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Inquisitive expats are sure to have all sorts of questions about their future home, from weather and schooling to transport and safety. Here are a few answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Cape Town.
How safe is Cape Town?
As long as one takes basic precautions, Cape Town is no more dangerous than any other international city. Certain high-risk areas, none of which expats are likely to visit, are epicentres of much of the city's crime. Outside these areas, crimes tend to be theft related, such as house robbery, hijacking and mugging. These crimes are often opportunistic, focusing on easy targets – so it's well worth taking common-sense measures such as keeping valuables out of sight, being aware of one's surroundings, and investing in good home- and car-security systems.
Where can I meet other expats?
There are substantial populations of British, German, French and American expats in Cape Town. Each community has vibrant clubs and societies to help recent arrivals get connected. Examples include the Spanish Social Club, Alliance Française and the American Society of South Africa.
What is the weather like in Cape Town?
Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers (December to February), and wet but mild winter months (June to August). Atlantic currents ensure the seawater is fairly cold throughout the year. It can get pretty windy too, especially when the notorious South-Easter starts blowing.
What language do Capetonians speak?
English is widely spoken and is the lingua franca for business and government. For many, it is their native language. Expats may also hear isiZulu, Afrikaans and isiXhosa being spoken, but even those who don't speak English as a first language will likely speak it as a second or third language.
What's the public transport like? Do I need a car?
Like elsewhere in South Africa, Cape Town's public transport infrastructure leaves much to be desired. The MyCiTi bus system, which operates around the City Bowl, the Atlantic Seaboard area and the lower West Coast, is an efficient system which is becoming more popular with middle-class commuters. However, routes are limited, and many areas of suburban Cape Town aren't covered. In general, most expats buy or rent a car to get around Cape Town.
Should I send my kids to a government, private or international school?
Government schools vary widely – many offer a poor standard of education, but some of the older parent-funded schools in the City Bowl and Southern Suburbs might suit expat tastes. International schools are useful for expats who want their children to follow a strict British, American, French or German curriculum but, in general, private schools offer the best value for money.