Any MNers in or near Cape Town

(37 Posts)
CapeTownWannabe Mon 23-Feb-15 22:28:11


Just starting to think about possibly moving overseas as we love the area and could make it work financially. Anyone in the area? General tips, thoughts about schools etc?

OP’s posts: |
bullseyebraces Mon 23-Feb-15 22:32:26

Lurking. We have been considering a move to RSA for a while.

I have lots of relatives in CT, all very happy, mostly in the southern suburbs/Gardens/Kommetjie way. If it were me I would want to live in the city bowl I think.

How old are your DC?

CapeTownWannabe Mon 23-Feb-15 22:33:56

DC are 5 and 7

OP’s posts: |
bullseyebraces Mon 23-Feb-15 22:40:33

I haven't lived in CT with kids but the traffic can be pretty awful - think you would need to pick area or school, and then pick school or area - if that makes sense! Especially if you are commuting into the bargain.

CapeTownWannabe Sat 07-Mar-15 12:12:04

Do school and commuter traffic get mixed up?

OP’s posts: |
Fi2013 Sat 07-Mar-15 12:35:51

Hi OP I'm married to a Capetonian and lived there for a year. Yes sadly they do even if the school is 5 mn walk... People aye their car for everything and walking isn't in the culture. People tend to see walking as a weekend thing. We lived in the southern suburbs so happy to answer questions x

bullseyebraces Sun 08-Mar-15 07:29:38

Yes, IME school & commuter traffic get mixed up.

Would you need to commute to a certain area of town? I would start from that.


CapeTownWannabe Sun 08-Mar-15 13:35:23

We might have our own business so no specific areas in mind yet!

If schools usually finish around 1pm, does only one parent usually work?

OP’s posts: |
bullseyebraces Sun 08-Mar-15 16:33:58

Dunno - the families I know both parents work but most of them own their own businesses so have that flexibility. Certainly some schools have after school care.

WorkingBling Sun 08-Mar-15 16:49:48

Part time working in cape town usually involves working mornings only. Very common for many women to work mornings or 3/4 days. Nanny or nursery or childminder perhaps pick up kids but mum home by day 3:30. Older kids mum goes straight to pick up.

Agree completely re looking into areas and schools first. It's become incredibly tough to get into schools on the southern suburbs. So be prepared to spend significant money on a house that is close to your preferred schools.

Cape townians are "cliquey" so be prepared. As an expat, city bowl or less established parts of Cape Town will be easier. Obviously as you get to know people through schools etc that will ease but do be prepared. If you are church goers that's another good way to build a social circle.

I grew up there. Ask away.

WorkingBling Sun 08-Mar-15 16:51:24

Oh, school and commuter traffic can be horrendous yes. Partly because roads are not designed for volume of users. Summer (December) can also be chaos with all the tourists (local and international). However, Cape Town people have a weird sense of distance - anything that takes more thAn 20 minutes is unbearable for them! smile

CapeTownWannabe Sun 08-Mar-15 17:10:24

We both currently commute for over an hour so 20 mins sounds great!

OP’s posts: |
WorkingBling Sun 08-Mar-15 18:25:24

Oh yes, me too. I'm just warning you about people in cape town! You need to create a very local life! smile

CapeTownWannabe Sun 08-Mar-15 21:25:14

Ha grin

In the City Bowl, we know Tamberskloof quite well. In the suburbs, Constantia and Hout Bay. We aren't church goers.

OP’s posts: |
WorkingBling Sun 08-Mar-15 23:18:23

If you want to live in hour bay, choose schools first. Getting in and out at traffic time is challenging.

What else do you want to know?

CapeTownWannabe Mon 09-Mar-15 00:01:48

Ooh, probably loads! Erm, do you know how schooling levels compare to here? Dc1 is 8 in August and dc2 6 next feb, what school years would they be in? Is there a year when more pupils move around (like year 3 and year 7 here)?

Apart from income tax, what other taxes are there (road tax, council tax type things)?

OP’s posts: |
WorkingBling Mon 09-Mar-15 07:52:08

They start school later in South Africa - I think the January they are six (it's changed a bit from when I was at school so not 100% up in details) but quality of schools are very good. Your kids are likely to be ahead somewhat on things like reading though because of the earlier start here. Children go to junior or primary school for seven years then move to high school for five years. High school starts at year 8 (not sure what it's called now). I think your dc 2 would start year one (equivalent) and dc1 year 3 but don't quote me on that.

Yes, income tax. You would also need to pay rates - the equivalent of council tax - which, like here, vary according to where you live and how much space you have. You will most likely need two cars and both will have to be licensed and paid annually. Bank fees are significantly higher than here (although i am always impressed with sa banking so i think it's worth it). Mobile phones are also essential but expensive - contracts are cheaper than pay as you go but you won't be getting a great £10 deal like you can here.

Obviously you will need comprehensive insurance that covers everything, including burglary, for cars and house and contents.

I know these are costs you have here too but my point is that these things cost proportionally more in sa than here if you are earning rands.

WorkingBling Mon 09-Mar-15 07:57:04

Similarly, interest rates are much higher so a car or house loan can be more expensive. If you are moving, most people having lived in the UK aim to take as much cash as possible to pay for a car upfront and as much of a deposit on a house as possible.

You can look into taking cars from here but as far as I know, the taxes are very high unless you are a South African returning to south africa for good.

