Guide to Working in Cape Town as a Digital Nomad

by Candice Land
view from Table Mountain Road

Cape Town, South Africa, is an incredible and unique place to live and work. It’s been our home base for years now, and while we love heading out to see the world, it’s always great coming back.

Being such a unique destination though, there’s a fair amount to keep in mind. You can have a fantastic time here, you just have to know what to look for. As both locals and nomads, we’ve put together a guide to working in Cape Town for digital nomads.

view from Table Mountain Road

Life as a Digital Nomad in Cape Town – Pros and Cons

There are certainly some pros and cons to living in Cape Town as an expat. It’s an exciting city, but it can be tricky to navigate for newbies.

Pros

  • The main language of the city is English, making communication easy
  • Many cafes have free and strong WiFi
  • The cuisine is eclectic, and street food is cheap and uniquely delicious
  • It’s a terrific city for an active lifestyle
  • The modern metropolis is surrounded by wild nature
  • The surfing is top-notch

Cons

  • Public transport is still in development
  • Prices aren’t as low as many other African and Asian countries
  • Safety can be a concern – particularly at night and in quiet areas

surfing in blouberg

Where to Stay in Cape Town

Cape Town is a very different place depending on the neighborhood you’re staying in. Some areas are removed from everything, while other areas of the city are picturesque and central.

These neighborhoods are some of the best places to stay in Cape Town.

Gardens

We live in Gardens, and love being so close to all the activity. This area is right at the base of the mountain, and a short walk from some lovely coffee shops. As well as grocery stores and the city’s vibrant nightlife.

It’s a beautiful and colorful area, and you can easily find an Airbnb with views of the iconic Table Mountain. You’ll also be a short walk from one of our favorite functional training gyms in Cape Town.

Woodstock

Woodstock is Cape Town’s grooviest neighborhood. In the past few years, it’s become a bit of a hipster hub because of all the extremely cool cafes and bars. The street art in Woodstock is uniquely African – and you’ll find it around every corner. Ideal for some really great Insta shots.

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Woodstock is also a relatively cheap neighborhood to live in. You can go for some incredible vegan and plant-based food, or drop the prices and try food from local spaza shops.

Seapoint

Another very popular area among locals and tourists alike is Seapoint. This neighborhood is located right along the coast, making it particularly ideal if you’re around during the summer months. Or if you love surfing like Ollie and me.

Seapoint has an eclectic atmosphere, with plenty of cafes and restaurants and great WiFi. It’s also an easy walk or bus ride from the city center, ticking off convenience as well. Grab some stellar ice cream, stroll along the promenade, and enjoy the views and friendly people. In no time at all, you’ll feel like one of the locals.

scotter mission in Cape Town

Cost of living in Cape Town

Cape Town often feels like a first-world city in a third-world country. Interestingly, it’s costs reflect both. So, while a stay here can get pricey, there are lots of ways to keep living costs in Cape Town down.

Transportation

Public transport in Cape Town is a work in progress. From many parts of the city, you can now catch the quick and convenient MyCiti bus. You can also catch the train, but this can be a bit startling for foreigners to the country. Expect a lot of graffiti, and frequently ripped out seats. Still, it is cheap (about $1 to get anywhere in the city).

What we’d recommend is renting a car, Ollie and I are lucky enough to have our own cars (and a little scooter for zipping around). If you’re working for a few months or weeks in Cape Town, you’ll want to do some exploring and a car is the best way. Both within the mother city, and further into South Africa.

If you’re not a fan of busses or trains, uber is a great option (especially at night). It’s reasonably affordable, and a lot safer than the infamous minibus taxis.

Groceries and Restaurants

Like most large cities, eating out in Cape Town can be costly. It’s a lot more affordable to cook at home, and groceries are well priced and in ample supply.

A fancy meal usually costs Ollie and me around $20 (R350), and only $2-3 for tasty street food. Grocery stores in Cape Town range widely in their prices, depending on the market they cater to. So shop around and see which you prefer.

Accommodation

Cape Town has some great, cheap hostels. But most of the rooms are shared and not great for work.

We’ve found that Airbnb is the best way to stay in Cape Town. You can find beautiful places for good prices (from $15/night for two people). And you save a lot if you’re spending a month or more in one spot.

ollie in cape town office

Image credit: Cape Town Office

Where to work in Cape Town

If a seat at a coffee shop isn’t quite what you’re looking for but you prefer to get out of the apartment, Cape Town has a lot of options. The city is increasingly geared towards digital nomads, as so many jobs move online. These are our favorite coworking options.

Cape Town Office Remote Work Office

This remote working office is one of the best co-working spaces in the world. It’s been running since 2011, and it’s the perfect place for those who prefer to work around other people. It’s also a great place to meet like-minded people – it’s actually where Ollie and I first met.

We love the community here – it even includes fun weekly events and monthly networking. Ollie still works in the office space when in SA, and I pop in to say hello quite often.

Workshop17 Watershed

This trendy coworking space is perfect for hot-desking with a larger team or finding a dedicated desk. It has everything you could need, along with an ideas lounge and a vibrant atmosphere.

The biggest draw, though, is the location. It’s located in the V&A Waterfront, one of Cape Town’s most popular and beautiful areas. It’s also very close to Seapoint.

Croissant

You can also find more remote workspaces on Croissant. There are a number of lovely places in Cape Town – many of them with gorgeous views and great coffee.

relaxing spot in Cape Town office

Image credit: Cape Town Office

Final Thoughts on Working Remotely in Cape Town

There’s a good reason we keep coming back to Cape Town. The mother city has fantastic surf, mind-blowing food, nature, and culture. Not to mention the genuine, friendly people. It’s everything this amazing country has to offer, packed into a colorful and vibrant city.

There are a few safety risks involved with living here. But these are mitigated through an awareness of your surroundings, and some handy travel insurance.

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