Living in South Africa

Top five safest places to live in South Africa

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Similar to many cities around the world, there are no-go areas in most South African cities but many safe neighbourhoods to live as well.

South Africa is a nation in transition and, as with all change, there is inevitable fallout. One of the main areas of concern in South Africa is safety and security--an area that has taken a bit of a beating in recent years.
Unemployment is one of the major catalysts of crime

The large urban metropolises of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town have witnessed an unbelievable surge in population in recent years, with more and more rural people making for the city in an effort to find jobs. Many of these sought-after jobs have not materialised, however, leaving unemployment rife. Unfortunately, the result of this growing unemployment is crime.

Refugees add pressure

With other states in Africa facing both an economic and social meltdown, refugees have had no option but to seek for the sun elsewhere. The ‘Rainbow Nation’, with all her opportunities, has become the preferred destination of these desperate victims of war and greed, resulting in even more pressure on the fragile local economy.

Avoid no-go areas in urban centres

As with the vast majority of cities around the world, there are no-go areas in most South African cities, but every single one of them is still a relatively safe place to live in as long as you are vigilant and take the usual precautions.

Top five places that are some of the safest places to live in South Africa

Cape Town
Cape Town is an exciting, modern and culturally diverse city that boasts some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. The inner city has seen a recent revamp, with a tremendous amount of international money and influence being spent on its urban renewal. Businesses, together with city leaders, have made concerted efforts to great effects to keep the city both safe and clean, and the centre of Cape Town has become one of the safest places to both live and do business in.

The Garden Route
This spectacular area between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the East coast of Africa is without a doubt one of the jewels of the nation. Apart from its pure lifestyle, many of the towns along the Garden Route are some of the safest places in which to bring up your family. Estates that offer superior security measures abound in this pristine wilderness area and some of the most foremost golf real estate can be found in George and Knysna.

Port St John’s
The Transkei Wild Coast is one of the last remaining untouched regions of incomparable beauty. Formerly a Bantustan, or black homeland, during the days of the apartheid regime, the Transkei has largely been forgotten by the powers to be. Port St John’s is situated on the Indian Ocean coastline and offers a sleepy, sublime lifestyle for the growing family. Schooling may be an issue later on, but there are excellent high schools in nearby Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth and Durban. Regional poverty remains a challenge, so petty crime does take place but community programmes have done a lot to uplift the locals and there is now a much better understanding between all members of the PSJ community.

Cape St. Francis
This seaside town is situated close to Port Elizabeth and offers a quiet commercial retreat out of season. During the holidays it is a popular destination for local tourists and becomes extremely busy. There are plenty of business options, and first-class secondary and tertiary education is available in nearby PE. This is an ideal place for both young and old.

The West Coast
The west coast of South Africa is sparsely populated, largely due to the fact that it is the dry and arid limb of the nation. There are several small towns all the way up the west coast that are both delightful and safe. Yzerfontein, Churchhaven and St. Helena Bay are probably the pick of the bunch but they all offer a relaxed and secure way of life.

Lavana James / Expatica
Lavana James
writes for Kingswood Golf Estates, which provides a safe community of exclusive homes. Contact them to view their available properties.

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41 Comments To This Article

  • jacquibester posted:

    on 8th May 2017, 14:54:24 - Reply

    Hi All, It's been years since I have been back home. I'm coming over with my two boys and frankly, I'm a stressful. We will be staying in a place in Ramsgate. Does anyone have any idea on the crime in the area. Obviously not to be a stupid tourist but should I be concerned the place we are staying at does not have much security. TIA
  • Liz posted:

    on 8th April 2017, 22:03:02 - Reply

    Hi Bryan,
    If you are looking to move to a smallholding, we are situated on the very southern border of Limpopo in Tonteldoos. My husband and I are looking to retire to the Western Cape. Why not check out our property. Tonteldoos is safe and small and tucked away from the main roads. Email me on and I will forward details.

