Should you be living in Joburg or Cape Town?

Cape Town

By Renate Engelbrecht

Thursday, Apr 13

Now that’s a question I’ve been contemplating long and hard lately. Why live in Joburg if you can have Table Mountain, the beach and Boulders’ penguins right at your doorstep? I guess the other question worth asking is: “What’s keeping us in Gauteng?” Well, work, for starters. Especially when it comes to Wikus’ job. And more affordable properties with the bonus of having a garden for the kids to run around in. Still, Cape Town and its surrounds has a certain romance attached to it. One that we continue to dream about. What do the experts say, though?

According to data from Lightstone Property, Johannesburg and Cape Town are the two most popular cities to relocate to when living in South Africa. Vanessa Rodgers and Katherine Graham writes that while coastal regions may still be in favour thanks to Covid-19-induced semigration, there are other reasons why you might be tempted to move to either of these cities too.

Next-level career opportunities in Joburg

It’s no secret that salaries in Johannesburg are higher, with online job aggregator Adzuna estimating that salaries for executive jobs in Joburg are 18% higher than those for jobs in Cape Town. “Not only are average salaries for managerial staff higher, but there are more varied jobs in Gauteng across a number of different sectors,” says Executive Placements director Charles Edelstein. “If you’re an entrepreneur, Joburg is also the place to be because of the high concentration of wealth and the opportunities for doing business there.”


Joburg comes with more reasonable property prices

Another plus of living in Gauteng is the lower property prices compared to the Western Cape. “You can buy a much bigger house in Joburg for the same price as you’d pay in Cape Town,” he says. A four-bedroomed house in Parkwood in Johannesburg costs in the region of R4 995 million right now, compared to a price tag of R4 95 million for a two-bedroomed house in Upper Wynberg, Cape Town. Young professionals who wish to buy property for the first time may find it easier to do so in Joburg, while also relishing the opportunities for greater professional growth.

Exciting nightlife

There’s no doubt that Joburg is a city that buzzes with life and young people will feel drawn to its energy, particularly when it comes to art, culture and the night scene. Newtown in particular, is a cultural magnet – home to the Market Theatre, Rembrandt Gallery and the Worker’s Museum. Joburg is also known as a much friendlier city than Cape Town, so it’s easier to make friends and settle in quickly without the customary ‘waiting period’ that newcomers to Cape Town are subjected to, says Edelstein. I might differ from him on that, following a recent visit to Cape Town. Yes, the Mother City might be clicky and it might be difficult to make friends there, but Cape Town is buzzing just as much when it comes to restaurants and night life. From incredible cuisine, tapas-style dining, wine farms and wine tastings to secret gin bars, underground pasta bars and more. Cape Town’s CBD is certainly the place to be when you’re keen on exploring the cultures and flavours of the Mother City.

Coastal living a major drawcard

For retirees and those with young families, Cape Town’s laidback lifestyle is difficult to beat. “People move to Cape Town for the superior work-life balance and because of the abundance of beautiful outdoor spaces – including beaches, mountains and wine farms,” says Edelstein.

Since the disruption of the pandemic, many professionals are working remotely, which makes it easier for them to semigrate to Cape Town or the coastal regions of KwaZulu-Natal, such as Ballito and Umhlanga. “Some only need to travel up to Gauteng once a month to interface with clients and would rather have the better lifestyle near the coast on an everyday basis,” he enthuses.

I agree 100% with this sentiment and would happily exchange the rushed city life for a better balanced life on the outskirts of Cape Town. Even if it means we have to downgrade in size when it comes to property.

Better service delivery than Joburg

The Western Cape is also known to be a well-run province, making it attractive to those wishing to leave the crime and grime of Joburg. This is why Cape Town is the most popular city to relocate to, according to SEEFF Properties, followed by KZN’s North Coast and the Garden Route. “Parents want to live in a city where their children can play outdoors and feel safe,” says Edelstein, “and they want to know their taxes are being spent well to fix roads and keep neighbourhoods clean.”

We’ve seen this firsthand with both Wikus and my parents having moved down to the Garden Route in recent years. Service delivery from municipalities like Mossel Bay’s are hard to beat.


Educational opportunities

Cape Town has a wide range of schools to choose from and the quality of education is excellent, which is often a huge motivator for families considering relocating. Western Cape schools consistently perform well in matric examinations, with many of the best schools in the country to be found there. Somerset College has reported that 30% of their admissions are from families moving from Gauteng, many of whom send their children ahead to stay in the school’s boarding house.

Check your priorities

Before making the move to another city, make sure you’ve taken the following into consideration:

Cost of living: Find out how much it will cost to live there. Even if the salary is better, you may find that cancelled out by higher living costs, including accommodation and eating out.

Commute: No one wants to get stuck in traffic for hours. Find out how long it will take to get to work, factoring in the school drop-off too if that applies.

Lifestyle: What will the quality of life be like in your new city? This will depend if you’re into retail therapy or someone who prefers outdoor pursuits.

Support network: Will you have family nearby to help you or be able to join a community of like-minded people in your new city?


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