Expats will find that working in Cape Town is often a considerable step back from the rat race they may be used to. To some, it seems as if Capetonians would contend that there are too many other wonderful ways to be spending time. In fact, many of the people that have relocated here don't hang onto the ladder of ambition for too long as they reprioritise their lives.
On the downside, employers are fully aware that the city's striking landscapes beckon qualified workers from South Africa and elsewhere to the metropolis. It follows that fewer job opportunities exist in the city and smaller salaries accompany the positions that do become available, especially when compared with the likes of Johannesburg. Generally, once people pin down a good job with a respectable company, turnover is relatively low.
Job market in Cape Town
The media and advertising industry, the IT sector and asset management businesses are well represented, and a relatively high proportion of expats working in Cape Town can be found in one of these industries. The city is also a bastion of creativity and there are plenty of opportunities for young people to expand their artistic abilities while embarking on a creative career – those with a focused entrepreneurial spirit often find success.
Cape Town's stunning natural scenery, favourable weather patterns and the relatively low costs of local labour have also made the city an international destination for the film industry. However, opportunities in this sector are subject to drastic seasonal changes.
Tourism and hospitality services are also thriving industries, and many expats from abroad find employment in positions where knowledge of a second language, apart from English, is a necessity.
Foreign nationals will, however, need a work permit to be legally employed.
Businesses in Cape Town usually follow an eight-hour-per-day, five-day working week. The work culture is generally quite relaxed, and relatively few companies require their employees to wear formal business clothes in the office.
Finding a job in Cape Town
In some ways, the city still operates like a small village. Positions in Cape Town are often found and extended through personal recommendations or word of mouth. Expats who have not been lured abroad with a solid employment opportunity should invest time and energy into networking and creating meaningful connections.
The traditional routes of job hunting also exist and, for expats with the proper documentation, a tertiary degree and relevant work experience, finding employment is very much possible, although it may take some time.
Major local newspapers tend to publish an employment supplement with job listings once a week, and there are several popular websites that are regularly updated as positions open up in a variety of fields. The city also has recruitment agencies and head-hunters, and the fee for their services is generally shouldered by employers.
►For more on employment in the country, see Working in South Africa
Are you an expat living in Cape Town?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Cape Town. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.