Demand for Village living soars in Western Cape

A growing number of city dwellers are trading life in the fast lane for the tranquility and security of village living, even if it means commuting to work or starting up their own work-from-home businesses.

A case in point is the Western Cape village of Melkbosstrand, which has almost doubled its population in the last five years, says National Referral Network (NRN) member and principal of Dune Properties, Anna-Mart Cronjè.

Flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on its western boundary and end-to-end nature reserves on its remaining sides, Melkbos is no longer just a holiday village utilised by neighbouring farmers. Instead it has become a sought-after residential destination by those who relish its laid-back lifestyle and pristine natural setting, she says. Arguably one of this year's top performing areas in terms of price growth, adds Cronjè, the popularity of the small village started soaring with the launch of the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in 2000 and then its own shopping centre a year later.

Now home to a growing number of nature lovers, artists and commuters prepared to travel to work in Cape Town and Table View, intense demand for Melkbos property has pushed up prices by around 300 percent in the last five years, says Cronjè. As the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate enters its fourth and final phase, stands which sold for R180 000 when it launched five years ago, are now priced at R1, 5 million each. Vacant stands in Melkbos, which were selling for R200 000 in 2000 now cost upwards of R1 million, while two bedroom apartments start at R700 000. Free standing houses cost anywhere from R1,1 million while a beachfront home recently sold for a record R7 million. Severe limitations regarding the amount of vacant land available in the area, the result of the safety radius around the Koeberg Power Station, make land a rare commodity, she says. "No land can be unlocked until 2015 so it has become very valuable. Because there are so few vacant stands available, the trend is growing for people to buy existing homes for their land value, demolish them and build new houses in their wake."

Other villages in the Western Cape that have been "discovered" in recent years include Frankskraal, Gansbaai, De Kelders and Kleinbaai, all of which are drawing a steady stream of ex-city residents. According to fellow NRN member, Adele Nel, principal of local estate agency Kotnel Properties, evidence of the growing popularity of the area is the record R680 million worth of plans approved by the local municipality - just up to August this year. "Vacant land is moving well in response to demand by newcomers who want to live in secure and quiet surroundings. They are trading pollution and noise for a permanent holiday lifestyle that offers good swimming beaches, whale and shark watching and a safe and scenic countryside in which to walk and cycle. As a result, our area is one of the biggest growth points in the Western Cape at the moment," she says.