  • sam posted:

    on 17th February 2017, 12:54:18 - Reply

    This article is for tourist. What on earth would I be doing in the heart of the townships as a tourist?
  • Elaine posted:

    on 2nd February 2017, 09:12:32 - Reply

    We lived in Grahamstown for many years. Due to my husbands work, once the children were almost done with their high school. We relocated to Jhb. This I was not looking forward too. The previous people who owned the house that we bought had lived there for 10 years with no incidents, we have now lived here for 7 yrs and have had no incidents. We live in Marais Steyn Park, Edenvale...I feel completely safe here. When we visit family in the north of Jhb am alway wonder if our car will still be there. Definitely depends on the area you live.
  • John posted:

    on 24th December 2016, 19:31:00 - Reply

    I see people only talking about crime concerning safety what about RACISM
  • Bryan posted:

    on 10th December 2016, 06:06:43 - Reply

    Hi, We are looking to relocate to Limpopo and would be very grateful if you could let me know which areas to avoid (if any), we are looking for a smallholding or a farm and have an open mind for the area, but do prefer around Hoedspruit.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Thulani posted:

    on 12th November 2016, 14:16:29 - Reply

    Safety is being made by you. If you are in a location don't carry expensive phone , expensive clothes ' Jewellery , avoid friends. I see how capetown is unsafe but I protect myself
  • John posted:

    on 7th October 2016, 14:13:17 - Reply

    I would agree Cape Town CBD is much safer than Johannesburg. But still can be dangerous while walking alone at night compared to European cities. For safer places I will choose George/Mossel Bay area. The scenery is beautiful and it has all the infrastructure you need. Very good schools and hospitals. On my all time favourite list of small towns I will rank Prince Albert first. Beautiful Karoo town that offers so much possibilities. It has seen a huge influx of both overseas and people from bigger SA cities. Basically the whole Karoo area I would consider safer than than more northern of SA.
  • DK2001 posted:

    on 21st September 2016, 09:35:12 - Reply

    Try Mauritius
  • Delusional posted:

    on 30th May 2016, 16:39:13 - Reply

    As a 20 year resident of Cape Town I can assure that Cape Town is NOT SAFE. And that is excluding the gang-ravaged areas and townships.

    In fact the mentality that the city is safe places visitors and residents at increased risk of being victims of crime compared to other cities where South Africans are more crime conscious and cautious.

    Wall jumping in suburbs is routine (countless instances of stolen garden furniture, fixtures etc), suburbs like Observatory routinely have violent crimes, it is by far the most drug saturated city South Africa, many of the beaches are very dangerous to walk alone (say that as a former surfer), and your car will often be broken into while you are away, and home intrusions can and do happen with increasing frequency.

  • andries posted:

    on 20th November 2015, 19:52:35 - Reply

    western cape port owen,velddrif,laaiplek 90 min from capetown the best in south africa

  • mignon posted:

    on 10th November 2015, 23:06:33 - Reply

    Hello, I'm an American wondering if the safety in Cape Town has improved. I'm thinking about buying a home near V&A, beach area, Table Mountain. I'm concerned about my son's safety. He's 18.

  • Mike posted:

    on 2nd November 2015, 19:25:15 - Reply

    Cape Town held the world record for - 40 years as the Murder Capital of the world. It has now dropped to 3rd or 4th position. Author should stop writing and try reality searching.

  • AdvGerritCoetzee posted:

