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Renting or Buying a House
in Cape Town, South Africa

By Tanya Whitehead - 2012

Cape Town, the tip of Southern Africa, a cosmopolitan and vibrant city surrounded by the Table Mountain range, blue seas and white beaches and boasting the most beautiful scenery in the world. Why not buy or rent a house there?

Cape Town is the most popular city in South Africa to live in. Hot summers, cool winters, famous vineyards, a vast array or restaurants serving fresh fish, and overlooking this all is Table Mountain.


There are no restrictions to owning a property if you are legally in South Africa. There are many foreigners who own property there, and rent it out during their winter months. They are colloquially known as Swallows as they migrate.

There are so many procedural requirements when buying a house in Cape Town, that it is best to employ a lawyer to help you. You can get a loan from a bank, but this is only for 50% of the amount, the rest has to come from a foreign bank. You will also then need permission from the South African Reserve bank. You will be paying lawyer's fees and agent fees.

If you buy a house and rent it out, you will be liable to pay income tax.

With rentals, you will have to sign a tenancy agreement with either the landlord or the letting agent. You are bound by this agreement, and the only way you can get out of it, is to find another person to rent the place and take over the agreement. Most tenancy agreements are for one year, unless you come to an agreement or it is a holiday home that you are renting for a month or two.

Where to Rent and Buy

Cape Town lies with the Atlantic sea in front, and the Table Mountain range behind. Most foreigners prefer living along the Atlantic Seaboard such as Camps Bay, Clifton or Hout Bay. These are also the most expensive areas. However you can still find an affordable house in Hout Bay, if you look really hard, and cheaper rentals are easier to find in Hout Bay.

Hout Bay is very vibey as it has a small harbor with a yacht marina and local fishing boats. It is an eclectic mix of locals, foreigners, holiday makers, small lifestyle blocks with horses, and boasts the largest bird park in the Southern Hemisphere.

A drive over the famously beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive, you find yourself in the Southern Peninsula. Noordhoek is a semi-rural area which is growing fast. Not as pricey as the other areas, more natural and has the longest beach in the area where you can still ride your horses. Further on and you are in Kommetjie, which is very laid back. Simonstown and Kalk Bay are small, beach and fishing orientated areas squeezed between the sea and mountains.

If you are not a beach person, but prefer the forests, then head off to the Southern Suburbs. Up over Constantia Nek pass from Hout Bay, you will be in Constantia, a very up market, leafy suburb. It is expensive too. Wynberg and Kennilworth are cheaper but not as great.

There are a lot of other areas, but these are the ones worth mentioning if you are thinking of living there.

Types of Accommodation

A house is usually freestanding within your own property, with a garden. A granny flat or cottage is a small house or flat attached to the main house, or down in the garden, with its own private entrance. A town house, is a house that is usually attached to other houses, often double story, and they are all in a gated security complex. If you are on the ground floor you will have a small garden and if on the second or third floor, your own balcony.

If you are buying or renting a house, it will be empty apart from built in cupboards and carpets, and usually a built in stove. All houses are built from bricks, and some wood, but not many. A house is advertised according to how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has, lounge, dining rooms, any other rooms and a description of the garden.

If you are renting, you give a one month rent up front as a deposit, then pay it on a monthly basis. You are responsible for the water and electricity bills, but your landlord pays the rates. You are also responsible for the garden. There are garden services that you can hire that come weekly.

In the City Bowl, below the towering Table Mountain, and in Seapoint, there are a few apartment blocks.


Costs vary according to the area, the size of the house, even the street! It is very much class based. There is only one small apartment block in Camps Bay, the rest of the areas described above are free standing houses.

Cheaper houses can be found in the Northern Suburbs.

Many rentals have been geared up towards foreigners and they charge exorbitant prices. However, you can still find a lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom small apartment in Hout Bay, fully or semi furnished, for between $760 - $1,000 a month. However, you would be hard pressed to find rentals in this price area in Camps Bay.

Where to Search and How

The best place to search for a rental is the Cape Times newspaper and the Free Ads newspaper. You can also contact a local letting agent. An appointment is then set up between you and the agent/landlord, and you go and view the property in question. If you like it and agree to the terms, you start proceedings. There are no waiting lists.


Renting or buying a house in Cape Town is one of the possibilities for expats. Here are some pages that cover a few of the other options:

Living in Thailand

Living in Malaysia

Living in New Zealand

Rentals in Israel

Amsterdam Real Estate

International Real Estate - Our index to all other pages on foreign homes and real estate.

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Houses Under Fifty Thousand | Renting or Buying a House in Cape Town, South Africa