Capetonians hankering after a rural lifestyle are discovering the charms of the Swartland - and boosting the Mooreesburg property market in the process.
The friendly town in the heart of the Swartland is only about 100km from Cape Town on the N7, making commuting to a city office viable, says Alma van Zyl of the Homenet VDM office in Moorreesburg.
"The town is especially popular among buyers from areas such as Table View and Blouberg and they tend to form lift clubs to get to city jobs. Now many report that although the distance is greater, traveling time is shorter."
The many attractions of the area are also drawing buyers looking for weekend getaways, she says. "The town is supported by a strong farming community, with wheat, the crop synonymous with the Swartland, being the source of most enterprise. The wheat museum, one of only three in the world, celebrates this part of the Swartland history and attracts many tourists."
However, it is not only the agricultural aspects that charm prospective buyers. The local high school has opened an art gallery where about 70 works of well-known South African artists are on permanent display, and it forms part of the local art route that enjoys strong support.
The surrounding countryside also offers great scope for those who are explorers by heart, she says. Places with evocative names such as Neulfonteinkop and the Misverstand Dam just beg to be explored.
Neulfonteinkop, a hill about 2km south of town on the N7, offers a scenic hiking trail to the top and, on a cloudless day, Cape Town's Table Mountain can be seen in the south. An old ship's cannon, used in the days of the Cape Colony to alert farmers to take their produce to the harbour when ships docked, is still in evidence.
"And in spring the hill is a panorama of flowers, which changes every two weeks as the different indigenous species take turns to put on their colourful displays," Van Zyl says.
The Misverstand Dam offers watersports and boat trips, and several guest farms near Morreesburg offer prime accommodation, horseriding, clay pigeon shooting and trips by tractor through the wheat fields and colourful canola fields. A nine-hole golf course with affordable fees attracts many players while a camping spot at the scenic Berg River offers fishing, canoeing and 4x4 trails.
The major draw card, though, is affordable property. "Most residential properties here fall in the R500 000 to R750 000 price range," Van Zyl says. "They typically offer three bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathrooms, double garaging and a large open plan living area with fireplace, and are set on large stands.
"Homes at the top of the market generally sell for around R925 000, which will buy a large family home with four bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a study, swimming pool, security system, and an established garden in a popular area close to the school."
Cheaper properties of around R330 000 are also still available - although usually in need of some renovations or additions.