    on 4th October 2015, 08:32:53 - Reply

    Thank you for the article. Cape Town will be excluded in totality if the Cape Flats is included. Most murders there with the 2014/2015 stats. Thus smaller neighbourhoods need to be identified to determine safe-st/unsafe-st areas. Of more relevance could also be to establish THE COST that comes with that safest accolades. That could be a drastic different picture! I wish to propose the suburb of Overkruin in Heidelberg Gauteng as a contender as the safest suburb to live in at the lowest cost to do so. Although crime is a concern in our town, Overkruin particularly suffered being next to escape routes. Housebreaking, murder, rape and Hi-jacking once was the order of the day. But private initiatives saw a drastic change. October 2014 to October 2015 saw a record year of zero, nil of the above crimes . But it is here where the difference come in. This we do at only R395 pm, through a voluntary contribution by 93% of the residents. And that R395 includes a box of wine from Simonswy wines to each full contributing home. And at R395 that makes Overkruin a winning Neighbourhood on a 'safest versus the cost' thereof suburb, in South Africa being among a crime ridden area. Zero crime at R395pm (and including a box of wine). Now that is a reason to smile. But let me haste to say: we teach the philosophy that in vain we guard the city if God does not protect us. Chairman: Overkruin Heidelberg Gauteng for the safest suburb at the lowest cost.

  • Royston posted:

    on 30th July 2015, 08:53:23 - Reply

    That article on Cape Town been one of the safest places in SA is totally incorrect. According to stats, it is actually the most dangerous and violent. The author obviously went to the lovely beaches, V & A Waterfront, Camps Bay, Table Mountain, and all the lovely tourist attractions. Go into the heart of the townships like Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Gugulethu. These are the misconceptions that people spread about South Africa. Author....get your facts right before you write such misinformation.
  • Morufe posted:

    on 13th August 2015, 16:22:33 - Reply

    After nearly losing our car and lives over a stupid cellphone light reflection in the burbs in Pretoria, well I no longer want to live in any burbs of any province, for some weird reason living in the burbs attracts crime straight out. Thinking of settling in a middle class area where everyone is content. Cause the nails that sticks out gets hammered!
  • Beverley posted:

    on 20th June 2015, 18:14:53 - Reply

    I was away from Cape Town for many years and have just returned. Trust me I met with a rude awakening. Parklands is now [edited] hijackings and robberies and and and. CT is no longer safe either. CT as opposed to JHB and KZN is the best of the 2 evils. Talk about the beautiful farms - well so many have been attacked so much so for that one. Many farms out Knysna way have also been attacked. Where does this leave us when it comes to safety. SA no matter where you live is corrupt and these murdering thieving raping people have spread like a bubonic plague

  • Chillydog posted:

    on 31st January 2015, 17:08:22 - Reply

    I am from the US but my wife is from Capetown. We visit a lot w/ extended stays. We love the west coast as well - Shaldana and Langabaan are our favs though. Also I LOVE Stellenbosch Surprised its not mentioned. Its a college town with a 3 great feels (from my perspective) 1. a good sized farming community with beautiful wine farms and super nice people 2. A college town with an international flair 3. A modern mid sized city with great eateries and shopping centers.
    Also on my fav list
    - Somerset West
    - Durbanville
    - Ceres
    GREAT COUNTRY!!!!!!!
    Dang - now I want to go and plan another trip
  • Christian posted:

    on 20th December 2014, 01:20:15 - Reply

    SA has the single highest imbalance in Gini differential,this means that the income balance is extremely steep between the affluent and the desperately poor
  • Nancy posted:

    on 10th November 2014, 08:15:29 - Reply

    A good place to obtain information based upon input from locals is:
    What I like about it is that you can compare cities. (Few cities in SA, but perhaps readers could also contribute to the information database.) I have never visited SA, would love to but the statistics scare me. Surely there are more official crime statistics from the police. Here in the US real estate websites such as Zillow and Trulia provide crime information, as well as many others. It might be a good idea to visit the local police and speak with them. I did that before moving into the city in which I currently live and was told what areas to avoid (which were not necessarily obvious). Alarm monitoring companies might also be able to offer statistical information on their coverage areas....just a thought.
  • Tee posted:

    on 25th September 2014, 08:48:24 - Reply

    Latest crime stats suggest Port Elizabeth is one of the safest places to live. Great beaches too!
  • Akbar posted:

    on 14th September 2014, 06:50:56 - Reply

    Retirement communities in cities along the coasts?

