Loft Living in Johannesburg, South Africa vs. Loft Living in Seattle, Washington

Within a few weeks of arriving in Pretoria we ventured about 45 minutes south to Johannesburg. Our excitement was palpable, as we’d read about the Maboneng District, a new reclaimed area in Johannesburg where previously rundown areas were becoming artsy. Galleries, restaurants, and bookstores were being added and old warehouses were even being converted to live work lofts. But as we skirted through some very, shall we say, challenged parts of the city, we felt a growing concern that we were in the wrong area when suddenly, we turned a corner and knew we were definitely in the right place. “Arts on Main” signs stood in front of us, creative folks meandered through the streets, and we felt at home as we stepped onto a central courtyard that pulsed with music, people, art, food, and yes, those really amazing converted warehouses!

The Maboneng District continues to grow, develop, and flourish with numerous diverse activities and developments, and last Sunday there was a show home (really that just means an open house) in The Urban Fox, which will house 8 large residential units, 3 retail spaces on street level and a big gym in the lower level.  Honestly, the place is torn up…concrete rubble, doorways busted open, walls gone – I am talking both interior and exterior.  But alas, on the top floor unit 101 is their show home (which means model home).  There are floor to ceiling windows wrapping 2 sides of the home, open beams, a modified loft area for sleeping, 2 VERY large bedrooms and 2 baths plus a huge deck/patio area. The space is amazing! The prices as you can see are in the 1,837,000 ZAR to 2,310,000 ZAR, which roughly translates to about $180,000 to $226,000.  Hard to believe that the size of the units range from 1,550 to 2,260 square feet!

So, let’s head to downtown Seattle where we can find a few projects that fit the size and feel of the Maboneng Loft conversions. 

81 Vine – Live work lofts spaces in an old converted warehouse close to the Seattle Art Museum Sculpture Garden.  Unit #308 is currently listed at $349,950 and the space is 775 square feet. Here are a couple of photos of the place:

As you can see the spaces are very fun and reflect the old details of the factory building with the exposed brick and beams, yet the updates were infused in 1999. 

There are many other live/work loft buildings in Seattle like the Fisher Studio building, The Florentine, The Lofts at 210 3rd, and 80 S. Jackson, to name a few.  The square footage is significantly less than what we found at The Urban Fox and the prices are definitely much higher! So, your dollar does buy you more in Joberg and based on the info I saw at the sign-in sheet when I visited the property, investors worldwide are recognizing it. The rental market in the area is strong and based on my research it is expected to continue to strengthen as properties appreciate, with a surge expected in the next couple of years.

So, do you want to buy a little loft in Johannesburg?  If so, let me know!