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The allure of Cape Town

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People are still drawn to the Western Cape, writes Bonny Fourie.

Although the latest FNB Barometer shows semigration to Cape Town has slowed since 2017, the region is still the country’s most popular destination in this segment.

And it is not only locals who favour the area. Lightstone stats show foreign property investment increased by 4% in January compared to last year. 

Here property experts tell us where locals and foreigners are buying, and why…

Picture: Supplied


Southern suburbs 

While Hout Bay is popular with families, those wanting to set up home in Cape Town generally look to live in Newlands, Bishopcourt, Rondebosch, Constantia, Oranjezicht, Kenilworth and Upper Claremont, says Richard Hardie, Knight Frank residential manager for the Atlantic Seaboard, City Bowl and Hout Bay.

They want to move into four-bedroom family homes with gardens, pools and garages. “They also look for properties close to amenities and good schools, and in areas where there are other families.”

Seeff managing director James Lewis says Constantia, Bishopscourt, Newlands and Rondebosch are particularly attractive to buyers from Jo burg and Pretoria as they have “some of the best schools in the country” and a wide choice of homes.

Lindsay Beck, Pam Golding Properties area manager for the southern suburbs, says there is considerable competition for places at top schools in Rondebosch, Claremont, Newlands and Constantia. Mike Greeff, chief executive of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate, believes the size of the family and personal preferences will also dictate the type of homes they look for. Suitable properties include standalone houses, semi-detached houses and townhouses.

“Sectional titles are also popular as they offer a community lifestyle with security. Many complexes are near schools, healthcare facilities and shopping.”

Generally, families prefer freehold properties with adequate space for all members and pets. Prices here, says Greeff, range from R3.5million to R8 m. 

Atlantic Seaboard/ City Bowl

These areas are attractive to family buyers and those looking for holiday or second homes, says Ian Slot, Seeff managing director in these areas and the Waterfront. “Wealthy Joburg and upcountry buyers are particularly drawn to the area.

Those not yet moving to Cape Town permanently will often invest in a second home here.”

Northern suburbs Johan Jacobs, Seeff licensee for Plattekloof and surrounds, says the northern suburbs are popular with semigrants from Joburg and Pretoria and other inland provinces. “Affordability is a big draw. In upper-income areas there are excellent options such as Plattekloof and estates like Baronetcy. These areas are central and close to the city and top schools and offer excellent facilities.”

Annien Borg, Pam Golding Properties area manager for the Boland and Overberg, says there’s been massive growth in the market outside Cape Town, bringing semigrants to Durbanville and Welgemoed, where investments offers considerable value for money.

“These areas are popular with buyers looking for a safe environment with the attractions of the Winelands and access to excellent schools, yet still close to Cape Town.”

False Bay On the False Bay coastline, semigration is mainly driven by the affordability of homes with gardens and proximity to good schools, says Steve Thomas, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty franchise manager in False Bay and Noordhoek. These include the Glencairn areas and Sun Valley/Noordhoek.

Picture: Supplied


Students moving to Cape Town to study at local tertiary institutions are usually funded by parents, and look for properties that can be shared with friends.

Anywhere close to where they study

Knight Frank’s Hardie says students usually go for affordable houses with small yards generally located in more built-up areas.

They usually settle close to the institutions where they study, often in Observatory, Woodstock, parts of Rondebosch, Devils Peak, Vredehoek, and Zonnebloem.

These property types usually range from R3million to R6m, but Hardie says studio apartments can be purchased from as little as R1m. Flats, apartments and sectional title properties are the most popular, says Greeff, especially those that are small, easy to maintain, conveniently located, close to transport routes and safe.

Students attending the University of Cape Town and other tertiary institutions in the city will look to Rondebosch, Rosebank, Observatory and Mowbray, as well as Newlands and Claremont, for accommodation.

Stellenbosch is also a university town and sectional title units in the central and surrounding areas are in high demand, says Pam Golding Properties.

Clifton is popular with those who have foreign currency. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA

Foreign Investors

Last week Lightstone Property announced the number of foreign property investments in the Western Cape had increased by 4% in January . 

Atlantic Seaboard/ City Bowl 

Knight Frank’s Hardie says Camps Bay and Bakoven, Clifton, Bantry Bay, Fresnaye, the Waterfront, Higgovale, Tamboerskloof, Green Point, De Waterkant, and Sea Point are often the areas in where foreigners look to purchase their properties. 

“These are usually houses or apartments that are suited for letting while they are not here. The properties need to tick all the boxes of having sea views, parking, outside space, pools, and being close to amenities.

