Monday, October 11, 2010

Expat Heaven? A Beautiful, Sophisticated City with a Great Climate and No Swat Teams

By Simon Black

If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to choose one place to live in for the rest of my life, Cape Town would be on a very short list.

It's not that I don't like other cities-- the world is full of amazing places that are full of opportunity... that's one of the reasons I travel so much. But to spend an entire life in one location-- well, it would have to be a really special place, and Cape Town definitely qualifies.

For starters, the city has one of the most stunning natural backdrops anywhere on Earth.  It's hard to not be immediately smitten by the sheer beauty of Table Mountain presiding over the point at which the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

Then there's the weather-- it's great.  With more hours of annual sunshine than San Diego or Miami, the climate is moderate and even-tempered.  Summertime highs are in the upper 70s, cooling to the high 50s at night, and winter weather reaches mid 60s in the day and mid 40s at night (that's 25/15 and 17/7 in Celsius).

Living costs are low, reasonable at worst. Grocery prices, for example, are about 20% less than what you would pay in North America, and you can eat quite well for $20-$25/head with wine at an upscale restaurant.

Residential rental costs for prime oceanfront flats are about $1.50 per square foot-- that's roughly $1800/month for a spacious, furnished apartment in one of the nicest parts of town on the beach... this isn't screamingly cheap, but quite reasonable in terms of value for the price.

Purchasing such a property runs about 2,000 to 2,500 rand per square foot. At today's valuation, that's about $335/square foot. Again-- reasonable, but not shockingly cheap.  Ten years ago it would have been a fraction of that price...

The city itself is lovely-- modern, diverse, and sophisticated.  With 3.5 million inhabitants, it's no Shanghai or Buenos Aires... but the Cape lacks nothing in terms of the amenities you would find in a tier 1 European or North American city.

The people here are very civilized-- the culture is a strong mix of European and African heritage; early European settlers to South Africa are from the same stock as American, Canadian, and Australian frontiersmen-- bold pioneers who were willing to take huge risks in search of a better life.
The pioneer spirit is still very much alive in Cape Town, and the city has become a hub of the continent's most enterprising financial and creative explorers. I've met a variety of entrepreneurs during this most recent trip ranging from finance to tech to mining. Each has been extremely impressive, and I may end up investing in some of the deals.

Read the rest here.


  1. Maybe Anna Chapman will conduct some banking business in Cape Town, should you go there:

  2. What about the crime rate? I had a friend who lived there 10+ years ago and she didn't paint a great picture.

  3. How are race relations? I assume it is English common law judicial system.

  4. Dude any place is better than Buenos Aires.