Q and A: Take me home
Peace, a strong sense of community and those night skies: small-town living holds definite appeal. But what about the investment potential?
KRUISRIVIER, KLEIN KAROO
Cabinet maker, woodwork artist and photographer Roger Young and his partner, costumier Phyllis Midlane, relocated to the Klein Karoo 11 years ago. Their home in Kruisrivier near Calitzdorp is now their sanctuary.
HOW DID YOU END UP IN THE KLEIN KAROO?
After I motorcycled through this valley in 1989, a photograph I took of Red Stone Hills stayed with me. The old farm shop where I stopped is now our home, the school building across the road became the workshop, studio and gallery.
DID YOU INVEST A LOT?
We bought the property at a good price and while the position was perfect, the buildings were derelict. I rented up the road for two years while renovating. It was physically exhausting but with the help of community workers, we fixed it up bit by bit. We had to sink a borehole, for instance, and connecting the electricity was expensive.
HOW DO YOU MAKE A LIVING?
My photography developed into something much bigger here. We run a gallery that sells Phyllis and my work and I still take on commissioned woodwork. Our location has drawn a new set of clientele, which we didn’t expect. Our coffee shop is known for our home-baked pies and salads from our herb garden. We also run a self-catering cottage.
‘It’s possible to make a profit on these renovations and they tend to sell quickly,’ says Sue.
HAS LIVING HERE CHANGED YOU?
We have learnt how important it is to be part of the community and we love that people are invested in each other. Did I mention the stars?
Sue Grant, Seeff Properties (seeff.com) Calitzdorp agent, says that, while the market has levelled off over the last two years, entry-level homes in Calitzdorp are much lower than the surrounding Karoo towns. Unrenovated Victorian and Edwardian homes are popular, which has kept the prices low. ‘It’s possible to make a profit on these renovations and they tend to sell quickly,’ says Sue.
Painter and printmaker Shui-lyn White and her partner live in Sea Point – and although the couple are not quite done with city living, their love of the outdoors led them to the Swartland.
WHAT DREW YOU TO THE AREA?
We discovered Porterville when our friends moved to this working town. It felt authentic, not done up or gentrified. It’s not a sleepy dorpie but if you want solitude, you can cycle 20 minutes along a dust road and you’ll feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.
“Most homes are now between R1 million and R1.5 million, which is still affordable compared to the Riebeek Valley. Prices will probably increase once the freeway to Malmesbury is complete by the end of 2018.”
WHAT DID YOU CONSIDER BEFORE INVESTING IN A SECOND PROPERTY?
We spent a lot of time in Prince Albert and dreamed of buying there. When we were eventually ready to invest, we started thinking more practically: we researched prices and realised there weren’t suitable entry-level homes in Prince Albert. So we started looking elsewhere.
WHY THIS HOUSE?
The selling point was the view of the mountain from our back porch. It’s a solid dwelling from the early 1900s with wooden floors and high ceilings. The only renovation work we did was opening up the lounge, kitchen, dining room and veranda, and restoring the stoep – there was no need to change the facade. We are also converting the garage into a storeroom and studio.
HAS SPENDING TIME HERE CHANGED YOUR APPROACH TO YOUR WORK?
It has given me the space to reconnect with nature. My wildlife monoprints are directly related to being here.
Ina van Zyl, Seeff Properties (seeff.com) Porterville agent, says that residential properties are the most sought-after, especially those with character. ‘Most homes are now between R1 million and R1.5 million, which is still affordable compared to the Riebeek Valley. Prices will probably increase once the freeway to Malmesbury is complete by the end of 2018.’ She also recommends that buyers don’t overcapitalise when it comes to renovations.
Credits: Photo: Supplied, Text: Lauren Greonewald