Oh, and visas are not as easy to get as people think. It's not Australia, but the south African government is naturally protective of its citizens and jobs and if you want to move you will need to go through a lot of effort to get work and residence visas. the only English people I know who have done it were married /involved with a returning South African but even for them it was quite a process. So I would definitely get onto the sa consulate in London to see what might be necessary before you make any big plans.

murphys Mon 09-Mar-15 08:58:00

Not living in CT but do live in SA.

As it cant comment on the living in CT issue, i can chat about the schooling.

OP, have you considered if you are looking at private schooling or government? There are some very good government schools, but getting a place in those schools can be difficult. You will need to live in the area zoned for the school, and the houses in the best zoned areas cost a lot more. If you are looking at private, also be quite cautious too. There are a lot of fantastic private schools. There are sadly some dodgy ones too. There has been a lot of emphasis on how bad the government schools are so lots of homeschool type schools have been opened, and some of the cases i know about, they aren't properly registered, doing different curriculums etc. So just a head up there.

Ages 6 and 8. Your 6 year old will most likely start again in grade 1. This the first year of formal schooling. Yes they learn to read, write etc in this year which your dc will already have done. But, your dc may not be emotionally ready to be put straight into Grade 2. Your 8 year old would go to Grade 3. These are the foundation stage years. They stay with one teacher in a class, and she teaches everything. All this changes in Grade 4, when they reach senior phase (of primary which is Grade 4-7). They will have 4 or 5 teachers and move class at each period. It is a big step up from Grade 3.

Also, the CAPS curriculum is now taught here. It is not like the UK as if your dc do not pass each subject at the end of the year, they will not go up to the next grade. They will repeat that year. Each subject has its different pass mark, 50% is the pass mark for English and Maths. They will also learn Afrikaans at school. If they are at an English school, then it is most likely that Afrikaans will be the second language taught.

Not all, but most parents both work. Especially if your child is at private school as the fees can be quite high. After care clubs are plentiful. Many mums do work morning only, so they can fetch from school. Buses and trains are not an option. Few families walk, as mentioned previously.

Sport is very high up on the agenda here. Most schools will insist that the child plays at least one summer and one winter sport. They are usually done straight after school.

School starts anytime from 7.30-7.45am and ends between 1-2pm (the foundation phase usually come out earlier than senior phase). So usually the parent will drop the dc off at school on their way to work, so traffic is bad around schools, heading to highway etc. You notice a huge reduction in traffic during the school holidays.

Having children at school is a sure fire way to make friends imo. South Africans are generally very friendly people, and i have no doubt it wont be long before you are invited to someone's house for a braai wink

Cell phones and internet are expensive. We are way behind the times here, there is one company that does unlimited internet but you have to have a landline phone for this. Where i live, we have no landlines ( shock ) so i have to rely on 3g network for internet. This is the most expensive so we don't have unlimited use of it.

And you will have to have two cars. You will not manage, or should i say your will most probably battle with one car between you. Cars are a lot more expensive here, but if it were me, i wouldn't consider bringing your car here. There is getting it here, then the customs duty and the paperwork side of it can be a nightmare. I would sell it there and buy a 2nd hand one here to start off with.

If you can drive on your British licence here for a year. You do not need to go and buy one of those international ones. It is a waste of money. If after a year you intend on staying, you can swop your UK licence for a SA one. Or you could just go sit your test again here and keep both. Your insurance will be higher as long as you are driving on your UK licence though.

From what i have read, you have spent some time here already. So you know that our supermarkets are not like Asda or Tescos. We don't have the selection of things you may be used to, things like internet shopping haven't really taken off here like in the UK. A lot of folk I know still go and queue and pay their bills each month a the shops. Life is different in that way, you wont get your post for two weeks, the service for that sort of thing, just isn't the same wink.

And of course, how could I not say in here somewhere that CT has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth wink.

CapeTownWannabe Mon 09-Mar-15 09:19:48

Wow, thanks both, that's all super helpful. We definitely would not bring our car, I hate our car and would happily pitch it over the Grand Canyon, Thelma and Louise style. We do manage with just one here so that's a good tip.

I know internet is expensive and there are fewer supermarkets but didn't know about cell phones.

When I looked on the SA embassy website for the UK it said online visa guidance was being updated after legal changes last year. Do you think they'd have better information if I called in/made an appointment?

DC1 would certainly love compulsory sport every day grin

OP’s posts: |
WorkingBling Mon 09-Mar-15 09:30:34

The fact they haven't put anything up online is classic!! Typical really. Try calling but not sure how far that will get you either. Once you get there, find someone helpful. Individually south Africans are great, collectively we can be a pain in the ass! smile

Agree with everything Murphy has said and am pleased she has similar views to me. Her points re private schooling are especially interesting. Either way, be prepared to spend a lot on either the school or the house you live in. For example, someone told me that SACS - one of the better all boys schools in southern suburbs, had an intake in year one this year that was something like 70% siblings. If you want to get in there you will need to live in spitting distance and that will be expensive. A house around there will set you back between R5 and 10 million I suspect. You could easily spend more If you wanted to!!

bullseyebraces Mon 09-Mar-15 09:35:22

Don't forget you will need health insurance too.

I have found the SA embassy supremely unhelpful so good luck!

bullseyebraces Mon 09-Mar-15 09:36:20

There's a good website called Joburg Expat with lots of info about cell phones, cars etc.

RosaliesGinBottle Mon 09-Mar-15 09:36:20

Other extra cost to budget for is medical aid. This can be quite pricy.

WorkingBling Mon 09-Mar-15 09:38:58

Ooh yes, medicAl cover. Completely forgot. V v important and v expensive. On plus side, private medical care is excellent in South africa.

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