Whether you walk, cycle, drive, fly or sail into Cape Town, Table Mountain will be the first to greet you. It’s one of the world’s top holiday destinations, and it certainly deserves all the attention. Capetonians are very proud of their city and love to show it off to visitors and expats. It is more relaxed than Johannesburg but still has that sophisticated vibe.
If you are considering moving to Cape Town, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in South Africa’s Mother City.
Quick Cape Town Facts:
- Population: 4.618 million (2020 estimate)
- Official Language: South Africa has 11 official languages, however, in Cape Town most people speak English and Afrikaans – Afrikaans being the most spoken language in the north suburbs and English in the southern suburbs. Other languages being spoken including Xhosa, Zulu, Pedi, French, Portuguese and German.
- GDP Per Capita: R88,051
- Wine: The Dutch settlers arrived in Cape Town in 1652 and, only seven years later, they were producing the first wines in the Cape.
- Currency: South Africa Rand (R, ZAR). As of early 2023, $1 USD = R18.42, €1 EUR = R19.56, $1 CAD = R13.57, $1 AUD = R12.40, £1 = R22.301
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Cape Town
Sample container shipping rates to South Africa from various other countries
2. Cape Town Housing Costs
Due to many reasons, including the decline in the value of the Rand, property prices in Cape Town are very reasonable when you compare them with the vast majority of cities around the world. Prices obviously vary from area to area but the figures below will give you an indication of what’s available at what price.
Monthly Rental Prices in Cape Town:
- 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: R12,100+
- 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: R8,100+
- 3 bedroom flat in City Centre: R24,000+
- 3 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: R16,000+
Cape Town Home Purchase Prices:
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: R36,000+
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: R24,000+
Cape Town Housing Cost Comparison:
This is how rents in Cape Town compare with other cities around the globe.
- London is 71.1% more expensive
- New York is 81% more expensive
- Los Angeles is 74.3% more expensive
- Toronto is 60.9% more expensive
- Vancouver is 63.9% more expensive
- Sydney is 66.2% more expensive
- Melbourne is 51.7% more expensive
- Paris is 55.9% more expensive
- Dubai is 61.5% more expensive
How to Save on Housing Costs:
- Share a Flat or House: Cape Town is a city full of houses and flats of every size, shape and price, many of which are available for house/flat shares. With a house share you will have your own room, or, for a cheaper option, you can share a room. The bathroom/s will be shared with other people in the house.
- Different Areas – Different Prices: Cape Town is split between north and south. The north is mainly Afrikaans-speaking and the south is English-speaking. At the top end of the market, there are beautiful homes on large plots, with swimming pools and, possibly a tennis court in areas like Bishopscourt, Constantia and Tokai. Grand houses on smaller plots can be found in Llandudno, Camps Bay and Vredehoek. If you want to live near the CBD, there are affordable houses and flats of every size in the tree-lined streets of Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof and Gardens. For those who like living in luxury apartments, the Victoria and Albert Waterfront has some superb examples. At the other end of the spectrum are areas which are popular with students, such as Rondebosch, Observatory and Woodstock. Have a look at the section on family-friendly areas to get more information on where to live in Cape Town.
3. Cape Town Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Cape Town is one of the food and wine capitals of the world. There are many international award-winning restaurants and vineyards. It really is a foodie’s paradise.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: R150.00 – R160.00
- Takeout Coffee: R32.00 – R35.00
- Bottle of Coke: R15.00
- 1L of milk: R18.00
- Loaf of Bread: R18.00
- 12 Eggs: R33.00
- 1kg Chicken: R80.00
- 1kg Beef: R115.00
- 1kg Apples: R26.00
- 1kg White Rice: R26.00
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- London restaurants are 58.1% more expensive and groceries are 47.1% more expensive than Cape Town.
- New York restaurants are 68% more expensive and groceries are 71.9% more expensive than Cape Town.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 63.9% more expensive and groceries are 62.8% more expensive than Cape Town.
- Toronto restaurants are 57.8% more expensive and groceries are 57.7% more expensive than Cape Town
- Vancouver restaurants are 55.1% more expensive and groceries are 59.3% more expensive than Cape Town.
- Sydney restaurants are 59.1% more expensive and groceries are 63.1% more expensive than Cape Town.
