Retirement property buyers return to George

The small city of George, at the heart of the spectacular Garden Route, has regained its popularity as a top “active retirement” destination, with upcountry buyers flocking to buy well-priced homes in its many secure estates.

This Tuscan-style villa in Wilderness is for sale through Sotheby’s International Realty for R8m.
“Most of these gated complexes were launched during the last property boom, when there were many buyers looking for second homes or holiday homes in George, and high prices discouraged many of the retirees that had traditionally made up a large percentage of buyers here,” says Tim Kirby, principal of the Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty franchise in George, Wilderness and Herolds Bay.
“Then the recession hit and the second-home market all but dried up, so prices became more realistic and now the city is being rediscovered as a one of the best retirement destinations in SA, with its mild climate, excellent retail and medical facilities - and a wide variety of homes that are secure, low-maintenance and well-priced.”
And for active retirees, he says, there is also plenty to do in and around George. “The city boasts some of the very finest golf courses in SA, including those at Fancourt and Oubaai, and other outdoor pursuits include walks in the botanical garden, hiking, cycling, fishing and swimming at nearby beaches, and even quad biking and 4x4 trails for the more adventurous.
“George also has many historical landmarks and museums, its own wine route to explore, many good restaurants, delis and farm stalls, and of course a variety of book, bowls, tennis and service clubs. And it hosts several festivals a year, including the Vodacom Cheese Festival – a three-day food, wine and music festival at the end of July.”
The entry level for homes in secure complexes in the city, Kirby says, is around R800 000, which will buy a two-bedroom townhouse in Fairview or Kerriwood Hill close to Fancourt, for example.
“And retirees are also attracted, we find, to the Urban Village development, where home prices range from about R1,1m to R1,6m, and to Golf Park, which offers one, two and three-bedroom units at prices fromR1,35m.”
Meanwhile, he says, George also continues to attract buyers who are relocating from larger urban centres in search of a better lifestyle and more security for their families, but also need to travel for work. “The key attractions for such buyers are obviously the excellent schools in George, the fact that it has an international airport with daily flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, and its location halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
“And their most popular home choices are in estates such as Earls Court, where prices start at around R2m, or upmarket suburbs such as Heatherlands.”
Overseas buyers, Kirby says, have not been much in evidence for the past few years, but interest has picked up again, due to the weakness of the rand. Most favoured are properties in the Milkwoods Village development and on the beachfront in Wilderness (see photo), or home high up in nearby Victoria Bay, at prices from around R5m all the way up to about R23m.

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