Karoo towns to put on your house hunting list
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City dwellers don’t just love Karoo lamb but are increasingly migrating to the more affordable towns of the Karoo, says Ian Badenhorst, licensee for Seeff Country and Karoo. With land prices starting from under R100,000 and houses under R1 million, you can sell up in the cities, buy a house in the Karoo and still have money left to start a small business, he says.
Why? Aside from the affordability, the lifestyle is great. Infrastructure is good and you have access to good schools, clean air and fresh produce, all of which make for a wholesome lifestyle, something that is becoming an attractive alternative to the hectic cities, he says. The cost of living is lower and there is no stress here. It’s the stuff of country dreams.
Although agriculture drives the economies of these town, there is a growing tourism sector as visitors look for alternative experiences. This has opened up opportunities for guest houses, Airbnb properties, restaurants, quaint attractions and service and cottage industries, providing a healthy boost for property here.
For older buyers, it is often an ideal choice for retirement, but Seeff’s agents are seeing an increase in professionals and business executives investing in weekend homes and lifestyle farms. Young families are also migrating to the Karoo for a safer and better quality of life, he says. People in their late forties and early fifties often yearn for a change in career and the Karoo offers plenty of that, he says.
The Karoo is especially popular for its beautiful landscapes and quaint houses, from Victorian to Karoo houses with wide verandas to soak up the landscape. Also big in the region are historic properties, guest houses as well as lifestyle, game and commercial farms.
He highlights a few popular Karoo towns to illustrate:
Graaff-Reinet (Karoo Heartland)
Surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park and with attractions such as the Valley of Desolation and more than 200 heritage buildings including the Drostdy Hotel, makes Graaff-Reinet a popular choice according to Lynette McNaughton. It is one of the few areas which is still experiencing a shortage of stock as it attracts a broad range of buyers.
House prices range from R1.2m-R2.2m and there are also a choice of commercial opportunities and farms priced to around R19.5m for a productive farm with excellent infrastructure, ideal for cattle, sheep and Angora goats and situated in the beautiful Camdeboo Conservancy.
Prince Albert (Karoo)
Marelize Vorster says that this popular Karoo town is just over four hour’s drive from Cape Town and is renowned for its pretty architecture. It offers a typical mix of Victorian and Karoo-styled homes priced from around R1.4m to R2.5m with a highest price achieved of R8m. The town is popular with creatives and retirees especially.
Some of the interesting attractions include the Showroom Theatre, art galleries and restaurants, Gay's Guernsey Dairy, the African Relish Cooking School and olive and wine farms.
Van Wyksdorp (Klein Karoo)
Somewhat of an unknown gem of the Klein Karoo, Van Wyksdorp is a star gazing dream according to Gerhardt Oosthuizen. Here, you can still find guest houses and self-catering establishments which offer an authentic Karoo experience complete with no electricity and old furniture. The Spekboom Restaurant offers real “boerekos” and there are plenty of arts and crafts available at The Gallery and there are fantastic trails for mountain biking and motorcycle enthusiasts. It is a great choice for weekend homes and retirees. Game farm enthusiasts can also find value here.
House prices range from R700,000 to R1.2m and small 1ha plots from R285,000-R350,000. Lifestyle farms range from R750,000-R960,000 while farms range from R850,000 (no infrastructure) to R6.5m for a game farm and R16.5m for a commercial operation.
Middelburg (Karoo Heartland)
Middelburg is close to Graaff-Reinet but offers great facilities such as a “Keg and Springbuck” along with Celtis and Picadilli’s for a nice meal and plenty of sport including golf, bowling, tennis, river rafting and horse riding, says Barbara Van Zyl.
It offers great value for weekend houses and is an ideal place to move to if you’re in your forties and fifties or looking to retire. House prices range from just R500,000 (two beds) and R700,000 (three beds) with a top price of R2.5m. Agricultural properties range from R3,500-R4,000/ha depending on the infrastructure with farming mostly around wool sheep, dorpers, cattle and goats.
Calvinia (Upper Karoo)
The town lies in one of the largest wool-producing districts, about mid-way between Cape Town and Upington. Flip Augustyn says that it offers excellent affordability with prices of vacant plots between R50,000-R100,000 and houses from R500,000 to R1.3m with a highest price paid of R1.15m for a house and for R1.65m for a guest house. Agriculture properties (sheep and goat farming) range between R3m and R20m depending on the extent and location of the farm.
Calvinia is just over four and a half hour’s drive from Cape Town and offers Karoo living at its best. It’s well-known for the annual Hantam Vleisfees which brings visitors from far and wide.
Oudthoorn (Klein Karoo)
Popular with visitors and the home of KKNK (Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees), Oudtshoorn is also a great stopover between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and about half an hour from George, says Bettie Nel.
The town offers property to suit every need, from old to young. House prices range from R800,000-R5m while farms range to around R23m for a spectacular game lodge/country house in a private game estate.
Photograph enclosed: Graaff-Reinet – historical home for R1.5m
Author: Gina Meintjes