Wilderness is known as the Southern Cape’s Garden of Eden

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

The village of Wilderness lives up to its name in every sense. It is an eco village that not only boasts an exceptionally moderate climate, but also a unique lake and river system, with pristine beaches and lagoons set against the backdrop of spectacular mountains. Located about 15 minutes from George Airport on the N2 down the Kaaiman's River Pass, Wilderness is positioned the same distance away from its charming neighbour, Sedgefield. Its central location - 300 km from Port Elizabeth, approximately 600km from Cape Town, and 150km from the CangoCaves in Oudtshoorn, contributes to its popularity as a holiday home investment choice and tourism destination. This unique setting has long attracted well heeled investors from upcountry and abroad, who discover it almost by default whilst travelling along the Cape’s spectacular Garden Route. Steady property investment here is illustrated by Lighstone statistics, showing that Wilderness freehold property prices have continued a steady upward movement since 2004, with average freehold prices reaching its highest level of R1.5 million in 2010. The mix of middle and upper class residents in this charming village has resulted in a congenial rapport among residents, where the original borgeouise community live harmoniously with their wealthier neighbours from the so called ‘millionaire's rows’. What many Wilderness residents have in common, is a passion for their environment and an interest in the longterm preservation of this magnificent coastal spot. The Southern Cape is known to attract a relatively high level of pre-retirement immigrants from upcountry and abroad, resulting in a favourable skills supply in smaller villages such as Wilderness. An interesting phenomenon is the high number of residents working as property and tourism professionals. Although numbers have dwindled since the recession, the village has produced industry stalwarts who have built up a clientele over many years, reaping the benefits from repeat property investments more than once. Possibly one the greatest attractions to those in need of a laid-back lifestyle or retirement is Wilderness’s moderate climate, with year-round rainfall, and little variation in temperature, seldom dropping below 10 °C or rising above 28 °C. Property professionals say regular buyers here are those seeking quality of life within commuting distances of cities. Last year saw a total number of sectional scheme and freehold property transfers of 51, with a total value of R87 million and average values of R1.7 million. It also shows that 33% of residents who stay here for upto 11 years, fall in the mature age group of 50 to 65 years. Recent sellers represented the same majority of 33%, but who only stayed for as long as 5 to 7 years. Interesting though is the lack of youthful residents, as is seen in only 3% of stable owners aged between 18 to 35, and 12% of recent buyers in the same age group. Property professionals say this is due to a shortage of educational institutions in the village, that requires commuting to nearby facilities in and around George and Sedgefield. However, the neighbouring town of George offers excellent state and private schools in both language mediums of English and Afrikaans, from preparatory level to high school, as well as tertiary education at the local Tecknikon and Unisa campuses.

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