Why Cape Town is the best city to live and work remotely

NEW: Connect to digital nomads in Cape Town. Join the Cape Town Digital Nomads Facebook Group.

“Go to Cape Town, you’ll love it!” This simple sentence from a South African guy I met hitchhiking in Australia changed my life.

 I’d never even considered going there before but it sparked my interest. He told me how he thinks it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and how it can easily keep up with Sydney, where I used to live at that time.

 Three years later I sat on a plane to South Africa to study abroad.

 I loved it so much that I threw all my other travel plans over board and decided to stay longer.

Then I fell in love and changed my career from Tourism to Online Marketing. I wanted to be location independent so I could make a good living in Cape Town, which isn’t easy if you’re earning a local salary.

Only in 2010, after a break up, I felt that I needed a change and eventually decided to travel to the world as full time digital nomad.

These days I’m thinking that one of the reasons I kept on traveling so much, until I decided to spend more time in Tarifa, is that I didn’t find any other place I liked as much as Cape Town (except maybe Rio de Janeiro).

 One thing that really surprises me is that hardly anyone in the “digital nomad scene” has written about it. After having seen and worked from so many places around the world I believe that it will eventually become known as one of the world’s best cities to live and work remotely.

Here is why:

Cape Town (8)

Outdoors Heaven

Staying active is important to keep a good work-life balance. It’s even better if you can enjoy being outside in the nature at the same time. Cape Town is perfect to get your daily adrenaline rush after work. Go surfing, climbing, mountain biking, hiking, diving, kite surfing… You can literally do any type of outdoor sport that doesn’t require snow. All within less than a 30 minute drive from the city center. No more need to go to the gym ;-).

Entrepreneurial Vibes

The world design capital of 2014 has a huge creative scene in all areas: Arts, Tech and Fashion. The community of local and international entrepreneurs is huge, and it’s easy to connect to like-minded people in coworking spaces and local events.

Cape Town Beach

World in one Country

The Cape Town Region is literally a world in one country. Amazing beaches, mountains and wildlife. There’s hardly any other place in the World with so much to explore within a short drive.

Penthouse estate near beach

Luxury Value

One of the best things about working and travelling is that you can spend more time in places that offer better value for money. Saying that, Cape Town can’t keep up with the low cost of living in South East Asia – It’s only slightly cheaper than Europe. But you’ll get a lot more for your money. I don’t know many other places in the world that offers so much luxury for so little money. Whether it’s dining out in a beautiful restaurant, a weekend getaway, or  the nightlife set in amazing settings. In Cape Town you can probably afford it all.

SONY DSC

Big city that feels like a town

This is more of a personal point. I’m not a big fan of huge cities where life is so anonymous and it takes you forever to get from point A to B. Cape Town however is different. The city is very cliquey. Call it good or bad but depending on what scene you choose you’ll meet people again and see familiar faces even if you only spend a few weeks there. Plus, most things happen in a very small radius around table mountain, so it feels more like living in a town than a huge city.

Milnerton Beach in Cape Town

Homebase

Travelling the world while working online eventually gets tiring so we need something like a homebase to make the most out of our lifestyle. After travelling to over 60 countries there’s not many places I’d actually like to return to frequently. Cape Town is one of those few places in the World that is so unique and good, I could actually imagine making it a homebase again one day. I’m not the only one. There’s more and more location independent professionals from Europe who spend their summers in Europe and escape the winter to Cape Town.

Great places to work

Cape Town has over 20 coworking spaces. That’s more than most other cities in the world offer. Add to that the huge amount of excellent WiFi coffee shops you’ll find all over the city and you have the perfect workation infrastructure.

NEW: Connect to digital nomads in Cape Town. Join the Cape Town Digital Nomads Facebook Group.

funicular on Table Mountain(Capetown)

Tourist Awards

Cape Town wins one tourist award after another. Here’s a small selection of 2014.

New York Times /  52 places to go to in 2014 / Rank 1
Guardian/Best holiday hotspots in 2014/ Rank 1
Lonely Planet / Best Cities to Travel in 2014 / Rank 3

Cape Town (1)

TIA

This is Africa, even though living in Cape Town often feels like being in Europe. Are you dreaming about safaris on the weekend? And getting to know new cultures and lifestyles? This is where you want to be!

As you can see there’s so many reasons to visit Cape Town one day. Hope you consider it the next time you plan your workation. To connect to other digital nomads who go there join the Cape Town Digital Nomads Facebook group.

I’m sure you’ll love it too ;-).

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  • Gary

    I’ve wanted to visit and spend some time in Cape Town ever since about 2 years ago I took a silly facebook quiz “what city should you really live in”. The blurb it gave me on Cape Town made me look into it more, and it’s definitely among my top places I’ve yet to see.

    • Johannes Voelkner

      Think I know that quiz and got Cape Town as the answer as well. Good luck going there soon.

  • I totally agree with you. I also fell in love with CT once and have now lived there on and off for several years already. I travel to other countries extensively, but I always miss South Africa and Cape Town, no matter where I am.

    • Johannes Voelkner

      Hey Thamara. Same with me. It’s an amazing place.

