Moving to Cape Town
Mountains and natural marvels, pristine beaches, a vibrant city centre, and suburbs with a multitude of unique personalities make Cape Town a top tourist destination, and one of the most perfect places you’ll ever move to.
Capetonians are a unique blend: cool, calm, and cultured, but street smart and good humoured too. It’s a place where vision and dreams are priorities and the bigger picture keeps growing – no wonder, with the awe-inspiring views from every corner of the city.
You’ll see bikini-clad beach goers happily sipping cocktails alongside the after-work suit squad on Camps Bay. You’ll also hear at least five different languages on an average day, as Cape Town is one of the most multicultural cities on Earth.
A hipster’s paradise and a global business hub all in one, Cape Town is a place to work, play and live life to the fullest. Its crime rate (already lower than in Johannesburg and Pretoria) continues to decrease and it’s one of the happiest cities in Africa, offering a lifestyle that’s hard to beat.
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Tourism and its related infrastructure (restaurants, accommodation, transport, etc.) are big business in Cape Town, as is the wine industry, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Cape Town is home to corporate and industrial giants, with finance, manufacturing, retail and logistics as just some of the sectors showing ongoing growth.
Cape Town’s port handles exports of fruit and other cold storage items, as well as a host of other cargo, and is a world class facility. Together with the international airport and excellent road and rail systems, this makes the city a favourable place to do business.
IT is booming in the Western Cape, and many are calling Cape Town Africa’s answer to Silicon Valley. It’s the birthplace of numerous online businesses that are now global sensations, and new development is always underway. This is also the “entrepreneurial capital” of South Africa, and new ideas take root on a daily basis.
There are not one but four commercial centres in the Cape Town area. The CBD is the largest, but many head offices are located in Tyger Valley, Century City and Claremont.
Compared to other South African cities such as Durban and Pretoria, Cape Town is a little more expensive, but from a global perspective it’s still remarkably affordable, with living costs far below the likes of London or Los Angeles and a quality of life that’s far higher. It’s estimated that Cape Town’s cost of living is 65% cheaper than London - a selling point for anyone moving to Cape Town from the UK - and 55% cheaper than Melbourne.
Cape Town property prices have soared in areas such as Sea Point and Camps Bay, but it’s still possible to find excellent accommodation at far lower prices than their equivalents in Paris or Primrose Hill.
Just like the rest of SA, basic food prices in Cape Town are very reasonable if you shop in a mid-level supermarket – R12-R14 for a litre of milk or loaf of bread, R15 for 1kg of oranges or tomatoes, or R25 for a dozen eggs. You’ll also find a number of farmers’ markets with top quality fresh produce at excellent prices.
Many supermarkets and delis have specialities such as herb-infused olives, gourmet salad bars, and home cured meats, so shop around and find your favourites. Cape Town also has quite the foodie scene, if your inner gastronome knows where to look.
One month of water, electricity and garbage collection for a 1- bedroom apartment is approximately R850 – R950, but this will fluctuate according to your area. Always check what’s included in your rent as this can vary.
Cape Town has so many restaurants, bars, and clubs that it’s impossible to find a true average price, but you can expect to pay R95 for a quick lunch in the CBD, R500 for a meal for two at a decent restaurant, and R50 for a cocktail. A top Cape Town restaurant will cost R300 – R600 per person and more, but there are many other options too. Try street food treats as one of the many markets in Cape Town for a far more budget friendly choice.
Surrounding wine farms sometimes charge entrance fees (R20 – R50), but many will allow you to explore free of charge.
The MyCiti bus system is extremely efficient but can of course be subject to traffic delays. It’s very affordable too, at just a few Rand per trip and discounts for bulk purchases.
Cape Town taxis charge approximately R120 for 5km, including the starting fee. Uber operates throughout the city too.
Cars are still a preferred form of transport for many and petrol / diesel prices are around R13 and R11 respectively.
Driving around Cape Town in a sports car is a popular hobby, and there’s even a sports car hire centre, where you can hire your choice of bling for an event or holiday!
You can rent a 1-bedroom apartment in Tableview for R7000 per month, or buy a Clifton mansion for R20 million… or perhaps something in between? Cape Town’s property market is booming and a room with a view can carry a serious price tag, but there are many options for those looking to save a few Rands too.
Cape Town was one of the first South African cities to revitalise its CBD and these residential properties are in high demand, but there are many other suburbs and options so don’t limit yourself, look around and find your perfect space.
While Cape Town is considered safer than Johannesburg and other SA cities, it’s important to consider security in the home and area you choose, and make sure your estate agent provides all the necessary details.
