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, so all foreign residents have to do is decide which option best suits their character – and, of course, their wallet.
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 along with apartments in the area, typically occupied by the young and trendy.
Among the many advantages of 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.
Closer to the city centre on the slopes of Lion’s Head are Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof; attractive, affluent suburbs known for Victorian houses and apartments with awe-inspiring views of the mountain and the shimmering lights of the suburbs surrounding the city.
To the west 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.
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 was traditionally at the centre of Cape Town’s Jewish community but has become popular with a variety of local and international owners of late. It is also home to an array of boutique-style bistros and trendy retailers along its picturesque beachfront promenade.
Yet 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 to change hands for exorbitant prices. Despite being a short drive away from the city centre, Clifton feels far removed from the city’s bustle and its luxury properties overlook picturesque beaches framed by dramatic boulders.
Cape Town suburbs
Though some 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 Cape Town's leafy Southern Suburbs. Many families choose to live here for their larger houses and gardens, not to mention the area's access to some of the best educational institutions in the country.
The areas around the University of Cape Town, such as Mowbray, Rosebank and Observatory are fairly inexpensive bohemian enclaves populated by students. Middle-class bastions such as Rondebosch, Newlands and Claremont are family favourites, offering freestanding homes, good schools and nearby parks.
Further around the mountain are Constantia and Bishopscourt which boast enormous properties in a forest setting. The luxury properties in Bishopscourt, 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 and from the city, though many living there feel that it's a price worth paying.
The Southern Peninsula encompasses Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, 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 their distance from the city 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. Residents will enjoy a gorgeous view, a local beach and a charming harbour. 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 urban mundanity, not to mention some of the city's most reasonable housing prices. Copious traffic and a long drive of an hour or more into the city centre are the major drawbacks of living in these areas.
►Learn more about finding the perfect accommodation in Cape Town
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