Highlands North - Finding A Calm Centre

Private Property South Africa
Ben Kelly

Highlands North is a suburb that has a reputation, not because of any large shopping centre or entertainment district, but because of the kind of people that live there and also the presence of one of Jo’burg’s most historic schools, Highlands North Boys High . The suburb, itself is positioned close to major transport routes and within a stone’s throw of some of the best entertainment districts in Johannesburg. The suburb itself is made up of reasonably sized stands with most of them having been sub-divided in the past. This makes for a mix of compact and older houses on stands that are easy to maintain, but are still big enough for the family dog to run around in the yard.The one thing that Highlands North has more that its fair share of is busier roads. Louis Botha Avenue cuts the suburb into two creating a Norwood side and a Orange Grove side of the suburb. Athol Street forms a border of the suburb and with the Norwood Mall at the corner of 6th Avenue and Hamlin Street means that there is always a bit of traffic on the road.The suburb has always had a reputation as a Jewish enclave, but as with most of the other suburbs in Jo’burg this character has slowly been eroded over time. From a demographic perspective the suburb has a higher than normal percentage of older residents, with more than 20% coming from the 65 and older age group. However, the majority of recent buyers (more than 50%) comes from the 36 – 49 age group, indicating that this suburb attracts a specific type of buyer. Interestingly the 50-65 year old age group only constitutes about 9% of recent buyers, where in other suburbs they would make up a larger proportion of buyers.As with most older suburbs the vast majority of the stock in the market are freehold properties with only 6% sectional title. Prices in the market are lower than in some of the more trendy suburbs, but with averages in the R1.2 million area in 2010. This is up from around R600 000 in 2004 marking a 100% escalation in this period. This is, however, relatively common among Jo’burg suburbs over the property boom of the mid 2000s.What marks Highlands North is its proximity to a number of key areas. It is a stone’s throw away from Melrose Arch and Norwood is a short drive away. Sandton is within easy reach and both the Athol Oaklands and Corlett Drive intersections on the M1 are easy to reach. It also has Highlands North Boys and Wavery Girls close by as well as St Mary’s Girls School within easy reach. For families looking to be at the heart of Jo’burg life, it is hard to argue against the suburb and this accounts for its continued popularity.

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