- Melbourne restaurants are 57.2% more expensive and groceries are 63.5% more expensive than Cape Town.
- Paris restaurants are 53.5% more expensive and groceries are 61.4% more expensive than Cape Town.
- Dubai restaurants are 55.4% more expensive and groceries are 41.6% more expensive than Cape Town.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries:
- Know Your Supermarkets: There are some good supermarkets in Cape Town; the best and most expensive is Woolworths. This Woolworths is no relation to FW Woolworths. In fact, it was modelled on the UK’s Marks and Spencers and has been stocking M&S Food for many years. The other leading supermarkets are Pick and Pay, Spar and Checkers. There are a few independent grocers and mini supermarkets which sell organic and fresh produce. Farmers’ markets are very popular – have a look at Oranjezicht City Market.
- Find Cheap Eats: Cape Town Magazine, Eat Out and Women’s Stuff and all have their own guides to cheap eats in Cape Town, which include everything from traditional Cape Malay curries to fine dining.
4. Cape Town Alcohol Costs
Cape Town is full of bars and clubs of many styles and cultures. The following is a list of basic prices of beer and wine from the supermarket and restaurants.
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: R40.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: R45.00
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a supermarket: R25.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: R30.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: R80.00
How To Drink For Less in Cape Town:
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays
- There are various bars and clubs that offer cheap drinks on certain days or at certain times. Have a look at the following sites to see which ones take your fancy – Cape Town Magazine, Eat Out and Trip Advisor
- Scour the areas around Cape Town University and other tertiary institutions to find the best alcohol deals
5. Cape Town Transportation Fares
Most expats in Cape Town use their cars to get around the city. There are minibus taxis, trains and buses but, to be perfectly honest, not only are they unreliable, there are also safety issues to consider. MyCiTi rapid transit buses are an option but at the moment the routes are limited.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult single – R20.00
- Monthly season ticket for bus, tram and train – R571.00
How To Save Money on Public Transport:
- Buy a bike. Cycling in Cape Town is popular but be wary of minibus taxis and buses, especially the Golden Arrow buses.
- Walk. The city is not that big and if you live close to where you work, then walking is certainly an option.
6. Cost of Internet in Cape Town
Internet in South Africa is expensive and contracts usually run for two years. Coverage is good throughout the country. Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2023 for unlimited downloads, based on a 24-month contract:
- MWeb: R374.00 a month (10 Mbps)
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
Cape Town has an enviable Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, sometimes wet, winters. The hottest month is January, with an average high of 30°C, although the temperature sometimes reaches over 40°C. July is the coldest month with an average high of 15°C. June is the wettest month, with an average of 120.4 mm of rain falling during the month.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: R840.00
- Summer Dress: R560.00
- Running Shoes (Trainers): R1,570.00
- Business Shoes: R1,390.00
- Short Doctor’s Visit (15 mins): R370.00
- Deodorant: R30.00
- Shampoo: R45.00
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): R25.00
- Gym Membership: R300.00 – R800.00 per month
- Movie (cinema) Ticket: R100.00
Source: Numbeo and Expatistan
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Cape Town
Everyone in South Africa drives on the left. Many people use their cars to get to and from work, which makes peak periods very congested. Most major companies have their own car parks or concessions in multi-storey car parks in the city.
If you’re moving to Cape Town from within South Africa, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to change your address to your new Cape Town one.
If you have become a Permanent Resident of South Africa, then you will need to get a South African Licence within 12 months of receiving your Permit. You don’t need to take a driving test but you do have to apply in person with your driving licence, proof of address, 2 photographs and a cash payment.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Cape Town:
- Volkswagen Golf: R320,000
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol): R23.65
- Registration Fee (if any): R120.00
- Other Fees (if any): Vehicle Licence – annual. The cost varies depending on the type and size of vehicle.
Source: Expatistan, Gov.za
Ways To Save Money on Driving in Cape Town:
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Gumtree and Carpoolworld.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber.
9. Taxes in Cape Town
No matter where you live in South Africa, you will pay the same rate of tax. To learn more about the different taxes, go to the South African Revenue Services site.
Sales Tax, or VAT (Value Added Tax) is 17% in South Africa and is added to most goods and services throughout the country. Unlike in some countries, it is always included in the marked price.
