Frequently Asked Questions about Cape Town
Inquisitive expats are sure to have all sorts of questions about their future home, from weather and schooling to transport and safety. Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Cape Town.
How safe is Cape Town?
As long as one takes basic precautions, Cape Town's city centre is no more dangerous than any other international city. The crime rate in the city and better-off suburbs has decreased recently in response to neighbourhood watches and proactive sector policing. Expats should, however, contract a private security company to protect their property as the police service cannot always be relied upon.
Where can I meet other expats?
There are substantial populations of British, German, French and American expats in Cape Town. Each community has vibrant sporting and social clubs to help recent arrivals get connected. Examples include the Swiss Social and Sports Club, Alliance Française, and the local branch of Hash House Harriers running club.
What is the weather like in Cape Town?
Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate with dry, windy summers (December to March), and wet but mild winter months (June to October). Atlantic currents ensure the sea water is cold throughout the year.
What language do Capetonians speak?
English is widely spoken and is the lingua franca for business and government. For many, it is their native language. Expats may also hear Afrikaans and Xhosa being spoken, but even those who don't speak English as a first language will likely speak it as a second or third language.
What's the public transport like? Do I need a car?
Like elsewhere in South Africa, public transport leaves much to be desired, although those expats willing to brave the local minibus taxis and trains will find they're effective for going short distances in daylight. The MiCiTi bus system, which operates around the City Bowl, the Atlantic Seaboard area and the lower West Coast, is an efficient system which is becoming more popular with middle-class commuters. In general, however, most expats buy or rent a car to get around Cape Town.
Should I send my kids to a government, private or international school?
Government schools vary widely – some are terrible but some of the older parent-funded schools in the City Bowl and Southern Suburbs might suit expat tastes. International schools are useful for expats who want their children to follow a strict British, American, French or German curriculum but, in general, private schools offer the best value for money.