The next Franschhoek?

In the age of ADSL, Wi-Fi and Blackberries the option of working from a remote location has become a reality for increasing numbers of South Africans. Why face traffic congestion and urban crime rates when you can work from home in a smaller town and let your children grow up in freedom and safety?

The Western Cape’s Boland towns are attracting increasing numbers of permanent residents, many of whom work from home and only commute (for business purposes) into larger towns for important meetings and functions. The result is that once-sleepy towns like Franschhoek have grown exponentially and are now buzzing communities with excellent infrastructure and top-class restaurants, while still maintaining their country atmosphere.

So, which town will be "discovered" next? Property experts agree it could well be Tulbagh.

This picturesque town is situated about 130 kilometres north-east of Cape Town and is surrounded by the Witzenberg mountains. Tulbagh lies at the northern tip of the Breede River valley, famed for its mild Mediterranean climate, fertile soil and outstanding vineyards.

The area was "discovered" in the 1650s, but the first farms were only settled in the early 1700s and the town itself was not formally established until 1743. The "Oude Kerk" — the oldest church in South Africa — built by the original Trekboer residents still stands today.

Tulbagh was devastated by a 6.5 scale earthquake in 1969 which destroyed large parts of the town. But an intensive reconstruction programme saw many of the original buildings meticulously restored. As a result, the town once again offers a wonderful display of Cape Dutch buildings as well as fine examples of Edwardian and Victorian architecture. In fact, the central Church Street boasts no fewer than 32 national monuments — the highest concentration in the country.

Pam Golding Properties' area manager for Tulbagh, Gail Friedlander, says the greater Tulbagh community, including the surroundings farms, still numbers just 18 000. Of this population only around 2500 are resident in the town itself. "While there is perennial demand for farms and smallholdings, due to their superb soil and excellent fruit orchards, the town centre itself is still largely undiscovered and turnover is slow when compared to farm sales," she says. As a result prices remain extremely affordable and one can still obtain a decent family home in Tulbagh for under R1.2-million. Small homes are available from just R750 000 while the top end sees larger luxury homes or historic buildings on sale at around the R2-million to R3-million mark."

PGP’s MD for the Boland and Overberg regions, Annien Borg, says the bulk of residents in the town itself are employed on the local farms or in the associated processing industries, or else in their own private ventures.

"This is a close-knit yet surprisingly cosmopolitan community," she says. "There are as yet still just a few second homes, but we firmly believe that this town has the potential to become the next Franschhoek and that buying here is an excellent investment for the future. The basic infrastructure — from a Spar, a private and government school, doctors, a chemist, banks and a few restaurants — is already here, but there is still scope for so much more development, including the guesthouse and B&B market. Tulbagh is already popular as a country wedding venue and lies close enough to Cape Town to be an excellent option for those seeking weekend getaways."

Article from: www.iafrica.com