Cape Town being a city and seaport is the legislative capital of South Africa and the capital of Western Cape province. The city is situated at the northern end of the Cape Peninsula around 30 miles (50 kilometers), with north of the Cape of Good Hope at its southernmost boundary. Cape Town has been named the country’s “mother city” as it was the site of the first European settlement in South Africa. 

Living in Cape Town, South AfricaIn 1652 when the Dutch East India Company formed a refreshment station for its ships on the shores of Table Bay, the origin of Cape Town began. It was a magnificent location, on well-watered, fertile soil, underneath the precipitous 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 cattle but not labor. With the slaves came elements of their culture and—mainly in the case of the Muslims from the East Indies—their religion. Strong racial and ethnic characteristics remained even as mixed-race unions took place.

In 1781 the French formed a garrison to help the Dutch protect the city against attack by the British, and the French presence influenced local architecture and culture. A new parliamentary and freedom for the slaves was introduced in the 19th century by British occupation and judicial concepts. Cape Town then became a breakout to Europe’s probing of the South African interior, and close connections with continental Europe were maintained.

Cape Town has today become a modern city along with its high-rise office buildings and pedestrian malls. It still has its reputation from its magnificent location in between mountain and sea with its cosmopolitan population, and the liberal outlook of many of its citizens while it is also an important political and economic center. 

This part of the world can turn out to be a place of opportunity and adventure, where anything is possible. With the reality landing somewhere in the middle, Cape Town, under certain conditions can prove to offer the richest qualities of life in the world. Before you get ready to book your tickets and make a move, we have some pros and cons lined up to help make a well-planned decision. 

Pros of Living in Cape Town

1. Incredible Location

Located between the ocean and the mountains, the city is nestled in a natural environment of jaw-dropping beauty. In just a single day, you’ll be able to take your coffee in the morning being seated on your terrace while spotting whales and dolphins over lunch, or you have the option to observe the sea lions while basking in the sun on the rocks that line the roads.

In the late afternoon, you may have to pause at a roundabout to let a family of guinea fowl cross the road. You’ll probably also have a chance to be amazed on the highway seeing a flock of flamingos making their way home.

2. Weather

In the months between October and March, for about six months of the year, you will be able to enjoy beautiful weather that’s sunny and temperate. It falls between 23 and 32 degrees, as the days are often softened by a pleasant breeze. The days from April to September, Autumn, and Winter are more wet and foggy, as temperatures drop to around 18 degrees during the daytime. The days are still lovely and sunny even if temperatures are cooler.

3. Private and Public Services

Not particularly being a representative city of Africa, Cape Town is referred to by many as “Europe in Africa.” Because it is distinct in comparison to the rest of South Africa by cultural, organizational, and service-based viewpoints. There are excellent level global infrastructures along with several medical and banking services. Even the options in terms of schools for children are top-notch if you consider your budget.

Everything you search for can be found in Cape Town.

4. Kids Friendly

Children are welcome everywhere in Cape Town as all its restaurants are equipped with high chairs or babysitters to look after and also occupy your children while you’re dining. There are several indoor and outdoor activities, parks, beaches, and sports organizations available in the city and its suburbs: you will never run out of options to entertain your children, whatever their age.

5. Outdoor Activities

With options such as yoga, pilates, kayaking, tennis, rugby, football, swimming, diving, running, cycling, golf, hiking, surfing, kite, horse riding, paragliding, etc., Cape Town can be a haven for athletes.

There are also several cultural and tourist attractions to choose from, such as museums, cinemas, temporary exhibitions, bookstores, escape games, nightclubs, restaurants, shows, ballets, etc. Another noticeable advantage of life in Cape Town is the unbelievable wealth the countryside possesses: wine routes and hundreds of vineyards stay awaiting your discovery within 30 minutes of Downtown; the Blyde River Canyon and Kruger Park are just two hours flights and a one-hour drive away. 

Cons of Living in Cape Town

1. Lack of Social and Cultural Diversity

With a poor mixture of Afrikaner, Black, Colored, and foreign English communities in this region where there has been an application of apartheid, it is even harder compared to the rest of the country. Also considering the blatant gap among the levels of society, it can be tough for some to reconcile.

Many have a response to this violent reality as they simply pretend that the townships, downgraded to the outskirts of the city, have no existence. While a few others try to take part and help, often it ends up in frustration as the task at hand is a vast one. Living “in parallel” is not always easy while knowing that your neighbor might be suffering and that you have limited means to help him.

2. Security Concerns

The issue of security is among the major concerns of living in Cape Town. At present, there has been an increase in crime around the poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods of the townships, where a major part of daily issues arise.

Even though the privileged areas are not completely spared. But if you take basic safety instructions with seriousness- which are explained to you at all places once you decide to live in Cape Town – your chances of facing such problems will lower considerably.

3. Droughts

In recent years, Cape Verde has faced recurring droughts, resulting in heavy water rationing. Since 2017, several measures were taken that were quite restrictive for the residents. The measures did show results as water consumption has grown from 1.2 billion liters to around 600 million per day. But there still lies the problem of supply.

With this, there have also been added problems of load-shedding or power offloads. In 2018, it meant around 6 hours in a day without power. To get rid of this problem, South African power plants have been established but this might still be discouraging for some people to become permanent residents. 

4. Unemployment Issues

The official unemployment rate in 2018 exceeded 28% of the labor force, according to the South African National Statistics Agency (StatsSA). It could mean more than 40% when talking unofficially. 

5. Discrimination

Despite having ended apartheid for longer than 25 years and the implementation of optimistic action measures such as the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment, which requires recruiters to respect EU quotas), the education level still remains mediocre. 

It is a slow and complicated process to develop the middle class which makes the social and economic inequalities grow, leaving an exasperated population in disarray. There is still an existence of racism in almost all communities. 

Cost of Living in Cape Town, South Africa

Hope the few listed pros and cons helped you in making a decision. And if you’re planning to pay a visit, here are some basic costs of living you should know. 

1. Housing

You will have to pay around ZAR 15.000 per month for a two-bedroom flat in a nice, friendly area which equals more or less USD 1.000. 

2. Food

You will be able to spend less on food if you shop at the Foodlover’s Markets. You can find sorts of fruit, vegetables, bread, meat and fish and cheese there. And you’ll be spending about ZAR 1.500 per week on groceries which is a bit more than USD100.

The restaurants in Cape Town are worth paying a visit even though you’ll always have to add a 10 – 15 % tip to your bill. You’ll be paying between 150 and 200 USD per person for an 8-course dining experience in the number one restaurant in the country.

3. Utility

Your electricity bill in Cape Town can be estimated to be about ZAR 400 per month which is around USD 28.

Petrol is comparatively inexpensive and was noted to be about ZAR 13 per liter in 2019.

When living in Cape Town, you will have to pay a heavy amount for anything digital and phone related. And it will often not be of the best quality and speed. For fiber internet, you’ll have to pay ZAR 600 per month which is around 43 euros per month. To have pay-TV and a complete set of channels like CNN, all the sports channels, BVN, and BBC, you will be paying around ZAR 1000 ( = 70 USD) per month.