Boland towns offer ideal environment in which to raise a family

Amid increasing crime levels and urban densification, many parents are increasingly concerned about the quality of life experienced by their children - many wonder if it is possible for their offspring to share their own childhood experiences of playing cricket in the street and staying out unsupervised until the streetlights came on. In search of a more family-friendly environment, many are turning to the towns of the Boland, where youngsters can still enjoy a healthy outdoor lifestyle in a more countrified atmosphere than the big city can offer. Pam Golding Properties reports that there is consistent demand from family buyers for homes in Paarl, Somerset West and Stellenbosch.

PGP's MD for the Boland Overberg, Annien Borg, says the towns have a number of features in common which make them attractive to family buyers: "First and foremost is their beautiful Winelands setting, surrounded by craggy mountains and rolling vineyards," she says. "This enables buyers to feel that they are living in the country, with a slower, gentler way of life, even though they still have easy access to an international airport and a major city, within 45 minutes' drive. This setting also provides numerous opportunities for wholesome outdoor activities for the whole family, from hiking and fishing to horse-riding, quad-biking and strawberry-picking."

"Another huge draw-card is the high standard of education on offer," she continues, "as these towns boast some of the country's top schools, such as Paarl Gimnasium and Boys' High, Paul Roos and Rhenish in Stellenbosch, and Parel Vallei and Somerset College in Somerset West. There are options to suit every need, from single gender schools to co-ed, English, Afrikaans and dual medium, private or high-quality government schooling. A final factor drawing many family buyers is the lower crime rate in these towns, which offers significant peace of mind to parents who want their children to enjoy the freedom of childhood, without continually worrying about their safety."

Stellenbosch of course boasts the additional attraction of being home to one of the country's top universities, which continues to offer globally-acclaimed standards of education across a diverse range of faculties. Steeped in South African history, the town is renowned for its oak-lined streets and numerous architectural landmarks, and due to the student culture, has a buzzing, cosmopolitan atmosphere, with a large number of art galleries, museums, theatre and festivals. The town also boasts some of the country's top sporting facilities and events, from rugby at Coetzenberg to a new equestrian centre and tennis training academy.

PGP area manager Louise Varga says Stellenbosch offers ample accommodation for families, with many large homes with spacious gardens providing the ideal place for children to play. The market has remained stable despite the pressures of the current property climate, with the PGP office achieving record sales which have well surpassed its budget for 2008. There is a wide variety of properties on the market, ranging from R1.5 million to R15 million.

Area manager for Paarl, Surina du Toit, says the prices for family homes in that town are still extremely reasonable. "One can obtain a three bedroomed home with two bathrooms and a double garage, for around R1.5 million, in the northern section of the town," she says. "A slightly larger house comes in at around R2 million, while in the best areas of town, one can pay around R2.5 million for a sizeable home. Proximity to schools is a key factor in the pricing."

The schools are intricately connected with family life in Paarl, with many family activities revolving around them. A particular highlight of the annual calendar is the world's biggest school sports event, the annual Inter-Schools week between Paarl Gym and Boys High, which attracts an audience of some 40 000 spectators. The town is also home to many boarders who commute in from the surrounding farmlands on a weekly or per-term basis.

Meanwhile in Somerset West, area manager Linda Killick says an average family home close to the schools can be obtained for an average of around R1.5 million to R1.9 million, although larger and more luxurious homes can sell for well above this price bracket.

"Somerset West is ideal place to raise a family," she adds. "The setting between the Helderberg mountains and the ocean is simply spectacular, the lifestyle is more laid-back than in the city yet offers all the necessary amenities, including extensive shopping facilities at Somerset Mall, and the proximity to the Strand beachfront makes it ideal for watersports lovers. The town also has extensive medical facilities, including two well-equipped hospitals, one of them private, and has four retirement villages with their own frail care facilities, ensuring that the needs of the entire extended family can be met."

Released on behalf of Pam Golding Properties

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