Travel Tuesday: Life in Cape Town

Life in Cape TownSouth Africa’s oldest city, Cape Town, is fast becoming a popular destination for expatriates, with reports suggesting that international buyers accounted for roughly 80% of high-end properties sold in 2012-13. The weak Rand has made property prices in Cape Town very attractive to overseas investors, but value isn’t the only reason foreigners flock to this city. The gorgeous scenery, sandy beaches and laid-back lifestyle have often been cited as justification for the claim that Cape Town offers the best expat experience in the world.

The warm weather and relaxed attitude give the city a vibe that’s reminiscent of the Mediterranean, helping Europeans to feel at home from the beginning. While Johannesburg is filled with the same big-city hustle and bustle as London or New York, Cape Town residents stick to a slower pace. As a result, rush hour traffic is fairly light in the city centre and driving is one of the most pleasant ways to get around the city.

Cape Town is often described as the most cosmopolitan city in South Africa. It has been named as the 2014 Design Capital of the World and featured on the New York Times list of best places to go in 2014. The Times chose to focus on its dramatic history, the importance of Nelson Mandela’s legacy and the innovative new businesses emerging from the city as the main reasons for its inclusion, but could equally easily have chosen a whole host of other attractions. It’s no surprise that many people who visit Cape Town end up coming back, or staying for longer than they had expected.

As with most vibrant cities, Cape Town is far more than just an urban sprawl. The spectacular scenery that surrounds the city includes the iconic Table Mountain and its national park, as well as the best wine growing land in the country. The picturesque valley towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek are just a short drive away, while easy access to two oceans provides plenty of entertainment for water sports fans and sunbathers. Between July and November, you can even spot migrating whales from dry land. The Cape Floristic Region is another major draw; a biodiversity hotspot that also provides a home for rare creatures like the geometric tortoise.

The main languages spoken here are Afrikaans, Xhosa and English, but with large expat communities, most nationalities will find compatriots to communicate with. With well over three million residents, the city inevitably has some areas that are less welcoming to foreigners, but the majority of suburbs are perfectly safe. High-end neighbourhoods like the City Bowl and Southern Suburbs are particularly popular. Gated communities provide extra privacy and security for those who desire it, with many also including luxurious amenities like spas, golf clubs and pools.

If you’re considering moving to Cape Town, it’s essential to have an experienced local real estate agent to navigate you through the various neighbourhoods and property options. Engel & Völkers have been established in South Africa for years, with shops in desirable Cape Town locations like Camps Bay, Sea Point and Southern Suburbs. To start looking through potential properties today, just visit E&V Cape Town.