    I lived and worked in Dallas, DC, Miami, LA, and New York for nearly 35 years. So, I am very familiar with the primary concerns; safety and the hustle and bustle of big cities. I am interested about quite retirement communities. but, don't know anything about the cost of living in relatively clean, quite, and safe communities along the coasts. Any recommendations?

  • Val Mahan posted:

    on 30th July 2014, 19:44:52 - Reply

    I just stumbled across this site and think that you folks might offer the variety and experience I need.

    We are in the U.S. and are seriously thinking about renting a house/apartment in South Africa for the period May-September 0f 2015. The purpose will be to have base from which to travel around the doing wild life photography. W'ed also want to host friends/kids during the time we're in S.A. We have in mind a 2-3 bedroom 2 bath furnished place with good security and good internet , in an attractive and stable environment. Security is critical since we will be on the road for 2-3 weeks at a time. Trace's post was interesting, but although we've spent a let of time in Africa (5 years in Lusaka, 20 years ago) we know absolutely nothing about Polokwane. So, thanks in advance for any advice you might offer, and we'd really like to hear more from Trace.
  • Trace posted:

    on 30th July 2014, 17:04:19 - Reply

    You want a safe place to live, go to the Limpopo Province. You will live in peace, its like Heaven on Earth
  • Jaco posted:

    on 5th July 2014, 21:45:29 - Reply

    Sorry my email for Shirley and Mark is Thanks
  • Jaco posted:

    on 5th July 2014, 21:44:08 - Reply

    I came across this post by accident. As everyone mentioned, crime is evident across the country, also here in Cape Town. But I still believe it is generally safer, but no area is 100% safe. We live in the Northern Suburbs and have been in Brackenfell area for 7 years. Shirley and Mark who asked for information about Brackenfell is welcome to contact me. I am only a resident - not a sales agent. Regards, Jaco
  • shaun posted:

    on 9th June 2014, 17:52:00 - Reply

    I agree about Cape Town,I've lived in this city for years and the city of Cape Town makes sure people are safe.That's why Cape Town is a better candidate to bid for the 2024 summer olympics,cap town you're the best host the olympics its time!!!
  • Shirley posted:

    on 16th May 2014, 19:02:06 - Reply

    We also live in gauteng in the wonderful JHB sarcastically saying, the crime is just getting worse by the day I even refuse to live in a house here I would never sleep. My hubby and I have also decided that we want to relocate to Cape Town for our children's sake also looking at the Brackenfell area as that's were my hubby can get transfered to. Mark when you went to Cape Town did you go to Brackenfell? I would also appreciate advice or anyones opinion please. Thank you! Shirley.
  • Kym posted:

    on 28th March 2014, 20:33:07 - Reply

    There is a lot of argument over Cape Town being considered a "safe" place. I think it is safe overall, but different sections are more safe than other. If you are actually looking to move to the Cape Town area, I would first look at rental prices. The areas within or right outside Cape Town with the highest prices or the least amount of units available are highly desired because of location and safety. Watch listings on a site like Gumtree to find this kind of info:
  • Mark posted:

    on 6th March 2014, 09:48:20 - Reply

    I have lived in Pretoria almost my whole life and must admit ,have been unhappy here for at least,the last 2 years.I and my family have been victims of hijacking,a vehicle being stolen infront of my kids school at 10 am(affluent area-northern suburbs),I was robbed by 5 doods-2 of which wielded knifes.Whilst lying on my back and they pinning me down,I thought it was the end-luckily I survived,Our vehicles have been broken into,because of all the road works,esp towards the CBD,thugs have now ventured into robbing you whilst stuck in traffic.a month ago,my wife and I visited Cape Town,With one thing in mind-To compare-PTA vs CT.Well,I am convinced.Cape Town wins hands down.Look I am also not ignorant to the fact that crime is rife throughout the country-but,we felt safer.The traffic was more orderly-look the N2 is busy at peak times,but you had no taxi's flying passed you on the yellow line side of the road or wanting to push in and bump you.The place was cleaner.People friendlier-they seemed more relaxed.The scenery and things to do,being an outdoors family man-great.My wife can get a transfer down there,We will be renting at first an have looked at the Brackenfell area.Klair,I would appreciate your opinion and advice.Regards Mark
  • klair posted:

