Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city, bursting with fresh energy. It offers a lifestyle and level of comfort that’s hard to believe until you experience it for yourself.
It’s a city of big business and bigger dreams, and you’ll fit in well if you can keep your feet on the ground while you let your imagination run wild.
Source: Flickr | cdngrlnaomi
Speaking of running wild, one of Cape Town and South Africa’s greatest attractions is its wildlife. How many commercial hubs have access to a coastline frequented by whales, dolphins and penguins?
If you’re looking for an outdoor lifestyle in an exciting, modern city, Cape Town should definitely be on your list.
Why move to Cape Town
Beaches, vineyards and mountains; art, music and culture; start-ups, blue-chip businesses and bustling markets… Cape Town’s variety and vitality are hard to beat.
Expats receive a warm welcome in Cape Town, and almost everyone speaks English so it’s easy to get around and acclimatise. A survey by the De Vere Group recently ranked Cape Town as one of the top 5 destinations for young British expats thanks to its excellent climate, business prospects and quality of life.
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South Africa’s crime rate is a deterrent to some, but Cape Town’s crime statistics are significantly lower than SA’s other major cities. Crime continues to decrease with the creation of more jobs, as well as improvements in city management. Cape Town’s city centre is also far more “walkable” than Johannesburg or Pretoria.
South Africans in the UK like to compare Brighton’s energetic, arty atmosphere to Cape Town, although most will add that Cape Town is much more fun, with better weather!
Comparing Cape Town to London
Climate is a top priority for many expats. Cape Town’s sunny, Mediterranean-style climate is an invigorating break from chilly London days, and even in the dead of winter, temperatures seldom fall below 8C. Winter is also the soggy season, but if you’re from the UK, chances are you can handle it.
Cape Town boasts an average of 2993 hours of sunshine per year (almost 70% of total daylight hours), compared to London’s 1460.
Cost of living
London salaries are considerably higher in most cases, but Cape Town’s cost of living – even luxury living – is far lower. Of course there are restaurants and attractions with tourist-targeted prices, as with any large city, but there are plenty of hidden gems that offer superior quality at better prices.
Source: Flickr | Crystian Cruz
Property can be expensive in the more sought-after suburbs, but on the whole, renting or buying a home is a lot cheaper in Cape Town. The cost of clothing, groceries and other day-to-day items is far lower than London, so even though the Rand exchange rate isn’t great, you still get a lot more for your money.
Cape Town is all about the outdoors, so while there are many great pubs and bars that compare favourably with London standards, there are even more beautiful cafés and open air settings. There’s also a wide selection of excellent restaurants – from tasty tapas and burgers to award winning haute cuisine.
Everyone gasps at the price differences on their first visit to a South African restaurant. Even a really good steakhouse is unlikely to charge more than $61 USD per couple unless you order their most expensive wines.
Food and drink
If you live in South Africa you’ll soon become a fan of the braai (barbeque). This is one of the most fun and relaxed social occasions…Whether it’s a large crowd or just the family, it can happen in any season, but it’s best in the summer with a swimming pool nearby!
South Africans do eat a lot more meat than their UK counterparts, but there’s a growing number of vegetarian and vegan options in stores and on menus.
Source: Flickr | Brian Holsclaw
Cape Town restaurants are diverse and delicious. Virtually every type of cuisine is available somewhere in the city, and a drive along the coast or out to the winelands (Stellenbosch, Franschoek, etc.) will lead to some of the country’s most celebrated food destinations. Try a new direction every weekend… you’re unlikely to run out of options/
Did we mention the wine? In the midst of all those vineyards and wine estates you will of course find some of the world’s most incredible wines, and you can visit those estates on a quick afternoon outing.
If wine isn’t your favourite drink there are endless other options. Beer is a local favourite, and craft breweries are gaining popularity. There are also plenty of cocktail bars, and all of the usual non-alcoholic beverages are widely available. Fresh fruit juices and smoothies are another favourite.
Public transport is in its early stages, but Cape Town’s MyCiti bus service has good coverage and is fairly reliable, although traffic can slow things down. The map may not be as concise as the London Tube map, but it’s relatively easy to find your way around, and it’s a great way to get to know the city. Don’t be alarmed though: fellow passengers frequently make eye contact. They’re also quite likely to smile, or even say hello. You’ll get used to it.
Traffic is a concern in every large city, but hour-long commutes can be avoided if you find a home close to work, or adjust your times to miss rush hour by including a walk on the beach or a sundowner in town.
Sport and leisure
South Africans love their sport, and follow English football with great enthusiasm. They’re also big fans of rugby and cricket, so you won’t be short of opportunities to watch your home team play.
Cape Town also has a lot of sports and running clubs which you can join – tennis, rugby, football, netball and hockey are just a few of the options available. There are also a number of hiking and climbing clubs who will help you to explore the surrounding mountains and nature reserves.
A walk along Sea Point or Camps Bay promenade is a very popular pastime, and stops for cocktails or coffee along the way are quite acceptable.
You’ll find a wealth of entertainment for old and young – there’s a vibrant club and bar scene, as well as theatre, dance and live music. The local comedy circuit is really taking off, and regular markets make the most of the global street food trend, incorporating the Cape’s unique flavours.
Those who prefer to be entertained by flora and fauna have hundreds of options, including Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain National Park, or the penguins of Boulders Beach.
Visas and work permits for South Africa
UK citizens can visit South Africa for up to 90 days without a visa, but can’t engage in any work during that time. If you intend to work in South Africa, you must have a work visa before you arrive – you cannot apply for one if you’re already in the country.
For full details on work visa requirements, visit the South African Department of Home Affairs’ website
You can also contact the South African High Commission in London:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7451 7299
Address: South Africa House
Packing list for Cape Town
Just about everything from your UK life can be transported to South Africa. You will need considerably more beachwear, and formalwear is generally required less frequently, although this does depend on your job and social calendar – there are plenty of glamorous options if that’s what you’re after!
- Snow gear (unless you plan to travel for some skiing)
- Ugly winter shoes
- Hot water bottle
- Cool, comfortable summer clothing
- A lightweight jacket and boots for winter
- Your favourite keepsakes