Sir Herbert Baker home in the shape of a castle, which now operates as a hotel and small conference venue.  The town is also well-placed for outdoor enthusiasts, being close to the paragliding centre of Porterville, as well as the Cederberg mountain range.  There are extensive hiking, riding, mountain-bike and 4x4 trails in the area, and for those who prefer more sedate pursuits, the area has easy access to the Swartland Wine Route.”

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