The slowest town in SA

If "going nowhere slowly" is your aim, then Sedgefield, situated between Knysna and George on the Garden Route, is now officially accredited as South Africa’s slowest town, and with this new title is consolidating its position as a prime retirement town in the country.

Cittaslow, an international organisation based in Italy, has accepted Sedgefield as the first town in Africa to be part of an illustrious club of slow towns in countries the world over. These are towns which celebrate quality of life and diversity of cultures, conserve and promote the uniqueness of their environment and also seek to uplift the local community. A Cittaslow population cannot be over 50 000 while Sedgefield’s hardly exceeds 15 000.

Sedgefield is already a popular destination for those who are retiring.

"This accolade is good for our tourism trade and local business," says Walter Bakker, Pam Golding Properties area principal, "and the response to becoming a Cittaslow town has been positive. We are now receiving calls from Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town, from those mainly in their late 40s and early 50s who want to retire here and are therefore seeking homes to purchase. All of them wish to relocate permanently and most are specifically planning to live in Sedgefield. Most enquiries are the in the R1-million to R1.8-million price range, with one Johannesburg buyer looking at a R4-million property while a Pretoria buyer is looking at a R1-million vacant stand in the Cola Conservancy," says Bakker.

"What surprises many future Sedgefielders is the exceptional value for money of homes. You can obtain a three bedroom townhouses, just a few minutes’ walk from Swartvlei, for R680 000. Two and three bedroom houses sell for around R1-million and you can acquire magnificent homes with spectacular sea and mountain views for R2.99-million.

"Swartvlei is the largest lake on the Garden Route and one can canoe from the Sedgefield estuary across Swartvlei and up the rivers. Access to the lake is mostly from private jetties and on some exceptional estates on the lake edge.

"For those wanting to build their own home, vacant erven are available at the best prices in years. In the beautiful Cola Conservancy, which has sea and mountain views and is home to a variety of wildlife and birdlife, stands originally marketed at R1.2-million are now available for under R900 000 and even lower. Other stands in the Cola Conservancy range from around 1000m2 for a cliff edge plot and from R2.5-million upwards for a seafront stand. Plots set slightly back, but with scenic sea views south and of the Outeniqua Mountains northwards, are priced in the R1-million to R1.5-million price range for stands of around 800m2."

Bakker says for those in semi-retirement who still want to keep busy – albeit at a slower pace – there are some businesses available for purchase, including a second hand bookshop priced at R295 000, a coffee and internet shop that attracts locals throughout the year, and which is priced at R450 000, and a top brands and well stocked clothing shop at R350 000.

With only one frail care retirement village, with a waiting list of approximately 200 people who want to stay in Sedgefield, he says there is an opportunity for developers to do some research regarding the market demand for such accommodation.

"These are those who moved here when in their late 50s or early 60s who have established a new social structure and do not want to have to relocate to George or Mossel Bay. As a result there is a built-in buyers’ market of those who have reached their early to mid-70s and are in need of a retirement village, with or without frail care," says Bakker.

There is a state hospital and Medi-Clinic in Knysna, just 25km away, and also in George (35km), while Sedgefield has several medical practitioners including dentists, opticians and physiotherapists.

The town has three major banks and a wide variety of shopping facilities including a national supermarket brand, health shops, excellent restaurants as well as a well-known organic vegetable and food market every Saturday which attracts visitors from far and wide.

"Importantly, potable water is no longer a problem as Sedgefield has the largest desalination plant in South Africa, a huge asset for an area which is susceptible to droughts. With a low crime rate and numerous leisure activities such as walking, cycling, bowling, tennis, twitching, fishing, arts and crafts as well as historical and drama societies it’s not surprising the town is becoming increasingly popular."

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