  • David Waters

    Thanks mate for taking the time to write the article,
    I had a look online about Durban and it ticked a lot of boxes, surf .. was one and i know theres surf at CT have you ever been to D’urban?

    • Johannes Voelkner

      Hey David. Yes I’ve been there. Surf is probably better and the water a lot warmer in Durban. I’d prefer the international vibe and beauty of Cape Town though.

      • David Waters

        :) thanks Johannes

    • Adela

      Blouberg in Cape Town is a kitesurfers dream with strong consistent winds starting in September, loads of sunshine and 5 km of sandy beach where most parts are reserved for kitesurfers, but also windsurfers, surfers and SUPers. There is also new coworking office: http://www.coworkite.com/. CoworKite owes its name to kiteboarding. For city known by its beautiful beaches, watersports and relaxed lifestyle it was about the time.

  • I’ve been still concerning about the security. When I searched in Google for “crime cape town”, this was the first result:

    South Africa is known to have one of the highest crime rate per 100,000 residents in the world regarding assault, rape and murder.

    Which neighborhoods in Cape Town you recommend?

    • Johannes Voelkner

      Good point Peter.

      I’m aware that many people are concerned about this but wanted to focus only on positive aspects in the post. I have another way more detailed post coming up including tips on safety and recommended suburbs,

      In general I’d agree with Nikki’s comment though.

    • FatBoySlim

      Crime is high yes depending on where you go, wander into the townships at night is much like the favelas in Rio and you probably highly likely to be attacked. That said, the townships are pretty far removed from the beauty of the major attractions.

  • Niki Bechus

    Originally from Joburg but live in CT for the last 14 years, I still feel as though I’m on holiday every time I leave my apartment. As long as you are streetwise, stay away from certain areas and realize there is still a lot of unemployed people & poverty. Be observant, don’t leave your valuables unattended and you should experience a crime free lifestyle. Remember there is crime in every big city all over the world, that’s unfortunately life now days. CT is like no other you got to come see for yourself, it’s the best…

    • Johannes Voelkner

      Thanks for your comment. Very well said!

  • startupdevil

    I lived in Cape Town for over five year and I loved it as much as you did. It is truely awesome especially the nightlife and enjoying the beach. However I think you forgot to mention two points. The first is that for people coming from a first world country to South Africa it takes some time to get used to the fact that you will live next to very poor people. In South Africa you can have a luxury life but you will also see what it means to be really dirt poor. And the second disadvantage for digital nomads in South Africa is that you most likely need a car to get around. Public transport is too dangerous to use especially after it is getting dark. However despite these two points South Africa and Cape Town is a magic place and one of the best cities to live. Great post!

    • Johannes Voelkner

      I agree with your points. The intention of this post though, was to only focus on the positive aspects. I’ll publish a more detailed guide to Cape Town soon where I’ll also mention all the other things people need to be aware of coming down here as well.

  • Great article on Cape Town, there is obviously a lot more reasons to visit or move there. I just have one more thing to add to your article: The 90 day visa tourists receive when going to South Africa. After experiencing the whole of South East Asia, Cape Town is definitely our place to live in. South Africa is relatively inexpensive with a 1st world countries infrastructure. Do visit!

    • Johannes Voelkner

      Good point Reinart! Will weave that in in the future as well!

  • Brian Thompson

    The problems I find with CT that make working remotely difficult are the following: Reliability of power supply (they have rotating power outages)
    , Unreliable internet service (no competition so outages can last for days). AND Unreliable cell service, which I use as a back up to the unreliable internet service. So although its beautiful to be there its VERY difficult to work remotely when the core services are not stable and reliable.

    • Johannes Voelkner

      Brian, sorry I have to disagree with you. I’ve just spent the last three months in Cape Town. Yes we had a few power outages due to loadshedding (4 in 3 months) but they had been announced in advance. The mobile internet didn’t cause any problems and often time worked better in Germany. Overall the infrastructure has been extremly good in comparison to many other places I’ve worked from around the World.

    • FatBoySlim

      ‘Internet service outage lasting days’, perhaps you never paid your account. Ive lived here all my life and use the internet for business from many locations Never experienced internet outage for days.

    • I am staying in Cape Town, and I use MTN mobile network for my data on my wifi modem. I dont want to be tied down to a land line contract, and have always got pretty good connectivity with the sim card. In the 2 years I have been using it around Cape Town, I have had about 3 times when there was an issue, and never more than a couple of hours. I have my wifi on 24/7 and take it with me everywhere.

      I also use a laptop, and that as well as the battery in the WiFi router mean I dont worry about any power outages to keep me down. There has not been one for quite a few weeks now, and even when you do have one, its scheduled, and never more than 2 hours, making it easy to plan ahead for.
      I ONLY work remotely via my laptop and WiFi, and have a 20GB monthly cap on my internet that costs R799 odd. Yes its expensive, but it means I am mobile and dont have to sign a contract as its month to month.

  • Hylcott SEO Co.

    Just spent 3 weeks last May in South Africa and just fell in love with Cape Town and surround wine region. The people, the food, the wine, the geographical wonder is one of the best combinations any city/region can offer a writer to work. So inspiring! If I wasn’t embarking on my next move to Ubud, Bali, Cape Town would my next choice to live and work.

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