DISCOVERING THE PEARL OF THE OVERBERG

Buyers turn to Villiersdorp in search of safe country lifestyle

In the face of rising traffic congestion, stress, crime and transport costs, many South Africans are opting to leave the city and seek out a new life in the smaller rural towns, where life moves at a slower pace, children still play in the street, and neighbours know one another. An added attraction is the lower cost of housing in such areas, especially for those wishing to retire on a fixed income, or those just starting out as property owners. Pam Golding Properties reports that one such town experiencing consistent levels of interest is Villiersdorp, situated at the north-western corner of the Western Cape's Overberg region, just over an hour's drive from Cape Town.

It's not for nothing that the town is known as the "Pearl of the Overberg". Nestled in the Elands River Valley, in the shadow of the Stettynsberg and Riviersonderend mountains, it offers a picturesque setting and a tranquil pace of life, and is surrounded by abundant vineyards and orchards. First settled in the early 1840's, the area is one of the most prosperous farming regions in the Cape, with high-yielding crops of apples, grapes, onions, peaches and apricots.

It is also extremely affordable, offering a wide range of homes to suit everyone from first-time buyers to young married couples, families and retirees. Says PGP's area manager Linda Killick: "We have apartments on the market in this town from as little as R245 000, while a family home can still be obtained for under R700 000. Larger family homes are extremely affordably priced at around R1 to R1.5 million, while the very top end of our market sees homes priced from just over R2 million and above, situated within the exclusive Theewaterskloof Country Estate, which is a controlled access estate with its own nine-hole golf course, just five minutes outside of town. These prices mean that even those on a tight budget should be able to find decent housing that is within their reach - and all this, in a stunning natural environment. This is a wonderful place to raise a family, with lots of safe outdoor activities and a very low crime rate."

The beautiful scenery has not surprisingly attracted a sizeable community of artists and crafters, who have made the town their permanent home and whose works are on display in its art galleries. Pharmacists, doctors and teachers have also been attracted by the lifestyle, and the town boasts very good dual medium schooling from grades one to matric, as well as a well-stocked library, several major grocery chains, and its own ambulance, fire and police services. Besides the local wine routes, there is much to tempt those in need of relaxation, from gentle hiking and birdwatching to sailing on the nearby Theewaterskloof Dam, which is the seventh largest in the country and one of the most popular Cape venues for watersports. Its excellent Sports Club offers facilities for water-ski'ing, sailing, swimming and fishing, as well as power-boating, wind-surfing, and jet-ski'ing. Outdoor enthusiasts will also enjoy the numerous 4x4 and mountain-biking trails in the area.

Adds PGP's MD for the Boland and Overberg, Annien Borg: "The town itself offers numerous historic and picturesque buildings, including the national monument 'Dagbreek' which has been turned into a restaurant and museum. And for those who miss the bright lights on occasion, the Caledon Casino complex is just 25 minutes' drive away. Another close neighbour is Franschhoek, with its scenic winelands and gourmet restaurants. A highlight of the Villiersdorp calendar is the annual fruit and wine expo held in October, showcasing the areas' rich agricultural heritage.

Pam Golding Properties

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