Five appealing towns where home buyers can relax and ‘breathe’

This Heritage property, the 4 Star, Roosje van de Kaap boutique hotel in Swellendam, is marketed through Pam Golding Properties for R16.5 million (plus VAT). It includes 14 elegantly decorated bedrooms and bathrooms, two pools in a lush garden and a fully-equipped restaurant, and has sweeping views of the Langeberg mountains.

As affordability and security in major cities and key commercial hubs raise issues for home buyers, both young and older generations are making some interesting lifestyle choices of destinations to raise a family, retire, work remotely, or even start a business – all in a more peaceful and secure environment.

In South Africa, we are extremely fortunate to have such a wide variety of locales to choose from to suit our budget and lifestyle requirements, says Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group.

Says Dr Golding: “While semigration is nothing new, we are now seeing many – including younger home buyers – considering a broader range of options and turning to appealing small towns where they find they can relax and ‘breathe’, and feel closer to nature in a more secure environment.

“These include Swellendam, Villiersdorp, Napier and Greyton in the Western Cape’s Overberg region, and the coastal hamlet of Stilbaai on the province’s Garden Route, all of which have their own rich architectural charm, including character homes – some even with Heritage status.

“Recent Lightstone statistics also reveal sound price appreciation in these towns over the past decade, with standout metrics in Stilbaai and Swellendam, in particular.”


  Housing stock % FH % FTHB FH price

2023 (Rm)

Ten year % (2013 – 23)
Stilbaai 4 712 88.1 5 2.55 +144.7
Swellendam 4 145 97.0 18 1.91 +138.8
Villiersdorp 1 360 97.5 24 1.37 +61.2
Napier 1 251 99.3 8 1.20 +60.0
Greyton 1 065 97.9 7 2.275 +52.9

SOURCE: Lightstone (updated 09 October 2023)

The third oldest magisterial district in South Africa, Swellendam enjoys well-established infrastructure that resonates with younger home buyers – an appeal which extends to parents seeking a quieter, more relaxed lifestyle, without compromising on their children’s education. The town has excellent schools, making it an ideal choice for families relocating from bustling cities or other provinces, and, with the option to work remotely becoming increasingly prevalent, Swellendam provides a serene environment for families to thrive, offering a secure and wholesome upbringing.

The town has an array of Cape Dutch-style houses and Victorian-era structures and these captivating architectural gems, complemented by the scenic mountain vistas, create a unique and highly desirable atmosphere for home buyers.


Says Michelle Badenhorst, Pam Golding Properties agent in Swellendam: “Post-Covid, the town experienced a surge in interest, with many making the move away from densely populated urban areas, such as Gauteng, and other provinces, further highlighting its attractiveness as a residential destination. The town’s remote work-friendly environment allows residents to maintain their careers while enjoying a slower pace of life, against the scenic backdrop of the majestic Langeberg Mountains. Abundant in natural beauty, this region offers numerous hiking trails, and cycling and mountain biking routes, while quaint coffee shops dot the streets of the town, with the weekly Saturday Market a hub of local culture, craftsmanship and community spirit. Positioned centrally between Cape Town and George, each just a two-hour drive away, enables access to urban amenities as well as George Airport.

“Currently, we’re seeing that the high demand for properties – particularly between R2 million and R3.5 million – coupled with limited development in the area, has resulted in notable price inflation, and as a result, bargain properties are scarce. Freehold properties with two to three bedrooms on spacious plots in desirable locations are in consistently high demand, as well as vacant plots – the latter priced between R900 000 and R1.2 million for plots of 830sqm. For a starter home, prices of homes can range from just below R2 million to approximately R2.4 million, with some options available in the bracket from R1.75 million to R2 million, while a comfortable, well-maintained three or four-bedroom family home in a desirable location typically ranges from R2.9 million to R3.9 million.”

Badenhorst says although the buyer demographic in Swellendam has traditionally leaned towards retirees, since the pandemic there has been a notable surge in young families in their 30s. Recent Lightstone data (Oct’22 – Sep’23) reveals a shifting trend, with 34% of purchasers in the past year falling within the middle-aged bracket (36-49), and 18% young adults – most likely first-time buyers, while 35% were mature buyers (50-64), underscoring the evolving diversity of home buyers in the area. For retirees, Swellendam has a lovely retirement village with an excellent frail care centre, restaurant and social community and magnificent mountain views. Currently, there is a three-bedroom house for sale in the retirement village for R3.995 million through Pam Golding Properties.

Also in Swellendam, an interesting Heritage property on the market is the meticulously maintained, 4 Star, Roosje van de Kaap boutique hotel, adjacent to the renowned Drostdy Museum. With 14 elegantly decorated bedrooms and bathrooms, two pools in a lush garden, a fully-equipped restaurant, as well as mesmerising views of the Langeberg mountains, this presents a sound opportunity with significant potential, priced at R16.5 million (plus VAT).

Offering some advice for buyers considering acquiring a Heritage home, Badenhorst says it’s essential to approach the purchase with passion, a commitment to restoration and maintenance, as well as respect for the history of the property. “These properties require dedicated care to preserve their unique character and cultural significance, in order to ensure that these architectural treasures continue to thrive for generations to come.”

