By Claire Buckley
Claire Buckley moved to Cape Town from London in 2017. She works as a project manager for a technology company.
I first came to Cape Town on holiday in November 2016 to visit a friend after a work contract had ended. I had been working in the City of London, Donald Trump had just been elected US president and the furore over the Brexit result was raging. I needed to see some sky.
Cape Town struck a chord with me. I loved the weather, the outstanding landscape, the outdoors lifestyle, the multiculturalism, the energy of the young people, the art, fashion, architecture and tech scene.
I found a job with NML and Atura. We build secure, transactional web applications and chatbots for financial services clients.
The tech scene here is remarkably vibrant in spite of a challenging economic outlook: Amazon is expanding its operations in Cape Town, recently adding more than 100 positions, and the start-up scene has attracted investors worldwide.
In contrast to my hour-long London commute, in Cape Town I have a 10-minute drive to work. I live in the City Bowl, an area beneath Table Mountain surrounded by the peaks of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.
A car is essential, as trains are few and unreliable. There are some good buses, but as a woman I do not want to be walking around on the streets after dark.
The rules of the road here took some getting used to: other motorists drive aggressively right up to your bumper to get you to move out of the way; texting while driving is rife, but thankfully parking is usually easy.
The living costs are generally half of what they are in London, though the purchasing power of those paid in rand is about 10 per cent less.
Crime rates are sky high, leaving many perplexed as to why I would want to live here. I am more cautious than I was in London; I do not take risks. Much of the crime is opportunistic, often out of desperation or hunger. The level of violence towards women upsets me so much that I have nearly packed up and gone back to the UK. It is utterly unacceptable.
Consequently, people look out for each other. Neighbours keep an eye open, or we text each other on arriving home safely. The average person is very public spirited and many people are involved in a charity or church to provide support for others.
Making friends is easy through outdoor activities such as hiking in groups on trails such as the Pipe Track, Platteklip Gorge or Lion’s Head. It is good to go with people who know the trails and it is safest at the weekend when more people are enjoying time in nature.
For sea life there are snorkelling trips from Simon’s Town or kayaking trips from Granger Bay.
I recommend Cape Town to anyone, especially those who can work remotely. For me, I think the pull of my family in Europe will ultimately bring me back.
Photographs: Dreamstime; Getty Images; Alamy; Shaun Pease
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