South Africa
Oct 2023
2 months

Cape Town

The world's most scenic remote working hub?

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[Description}

Boasting stunning landscapes and rich culture, Cape Town is a truly unique city within the African continent.

The distinct landscape is formed by the imposing presence of Table Mountain National Park and the rugged beauty of the Cape Peninsula, providing panoramic views in every direction.

Verdict:
Highly recommended

Without a doubt, worth the journey. It's a long way to travel, but there's something for everyone, making it a good gamble for a month-long stay.

🌎
Verdict:
Highly recommended

Without a doubt, worth the journey. It's a long way to travel, but there's something for everyone, making it a good gamble for a month-long stay.

Verdict:
Highly recommended

Without a doubt, worth the journey. It's a long way to travel, but there's something for everyone, making it a good gamble for a month-long stay.

👎
Verdict:
Highly recommended

Without a doubt, worth the journey. It's a long way to travel, but there's something for everyone, making it a good gamble for a month-long stay.

🛫
Rand (ZAR)
4.6 Million
💰 Great value
💻 Remote work hub
🏝️ Great for a holiday
🥇 Top rated
🧳 Would like to return

Summary

A friend's upcoming wedding in late October presented the ideal opportunity for an extended visit to a city that had always piqued my curiosity, yet never found its way into my plans.

Accommodation
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Plan ahead and avoid peak season in December and you should find an array of high-quality accommodations on Airbnb at reasonable prices.

Prices tend to rise sharply during the summer months, particularly in popular tourist areas like Camp Bay. Excellent deals can be found in the CBD, especially when booking for extended periods of a month or more.

info
New legislation
Recent changes introduced by the Turkish government has made short-term rentals for under 100 days more restricted. Keep an eye on Reddit threads for up-to-date assessments of how the new legislation is impacting short-term rentals in practice.
Places to work
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Cape Town stands out among other cities with its vast array of coworking spaces, offering an unparalleled variety of options. Throughout the city, you'll find numerous high-quality spaces at affordable prices.

However, when it comes to coffee shops, few create an ideal serious work environment, with their early closing times and the possibility of power outages due to loadshedding.

Value
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

With a favorable exchange rate against the rand, Cape Town offers exceptional value for travellers coming from abroad. The cost of food and drink is roughly half of what you would typically encounter in Western Europe for comparable meals and drinks.

info
The yen is currently at a 34-year low
While this is undoubtedly a negative for the Japanese, it makes for an exceptionally good time to visit Japan from abroad. Although this trend is unlikely to reverse significantly in the short term, it's still worth checking before visiting.
Read more
View the cost of living
open_in_new
Working hours
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2); South Africa doesn't operate daylight saving time, so there's no time difference between the summer and winter months.

Clifton Beach, easily accessible from anywhere in the city centre.
Clifton Beach, easily accessible from anywhere in the city centre.
Sea Point promenade provides some of the best sunsets across the entire city.
Sea Point promenade provides some of the best sunsets across the entire city.

Where to stay

Your choice of accommodation in Cape Town can greatly influence your overall experience. Unlike many European destinations, being in the city center does not offer significant advantages.

Given the importance of security, i would suggest being more thorough in your research than you may otherwise be.

Places like Hout Bay, Muizenberg and Constantia are all great areas but without access to a car you'll be somewhat restricted.

Would avoid
Recommended
CBD
There's not much to be gained by staying in the centre of the CBD. You'll still want to use a can to get from A to B and the area itself isn't blessed with the best restaurants or nightlife. Some good deals to be had on accommodation there however.
Would avoid
Recommended
De Waterkant
De Waterkant was the perfect destination for me. Walking distance to everywhere, with the madness of the CBD 10 minutes one way and the sea facing promenade the other.
Would avoid
Recommended
Camps Bay
An affluent enclave with stunning views and upper market dining options. More of a holiday spot than somewhere I would consider living. You'd ideally want to have a car.
Would avoid
Recommended
Sea Point
Combining the long promenade walk with plentiful food, coffee and nightlife options, Sea Point is a more relaxing alternative to being in the CBD whilst still maintaining a good buzz.
Would avoid
Recommended
V&A Waterfront
Super safe if somewhat sterile area. Huge shopping mall and plush harbourside restaurants. Good if with family or want to be extra precautious.
Would avoid
Recommended
Woodstock
You are likely to get even better value accommodation in Woodstock but you would be highly reliant on Ubers, not the best area to be walking unaccompanied.

Where to work

Roamwork
Top Choice
☕️ Good Coffee
📍 Top Location
🥗 On Site Cafe
🧍Community Focused
⭐️ Quality Fit Out
🌳 Outdoor Space

Split over the 2nd and 4th floors of The Harrington office block, Roamwork has a spacious relaxed working environment with an on site cafe and super friendly staff. Each floor has a number of focus rooms that are readily available for private calls and there is an outdoor balcony with fantastic views of Devils's Peak.

Within a 2 minute walk of the property there's a number of great of food and drink options, including New York Bagels, Simple Bru Coffee & Nude Foods (would highly recommend the Chipotle falafel wrap). District 6 is a 'lively' area but there is a solid police presence until into the evening.

