Forest bathing, squirrels, green lungs: what SA home buyers want


Forest bathing, squirrels, green lungs: what SA home buyers want

With more people looking to return to a more wholesome way of living, eco-living is a big thing, say property experts

Senior reporter

Despite rapid advances in technology, a yearning for a return to nature is now driving South Africans’ property decisions.
The property experts believe rapid urbanisation, high-density development, growing traffic delays and pressure on time have resulted in many prospective buyers increasingly looking to return to a more wholesome way of living.
Living close to nature has been proven to promote general wellbeing and longer life.
Green space is defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation as well as urban green spaces, which includes parks and street greenery.
Recent research published in the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who live in leafy, green neighbourhoods may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and strokes.
The study showed that a living in neighbourhood dense with trees, bush and other green vegetation may be good for the health of the heart and blood vessels.
Another study, by the Norwich Medical School, found that people living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress.
“In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to green space significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol – a physiological marker of stress.”
The study also found that forest bathing – a popular Japanese therapy where people spend time in the forest, sitting, lying down or walking around – was beneficial.
While living in SA means being surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty, this are rarely part of urban living.
But eco-estates are increasingly providing the opportunity for these lifestyles.
Carol Reynolds, of Pam Golding Properties, believes eco-friendly living is “becoming more and more commonplace, and indeed necessary, as we become more mindful of reducing our carbon footprint and adopting a more sustainable way of living”.
The Seeff Property Group found that Hout Bay in the Western Cape offered mountains, nature reserves, forests and fynbos to those with a hankering for eco-living.
“There are a number of eco-friendly estates, such as Tierboskloof and Kenrock. The valley area and suburb of Longkloof, which lies on the Constantia side, on the border of the Orangekloof Nature Reserve, is another popular area for eco-living,” said Lauren Zuidema, an agent with Seeff Hout Bay.
“Here you can still imagine having your own private forest, waking to birds in the morning, seeing squirrels run around and enjoying a natural mountain spring and seasonal river.”
One such property is an R8.9m spot in Hout Bay.
“It ranks as one of the most unique in an urban setting where you can live so close to nature that is in fact your garden,” said Zuidema.
“Properties such as these have seen superb capital value growth during the recent property market phase, and we have seen the price ceiling lift considerably in Hout Bay.
“Where it was once rare to sell a property in the R8m-plus price band, it is now not uncommon to find high-value property listing at upwards of R18m to well over R30m as wealthy buyers set their sights on this side of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Zuidema.

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