Saturday, April 20

KWAZULU-NATAL: Ramsgate and Margate: Laidback allure, idyllic lifestyle

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With a quiet environment and slower pace than the North Coast, this area offers investors the chance to find vacant land at reasonable prices

The KwaZulu-Natal South Coast neighbours Ramsgate and Margate have been stalwart holiday destinations for generations of families throughout the decades, albeit to different markets. 

Situated 20km south of Port Shepstone and 135km south of Durban, the region is renowned for its laid-back, idyllic lifestyle.

The adjacent towns promise the allure of golden beaches, including the internationally recognised premier standard Blue Flag, with Margate as the larger of the two, catering more specifically to the younger market. 

Its main streets are jam-packed with restaurants, snack bars, pubs, several clubs and a waterslide amusement park. English surveyor Henry Richardson laid out the town in 1908, naming it in honour of the Kent seaside resort. 

Today, the town is served by Margate Airport with flights to Gauteng and its infrastructure includes the Netcare Margate Hospital, a police station and four main shopping malls, namely Margate Mall, Hibiscus Mall, Margate Centre and Margate Rank Mall.

The more tranquil Ramsgate, at the mouth of the Bilanhlolo River and home to only 1 500 permanent residents, has evolved into a prime area in which to retire from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Its beaches promise among the country’s best swimming experiences, with Blue Flag status.

Postcard-perfect Ramsgate offers quality shops, restaurants and bars. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

 The town also honours its Kent namesake. Unsurprisingly, the dominance of commercial property opportunities and investments centre on the tourism industry – from restaurants and franchised eateries to holiday accommodation, rentals and boutique shops.

Various accommodation venues are on the Ramsgate market, with prices ranging from R2.117 million for a six-unit self-catering lodge to R2.8m for a complex with seven individual two-bedroom flats suited to either holiday letting or permanent renting.

Another Ramsgate hotel premises carries an R6.52m price tag for a collection of self-catering flats being sold furnished.

In Margate, a 500m² commercial property currently functions as a lodge with a mix of self-catering, holiday letting and permanent rentals and is being sold as a going concern for R3.95m.

Bill’s Best Holidays has more than 30 properties on its books available for holiday accommodation. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Retail space in the town varies in line with location, but a 69m² property situated on the ground floor of a main street building carries a price tag of R390 000.

Another commercial building, on the market for R15m and situated on the beach side, consists of five upmarket shops.

Zoned limited commercial, the premises already includes two restaurants, a bakery and a computer college with the last unit available for rent.

In Margate, a Marine Drive property offers investors the opportunity to own a building which has a commercial tenant on the ground floor and residential properties on the upper levels. 

There is also the potential to build another storey on to the existing building, in line with its commercial zoning.

The property carries an asking price of R3.85m. “Margate and Ramsgate have always been fuelled by the tourism industry… it’s particularly popular with local families as a more affordable alternative to the North Coast and that plays into its favour as holiday budgets come under fire,” says Rawson Property Group franchisee Charl Cilliers. 

Businesses operating in Margate and Ramsgate

The Waffle House

A South Coast icon, The Waffle House has nestled in the tranquil sub-tropical edge of the Ramsgate Lagoon since 1957. Opening its doors as the Tea House of the Blue Lagoon, the current name was instituted in 1991 to acknowledge the two Waffle House restaurants the original owners’ son owned in the UK. The historic restaurant is a popular attraction for locals and tourists with sweet and savoury waffle combinations limited only by the chef’s imagination. 

The landmark Waffle House in Ramsgate. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Beachcomber Bay

This Mediterranean-style guest house on the border between Margate and Ramsgate is decorated in an African theme and is a 10-minute walk from the Margate town centre. On a hilltop, it offers patrons private access to the region’s golden beaches.

Blue Lagoon Restaurant

Located on the Ramsgate Blue Flag beach, recognised as one of the safest swimming beaches on the lower South Coast, the Blue Lagoon Restaurant offers patrons sustenance throughout the day. The doors open for breakfast, only closing after dinner.

The Blue Lagoon Restaurant on Ramsgate’s Blue Flag beach. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Bill’s Best Holidays

Established in 1994, the company has more than 30 holiday homes on its books to offer tourists a range of beachfront accommodation options. Operating across Margate and Ramsgate, Bill’s Best Holidays takes pride in being able to offer pet-friendly accommodation, retreats for couples and honeymooners and larger chalets and venues for family holidays or groups.

Two Crabby Ladies

Established in 1992, Two Crabby Ladies Swimwear was opened in response to a demand for swimming costumes designed to fit rounder figures. The shop offers a wide variety of styles and sizes, from bikinis to full costumes.

Investing in the South Coast

Lifestyle

Ramsgate and Margate have built their reputations on being quiet towns, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Establishing businesses in the area promises the option of a less fast-paced environment and existence, as well as the chance to live and work within close proximity.

Tourism initiatives

The towns are within easy reach of eight PGA-rated golf courses, in addition to the multitude of tourism-related businesses that can be explored. These range from holiday letting and accommodation to bed-and-breakfast establishments, restaurants, franchised eateries, social spaces like bars, guiding initiatives and exploring the prolific bird life, fauna and flora.

Available land and properties

The KwaZulu-Natal South Coast has experienced the dramatic wave of investment that has pounded the coastline north of Durban. This means there are both vacant land and rundown properties on the market, ripe for investors looking for new opportunities without the price tags demanded further up the coast.

Ramsgate and Margate have land available for development. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Labour

The reality in South Africa is the sluggish economy means there is an abundance of labour across the spectrum. The KwaZulu-Natal South Coast struggles with sufficient employment opportunities and new businesses can easily find suitable staff. 

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