Pietermaritzburg area and property guide

Pietermaritzburg area and property guide

Private Property South Africa
Cath Jenkin

The capital of KwaZulu-Natal is a city with a homely heart

Many people think of Pietermaritzburg as Durban’s little sister, but the city is far more than just a sidekick to the coastal cosmopolitan metro. This capital city of KwaZulu-Natal was established in 1838 and is home to a heart that’s surrounded by history.

Academic life

Now known as the multi-campus University of KwaZulu-Natal, the very first establishment of this academic institution took place in Pietermaritzburg. Founded as the Natal University College in 1910, and later expanding to a Durban campus in 1931, this university had a huge impact on the city’s evolution, creating a town that centred itself on education – much like Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Yet, although Pietermaritzburg is also an important industrial hub, the city remains small, with fewer than a million inhabitants calling it home.

Suburban life

Dr Noleen Loubser (PhD, Psychology), a Pietermaritzburg resident, tells us why she enjoys living in the city: “Pietermaritzburg is peaceful and quiet, and has a good balance between ‘city’ and ‘country’. The distances to get to places are generally quite small, making it a convenient place to live.”

Where it all begins and ends

If you’re a Comrades Marathon runner, you’ll know the city of Pietermaritzburg quite well, because it’s here that the great race either begins (down run) or ends (up run). The Dusi Canoe Marathon also begins in Pietermaritzburg, along with a number of international cycling events. Of course, as every KwaZulu-Natal family knows, the annual Royal Show attracts thousands of visitors each year, serving up a unique blend of agricultural championship events and fun entertainment.

Everything you need in a little city

Conveniently situated just a 45-minute drive away from Durban, and with the picturesque Midlands just a short drive away from it, Pietermaritzburg is a popular stop for road trippers and day visitors too. If you’re making the journey from Durban to Johannesburg, a stop in the city is almost obligatory.

But it’s more than just a stopover joint, with retail stores and shopping centres aplenty. Located just off the N3 highway, you’ll find the Liberty Midlands Mall, a large and diverse retail mall that has everything you need under one roof. With more than 160 shops to choose from, it’s easy to see why every Pietermaritzburg resident pops in here for their retail therapy.

An important historical site Beyond the suburban life, academic ethos and commercial facilities, Pietermaritzburg is also an important historical site. Also known as uMgungundlovu (the place of the elephant), Pietermaritzburg was the homestead of the Zulu King Dingane. But a quick look around the town will tell you that the city’s heritage lives on most strongly in its buildings. Head to the City Hall and take a look at its fine stained glass windows and domes – using it as a starting point to exploring the city. The City Hall was declared a national monument in 1969, and you’ll find many heritage sites and monuments dotted throughout the town. For those of us who enjoy a little media history, it was in Pietermaritzburg that the first newspaper for the province was published in 1846. Then known as “The Natal Witness”, it’s now known as “The Witness” and is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in South Africa. Of course, museums and galleries can be found across the city, but a visit to the Msunduzi Museum and Baynesfield Estate Heritage Centre should feature at the top of your itinerary.

Get in touch with nature

If you’re not off exploring the city’s historical sites, head to the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden for a picnic or head to Camperdown to visit the Natal Zoological Gardens. There’s also the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary to visit, or take a day trip to the gorgeous Tala Private Game Reserve.

A day of feasting in Pietermaritzburg

It’s said that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but we think you might like to get to know this city through its food. Start your day by sampling the Baker’s Table at Sagewood Cafe for breakfast. Pop in for tea at Rosehurst Garden on Boom Street and later settle in for a lazy lunch at The Fat Aubergine. And for dinner, head to Trafford’s for homegrown cuisine that’s made with heart.


Properties listed for sale in Pietermaritzburg comprise approximately 3% of the total sale listings in the KwaZulu-Natal province. Approximately 4% of the interest (views) in properties for sale in the KwaZulu-Natal province is attributable to properties those on the market in Pietermaritzburg.

Properties listed for rent in Pietermaritzburg comprise approximately 7% of the total rental listings in the KwaZulu-Natal province. Approximately 9% of the interest (views) in properties for rent in the KwaZulu-Natal province is attributable to listed rentable properties in Pietermaritzburg.

Median asking prices for Pietermaritzburg properties

R1,15m - For a typical property (three-bedroom house)

R1,18m - For a property in a complex

R600,000 - For a flat

R1,24m - For a house

Median monthly asking prices for Pietermaritzburg rentals

R11,000 - For a typical rental property (two-bedroom flat)

R7,340 - In a complex

R6,170 - For a house

R3,880 - For a flat

Property types for sale

74% House

12% Flat

14% Complex

Property types for rent

53% Flat

25% House

22% Complex

Buying in Pietermaritzburg

The monthly bond repayment to purchase a typical property in Pietermaritzburg, namely a three-bedroom house, with the median asking price of R1,15m is R10,719 per month over 20 years at prime of 9,5% with no deposit.

Take a tour of Pietermaritzburg here:

This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

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