First off, let me say that I don’t mean to diss all the other perfectly fine neighborhoods out there. There is Kyalami, perhaps a notch below the budget required for both Dainferns and also a bit out of the way, which might actually be an advantage traffic-wise because you won’t be stuck on William Nicol in the morning. There is Fourways Gardens, very pretty and in a great location, but perhaps with just a few more security issues lately, from what I’ve heard. Then there are Fernridge and Dainfern Ridge right next to us, with the same proximity to Dainfern College, if that is where your kids go to school. And there are numerous other places an expat might wish to live in Johannesburg, whether it is in an estate or not. In fact, with traffic as bad as it is, there is a strong point to be made to try and live as close to work as you possibly can.
Nevertheless, for most of the expats I’ve met, the choice seems to come down to either Dainfern or Dainfern Valley, so I’ll focus this post on those two. I briefly toyed with the idea of making a snazzy decision matrix outlining pros and cons in a very easy-to-view chart, but since I have no clue how to actually do tables in HTML and am prone to get sidetracked for two days trying to figure it out, I think I’ll do what I always do, which is just ramble on, and hopefully you can build your own decision tree from my observations…
Dainfern seems to be THE place to be for expats. It is huge (1000+ houses), has an excellent safety record, and sits right on a golf course. If you’re a serious golfer, there is no doubt Dainfern is where you should live, and even if you’re not, you might want to take it up here where the rates are reasonable, the weather perfect year-round, and where you’ll be looking for things to do on the weekend. If your kids are involved in sports and you like the convenience of them just hopping on their bikes to get there versus hours in traffic to cart them from one activity to the next, Dainfern once again is your address. In addition to the golf clubhouse (where they host weekly buffets and other social get-togethers) there is also the Pavilion with tennis courts and a soccer field as well as (I think) squash, volleyball, and ballet. The soccer club (Dainfern Football Club or DFC to be correct) was recently reorganized and new coaches were brought in and trained, so if your kids are already playing soccer and want to continue, it makes a lot of sense to move to Dainfern.
Dainfern Valley, in contrast, doesn’t have any of these things. So why would you want to move there? Simply put, the value of the home you’re going to get. The homes in Dainfern Valley are generally newer and bigger (both in plot and room size) and the houses along the river front with their beautiful lawns sloping toward the water are unbeatable in scenery and privacy. Access to Dainfern College is even better from the Valley, as almost all houses are within walking distance of the private school gate. Several sports are available on the school grounds (even if your kids don’t attend school there) such as swimming and tennis, and you’re still very close to all that’s offered in Dainfern (except you will have the hassle of going in and out the visitor’s entrance, unless you’re a golf member, in which case you will get an access card). The Valley with its 300 or so homes is also much smaller and feels more personal than Dainfern, and you’ll definitely have a lot fewer speed bumps to negotiate to get to and from your house every day.
I had mentioned Dainfern’s large size as opposed to Dainfern Valley. Upon further reflection, I do think that this large size is definitely a negative for security reasons, since so many people go in and out of the estate every day that there is just more room for error, and much less of a personal relationship between the security guards and the residents. That, in my mind, makes Dainfern Valley the better choice.