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CAPE TOWN: Our insider’s guide to St James

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Because it is viewed as a holiday destination St James on the rocky False Bay shoreline has more buy-to-let opportunities rather than properties for sale.

 It is connected to the city by railway and close to Constantia medical and educational institutions.

The village feel, quaint roads and alleys, tennis on the community court, buying from fishmonger Sylvia at the harbour, friendly people and ever-changing scenery are some of the features which make it special.

Thankfully, Danger Beach and Kalk Bay Beach next door is now better known for its protection from the notorious south-easter, the tidal pool and idyllic body-surfing conditions – perfect for families.

“We’ve been in St James since 2005 and have enjoyed every moment,” says resident Peter Flanagan.

Moreover, proximity to the sea ensures a balmy climate.

“Although we have travelled extensively, we would not swop what we have here for anywhere else. The village feel, quaint roads and alleys, tennis at the community court, buying fish from fishmonger Sylvia at the harbour, friendly people and ever-changing scenery are among the features that make it so special.”

Stone-hewn public stairways are a common sight in St James. Picture: Jason Boud/African News Agency (ANA)

The coming of the railway line from Cape Town, eventually ending in Simon’s Town in 1890, encouraged residential development along the False Bay coast.

“Although it’s a small community, there is a charm and uniqueness about it that makes St James a sought-after suburb in which to reside,” says Heather Cape, area specialist with Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate.

“It has a small-village feel, is far enough away from Cape Town CBD to escape and unwind, yet it’s close enough to enjoy the benefits of tapping into city living if that’s what you want.”

Only about 10 minutes from Constantia, home to excellent medical and educational institutions, it also offers stunning sunrises over False Bay.

St James Beach near Muizenberg is home to a tidal pool and cluster of picturesquely colourful bathing boxes. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

According to Lightstone, about 88% of residents are 50 years or older. Many bought properties when approaching retirement and there are several well-known golden oldie homes. Interestingly though, 51% of recent buyers are under 50.

St James, which has just 302 properties, has the rocky shoreline as one boundary and Boyes Drive on the Muizenberg mountains as another.

“Few properties change hands in this desirable precinct; only nine in 2019, just off the peak of 15 in 2015,” says Cape. “As is the case in the national residential market, prices are under pressure. One apartment in St James took 75 days to sell and was almost R300000 off its original listing price.”

Of four freehold properties to sell in 2019, the average price was just above R9million; five sectional title units averaged R2.4m.

An aerial view of St James from Boyes Drive. Picture: Jason Boud/African News Agency (ANA)

Rents are healthy, depending on the property’s features. They begin at R10000 a month and can climb as high as R60000.

“Land is at a premium for developments. Lightstone shows no land sales for the past 10 years. However, because St James is perceived to be a holiday destination there are great buy- to-let opportunities.”

St James is clearly one of the jewels of the False Bay property crown; it is served by the railway line connecting the CBD and Simon’s Town, has easy access to safe beaches for the family, and enjoys a secluded position from the Cape Doctor. The cuisine on offer is extensive.

Peter Flanagan’s favourite things to do

The village feel, quaint roads and alleys, tennis on the community court, buying from fishmonger Sylvia at the harbour, friendly people and ever-changing scenery are some of the features which make it special. – Peter and Sue Flanagan Picture: Supplied

1 Outdoors

There’re a couple of child-friendly hiking trails behind St James starting at Ou Kraal on Boyes Drive. The walks are easy and offer views to die for. They’re free of course, so once you’re finished, go for a swim at Dalebrook and then you can use the money you saved to have a drink and a meal at one of many watering holes along the seafront.

Access to Danger Beach is via this tunnel under the railway line. Picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA)

2 Eat

The Olympia Cafe offers great food along with its laid-back atmosphere. If you’re lucky you may be invited to a private table in the kitchen with the owner; 021 788 6396. If it’s thin-based pizza you’re looking for, Satori is a good choice. It also offers wheelchair access; 021 788 1123

3 Drink

What was first established as a council pavilion and tearoom almost 80 years ago has since transformed into the Brass Bell restaurant. Set in one of the most scenic spots on the False Bay coast – it’s almost surrounded by the sea – there’s a variety of bars and food offerings. Often there’s live music at weekends too; 021 788 5455

4 Shop

OhSo BoHo offers carefully curated arts and crafts from local and other African countries. The fabrics used for the clothing and scarves are AZO-free – a method of using non-carcinogenic dyes – and the sterling silver jewellery on offer is unique; 021 709 0309


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