Meet Cape Town
Combining big city energy, the calm of a coastal community, and access to amazing animals, it’s no wonder that digital nomads are flocking to Cape Town.
Along with Pretoria and Bloemfontein, Cape Town is one of South Africa’s three capital cities. After Johannesburg, it’s got the largest population, meaning that there’s always a buzz of activity, both economic and recreational. Although sitting within a developing country, Cape Town is growing and modernizing rapidly as it becomes one of the world’s tourist hotspots. In 2014, it was rated by both the Daily Telegraph and the New York Times as the best city to visit. This increased profile was no doubt helped by the city hosting both the rugby and soccer world cups. In recent years, it’s become increasingly popular with families and backpackers looking for an exciting outdoor adventure within a safe and stable environment. Many come for the safaris - where the Big Five animals can easily be spotted - but some stay for the low living costs and lively, remote work-friendly atmosphere.
Where to live in Cape Town
Cape Town has gained a reputation for crime and unfortunately, in some neighborhoods, this isn’t completely unwarranted. Digital nomads relocating to the city should therefore think carefully about where they live, being sure to avoid problematic areas. In particular, it’s the outskirts of the town where muggings and violent crimes can take place, especially if you’re a foreigner exploring the area on your own. Instead, stick to more touristy areas near the center, while always being aware that busy streets can attract pickpocketers, as is common in large cities around the world.
Best Neighborhoods in Cape Town
There are some prosperous neighborhoods in Cape Town where you’re bound to feel at home. These vary from quiet and green residential suburbs to up-and-coming urban hipster areas. By choosing the right neighborhood, you’ll get all the vibrancy and energy that Cape Town has to offer while being safe from more dangerous surroundings. Cape Town is a relatively large city, meaning that each neighborhood has a distinct personality and forms its own community. That’s why it’s useful to research each one beforehand and make sure you find a home that you feel happy and comfortable living in.
Amazing Apartments, Coliving Spaces and More
We've been rounded up the best housing options in Cape Town. All are available on flexible terms, so you can stay one month or as long as you want
Quick Facts About Cape TownIf you’re wishing that you knew more about the amazing city of Cape Town, then this is for you. It’s important to learn a little about the destination before you visit. That’ll allow you to figure out whether this place is right for your interests and personality while also helping you avoid culture shock upon arrival. Here are some quick facts about Cape Town so that you can get to know it better.
Cape Town retains many British traditionsAs a member of the Commonwealth and a former British colony, you’ll notice many British influences in South Africa. They drive on the left and are fanatical about both cricket and rugby.
Cape Town is a multifaith cityAs a melting pot of different cultures, there are many religions observed in Cape Town. Beyond traditional African faiths, Christianity was brought over by European colonialists while Islam came over with slaves from Southeast Asia.
Cape Town is the second-largest city in South AfricaAfter Johannesburg, Cape Town is South Africa’s biggest city. If you move there, you’ll become one among a population of over 430,000.
Cape Town is a city of many languagesSouth Africa has 11 official languages, being accepting of both indigenous and immigrant cultures. In Cape Town, specifically, Afrikaans is the most commonly spoken language, followed by English and Xhosa.
Cape Town has moderate weatherWhile many African nations can become stiflingly hot, Cape Town’s coastal, non-equatorial location offers a more moderate and bearable temperature. The climate is similar to that of the Mediterranean, with highs in the summer averaging 27°C-29°C (80.6°F-84.2°F).
Cape Town is ideal for nature loversYou don’t have to travel far out of Cape Town to spot lions, giraffes, and elephants but you can also spot wildlife in the nearby mountains. Table Mountain National Park is home to mongooses, porcupines, and tortoises. There are even colonies of penguins on Cape Town’s beaches.
Cape Town was an important sailor’s stop-off pointCape Town was chosen by the Dutch as a place to settle because of its strategic location. It was used as a stop-off point on long voyages between the West and the East. That’s why it became something of a crossroads between cultures.
Cape Town contains the South African parliamentSouth Africa has taken the unusual decision to have three capital cities rather than one, with each representing a separate branch of government. Cape Town is the seat of the legislature, meaning that it’s where you’ll find the South African parliament.
Work in Cape Town
As a large city, there are employment opportunities in Cape Town. However, most require a university degree or many years of experience. Many ex-pats have complained about their lack of success when it comes to looking for work, especially when compared to comparatively sized towns. There are some big employers worth applying to, though. These include Amazon, Woolworths, the University of Cape Town, Vodacom, and Bloomberg. If you have the right experience, you could find a well-paid job.
How good is Cape Town for Digital Nomads or Remote Work
Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Cape Town. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Cape Town for both of these growing movements?
