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Welcome to a city with a wealth of immaculately preserved historical buildings, museums, galleries, parks and cultural centres, and with close proximity to some of the country's most outstanding natural wonders; a commuter's dream, easily accessible to metropolitan Durban, but with a sedate, rural pace of life; and a family-centred community, with excellent availability to good schooling, affordable safe housing and a stable economic climate evidenced by consistently climbing property values and an investor hunger for new development schemes. Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the KwaZulu-Natal province with an estimated population of 600 000, is becoming one of the best growing property climates in South Africa, with unflagging market figures attesting to its attractiveness for a wide diversity of buyers.

For a city with a relatively small-sized population, Pietermaritzburg is surprisingly rich with attractions to draw in visitors and entertain residents. It contains some of the best preserved Victorian architecture in the world, with the Parliament Building and the City Hall being superb examples; the latter holding southern hemisphere records for the largest all-brick building and the largest pipe-organ. For art-lovers, the Tatham Gallery contains an outstanding collection of Modernist pieces with Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Renoir and Hockey being represented, along with a varied collection of other works. Additionally, the strong Indian heritage is particularly evident throughout the city, in the people, the mosques, the food, and the sensuous colors of its streets.

For nature lovers, there are a number of beautifully maintained parks and gardens including Wylie Park and Alexandra Park, with outstanding specimens of indigenous trees and flowers. And for a less curated experience, the city is surrounded by natural beauty, abounding in hiking trails from the Green Belt with the World's View and the Savannah at Bisley Nature reseve. The Midlands Meander is another local region of great natural beauty.

For property buyers, the real estate market in Pietermaritzburg is particularly inviting due to its reasonable pricing, availability of excellent schooling and infrastructure, and its desirability to commuters who can access Durban central within 45 minutes. Enticing new developments have been drawing in a wide range of buyers, such as the Victoria Country Club aimed at the over-50s market, nad Mkamba Gardens, a 40-home family complex with its own crèche.

Upmarket buyers are also amply served. Muswell Hill, Montrose, Wembley, Chase Valley Heights and Ferncliffe are highly sought after, and properties can range from R3 million onwards. Whilst family-minded prospective buyers should consider neighbourhoods in the region of one of the many top-quality schools within the Pietermaritzburg region, namely Cordwalles Preparatory School, Epworth, Hilton College, Maritzburg College, St Charles College, St Nicholas Diocesan School, St John's Diocesan School for Girl's, St Anne's Diocesan College, the Sykeham Collegiate and Cowan House Preparatory School. The general Pietermaritzburg environment is relaxed, safe and ideal for parents looking to raise their children outside of the inner cities.

In addition, the sectional title sector of the property development market has seen an upswing in demand. Sectional title sales have yielded lucrative margins, and offer strong advantages to potential buyers, with greater security and 'lock-and-go' lifestyles. Not to mention the fact that purchasing from a VAT-registered developer means that buyers can avoid paying transfer duties. With so much to offer, Pietermaritzburg should be on the forefront of interest for those looking to relocate to the KwaZulu-Natal region.

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