Property in South Africa: Could Johannesburg be the world's best place to live?

A closer look at Jo'burg, venue for the 2010 World Cup.

Where I live

Rivonia was originally termed "peri-urban" or rural so a lot of the houses are farm style conversions. It’s pretty central in terms of the Sandton central business district (CBD) and has access to lots of shopping, malls and retail parks. It’s very pretty with loads of trees and good roads and it straddles Rivonia Road, the main drag through Sandton,close to two major highways. Rivonia has great schools and a thriving nightlife. Within a kilometre you can experience Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese cuisine, nouveau cuisine, fine dining and streetside cafes.

What’s available

I live in a converted farmhouse from the 1930s. It still has an outhouse, which we use as a storeroom. Lots of thick white uneven walls, wooden doors and window frames and Oregon pine flooring. It’s surrounded by half an acre of grass and fruit trees. If this kind of upkeep is not your bag, there are literally hundreds of townhouse apartments within a five kilometre radius, the result of older residents on larger stands selling on to developers.

Price range

Rivonia property is priced towards the lower end of Sandton real estate. You can pick up a similar property for anything ranging from about 1.8 million rand to 4 or 5 million at the top end. Townhouses, two and three bed range from 700 000 rand to two million, but you can rent for anything between four and seven thousand a month. Considering that not six kilometres further up in Morningside and Sandown, a furnished and service apartment can run to 25 thousand rand a month, it’s good value (although there you are within walking distance of three major banks and the stock exchange). And, as I never tire of telling my UK-based brother, he could snap up over two thousand square metres of real estate for £50,000.

Insider's tip

In the heart of Rivonia, down a quiet residential street, lies Liliesleaf farm. In the early 1960s, this quiet smallholding forms a centre for ANC military operations and it’s where in 1963 Nelson Mandela and other struggle leaders were arrested and sent to trial for treason. They were found guilty and sent to Robben Island. Now, what was a quiet country small-holding has been transformed into a superb musem where you can get a really informative look at South African history.

In my dreams

The old Victorian stone houses Dolobran in Parktown. Double storey, romantic and filled with history. Deep verandahs, lawns that roll on for ever and views to bring a lump to your throat (and a coronary to your bank balance).

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