Villiersdorp, which is centrally located less than an hour’s drive from towns and business hubs such as Worcester, Somerset West, Paarl and Hermanus, and only just over an hour’s drive to Cape Town International Airport, provides easy access to excellent hospitals, schools and universities. It’s also a popular weekend getaway.

Local Pam Golding Properties agents Kosie Fourie and Sterna Botha concur that more and more young people are settling in the town, a trend confirmed by Lightstone data which reveals that nearly a quarter of recent buyers were young adults, with nearly 40% middle-aged, while others relocate to retire. “Just 25km further than Franschhoek, and with good schools and outdoor activities, Villiersdorp’s appeal is broad, extending to parents who seek a quieter and more countrified lifestyle. This is an affordable choice, enabling young buyers to gain a foothold on the property ladder sooner than in more expensive locations.”

Fourie and Botha say that in the past five years there has been increased interest in homes to buy and to rent in Villiersdorp. Freehold properties with two to three bedrooms on spacious plots in desirable locations are consistently in high demand, as well as vacant plots which start at around R350 000 in town. Houses between R1 million and R2.5 million in the town are undoubtedly the most sought after, while those buying in the price band above R2.5 million tend to look at houses near the golf course or in Theewaterskloof Country Estate, where homes are priced mainly from R3.5 million to R6 million.

Theewaterskloof Dam is one of the town’s major attractions, with a 9-hole golf course at the foot of the dam, as well as a sports club – also known as the Yacht Club, with its own campsite. The town also boasts exceptional hiking and mountain bike trails.

Within easy driving distance of Cape Town (169km), fresh air, less traffic, peace and a good community lifestyle, the village of Napier is set among rolling farmlands of wheat and canola. En route to the seaside villages of Arniston and Struisbaai, this charming town offers more value for money than a major metropole such as Cape Town, with a three to four-bedroom home on a good size stand accessibly priced at around R2.3 million, while two-bedroom cottages can be had between R1.5 million and R1.8 million. Louisa de Jager, local agent for Pam Golding Properties, says homes generally are priced between R1.5 million and R2.5 million, with R1 million homes the most sought after.

Adds de Jager: “With freestanding vacant stands, and smaller homes on generous plots, we are seeing a good mix of buyers with more retirees downscaling from the city. Among recent sales is a beautifully renovated Cape Dutch home set on 1 703sqm, which fetched R2.75 million.”

Summing up the picturesque village of Greyton, the real estate company’s agent, Douglas Legg says: “Here in Greyton, stepping back to a time long ago on your morning walk isn’t difficult, with no one around and only the company of the odd horse on the commonage, while endless crystal blue skies framed by an impressive mountain backdrop set the stage for one of the prettiest towns in South Africa.

“Less than a two-hour drive from Cape Town, this is the perfect destination for a weekend in the country, or for permanent residence. The towering mountains and the fact that there is no through-road makes it a very special location. No visit is ever a waste of time, even if it’s just for a lazy lunch under the majestic oaks that line every street, and this is definitely an experience best appreciated in ‘slow time’. Over the years many leading academics and business leaders have made Greyton their home and you are never sure whom you may see at the table next to you. Our many festivals throughout the year draw visitors from all over the country.

“The town offers a wide range of properties starting with a small weekend cottage on 800sqm to large permanent homes on 4 000sqm with multiple dwellings. As many people choose to relocate from the increasing hustle and bustle of the cities our enquiries have been the most diverse in years. Prior to Covid 50% of our buyers were of retirement age, but post-Covid 50% became young families enjoying the zoom boom, and as a result, local schools have benefited and the population is much younger. Currently, less than 30% of buyers are looking at retirement.”

Legg says there is very strong interest in homes in the R3 million to R5 million price range, which sell quickly. Due to the demand, stock numbers are low. Annual residential sales have doubled in the last three years and property prices risen by 37%.

Adds Legg: “Greyton is one of the few towns that have a Heritage overlay – promulgated in 2021 to ensure that the town maintains all that we love best about it – and forming part of the Zoning Scheme that also provides guidance on new development and any alterations to existing buildings. Quaint, original Cape cottages can be found among private gardens, many of which have access to the original water furrow system, ‘lei water’ that is still in operation today.”

As the name suggests, the coastal town of Stilbaai offers a tranquil, seaside environment, extensive sandy beach and safe swimming, with a temperate climate comprising abundant sunshine with few extremes and a great outdoor lifestyle, not to mention the panoramic views. Access to the town is easy via the N2, and there is health care from private doctors as well as a government clinic which provides excellent service, says local Pam Golding Properties agent Nico Kellermann.

Says Kellerman: “While at one stage the demographic of Stilbaai was predominantly retirees and holiday homes, there is growing evidence of semigration here. There are also a number of young adults who have settled here, possibly due to the work-from-home trend, which now seems to have momentum of its own.

“At present the price range most in demand is between R2 million and R3.5 million, however, a four-bedroom home will set you back R4 million to R5 million plus. Vacant plots are selling and there are a good number of new houses being built and then being placed on the market, which indicates a positive level of interest in property speculation.”

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Posted by The Know - Pam Golding Properties