Cape Town, South Africa Report of what it's like to live there - 04/26/21
Personal Experiences from Cape Town, South Africa
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. I’ve also been posted in Asia and Africa.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
USA. Pre-Covid flight options weren’t great. All required a stop in Jo’berg, the Middle East or Europe. There has been talk of direct flights but so far none have materialized. Currently with South Africa’s covid strain flights are very limited.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing is similar to Europe. Small kitchens and appliances. Just enough bedrooms to fit your needs. The housing pool is small so you might not get your top choice. All that said, the housing is safe and secure. The estates have room for kids to bike and walk safely alone to friends.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Wonderful. You can get everything here. Look online at Woolworths or Pick N Pay to see what’s available.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
I ship American snacks, cereals and tortilla chips through Amazon occasionally. Good quality shampoo is expensive. Really most everything is available and high quality.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Limited delivery options in the estates. The downtown housing had better food delivery options. Tons of world class restaurants. The food scene is great.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Ants in the winter.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
There is household help available but it can be challenging to find reliable help.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Stonehurst estate has a gym and there are Virgin Active gyms near the other housing. Cost is similar to the US.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Cards are safe to use everywhere but I never use an ATM card, instead I use the cashier services at consulate. Most everyone gets a local bank account to eft payments.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis and ubers are available.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
I’d recommend a high clearance vehicle for trips outside the city. A surprising number of roads are unpaved.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Good Internet for $60 a month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Vodacom. Grab a pre-paid SIM at the airport.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Good options nearby housing. Steenberg Vet is recommended by many.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Consulate has a number of positions.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
There are many.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
You must be aware and careful. Security concerns are a part of daily life.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Local health care is world class. The health unit isn’t great. We get very little support from Pretoria.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Great air quality.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Allergies can be horrible in the spring. Many people suffer.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Beautiful weather. Winters are chilly and summers windy.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
American International School of Cape Town (AISCT) is the top choice for consulate families. My young kids love it and the availability of activities (pre-Covid). The high school is small and there is a lot of parties.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Oakley House school is the best for special needs kids. Speech therapist, OT and other support services are available locally and at AISCT.
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
A couple of good options.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Pretty much everything, if you’re willing to drive. Soccer, swimming, gymnastics, tennis, Irish dance...
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Great morale and a large community.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Similar to the US.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
There is something for everyone.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
No issues with making friends.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Safe and a nice community of people.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Literally everything- beaches, hiking, restaurants, safaris.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
You are still in Africa. Things move slowly.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. But don't forget your:
Sun hat and hiking shoes.