Members 24/7 access and the building and it has it's own power generator reducing any downtime as a result of loadshedding. Internet is quick and reliable. They currently run an offer of 2 days free working which I'd suggest checking out if in town.

Workshop 17
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Popular chain with many offices across the city. Would happily have worked from here.

Remote work visa

No remote work visa
Remote work visa available
Remote work visa coming soon
If staying for a prolonged period, you may want to consider a dedicated visa for this destination.
This country is actively working on a visa support for remote workers.
Check your government website for details of how to obtain a tourist visa.

In April 2022, South Africa announced plans for a digital nomad visa to attract more foreign visitors and boost its economy following the impacts of COVID-19 travel restrictions. The proposed visa will allow remote workers, freelancers for foreign companies, and business owners to stay in South Africa for an extended period, initially one year with the possibility of renewal.

While foreigners can currently stay for 90 days, the digital nomad visa aims to enable longer stays. It will also include attractive provisions for dependents of visa applicants. However, full details are still forthcoming as the visa is not yet available. Updates will be provided once more information is released by South African authorities.

View full details
To the best of my knowledge this information was correct as of 27th April 2024. If you notice something has changed drop me a message and I'll update it!

Citizen Remote is a great source of up to date knowledge for everything to do with remote work visas.

Safety

  • The CBD felt safer than anticipated. I spent two months working and commuting through it. City enforced security is on every block alongside private security for practically every building. Exercise caution at all times, but it's not an area that should be outright avoided.
  • Outside of the centre be careful where you walk. In areas like Woodstock, the security presence becomes dramatically sparse and your ability to walk freely substantially reduces. Areas like Sea Point, Green Point and the waterfront all have a visible security presence and are fine to walk unaccompanied during the daytime.
  • Ubers are essential for going anywhere in the evening.They are cheap and in abundant supply. Bolt is also available.
  • Hike in groups where possible. This is advice I did not personally follow, but throughout the stay I routinely saw incidents occurring to others on Facebook groups which diminished my appetite for going solo. The Devil's Peak side and Signal Hill are both hotspot areas.
  • Be extra vigilant on Long Street. Home to an array of bars and clubs with a permanent number of drug dealers and prostitutes, takes your headphones off and put your hands in your pockets.
  • Avoid any form of mass public gatherings.This is the quickest way to become separated from your belongings.
  • Avoid the minibuses. The MyCiti buses are clean, safe and reasonably punctual with good coverage across the city.
  • The security aspect should not stop you from visiting. As long as you adjust your behaviour and expectations accordingly.

Off-work

Hike in Table Mountain National Park

Over 200 sq km of hikes and trail runs to explore, with an endless variety of paths taking you to the ascent. If you're not feeling too active, theres a cable car to take you to the summit with a cafe/bar at the view point.

Learn more
Drive through Chapman's Peak

This scenic route is best experienced via a bike or car, offering unparalleled views of the Atlantic coastline with the road etched into the cliff face.

Explore the Cape Winelands

Accessible in under an hours drive from the centre of Cape Town, the area is home to beautiful rolling hills and numerous wine producers. Stellenbosch, the largest town is a great base to explore from. Babylonstoren makes for a great day trip.

Grab lunch and shop at The Old Biscuit Mill

A hub of artisanal street food, design, and vintage boutiques. Visit over the weekend for the full of availability of outlets.

Head to Boulders Beach

Located just outside Simon's Town, a short drive from the heart of Cape Town (depending on traffic), this beach is one of the rare habitats for African Penguins in South Africa.

Get brunch at Oranjezicht City Farm Market

Locally sourced produce, handcrafted goods and street food options make this a popular weekend brunch spot. On Wednesday nights there's a night market too.

Hike in Table Mountain National Park

Over 200 sq km of hikes and trail runs to explore, with an endless variety of paths taking you to the ascent. If you're not feeling too active, theres a cable car to take you to the summit with a cafe/bar at the view point.

Drive through Chapman's Peak

This scenic route is best experienced via a bike or car, offering unparalleled views of the Atlantic coastline with the road etched into the cliff face.

Explore the Cape Winelands

Accessible in under an hours drive from the centre of Cape Town, the area is home to beautiful rolling hills and numerous wine producers. Stellenbosch, the largest town is a great base to explore from. Babylonstoren makes for a great day trip.

Grab lunch and shop at The Old Biscuit Mill

A hub of artisanal street food, design, and vintage boutiques. Visit over the weekend for the full of availability of outlets.

Duration & season

Cape Town reaches its peak season after December, when the weather starts to heat up and accommodation prices follow accordingly. I found November to strike a great balance between pleasant warmth and affordability.

If you wish to fully enjoy outdoor activities, I would advise against arriving before October, as the unpredictable weather may hinder your plans to hike up Table Mountain and its surrounding peaks. Similarly, when temperatures soar close to 30 degrees, midday hikes can become quite strenuous.

I stayed for ten weeks in total which felt like a good duration, with most of the items I wanted to get done having been completed.

