Living in Cape Town, South Africa: Pros and Cons and Cost of Living (2023)

Cape Town, being both a city and a seaport, is the legislative capital of South Africa and the capital of the Western Cape Province. The city is located at the northern tip of the Cape Peninsula, some 50 kilometers to the north, with the Cape of Good Hope at its southernmost limit. Cape Town has been named the "mother city" of the country, as it was the site of the first European settlement in South Africa.

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Living in Cape Town, South Africa: Pros and Cons and Cost of Living (1)In 1652, when the Dutch East India Company formed a supply station for its ships on the shores of Table Bay, the origin of Cape Town began. It was a magnificent place, on fertile and well-watered soil, under the sheer walls of Table Mountain.

Living in Cape Town, South Africa

The company imported slaves, mainly from East Africa, Madagascar, and the Bay of Bengal area, as the indigenous inhabitants provided livestock but not labor. With the slaves came elements of their culture and, particularly in the case of East Indian Muslims, their religion. Strong racial and ethnic characteristics remained even when mixed-race unions occurred.

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In 1781, the French formed a garrison to help the Dutch protect the city against attacks by the British, and the French presence influenced local architecture and culture. A new freedom for Parliament and for slaves was ushered in in the 19th century by British occupation and judicial concepts. Cape Town thus became an escape for European explorations in the interior of South Africa, and close connections with continental Europe were maintained.

Cape Town has become a modern city today along with its tall office buildings and pedestrian malls. It still has its reputation for its magnificent location between the mountains and the sea with its cosmopolitan population and the liberal outlook of many of its citizens, as well as being an important political and economic center.

This part of the world can become a place of opportunity and adventure, where anything is possible. With reality landing somewhere in the middle, Cape Town, under certain conditions, can offer the richest quality of life in the world. Before you get ready to book your tickets and make a move, we have some do's and don'ts to help you make a well-planned decision.

Advantages of living in Cape Town

1. Incredible location

Located between the ocean and the mountains, the city is framed in a natural environment of impressive beauty. In a single day, you can have breakfast sitting on your terrace while watching whales and dolphins during lunch, or you have the option of watching sea lions while you sunbathe on the rocks that line the paths.

In the late afternoon, you may need to stop at a roundabout to let a family of guinea fowl cross the road. You'll probably also get a chance to be surprised along the way when you see a flock of flamingos heading home.

2. Time

In the months between October and March, for about six months of the year, you will enjoy a beautiful sunny and temperate climate. It falls between 23 and 32 degrees, since the days are usually softened by a pleasant breeze. From April to September, autumn and winter days are more humid and foggy, as temperatures drop as low as 18 degrees during the day. The days are still beautiful and sunny, even with milder temperatures.

3. Public and Private Services

Not being particularly representative of Africa, Cape Town is referred to by many as “Europe in Africa”. Because it is different compared to the rest of South Africa culturally, organizationally and service-based. There are excellent global infrastructures along with various medical and banking services. Even the options for children's schools are excellent if you consider your budget.

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Everything you are looking for can be found in Cape Town.

4. Kid friendly.

Children are welcome throughout Cape Town, as all of its restaurants are equipped with high chairs or babysitters to look after and occupy your children while you dine. In and around the city there are various indoor and outdoor activities, parks, beaches and sports facilities available: you will never run out of options to entertain your children, regardless of their age.

5. Outdoor activities

With options like Yoga, Pilates, Kayaking, Tennis, Rugby, Football, Swimming, Diving, Running, Cycling, Golf, Walking, Surfing, Kite Kiting, Horse Riding, Paragliding, etc. Cape Town can be an athlete's paradise. .

There are also several cultural and tourist attractions to choose from, such as museums, cinemas, temporary exhibitions, bookstores, escape games, discos, restaurants, concerts, ballets, etc. Another notable advantage of life in Cape Town is the incredible richness of the countryside: wine routes and hundreds of vineyards await your discovery within 30 minutes of the center; Blyde River Canyon and Kruger Park are just a two-hour flight and an hour's drive away.

Disadvantages of living in Cape Town

1. Lack of Social and Cultural Diversity

With a poor mix of Afrikaans, black, colored and foreign English communities in this apartheid region, it is even more difficult compared to the rest of the country. Also, given the obvious gap between levels of society, it may be difficult for some to reconcile.

Many respond to this violent reality simply by pretending that the neighborhoods, relegated to the periphery of the city, do not exist. While others try to join in and help, it often ends in frustration that the task at hand is huge. Living “in parallel” is not always easy knowing that others may be suffering and that you have few means to help them.

2. Security issues

The issue of security is one of the main concerns of living in Cape Town. Currently, there is an increase in crime around the poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods of the municipalities, where most of the daily problems arise.

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Even if the privileged areas are not spared entirely. But if you take the basic safety instructions seriously, which are explained to you everywhere once you decide to live in Cape Town, your chances of facing these problems will be greatly diminished.

3. Droughts

In recent years, Cape Verde has faced recurring droughts, leading to severe water shortages. Since 2017 several very restrictive measures have been taken for residents. The measures paid off, as water consumption grew from 1.2 billion liters to around 600 million per day. But there is still the problem of supply.

With this, problems of load reduction or energy discharges were also added. In 2018 that meant about 6 hours a day without electricity. To get rid of this problem, power plants have been established in South Africa, but this can still be daunting for some people to become permanent residents.

4. Unemployment problems

The official unemployment rate in 2018 exceeded 28% of the labor force, according to the South African National Statistics Office (StatsSA). It can mean more than 40% when speaking off the record.

5. Discrimination

Despite ending apartheid more than 25 years ago and implementing optimistic action measures such as the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment, which obliges recruiters to respect EU quotas), the educational level remains mediocre.

It is a slow and complicated process of developing a middle class that increases social and economic inequalities, leaving an exasperated population in disarray. Racism still exists in almost every community.

Cost of Living in Cape Town, South Africa

I hope the few pros and cons listed have helped you make up your mind. And if you plan to visit, here are some basic living costs to know about.

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1. Housing

You will have to pay around 15,000 ZAR a month for a two-bedroom apartment in a nice, nice area that goes up to around $1,000.

2. food

You may be able to spend less on groceries if you shop at Foodlover's Markets. You can find kinds of fruits, vegetables, bread, meat and fish and cheese there. And you will spend about 1500 ZAR a week on groceries, which is a little over 100 dollars.

Cape Town restaurants are worth visiting, even if you always have to add a 10-15% tip to the bill. You'll pay $150-$200 per person for an 8-course dining experience at the number one restaurant in the country.

3. Utility

Your electricity bill in Cape Town can be estimated to be around 400 ZAR per month, which equates to around US$28.

Gasoline is comparatively cheap and was estimated to be around ZAR 13 per liter in 2019.

When you live in Cape Town, you will have to pay a hefty sum for anything related to the phone and digital technology. And often it won't be of the best quality and speed. For fiber internet you will have to pay 600 ZAR per month, which is around 43 euros per month. To get pay TV and a full set of channels like CNN, all sports channels, BVN and BBC, you will pay around ZAR 1000 (= 70 USD) per month.


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