Great Cape

When it comes to a great outdoor lifestyle combined with top-quality hotels and restaurants, Cape Town is hard to beat, and with an overnight flight from the UK and negligible time difference, you can be on the golf course the following morning. But, although top-quality courses in the Western Cape attract one sector of the market, others are drawn by the beautiful beaches of the Atlantic seaboard, according to Sally Wilson of Aylesford’s Cape Town office.

‘The Bantry Bay, Clifton and Camps Bay parts of the Atlantic seaboard attract a young, showy crowd the Beckhams have apparently shown interest whereas the exclusive southern suburbs of Cape Town, such as Constantia and Bishopscourt, have always attracted old money. Then, east, towards the Garden Route, are the winelands with the charming old colonial towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, which draw middle-aged “swallows” each year.’

A four-season lifestyle in dramatic and varied scenery has historically attracted Dutch, German and British buyers, and, with the Rand depreciating by 20%–30% since a year ago, affordability is currently another. Sterling buyers will get a ZAR8 million (£600,000) home for ZAR6 million (£400,000) or what Simon Gibb of the Pam Golding estate agency (www.pamgolding. describes as ‘a level of splendour that costs twice the price in Europe’ That said, Cape Town itself is the most expensive place in South Africa to buy a home, and a penthouse in Sol Kerzner’s new One&Only resort overlooking its attractive waterfront recently sold for ZAR110 million (£8 million) a record for price per square foot.

This apartment, overlooking Robben Island and Table Mountain, is also handy for the new stadium built for the 2010 World Cup, and if you’ve got one eye on potential rentals, you can buy a bolthole in the marina for ZAR 6 million (£433,700). Topographical limitations have kept prices rising by double figures. The best properties tend to be strikingly contemporary with plenty of glass, if near the ocean a large one overlooking Bantry Bay might fetch ZAR60 million (£4.34 million) or traditional gabled Cape Dutch if they’re in the suburbs or the winelands.

In the Francophile village of Franschhoek, half an hour from Cape Town, a little one of these latter types starts from about ZAR4 million (£289,000), but one of the calibre that Elton John stays in every year would be at least ZAR20 million (£1.45 million). If you don’t have an army of bodyguards, the safety aspect of living in South Africa, where crime rates are alarmingly high, can be off-putting, but not enough to deter Liz Wilson from swapping her two-bedroom flat in Kensington, west London, for a renovation project in leafy Constantia.

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Last year, the 53-year-old former banker created a period-style home with reclaimed French parquet, Argentinian doors and a copper free-standing bathtub, now worth about ZAR17 million (£1.23 million).  With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, there’s also a guest cottage, self-sufficiency in the shape of chickens, a bore-hole and solar panels, and security offered by an alarm system and either a dog or a live-in security guard. ‘I used to come to the Cape every Christmas, but then I hit 50 and realised I could have a much better life out here permanently,’ says Mrs Wilson. ‘There’s history, wine, great walking, and you can train a horse or play golf for a fraction of the cost in the UK. You can even get Crème de la Mer here.’