Areas and Suburbs in Cape Town
Expats are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing between the many areas and suburbs in Cape Town. Each of its inner-city neighbourhoods, seaside communities and serene sections of suburbia has their own appealing aesthetic. Foreign residents only have to decide which option best suits their character.
City living in Cape Town
The City Bowl area, Camps Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard are prime residential districts for living close to the city. Property prices in these areas are some of the highest in Cape Town because of where they’re situated.
Depending on the area they choose to live in, expats will have access to high end family homes and apartments occupied by the young, trendy and childless.
Among the many advantages to life in Cape Town is the opportunity to live in the heart of the city without experiencing the crush one might expect from an urban centre. Two of the most popular areas for expats living in the City Bowl are Gardens and Vredehoek, which offer good property value and rental rates in exchange for wind barrelling off the mountain, causing trees to grow at improbable angles.
Closer to the city centre on the slopes of Lion’s Head are Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof; attractive, affluent suburbs known for Victorian double-volume houses and apartments with awe-inspiring views of the mountain and the shimmering lights of the suburbs surrounding the city.
There are also repurposed office blocks in the city centre for expats that want to live in the thick of things. These high value apartments afford their occupants a cosmopolitan atmosphere in the midst of some of the city’s best restaurants and nightclubs. A good example of such a development is the Rhodes-Mandela Place building opposite St George’s Cathedral.
To the east of the City Bowl, on the seaboard circling Signal Hill and Lion’s Head are the suburbs of Green Point, Sea Point, Clifton and Camps Bay.
Green Point, centred around the Cape Town Stadium and close to the V&A Waterfront, is a vibrant mix of densely packed, trendy apartments and bars. It is also home to a well-established “pink quarter” called De Waterkant, a sub-district with a piazza atmosphere and gourmet eateries and a stronghold for the city’s thriving gay scene.
Further down Main Road is Sea Point, a mixture of high-rise apartments and sea-facing houses jostling for space on the slopes of Signal Hill. The area is traditionally at the centre of Cape Town’s Jewish community but has become popular with a variety of local and international owners. It is also home to an array of boutique-style bistros and trendy retailers along its picturesque beachfront promenade.
Further along the coast is Clifton, known as Africa’s own St Tropez and home to Millionaire’s Row. Some of South Africa's most expensive real estate can be found here, with apartments selling for millions. Even parking bays have been known change hands for exorbitant prices. Despite being a short drive away, Clifton feels far removed from the city’s bustle and its luxury properties overlook picturesque beaches framed by granite boulders.
Camps Bay is south of Clifton and the short drive over Kloof Nek Road, nestled between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, heads back towards the City Bowl. A sloping coastal area, it enjoys dramatic views of the Twelve Apostles mountain range, receives the last of Cape Town’s sunshine at the end of every day and is popular with expats for being close to sea and city. There is a wide range of upmarket accommodation available from free-standing homes to upmarket bachelor flats.
Cape Town Suburbs
Though some of them entail no more than a 20-minute commute, Capetonians classify nearly anything that demands driving time as part of the suburbs. These areas are family-friendly and often offer housing options that are much more spacious and more reasonably priced.
Long-term expats often drift away from the city centre to its leafy Southern Suburbs. Many families choose to live here for their larger houses and gardens, and access to some of the best educational institutions in the country. Additionally, the beaches of False Bay are fairly close.
The areas around the University of Cape Town, such as Mowbray, Rosebank and Observatory are fairly inexpensive bohemian enclaves colonised by students. Middle-class bastions such as Rondebosch, Newlands and Claremont are family favourites, offering free-standing homes, good schools and nearby parks. Further around the mountain are Constantia and Bishopscourt which enjoy an almost rural atmosphere with enormous properties, a forest setting and frequent sightings of horses. The luxury properties in Bishopscourt, the city’s embassy district and home to a multitude of businessmen and local celebrities, can sell for vast sums. The main disadvantage to living in the Southern Suburbs is rush hour traffic to the city.
The False Bay seaboard encompasses Muizenberg, Fish Hoek and Simonstown; quiet, seaside settlements linked by a scenic road and railway line winding along the coast. These areas are becoming increasingly popular with first-time home buyers, although will mainly appeal to expats with an aversion to the city or an addiction to surfing.
One of the more popular areas for expats wanting to live outside the city is Hout Bay. With its own beach and a charming harbour, the starting point of Chapman’s Peak Drive has a village-like atmosphere that enjoyed by residents. On the downside, there have been tensions between established properties and the informal settlements on the outskirts of the town.
Durbanville and the areas around it are popular with expats wanting to live closer to the Winelands and out of the city centre. The area has a reputation for both safety and urbane mundanity. The morning commute into the city centre along the N1 can exceed an hour.
Across the bay from Cape Town sit Table View and Bloubergstrand, areas affording postcard views of Table Mountain. This area is popular with expats for being close to the beach and moderate property values. The area is a globally renowned water sports centre and the windy summer months are perfect for kite surfing. Unfortunately, commuting to the City Bowl is hampered by some of the heaviest traffic congestion in Cape Town although this has been mitigated with the introduction of MyCiti bus routes.