Emmarentia is the shy cousin to the cool kids such as Parkhurst and Braamfontein, but give it a few years and, we predict, it will come into its own .
Emmarentia, “the green heart of Johannesburg”, has so much going for it. It’s packed with things to do, and its residents are passionate about their suburb. “I’ve loved living here for the past five years because it’s not a pretentious neighbourhood and it has loads of history,” says local resident Sarah Magni, a researcher.
I’ve loved living here for the past five years because it’s not a pretentious neighbourhood and it has loads of history.
Here are seven more reasons why Emmarentia residents love their suburb.
1. The outdoor lifestyle
Dog owners, runners, cyclists – they all flock to Emmarentia because of its expansive parks and access to the Emmarentia Dam. On weekends the water is packed with canoeists, the odd scuba diver and families feeding the ducks, while mountain bikers cycle round Marks Park to various routes along the Spruit. You’ll find people picnicking or walking their dogs in Emmarentia Park, visiting the Rose Garden at the Johannesburg Botanical Garden (which borders the suburb) or hiking up to the Koppies with their panoramic views towards the inner city and Westcliff.
2. A sense of history
The original farmhouse of politician Louw Geldenhuys is located in Greenhill Road and is now a national monument. Geldenhuys bought the farm in 1886 and the house is a beautiful example of 19th-century vernacular architecture. The original graveyard is still located on the property, where all the Geldenhuys family members are buried.
3. It’s multicultural
Suburban South Africa can be quite homogenous, but Emmarentia stands out for its diversity, reflecting the breadth of religions and cultures that make up the country. Sarah says, “It’s very multicultural. My neighbours come from all walks of life”.
Strolling down the jacaranda-lined streets, you’ll pass a synagogue in one road and a mosque in the other, giving you a sense of the open-mindedness of the suburb.
4. Unpretentious, good-quality restaurants
Emmarentia is filled with unfussy restaurants that serve great-quality food at reasonable prices. Trattoria Renato, a Johannesburg landmark, has been serving authentic Italian dishes to its loyal customers for almost 30 years, District 6 Eatery on Greenhill Road serves a legendary milk tart, and Fresh Earth on Komatie Street is possibly the most well-known health food store in Joburg.
Resident Alana Dell says, “I love helping myself to Fresh Earth’s great lunchtime buffet, which includes comforting foods in winter and refreshing foods in summer.”
5. Properties are good value for money
Stand sizes are generally larger than those in neighbouring Parkview, so you get great value for money. Because houses tend to be older, they also lend themselves to renovation. Bear in mind that Emmarentia is one of only two suburbs in Johannesburg that falls under the Louw Geldenhuys family trust, so you can’t renovate without first getting your plans approved by them.
6. An action-packed events calendar
Emmarentia hosts some of Joburg’s best-known sports and musical events, many of which can be watched from the comfort of one’s stoep. Events include the 702 Walk the Talk in July, the Breast Cancer Walk in October and the Holi One Colour Music Festival in May.
7. An eclectic mix of shops
Sure, you can get your nails done or see the doctor here, but Emmarentia also has a host of interesting shops that you might not find elsewhere.
Alana recommends the barber on Barry Hertzog: “It’s basic, but they do facial hair threading for the gals, great facial shaves for the guys, and it’s super-cheap too.”
You can also visit the Indian food store on Greenhill Road for all the ingredients you need to make a mouthwatering authentic Indian meal.
Finally, stop off at the Kinderspiel toyshop for beautiful handmade toys and its old schoolchildren’s puppet theatre.
Emmarentia is a suburb that mixes good old-fashioned values with diversity.
Combine this with affordable properties and easy access to the great outdoors and you’ll understand why it’s becoming so popular.
Check out these eclectic shops in Emmarentia:
• Buy an old-fashioned wooden toy at the Kinderspiel toy shop.
• Have a shave at the well-priced barber on Barry Hertzog.
• Buy your spices at the Indian food store on Greenhill Road.
• Visit the Fresh Earth Food store on Komatie Street for organic goodies.
Property prices in Emmarentia
A typical property for sale in Emmarentia is a three-bedroom house.
• Average asking price: R3,22m
• 15% of properties for sale are flats and apartments with an average asking price of R2,5m.
• 85% of properties for sale are houses with an average asking price of R3,25m.
• Average monthly rental for a three-bedroom apartment: R20,000
The suburb sees a lot of interest in both sales and rental properties on Private Property.
• 1,5% of the total sale listings
• 2,5% of the total rental listing
• 1% more views per listing for sale
• 1,5% more views per listing for rent
than properties elsewhere in the Northcliff area.
This article originally appeared in Sunday Times Neighbourhood.