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Cape Town - what is it really like to live there?

(22 Posts)
dangerstrawberry Sun 13-Apr-08 05:48:21

My dh may have the opportunity to work in Cape Town and so I've spent the weekend googling and been horrified with what I've read, about the crime and violence. But then on the other hand, it is promoted as being a wonderful holiday destination, so I'm a bit confused!!

I would really like to get a balanced view from any mners actually living there about what it's really like. Also are there any good expat websites for CT which deal with stuff like schools, housing areas etc. Many thanks

dangerstrawberry Sun 13-Apr-08 09:27:46


tilbatilba Sun 13-Apr-08 09:35:25

We had a few months based there last year and loved it. Certainly security is an issue but it was so fantastic and so brilliant for our children I felt the precautions we had to take were minimal in comparision and certainly not worse than other places we have lived.
The schools are very conservative but there is also a strong Waldorf movement. Would recommend Constancia as somewhere totally divine to live. Tilba x

Smurfs Sun 13-Apr-08 09:43:54

We are moving there next year! Have family there already and have just got back from there last week....hate the weather here soooo much smile

Whereabouts are you planning on living?

TheMadHouse Sun 13-Apr-08 09:46:49

We have friends that live in clairemont and visited them a couple of years agao. We too were horrified with the security precations they took ie house alarm with motion detectors downstairs set at night and also sensor things outside the house.

Really high fences, automatic gates, doors on car locked at all times and windows up, however, we had a fantastic time there and they absolutly love it and would never move anywhere else

Smurfs Sun 13-Apr-08 09:57:17

I think that the security issues are one of the biggest area of concern for anybody there. However it has to be put into perspective - we have an alarm on the house here and depending on where I was travelling - say if I went into a city I would lock the car doors just in case.

The school system is fantastic and it is so much more of an outdoor lifestyle - which for children and adults is fantastic.

We will be about 25 minutes from the centre of Cape Town when we move and I can't wait to get back - hopefully at Christmas grin

SpacePuppy Sun 13-Apr-08 10:03:23

Lived there for 9 years, I'm South African.

It depends on which area you want to live. City Bowl are where I lived is in the middle on the city and crime is high, it is expensive but close to everything. The suburbs going over Table Mountain in a southerly direction are the millionaire paradise, mansions, sea views.

More affordable accommodation would be in two main areas, Northern Suburbs, which are mainly Afrikaans speaking, culturally South African and reasonably safe, however, can be a bit snobbish. Southerly Suburbs are mainly English speaking with a lot of old English settler heritage etc. might appeal to you in a cultural way. Then you can move to Somerset West (a holiday paradise) but within commuting distance from Cape Town about 30miles or so. NO PUBLIC TRANSPORT, so if you don't drive it will make live difficult.

dangerstrawberry Sun 13-Apr-08 11:05:58

Thanks for all the responses so far. I think he would be working around the city bowl area. I have absolutely NO idea about areas so any more information would be great and also any info about schools - are there any with British curriculum? Are they expensive? Is the cost of living expensive?

Smurfs Sun 13-Apr-08 11:43:20

How long potentially are you going to be out there for?

Schools - depends on age of children, DS will hopefully go to Bishops in many years time. Prior to that he will be at one of the feeder schools. DD might go to Herschel if we get in! There are waiting lists for the good private schools as in the UK so plan in advance and contact them tomorrow! Put Private schools in Cape Town or Western Cape into Google and it will bring them up. Fees are significantly cheaper then here in the UK grin

Cost of living is cheaper - clothes, food, petrol are much less than in the UK. Help in the home/housekeeper/maid call it what you will is significantly less then here. Cost of restaurants do depend on where they are - centre of C/T will obviously be more expensive than furthur out.

Where to live - personally I don't want to be in central Cape Town as lived in London for nearly 10 years and want more space, views, pool etc so we are going to be furthur up the N2. If it was just myself and the children I would be in the bushveld but DH wants other people around him!

I presume you are going out for a visit before you move there? Oh and DH has just said that when the crime figures really scare you look at the weather reports instead grin We have been to C/T so many times without incidence you just have to have your wits about you and take precautions. smile

It is so lovely that somebody else is making the move as well smile

dangerstrawberry Mon 14-Apr-08 07:46:20

That's really useful thanks .

It's very early days yet and nothing is decided. Need to find out as much info as poss before we make any decisions.

SleepIsForTheWeak Tue 22-Jul-08 04:47:08

HI, hop I am not joining this thread too late - might start a new one!
We haev just moved back, got here last week in fact!
A few points:

We know of a couple here who are journalists for British newspapers, who submit articles which then get exaggerated for the press, making the place sound more volatile than it is.
Security IS a big issue, but as everyone said, the pros far out weight the cons.

GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS place. Google the following: Boulders beach, Silvermine, Langebaan just to name a few.

