Eclectic, down-to-earth and charming.
Established in 1896, Melville has always had a buzzing nightlife, a bohemian atmosphere and a village-like feel. But times are changing and there is more to it than meets the eye. Here are some reasons Melville residents are so passionate about their suburb:
Attracting foreign correspondents and local students, small families and singles, old and young, artists and professionals, as well as different cultural backgrounds, Melville is made up of a wonderful, diverse mix of residents. Resident Jacques Laubscher says his favourite thing about living in Melville is the people. “It’s filled with interesting, intelligent and open-minded individuals,” he says, while resident Tessa Reddy agrees, saying: “At a time when the country is facing many political difficulties, I think Melville is a microcosm of what our Rainbow Nation could be”.
Melville has retained its original small community feel, of which its residents are extremely proud. Jacques says he loves this sense of community, which he feels is lacking in many other suburbs of Joburg. Resident Lucy Lightfoot agrees, saying, “People on the ‘I love Melville’ Facebook page use the platform to be helpful, productive and invested in their community, which says a lot about them in comparison to other community Facebook groups”.
Affordable, character-filled homes
Lucy loves the character-filled homes on decent sized stands that Melville offers, giving homeowners real value for money. “It’s firmly in the vicinity of The Parks, but not overpriced like Parkhurst,” she says. “I’m able to live in a small renovated home with a garden, a pool and a cottage. A tiny two-bedroom flat in other surrounding areas would cost the same as what I paid for my house, if not more.” Resident Katy Kauffman says that the diversity of the people is reflected in the character and charm of the properties. “I love the wooden floors and pressed ceilings in many of the homes,” she says.
Parts of Melville have spectacular views over the city and out to the north, and the iconic Melville Koppies Nature Reserve is home to more than 200 species of birds. Jacques loves taking his German Pointer, Science, on walks over the Koppies and to Emmarentia Park, while Lucy loves running in the area, noting that it’s especially good for hill training. Tessa loves the huge array of trees in the suburb and says that the Koppies are interesting because they’re an indicator of what Joburg would look like without development.
This is not a suburb for yuppies and Melville shops have a refreshingly eclectic feel to them. One example is independent bookseller Love Books owned by Kate Rogan, which Lucy describes as “the best book shop in Joburg”. She also recommends Bill Craig Executive Men’s Outfitters, a family-run business and traditional men’s clothing store that’s been going since 1976.
The new container shopping centre 27Boxes has also given the area a new lease and energy, and contains stalls selling everything from wooden fashion accessories to pressed juices and art. Katy is a new Melville resident who moved into the area in anticipation of the opening of 27Boxes. “I can already see how this creative development has added to the artistic flair for which Melville is known,” she says.
There’s something for everyone in Melville, from classy restaurants serving only organically sourced produce to student-friendly pizzerias and everything in between. “Everyone who pictures themselves running a restaurant tries their hand in Melville, so many are fly by night,” says Lucy, although she also has her regular favourites. “I love lazy afternoon lunches at Lucky Bean, with chilled cafe music, some wine and summer sun,” she says. And if she’s meeting friends with kids, they’ll head to the well-known Bambanani on 4th Avenue for coffee, as the kids can play in the top-notch playground while being supervised by the restaurant’s child minders.
If you’re after a part of Joburg that’s both cosmopolitan and down-to-earth, Melville is a great middle ground. Perhaps most telling of all is that its residents are extremely passionate about their suburb − many have lived here for several years and wouldn’t live anywhere else. Jacques sums up Melville’s future best when he says, “I think the area is going to blossom, and quickly.”
Eat like a local:
- The Leopard for seasonal and free-range dishes
- La Luna for the best Italian cuisine
- Bread & Roses for coffee
- Hell’s Kitchen for a drink and burger
- Xai Xai to watch rugby and catch up with friends
- Bambanani for family-friendly meals (and child minders)
- Piza e Vino for a laid-back meal in a beautiful setting
- Cafe De La Creme for traditional teas, breakfasts and cakes
- The Bamboo Centre for farmer’s markets
- Properties listed for sale in Melville comprise approximately 3% of the total sales listings in the Northcliff area.
- Approximately 4% of the interest (views) in properties for sale in the Northcliff area is attributable to properties listed for sale in Melville.
- Properties listed for rent in Melville comprise approximately 4% of the total rental listings in the Northcliff area.
- Approximately 8% of the interest (views) in properties for rent in the Northcliff area is attributable to properties listed for rent in Melville.
Median asking prices for Melville properties
R2,45m - For a typical property (three-bedroom house)
R1,16m - For a property in a complex
R620,000 - For a flat
R2,17m - For a house
Median monthly asking prices for Melville rentals
R9,500 - For a typical rental property (three-bedroom flat)
R13,840 - For a house
R7,720 - For a flat
Property types for sale
Take a trip through Melville and the other suburbs in Northcliff:
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.