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Suburban Bliss in Durban’s Berea

Suburban Bliss in Durban’s Berea

Situated on a ridge above Durban city, Berea is known for its views of the Indian Ocean and price-commanding properties.

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An immaculate heritage family home

Berea: Durban’s suburb of pedigree

The Berea is the grand old suburb of Durban, the historical home of the rich and often famous. King’s House, one of the most impressive buildings in the area, is the President’s official Durban residence. A variety of older architectural styles, including Edwardian, Victorian and Art Deco, sit comfortably alongside ultra-modern designs to create an eclectic feel that is echoed in the cosmopolitan nature of residents and businesses in the area. The Berea extends from Berea Road in the south to Burman Drive in the north and incorporates the smaller suburbs of Morningside, Greyville, Windermere, Essenwood and Musgrave. A mostly residential area, in the past few years many of Berea’s old homes have been granted commercial rights and been converted into business premises that now house a variety of trendy eateries, boutiques and speciality stores catering to a wide range of interests. Despite its historical roots, the area is often on the cutting edge of new trends and Florida Road was recently launched as MWEB’s first WiFi High Street, bringing free, high speed, uncapped internet to users in the vicinity.

Most aptly described as leafy, the Berea is popular among families as there are several excellent schools in the area. At 148 years of age, Durban High School is the oldest school in the city while Durban Preparatory High School, Durban Girls’ High School and Gordon Road Girls’ School have also celebrated their centenaries. All government schools, these educational institutions are well-regarded and offer an excellent education to Berea’s children. There are also several outstanding independent schools in the suburb, notably Durban Girls’ College, Clifton College and Maris Stella. In addition, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College campus is in a neighbouring suburb. The Berea is close to the beach and to Durban’s main freeways, which allow for easy access to the rest of the city. It boasts two pleasant green areas, Mitchell Park, which also has a delightful zoo, and the Durban Botanic Gardens.

Who’s buying in Berea and what are they paying?

One of the most noteworthy things about Berea is the range of real estate available – there really is something for everyone, from apartments and townhouses to freestanding houses and mansions on expansive properties. ‘Property on the Berea ranges in price from a basic bachelor flat in the region of R450 000 to high-end property marketed for R30 million,’ says Kim Woods, manager of Tyson Properties Morningside. ‘Prices start from around R400 000 for a one-bedroom apartment, and from R700 000 and up for two- to three-bedroom flats, while townhouses start from around R800 000 and houses go from R1 million to over R15 million,’ says Adrienne Douglas, manager and sales agent at Harcourts Musgrave. This range of properties leads to a diversity of buyers, from young families attracted to the good schools and young professionals just starting out, to older folk looking to downsize. Kim Hogben, principal of Leapfrog Durban Central, says it is the location and amenities that attract people to Berea.

‘The diversity of homes, colonial architecture, concentration of schools and the close proximity to everything ensures the area’s popularity. The large concentration of sectional-title apartments for investors to rent out and shareblocks for discerning and mature buyers looking to downsize, all with close proximity to beaches, shopping, schools and hospitals, is also a plus,’ she says. Douglas adds that any property in a secure gated estate is in high demand as are homes close to schools. ‘Essenwood, Musgrave and Currie Roads are extremely popular,’ says Woods, while Hogben adds that Upper Morningside sells well. The area has changed in the last decade with some buildings being demolished to make way for high-end apartment blocks and homes on busy roads being converted into businesses. ‘Lots of older properties have had a modern facelift, giving the Berea an eclectic feel,’ notes Woods. Douglas adds that the opening of trendy new restaurants and cafes has drawn more visitors to the area.

Double-storey Victorian home in Berea

Double-storey Victorian home in Berea

Double takes: Two residents’ views on Berea

Nadia van der Mescht, a Berea resident since 2009: ‘I love the Berea’s beautiful architecture and rich history. It’s the perfect neighbourhood for an afternoon stroll and the views from most homes and flats stretch from Moses Mabhida Stadium to the harbour. The community element is strong in local businesses. We are fortunate to live within a very short walking distance from a fish and chip shop, an Indian restaurant as well as a pharmacy. The business owners make a point of remembering you and I love that element of feeling local and always welcome. One of my most simple and enjoyable things to do is take a stroll to nearby Musgrave Centre  where Adams Books  is a must-visit for its creative books. Palki restaurant  offers an authentic Indian experience while St Clements on Musgrave Road is a hidden gem with good hot chocolate. Market is only a few minutes by car and offers delicious food while nearby Shoppe has quirky gifts.’

Kate Walker lives on the Berea with her husband and two young children: ‘We lived in Gordon Road when we first got married and loved the lifestyle on the Berea as well as the fact that you can get anywhere else in the city so easily. When it came to settle down and buy a house, the Berea seemed an obvious choice as it’s as ideal for a young family as it was for a young couple. There are so many outdoor areas for us to enjoy and we love taking the kids to Jameson Park, Mitchell Park with its zoo and the Botanic Gardens. The beach and the Moses Mabhida People’s Park – both brilliant for children – are just a short drive away. The fact that we are close to so many good schools was another attraction. We have found the Berea to be well-maintained and there are improvements going on all the time. New businesses are opening and older houses and buildings seem to be getting facelifts. There is a strong sense of community here and all our neighbours came over to welcome us when we moved in. The children play together and there is even a street soccer league. People get out and walk their dogs or go running and everyone stops to say hello.’

Where to eat, shop and sleep…

There is no shortage of leisure activities on the Berea and the elegant Quarters Hotels in Florida Road and Avonmore Road, or the quirky-cool Concierge Boutique Bungalows, are the places to stay to make the most of them. If interior design is an interest, be sure to visit Egg Designs, Cécile and Boyd’s, Inside Out Home Boutique and Plumbago. For eclectic homeware, art, jewellery and furniture, Shoppe is the spot, while its neighbour, Nauhaus, stocks a range of Frenchinspired linen, furniture and homeware.

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Quarters Hotels, Florida Road

Colleen Eitzen  has opened her first stand-alone store in Morningside – a beautiful space at the top of Florida Road alongside Chuck and Bob’s Charcuterie and Mark Gold Jewellers and Café, which are both great for a quick bite to eat. If you are after a more substantial meal, Market, Spice and the iconic Spiga are all excellent options. For art, don’t miss the African Art Centre and Artisan Gallery. For a tranquil breather, pop into the Antique Café in the garden at Churchill House.

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Sonia Vosloo’s quaint Marriott Road Store

Berea at a glance

Morningside

71% – Freehold properties
38% – Owners who have lived here for more than 11 years
46% – Recent buyers aged 18 to 35 years
R1,051 million – Average property price

Windermere

72% – Freehold properties
38% – Owners who have lived here for more than 11 years
46% – Recent buyers aged 18 to 35 years
R1,020 million – Average property price

Musgrave

74,5% – Freehold properties
36% – Owners who have lived here for more than 11 years
41% – Recent buyers aged 18 to 35 years
R1,070 million – Average property price

Essenwood

75% – Freehold properties
40% – Owners who have lived here for more than 11 years
43% – Recent buyers aged 18 to 35 years
R1,227 million – Average property price

Greyville

51% – Freehold properties
32% – Owners who have lived here for more than 11 years
R1,321 million – Average property price

Contacts details


Text:
Candice Botha
Photographs: Sally Chance, Candice Botha, supplied

This picture: A heritage family home, R3,795 million, Leapfrog, leapfrog.co.za.
Below: A double-storey Victorian home, R3,8 million, Harcourts, harcourts.co.za.
Below right, from top: Quarters Hotels Florida Road; Sonia Vosloo’s quaint Marriott Road store.

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