There is so much to do with kids, fantastic outdoor lifestyle

I have found that it can break your heart (seeing young - pressumaly orphan - children begging) BUT you can make a difference too. They are selling the homeless magazine and there are many organisations you can donate time or efforts to, which is very rewarding.

As for places to stay: we are still researching that!!

good luck

SleepIsForTheWeak Tue 22-Jul-08 04:50:25

Oh, and the German school does a UK cirriculum as far as I know... in English!
But the state schools are excellent...

squiffy Tue 22-Jul-08 16:14:36

The main problems I found with living in SA as a Brit (for 3 years) were:-

1) No sense of irony/different sense of humour. Really gets to you after a while

2) Racism and sexism (throwaway comments that always start with "I'm not a racist, but ...."). Also the assumption that women don't have careers/make decisions (eg at car showroom they will never speak to the woman, unless it is to ask her what her husband does for a living). Feeds through to social events where all the men gather in one corner to talk sport and all the women wandfer round kitchen preparing food. Very 1950's

3) Left this one till last, but the poverty and inequality is horrific. Truly awful. It is easy to not notice it, but when you see it directly it is quite shocking. Go for a visit to a few homes and ask people to show you the maid's room. Ask how many people live in it, why it doesn't have a loo or heating, where's the running water, what does she do if she falls sick, how often she sees her family. And then reflect on the fact that a housemaid is one of the most best positions in SA, for many generations.

The security stuff IS overplayed a bit (but is there and a worry nonetheless - my DH suffered two attempted armed robberies whilst he was there, I got scared a couple of times by incidences when driving at night). and the weather and scenery is beautiful, and you will live like kings. But the stuff above took most of the enjoyment away for me, and I couldn't wait to come home.

expatinscotland Tue 22-Jul-08 16:16:00

I'd be off like a shot. But then, I grew up in places full of guns, crime, drugs and violence.

detoxdiva Tue 22-Jul-08 16:25:03

Honeymooned there - very envy of your opportunity.

abouteve Tue 22-Jul-08 16:32:44

I lived in SA for a year, though it was 18 years ago so things must have changed considerably. The area was called Plumstead a very nice suburb with train links into Cape Town. I agree that it is a fantastic country in terms of climate, beauty and lifestyle but I also agree with squiffy, the other side of it feels uneasy.

DarrellRivers Tue 22-Jul-08 16:37:49

Agree with squiffy particularly about the sport/cooking male/female divide.
It feels quite old fashioned, although I always felt this more in Durban rather than Cape Town, which struck me as more cosmoplitan in outlook.
However the longest I lived there was 3m (as an adult)
I suspect my 6 years as a child isn't very helpful.
I would llove in theory to live there, but I couldn't cope in practice with the way in which people live their lives with a threat of violence/death as a seemingly normal part of life. (disclaimer I lived and worked in pretty rough areas of London for 10 years so I am no wuss)

DarrellRivers Tue 22-Jul-08 16:44:19

Although I suspect poor OP was not asking what I thought {guilty of barging in where not really needed} but was asking for more practical advice, so DR scuttles off feeling blush
It is my favorite city to visit smile
Good luck with your adventure

chisigirl Tue 22-Jul-08 17:02:15

ditto what squiffy said.
although it is a fantastic country in many ways.

SleepIsForTheWeak Thu 24-Jul-08 06:08:44

Sorry, OP, I got it wrong, the "International school" is the one that does the British curriculum.

I grew up in Durban, where the men around the bbq, women in the kitchen thing took place more. CT is def much more cosmopolitan. But there are different mixes of people of course! OUr friends have all lived abroad and have returned so have a much wider outlook on life.

I just bought a car yesterday with my husband and did not experience what you said -in fact the seller was a woman anyway, but I am not denying that that level of sexist exists with many people...

We are here to give it a try. If it does not work out we will leave, but I am optomistic that it will, I love it here ))

SSSandy2 Thu 24-Jul-08 06:45:09

wish it was me strawberry. I would love to move there, despite all the concerns you have which I would share. Would you be going long-term if dh took the job?

I think there is no place that is 100% good, everywhere has bad sides to it but it's true the things you've mentioned poverty, crime, violence are especially worrying, aren't they?

I think the schools are generally good (anybody?) and there is a lot to see/experience in Africa which would be memorable forthe dc and for you too. It is a good base for trips to other parts of the continent and I think if you are aware of the need to be cautious, it is unlikely you would come to harm tbh

tasjaSAmuminSA Mon 28-Jul-08 19:14:33


Hi there
See you have returned to CT in June! I've returned to CT in Feb and DH has returned end of May. We lived in the UK for 4 years. Very glad to be back here. I still miss the UK, cheap diced steak, diced chicken enchilladas (sp?), being home alone!!!!!!

I know what you are talking about "have a much wider outlook on life". Strange how that is. Some of our friends are the same and we share the same views, as opposed to the others who haven't been overseas.

Were in CT do you live? I live in Kuilsriver.

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