There’s something for everyone in Cape Town, and all of its suburbs benefit from excellent city management and service delivery. It’s worth considering work and leisure when selecting a suburb, in terms of proximity to business zones, beaches, or the CBD, for example.
In every part of Cape Town, you’ll find a mix of houses, apartments, duplexes, and gated developments/estates which create a sense of community and provide additional security.
Family Friendly: Newlands, Kenilworth and Rondebosch are some of the Southern suburbs’ family zones. These are more affluent and have access to excellent private schools.
Across the bay, Milnerton and Milnerton Ridge are very popular with young families, as are Northern suburbs such as Belleville, Durbanville and Welgemoed.
Tableview is also a family friendly area, with lower prices making it an attractive option for budget shoppers.
Upmarket: Cape Town’s movers and shakers tend to favour the CBD. Other luxurious suburbs (and the location of many a star’s holiday home) are Constantia, Camps Bay and Llandudno.
Century City has many luxury condos, and V&A Waterfront apartments are extremely sought after.
Hout Bay is a little further out of the city but is still easily accessible and features some exceptional properties and views.
Hip & trendy: Tamboerskloof, Gardens, Oranjezicht and Vredehoek are where the action is. The CBD and surrounds are extremely trendy but also quite pricey, and better suited to singles or young couples rather than those with kids.
Sea Point was once a haven for the elderly, but the young and hip crowd is moving in and strutting their stuff on the gorgeous Sea Point promenade.
Observatory is a backpacker and student paradise, with reasonable prices and a lively atmosphere, while surfers favour Muizenburg, Kalk Bay and other coastal towns.
Up & coming: Until just a few years ago, Woodstock was cheap and not entirely cheerful, but major redevelopment and upliftment are making it one of The places to invest.
Boston in the Bellville area is also being revived and will soon be commanding much higher prices for its beautiful Victorian homes.
Cost of moving
Cape Town was named Global Design Capital in 2014, so you may want to leave some furniture behind and shop when you arrive.We have, however, calculated moving costs based on one container of your most important possessions…
Moving costs for a standard 20 foot container – all costs are estimated in GBP
|New York City||$6,881 USD|
Schools and education
There are literally hundreds of primary and secondary schools in Cape Town. Private schools generally offer a higher standard of education with smaller classes and more personalised attention, and there are also a number of international schools in various parts of the city.
Many of South Africa and Africa’s top schools are located in Cape Town, such as Bishops (pre-primary to Grade 12, boys only), St Georges (co-educational), and Constantia Waldorf. If you're moving here with your family, read our guide to finding a good school in Cape Town for your children.
The University of Cape Town (UCT) is a top tertiary institution, and has excellent medical and law faculties, among many others. Stellenbosch University is just 50km away and also provides excellent standards of higher education. The city also has a number of universities of technology, as well as private colleges, and specialised training programmes in fields such as hospitality.
Ranking against the World
Cape Town is frequently rated as the world’s no. 1 place to visit, and while official liveability rankings are still catching up, anyone who lives there will tell you it is way ahead of the competition. Crime and poverty are still a concern but are being dealt with and conditions are improving at an impressive rate.
Quality of life in Cape Town is hard to compare, as there are few other cities that offer its incredible blend of natural and man-made wonder, exceptional weather, or variety of scenery and activities.
A day in the life
Rise and shine! Fresh summer mornings are perfect for a stroll along the promenade before breakfast, and you can treat yourself to a cappuccino at one of the many nearby coffee shops.
Leave home a little earlier to avoid rush hour traffic and start your day with sun streaming through the window as you go about the business of checking emails and arranging your new ideas. Lunch or a meeting at a nearby café is almost mandatory in this city of exotic flavours, and there’s a side of inspiration with every order!
After work, have a relaxing surf or enjoy a sundowner at one of Cape Town’s many bars or cafés. Watching the sunset from Signal Hill is a pleasure for locals and tourists alike, and worth repeating regularly!
In terms of nightlife in Cape Town, you can also venture out to a theatre such as the Fugard, or catch some live music or stand-up comedy. There’s no shortage of talent and creativity in the Mother City. There are more than enough restaurants to try a new one every day and never run out, but a home cooked meal with a bottle of local wine can be equally enjoyable in the cool evening breeze.
Sleeping in on the weekend is tempting, but make sure you don’t miss out on the many markets and fairs that are constantly on the go, or take some time out to enjoy Kirstenbosch Gardens, visit the penguins at Boulders Beach, or hike through Table Mountain nature reserve.
Visit the V&A Waterfront to do some shopping, or drive out along the coast where you’ll often spot whales and dolphins cavorting in the waves. What more could you need? Cape Town makes everyday life feel like the holiday of a lifetime.