Whether you own or rent your home, you will be subject to municipal rates based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Payments include refuse removal and water usage. Learn more about municipal rates in Cape Town at Cape Town Rates.
Finally, if you decide to buy a flat or house in Cape Town you’ll have to pay transfer duty. While there’s no tax on the first R900,000 of your home value, the marginal rate increases gradually and peaks at R933,000 + 13% of the value above R10,000,000.
10. Flight Costs from Cape Town
If you do make the move to Cape Town, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2023:
- New York: R2,500
- Los Angeles: R2,800
- London: R1,900
- Toronto: R2,600
- Vancouver: R2,900
- Dubai: R1,800
- Sydney: R3,200
- Melbourne: R3,400
- Hong Kong: R2,200
Other Tips on Moving to Cape Town:
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Cape Town but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Cape Town Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling in Cape Town.
- Meetups: Cape Town has lots of free meetup groups you can find on Meetup.com. Join groups such as Cape Town Walking, Cape Town Java Community, Cape Town Freethinkers, Photography Cape Town and many more.
- Attend Local Events: There is always something going on in Cape Town. Find what appeals to you on What’s On In Cape Town, Cape Town Magazine, Timeout and Cape Town Travel.
12. Moving to Cape Town with a Family
Cape Town is a great place to bring up kids. It has wonderful beaches, mountains, fantastic weather, good schools and lots of housing options. Sadly, security is an issue which needs to be accepted and faced.
- New Parents (or parents to be): Have a look at Netcare
- Live in a Family-friendly Area: Family-friendly areas in the northern suburbs include Durbanville and Welgemoed. In the southern suburbs, Constantia, Bishopscourt and Camps Bay are the most expensive suburbs which are popular with families. For a more affordable option, try the leafy suburb of Newlands (also the wettest in Cape Town!), parts of Kenilworth and Rondebosch. These areas house the best private schools in Cape Town. If you go across the bay, where all those photographs of Table Mountain are taken, Bloubergstrand and Milnerton are affordable options. The Peninsular is also great for families; areas such as Kommetjie, Simon’s Town and Scarborough are close to the beach and the mountains and are popular with families who have small children.
- Find Things To Do With The Kids: Cape Town Magazine have great ideas for activities and events your kids will love.
13. Moving to Cape Town for Work
Moving to Cape Town for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
Cape Town is a city which is full of creative people, whether they be aspiring actors, artists or IT geniuses, they will feel at home here. Tourism and hospitality and the wine industry are big employers in the city. Many corporate companies have made Cape Town their home, including companies involved in manufacturing, finance, logistics and retail.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in Cape Town are nowhere near as high as other major cities around the globe but the cost of living is also low compared with those cities. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea of how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to Find Work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Cape Town, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Gumtree, Indeed, Careers 24, Pnet and Career Junction. You may also want to Google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Cape Town from Australia
There are a fair number of Australians living in Cape Town, if you’re thinking of joining them, here’s extra food for thought.
- Size Comparison: If you compare the size of Cape Town’s population with a city in Australia, you’d be looking at a city with a million fewer people than Melbourne.
- Join Expat Groups: Both Internations and Expat.com offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in Cape Town.
15. Moving to Cape Town from Canada
While you won’t find a huge number of Canadians living in Cape Town, there are a few. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size: If you compare the size of the population of Cape Town with a city in Canada, you would be looking at Montreal.
- Expat Groups: Try finding fellow Canadians by looking at Internations and Expats Blog.
16. Moving to Cape Town from the United States
There’s a relatively large group of Americans living in Cape Town. If you’re thinking of joining them, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you compare the population size of Cape Town with a city in the States, you would be looking at a city a little larger than Los Angeles
- Expat Groups: If you want to meet up with fellow Americans who are already living in Cape Town, Internations will point you in the right direction.
17. Moving to Cape Town from the United Kingdom
Cape Town is full of Brits. There are those who have been there for generations, and those you have just arrived. If you are thinking of joining them, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you compare the population size of Cape Town with a city in the UK, you would be looking at a city three-times the size of Birmingham.
- Expat Groups: Meeting up with people from home is always a good way to learn the ropes in a new country. The following sites will allow you to meet fellow Brits – InterNations, Meetup and Expat.com.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Cape Town you can start by comparing moving quotes here.