If you’re moving to an area of the Cape Town suburbs or city centre, you’ll find a range of diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods to choose from.
Learn about the city’s residential neighbourhoods, from the rich areas in Cape Town and the safest places for expats to those that are best avoided when moving to a South African city. Buy a house in the area that suits your needs with this handy guide.
The best places to live in Cape Town
If you’re thinking of joining the 3.7 million people who live in the city the good news is that there are plenty of diverse neighbourhoods in Cape Town to choose from. While some of South Africa’s cities don’t always have the best reputation in the Western world, Cape Town is widely considered to be one of the best places for expats moving to Africa.
At heart, Cape Town is an historic city, influenced by a diverse range of cultures over hundreds of years. In addition to this rich culture, Cape Town boasts everything from beautiful natural beaches to modern entertainment activities.
While Cape Town has some beautiful areas, it’s fair to say that some are safer than others. In this guide, we take a look at some of the best and safest areas for expats to live in Cape Town.
The Cape Town suburbs – the safest areas to live in Cape Town
A map of the Cape Town suburbs and other areas of interest can be found here.
Atlantic seaboard (Camps Bay, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay, Clifton)
Among the beaches at the bottom of Table Mountain’s imposing western side, you will encounter some of Cape Town’s most desirable neighbourhoods – Camps Bay, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay and Clifton. These neighbourhoods are popular with wealthy expats who take the opportunity to buy beachside homes and enjoy the high life. While there isn’t a lot to do for culture vultures out here, the city is only around 10 minutes away.
At the foot of Table Mountain, the City Bowl area is within easy reach of the city centre. For western expats, it might remind you of your home city – with a range of modern entertainment facilities on offer. With a range of good quality schools, including a couple of expat favourites – Tamboerskloof Primary School and St. Cyprian’s School – this is a very desirable area.
The architecture in these neighbourhoods is a mish-mash of brightly painted houses, modern apartments and chic loft renovations. One of the more desirable areas, expats will find plenty of bars and restaurants here. These neighbourhoods are popular with the Muslim community.
Consantia, Tokal & Bishopscourt
If you’re looking for a large, gated property with a large garden, these neighbourhoods are worth checking out. Located around 25 minutes from the city centre, Constantia is a very prestigious choice for those who want to live an exclusive and private lifestyle.
Bloubergstrand/ Blaauwberg Coast (Milnerton, Tableview)
To the north of the city around Table Bay, you can find the neighbourhoods of Milnerton and Tableview. While the lifestyle is considerably different to the Atlantic seaboard neighbourhoods, the beaches here are popular with watersports all year round, and there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby to enjoy. With good schools and affordable properties, the coast is popular with expats moving to Cape Town and considered one of the best places to live in Cape Town.
Located to the south west of the city, Hout Bay is popular with people buying holiday homes and weekend commuters, with pretty beaches, walking trails and stunning views on offer. While not the most vibrant working area, Hout Bay does boast a few schools and a working harbour.
Boroughs such as Durbanville, Bellville and Parow are popular with expats moving out of the city. In recent years, much development has taken place in the northern suburbs, and these neighbourhoods in boast some good schools and shopping centres.
Around 10km south of the city centre, the southern suburbs are home to some excellent quality family homes and good private and state schools. With a range of historical buildings, restaurants and entertainment venues, these neighbourhoods are highly regarded.
False Bay (Muizenberg, Fish Hoek, Simonstown)
If you’re looking for somewhere peaceful, the False Bay seaboard of Muizenberg, Fish Hoek and Simonstown are worth checking out. Expats moving to these areas face a longer commute in to the city, but this is a stumbling block home movers are prepared to contend with – especially first-time buyers and surfing fanatics.
Helderberg (Gordon’s Bay, Strand, Somerset West)
Helderberg’s neighbourhoods are primarily home to gated estates and golf estates, with new housing developments a prime spot for expats moving to the area. While it’s possible to commute in to the centre from here, it can be very time consuming if you hit heavy traffic.
Neighbourhoods in Cape Town to avoid
As with other cities in South Africa, it’s important to be vigilant when travelling around in Cape Town, especially alone. This means hiding valuables, researching routes before you travel and avoiding unknown areas, especially when it’s dark. There are other ways you can minimise your chances of being a victim of crime too, for example by only booking your taxis through a reputable company and only getting in to marked cars.
While areas change over time and there is no hard and fast rule about where is and isn’t safe, official crime stats from 2016 show the following areas had the most crimes in the Western Cape region.
- Mitchells Plain (highest number of drug crimes, attempted murders and common assaults)
- Cape Town Central (highest number of robberies)
- Kraaifontein (highest number of residential burglaries)
- Nyanga (highest number of murders and sexual offences)
- Bellville (highest number of vehicle thefts)
- Bishop Lavis