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Do colourful histories make for colourful cities? Durban, named in 1835 after Sir Benjamin d'Urban, then governor of the Cape Colony, manages somehow to combine historic with modern architectural styles; Indian, Western, and African people blend together into unique dialects and cuisines; sandy beaches and subtropical climates adjoin leading international ports and businesses; and a spectacular diversity of wildlife and natural scenery thrives within a short distance from the bustling city centre. Discovered in 1497 by the famed explorer Vasco da Gama, who named the area Terro do Natal – Christmas Country – the Natal region has undergone centuries of often violent conflicts for possession of its valuable real estate between Zulu, English, Portuguese and Voortrekkers, before becoming established as a crucial trading port to the East; and today Durban can boast of being one of the most international cities in Africa, with the largest Asian community in the entire continent.

Tourists and holidaymakers to the KwaZulu-Natal region are faced with an embarrassment of riches. Sun-worshippers can lounge for days on the unblemished white stretches of the Golden Mile Beach, soaking in one of the most stable climates in the Southern Hemisphere. Sport lovers can take in soccer, cricket, rugby or their game of choice in one of the world class stadiums, or participate in the notoriously gruelling Comrades Marathon.

Trekkers can go wild in one of the many nature reserves and places of natural beauty at the doorway of the city, including the Ungemi River Bird Park, the Bluff, New Germany and Kenneth Stainbank nature reserves. The uShaka Marine World is among the best and largest aquariums in the world. Food lovers can experience the uniquely local blending of Indian cuisine, or explore the street markets sampling the fresh offerings. It's no surprise that Durbanites have the highest happiness rating of any South African city dwellers.

And while Durban has so much to offer the visitor, it is also the second most populous city in South Africa, and a vital modern industrial and technological centre in its own right. The property market in particular continues to appreciate, and continual development expansions and investments in ultra-modern shopping centres are certain indicators that the local economy continues to offer stability and an attractive relocation option for prospective Durban home buyers.

Durban North in particular is a highly desirable and growing residential area for family buyers, with its excellent schooling reputation, shopping centres, high security and well-tended suburban neighbourhoods. Berea also consistently remains among the most sought-after areas in the city, with prime proximity to parks, schools and the Botanic Gardens. And Hillcrest has seen massive growth in property values due to its accessibility to the top schools within Durban.

Property investors would be wise to consider the potential of up-and-coming areas such as Albert Park, whose centrality and renewal schemes make it well-positioned to transform in the near future, offering lucrative returns. And with exciting developments on the horizon, continued economic growth and a complete restructuring of the waterfront planned, there cannot be a better time to consider purchasing property in this city.

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