    on 24th February 2014, 00:21:08 - Reply

    Cape Town is both beautiful and safe. Don't see a reason to be snooty as this is however one man's option. Cape Town just like every other province has crime. Sad to say it is on the rise as many "self employed" people from other African countries are coming on by the masses And no one in authority seems to be phases. Overall I wouldn't live anywhere else in SA considering I've been in GP and KZN,still would proudly be Capetonian
  • Gareth posted:

    on 20th February 2014, 11:57:15 - Reply

    The only reason Cape Town isn't safe is because the houses there don't have security yet. In East London, every house has burglar bars, an alarm system, an electric fence and enormous dogs...
  • Danie posted:

    on 5th February 2014, 15:08:53 - Reply

    This article... painted picture what the government want you to believe.
    The more jobless people on the street, the more crime.
    The government is to blame as "THEY" are the biggest criminals taking all funds for themselves. Feed and help the helpless and crime will decrease.
  • Charl posted:

    on 16th October 2013, 13:12:17 - Reply

    Cape town safest city? What a joke. I am much safer in Pretoria than i ever was living in Cape town.
  • Anna posted:

    on 1st August 2013, 16:43:08 - Reply

    Cape Town Safe? Must be joking. You must have lost the meaning of safe.
  • Lilly posted:

    on 15th May 2013, 09:29:32 - Reply

    [Edited by moderator] there is a "Safest" place to live in each town. The one thing I do agree with is that "as long as you are vigilant and take the usual precautions". You go to any country and this same principle applies, yes crime is more prevalent in SA but it does happen everywhere so let's not be ignorant. SA is still the BEST COUNTRY TO LIVE IN!!!!
  • Peter posted:

    on 25th February 2013, 08:27:33 - Reply

    Cape Town is the most dangerous in the country by far, 2nd is Johannesburg then Durban, the south west coast is safer like George
  • samora posted:

    on 30th January 2013, 10:42:50 - Reply

    hahahahahahahahahaha this is funny cape town?????? recheck the word safest in dictionary again!!!!!!!!!!
  • Sharon Mills posted:

    on 1st November 2012, 10:34:15 - Reply

    Im so disappointed that Mpumalanga wasnt mentioned, Especially the Onderburg (Nelspruit - Malelane - Komatipoort) we are always left out in these surveys. having lived in Johannesburg (Northern 'safest' suburbs) Never broken into, Hout Bay (Cape Town) - Mugged in the street and broken into twice, I would BY FAR live in the area i now live in, children can play in the streets, its very well mixed area, all different South Africans, and everyone knows everyone :) LOVE IT.
  • Anita posted:

    on 8th October 2012, 11:29:38 - Reply

    I plan to telephone the insurance companies - they should know which areas are better in JHB. I have a friend who lived there and she was robbed 7 times, however when I was there 12 years ago - I did not have a single incident. I think it definetely makes a difference where you live. Some affluent areas are hit all the time just as much as some of the poorer areas.
  • Richard posted:

    on 15th November 2011, 10:25:39 - Reply

    I fully agree with the above article. If you need to be in a big city for employment or business reasons, Cape Town is the safest and most pleasant city to live in South Africa (and voted among the top 10 cities in the world to live in by a 2010 expat poll - 6th place in fact). If you don't need to be in a big city, one of the best and safest smaller cities to relocate to is George along the Garden Route. It is all the conveniences and modern infrastructure of a bigger city, but the friendliness and atmosphere of a small town. Very little crime, excellent schools, top sporting facilities, a large shopping mall, world-class airport, lots of things to do, and fantastic natural beauty and scenery around, including beaches, forests and mountains. Great for families, great for outdoor life and sports enthusiasts. I have lived here for several years now and it is fantastic, I can see why George is such a popular spot to relocate to.