City dwellers downshift to Stilbaai

The quaint holiday town of Stilbaai on the Garden Route is now attracting middle-aged "retirees" in addition to traditional holiday investors.

Esté Maree, owner of leading local agency Homenet Stilbaai, says 60 percent of properties in the town are holiday homes. "However, in the past three years we have seen a great influx of people in their mid-thirties and forties either 'retiring' to Stilbaai and starting a new life here with their families, or settling their families here while they either commute to city jobs or work on overseas contracts.

"For instance, several commercial pilots who work for international airlines have made Stilbaai their home base."

Maree says Stilbaai's unique coastal-town atmosphere is a great attraction. "Stilbaai is situated at the mouth of the Goukou River, while our blue flag beach offers unparalleled swimming.

"Many historial buildings remain, which adds to the town's quaint character. The working harbour where fishing vessels are still launched daily, and the many hiking trails meandering through fynbos are other attractions," she says.

And although Stilbaai is off the beaten track, most facilities such as shops, banks, medical doctors and a day clinic are available, with the Fynbos Centre forming the heart of the town's business centre.

Maree says the fact that the town is situated off the N2 highway contributes to the peace and tranquility. "It is a very safe area. In fact, children are still free to roam our quiet streets and visit the beach on their own."

There is a local primary school with 250 learners while high school learners either board at one of two high schools in Riversdal 30km away or make use of the daily bus service.

Property prices in Stilbaai start at around R750 000 for apartments, but Maree says units in this price range are scarce. Most homes sell at prices between R1,2m and R1,5m. Prices for luxury properties start at R5m but can reach R10m and more for prime beachfront properties.

Prices in Jongensfontein, the exclusive holiday enclave about 8km fron Stilbaai, start at around R1,8m for homes and about R800 000 for stands. Average home prices, however, range from R2,5m to R3m. Sectional title units are scarce but Homenet Stilbaai currently has a block of six units for sale at R4,5m.
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