Food & drink

Sea Point Promenade
·
Run
No better place to run in the city, this coastal path takes you down to the V&A.
Table Mountain via Porcupine Ravine
·
Walk
This is a great route which takes you up to the lakes on top of table mountain and then back across the cable car. Quite a demanding climb in places.

Lions Head
·
Walk
The lion's head sits aadjacent to Table Mountain and provides a slightly shorter climb with arguably better views from the top. Easily accessile from all parts of town. Would not attempt on a wet day.
Peninsula Loop
·
Cycle
South of the city is the Cape peninsula which makes for an amazing place to cycle. Lots of elevation and coffee hops

People

The term 'melting pot' is often bandied around in reference to many destinations - Cape Town is feels like the truest representation of that. Even after two months in the city I am still trying to accurately piece together the demographic make up of the city. Coloured, Black, White (Afrikaans), White (English), Indian and Jewish communities are all well represented in the city, complemented by seasonal influx of visitors to the region.

The people of Cape Town, regardless of their backgrounds, displayed remarkable warmth and hospitality, particularly when discussing their country's recent sporting triumphs (albeit, recently at the expense of the English). The city has a thriving community of expats and remote workers, with numerous Facebook groups and meet up communities if you are looking to connect with others.

Exercise

Sea Point Promenade
No better place to run in the city, this coastal path takes you down to the V&A.
keyboard_arrow_down
Table Mountain via Porcupine Ravine
This is a great route which takes you up to the lakes on top of table mountain and then back across the cable car. Quite a demanding climb in places.
keyboard_arrow_down

Lions Head
The lion's head sits aadjacent to Table Mountain and provides a slightly shorter climb with arguably better views from the top. Easily accessile from all parts of town. Would not attempt on a wet day.
keyboard_arrow_down
Peninsula Loop
South of the city is the Cape peninsula which makes for an amazing place to cycle. Lots of elevation and coffee hops
keyboard_arrow_down
Sea Point Promenade
No better place to run in the city, this coastal path takes you down to the V&A.

Table Mountain via Porcupine Ravine
This is a great route which takes you up to the lakes on top of table mountain and then back across the cable car. Quite a demanding climb in places.
Lions Head
The lion's head sits aadjacent to Table Mountain and provides a slightly shorter climb with arguably better views from the top. Easily accessile from all parts of town. Would not attempt on a wet day.
Peninsula Loop
South of the city is the Cape peninsula which makes for an amazing place to cycle. Lots of elevation and coffee hops

Verdict

Positives
  • Incredible visual backdrop.Not many destinations can compete with the dominating presence of Table Mountain.
  • With the current exchange rate, amazing value.Food and drink half the price of what you would expect in an equivalent city in the northern hemisphere.
  • World-class outdoor pursuits on your doorstep.Within 10 minutes of the CBD you can be a on a hike, trail run, surfing or diving.
  • Amazing food and drink.From street food markets to high end restaurants, everything is abundantly catered for.
  • An abundance of choice of great quality coworking offices.Book a day off and find one which suits your needs.
Negatives
  • Loadshedding.Incomprehensibly for what on face value appears such a developed city, power outages have become a routine way of life throughout South Africa. If your budget allows, try and pick an option with a backup generator.
  • Cafes and shops shut early.It's practically impossible to get a good quality coffee anytime after 16:00 or even 14:00 sometimes on the weekend. Shops in the CBD are generally shut by 17:00.
  • You really need a cary.Even if you won't be driving yourself, no matter where you stay in the city, you'll be somewhat reliant on taking Ubers.
  • You have to be extra mindful of security.Even in the nicer areas, you need to be more cautious and aware of your surroundings in a way you may not need to be in Europe.
  • Public transport to explore the surrounding region is poor.Travelling to neighbouring towns and cities without a car is a lot harder than it would be in Europe. Trains do run, but are inefficient and generally regarded as unsafe.
Tips
  • The working day starts and finishes early here.Capetonians are early risers with offices generally full by 08:00 and emptying out by 16:00.
  • Grab a mobile SIM from Vodacom.4G data packages are available cheaply with stores dotted around the city.
  • Tipping is expected in bars, cafes and resturaunts.10-20% is usually very warmly received. If you are not overtly asked, you can ask to add.
  • Forward plan where you plan to work from.The city is renowned for having huge rush hour traffic jams, try and plan a commute around this.
  • If looking to do any form of shopping head to Canal Walk. More expansive than the shopping centre at the V&A and only a 15 minute drive from the CBD.
  • Look out for 'First Thursdays'.If you are in town for the first Thursday of a month, walk between the galleries, restaurants and bars until late. The area around Kloof Street is particularly vibrant with a high security presence and live music.
Planning a trip?
I loved everything about this trip to Japan. I've put together some thoughts on my entire stay in the country, which may come in handy if you are planning a visit soon.
Low lying clouds on Table Mountain, viewing from Lion's Head.
Green Market Square in the centre of the CBD, with Table Mountain in the background.
If there's any data missing that you would like to see in these articles please leave some feedback and I'll aim to add it in.