“These buyers are looking for the holiday feel and returns on investments. They generally look for sea or mountain views,” Hardie says.

Greeff says foreign buyers also look for holiday homes which offer potential in summer, as well as farms and smallholdings in the Winelands.

“They are generally after apartments, a variety ranging from lockup-and-go to beach cottages, eco-estates, and large freestanding homes. The choice is also based on good access routes to tourist destinations and proximity to the airport.”

These properties range from R5million to R50m, Greeff says.

UK and European buyers, especially Germans and swallows, “ absolutely” love the Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl, says Seeff ’s Slot. 

“They will either buy here or rent for extended periods, sometimes up to six months of the year, to spend the fabulous summer here and get away from the cold European winters.”

The Atlantic Seaboard, with its Mediterranean climate and cosmopolitan lifestyle, appeals to many foreign buyers, agrees Basil Moraitis, Pam Golding Properties area manager here. 

“The lifestyle is also comparable to European cities, but is still accessible given the favourable exchange rate.” 


Louise Varga, Pam Golding Properties branch manager for Somerset West and Stellenbosch, says there has also been considerable international buyer interest in secure estates in the Winelands.

“You can have a home in a secure estate with a magnificent sea and mountain view and still be a few minutes’ drive from the beach.” 

False Bay 

Foreign retirement buyers also find value and lifestyle in the Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town areas.

“British pounds and euros have considerable buying power in the local market, particularly when compared to other popular retirement destinations such as Cyprus, Malta, France, and Spain,” Lew Geffen’s Thomas says.

Picture: Supplied

Professional Singles

Anywhere close to the CBD 

Central areas are usually the picks for professional singles to move to in Cape Town, so one or two-bedroom apartments in the CBD, City Bowl, Woodstock, Green Point, De Waterkant, and Claremont are often on their radars, Knight Frank’s Hardie says.

“They want to live in more ‘vibey’ areas that are close to work but still affordable.” Other factors they consider include whether they entertain, have guests stay over, or require additional space for home offices or games rooms.

“Apartments, townhouses, lofts and beach cottages are some of the popular choices. Desirable areas are often very close to commercial hubs.”

According to Pam Golding Properties, Cape Town’s city centre is increasingly popular with young professionals wanting a work-play-live experience. Many of them work in the CBD or are able to work remotely from hot desks or from offices in their homes.

Developments include formal meeting and hot-desking spaces to accommodate these residents. Southern suburbs The southern suburbs are also popular with professionals looking to be close to UCT or top medical centres such as Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children’s hospital, Seeff’s Lewis says.

“Certain areas report as much as a third of their buyers come from outside the metro, often from upcountry, and there is still strong interest.” 

Century City 

“Other emerging economic hubs, such as Century City and Tyger Valley Waterfront, where many corporates have offices, are also proving popular with young professionals,” says Pam Golding Properties. 

False Bay 

In False Bay and Noordhoek, Lew Geffen’s Thomas says professional singles usually prefer lockup-and-go properties ranging from entry-level to upper-level. A typical style of apartment is a split-level with sea views. “Security, affordability, convenience, parking, and low maintenance all feature in this category.

Picture: Supplied


Those who have retired look for properties in areas close to amenities such as shops, and buy apartments with balconies or single-storey houses, with offstreet parking, says Knight Frank’s Hardie. 

Southern suburbs and Atlantic seaboard 

Favourite areas for retirees are Tokai, Lower Constantia, Upper Wynberg, Sea Point and Mouille Point. 

Retirement complexes, sectional title properties, security estate homes and apartments that do not require a lot of upkeep are often best suited to retirees, who look for “enough space to be comfortable but not too much”, Greeff says.

In addition to wanting to be close to shops, properties need to be close to healthcare and entertainment facilities. “The choice also includes safety, security and low traffic volumes.” 

Although prices are dependent on areas and finishes, they range from R2million to R3.5m. 

Overberg/ Boland 

Sandra Gordon, PGP’s research analyst, says the coastal markets are outperforming their inland counterparts, as buyers from other parts of the country look to make the coast their permanent home.

Many buyers are drawn to the Overberg and Boland areas, looking for a country lifestyle that is still relatively close to Cape Town.

“These may be buyers wanting a second residence, with the intention being to settle here in the long-term, possibly for retirement,” Gordon says.

False Bay 

Lew Geffen’s Thomas says retirees also like the Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town areas, where homes come in a range of styles, and include homes with views of the bay and mountains.

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