Average Internet SpeedTo manage the supply of energy, Cape Town utilizes load shedding, meaning that some neighborhoods may go without WiFi for a couple of hours a week. When the internet is working, download speeds fall below the world average at 22.72 Mbps, although this tends to be faster in coworking spaces and coffee shops.
Work-friendly Coffee ShopsCape Town is full of cool and comfortable coffee shops. Here are just a few that remote workers love to frequent: Field Office: A coffee shop designed for remote workers, Field Offers attracts many freelancers and digital nomads. This is more than just a workspace; it’s an opportunity to network. Truth Coffee Roasting Cafe: This coffee shop has been voted the best in the world and it’s easy to see why. With a steampunk aesthetic, it makes for a beautiful and unique office space. Bean There Coffee: Local fair trade coffee makes Bean There one of Cape Town’s most ethical coffee houses. It also has comfortable seating and a consistently reliable WiFi connection.
Coworking SpacesThe city’s need for load shedding can cause your home WiFi to cut out. If this happens, you should still be able to access the internet from one of these top-rated Cape Town coworking spaces: No 80 Hout St: This light and airy space offers a relaxing work experience. It’s reasonably priced and has become a meeting point for digital nomads. Cape Town Office: This is more popular with locals than ex-pats but visitors rave about the high quality of the facilities. Work and Co: Designed as a flexible space for entrepreneurs and creatives, many digital nomads prefer to base themselves at Work and Co. With a mix of locals and nomads, this is a modern office that allows for concentration and productivity. Cape Town’s coworking spaces often deliver a WiFi connection even during load shedding. They’re mostly located near the center of town, meaning they’re also convenient.
Suitable Level for Digital NomadsThere are both pros and cons for nomads looking to base themselves in Cape Town. On the plus side, the cost of living is low, there’s a large digital nomad community, coworking spaces are plentiful, and the natural scenery and seaside location offer a fantastic work-life balance. However, the infrastructure may not be what you’re used to with potential rolling blackouts making it difficult to stay productive throughout the day. Overall, though, Cape Town is a large city with all the amenities nomads require and an enthusiastic, enterprising vibe.
Visa RequirementsUS citizens do not need a visa for stays of fewer than 90 days, regardless of whether you are coming for business or tourism. Yellow fever certificates are not required unless you’re arriving from or transiting through a high-risk country. Just ensure you have an onward ticket booked and enough funds for the duration of your stay as well as at least two spare pages in your passport. If you fall in love with Cape Town and wish to stay longer than 90 days, then you can apply for a residence permit. This can be on the grounds of work, study, medical needs, or if you have relatives in the city. There are a few other visas you could look into including one for workers under 25 looking for a year-long exchange and one for retirees looking to settle in Cape Town for a short time.
Food and Drink in Cape Town
South African cuisine reflects the eclectic mix of cultures that have arrived in the city over the centuries. From sushi to fish and chips, the local restaurant scene caters to all tastes. The sushi is especially worth trying since this is a thriving fishing town and you’ll have access to the freshest ingredients. Meat is generally a big part of the local diet, focused mostly on chicken, with plenty of beef and pork as well. It’s also possible to eat big game meat if you’re looking for something different. Cape Town is considered the home of a dish called the gatsby. This is a large sandwich stuffed with meat, fries, and a selection of sauce. It’s cheap, readily available, and guaranteed to leave you feeling satisfied and full. Cape Town also retains a strong Indian influence, serving up different types of curry in the hollowed-out interior of a loaf of bread, a dish that you’ll find on the menu listed as bunny chow. At some point, you’ll likely experience a braai which is the South African version of a barbecue. Expect plenty of meat but there are also grilled vegetables for vegetarians to enjoy. The most highly-rated restaurants include the Pot Luck Club and the Belly of the Beast.
Top 6 Things To Do in Cape Town
Once you’ve settled into your new Cape Town home, scout out the best coffee shops, top swimming spots, and what local activities are on offer. At some point, you’ll certainly want to take up the potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on a true African safari to spot the world’s largest and most impressive mammals. You should also take the cable car up Table Mountain and spend some time exploring the web of hiking trails. Within Cape Town itself, get involved in watersports at your local beach, and don’t forget to explore the city’s history at the Jewish Museum, the Castle of Good Hope, and the South African National Gallery.
The Nelson Mandela Gateway To Robben Island
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town
Bay Harbour Market
31 Harbour Rd, Hout Bay, Cape Town
Green Point Park
1 Fritz Sonnenberg Rd, Green Point, Cape Town
Cape Town Stadium
Fritz Sonnenberg Rd, Green Point, Cape Town
Iziko South African Museum
25 Queen Victoria St, Gardens, Cape Town
South African Jewish Museum
88 Hatfield St, Gardens, Cape Town