Cape Town Digital Nomad: Ten Reasons it Rocks
The location-independent and the Cape Town digital nomad lifestyle appears to have gone absolutely gang-busters since the spicy flu changed the world. One of the biggest changes was the future of work. Suddenly, people realized they could work from home. Then, they had an after thought:
Well, if I can this job from home, surely I can work from anywhere?
And boom! Suddenly, the so-called the great resignation turned into the great relocation as fed up workers had a gut-full and demanded greater flexibility. And good ’em! As for myself, I was still locked inside of fortress Australia. Luckily, I had already been living a nomadic lifestyle, learning how to set up a freelance business before the “rona” hit. Making up for lost time now though, as I write this from Medellin, Colombia; a popular city for nomads.
But this post ain’t about Medellin; it’s about one of my other favorite cities, Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve never shared what I loved about the place so much. So, consider this my love letter in the form of ten reasons to be a Cape Town digital nomad.
Ten reasons to be a Digital Nomad Cape Town
1. Naturally beautiful
Cape Town is one of those rare naturally beautiful cities that perfectly balances nature and urbanization. In the same way that Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, and Hong Kong allow you to get from the city center into a nature reserve in a matter of minutes. Cape is flanked by Table Mountain, which is actually a national park that dissects the city. You can drive between valleys that bring you out to another region of the city, many seaside suburbs, villages, and beautiful beaches.
One of the best ways to explore the beauty of the city is to buy a pass on the Cape Town hop-on hop-off bus tours. I suggest the premium ticket for around US $40 which includes city walking tours, access to all three loops, and lasts for two days. The first ride I took I didn’t even get off the bus, but sat on the open-upper deck and admired the incredible landscape. Chapman’s Peak drive is still the most scenic drive I’ve ever experienced. I recommend making this one of the first things you do as a Cape Town digital nomad.
2. World-class hiking
Continuing on from Cape Town’s incredible nature is the world-class hiking you can find within Table Mountain National Park. Just about everyone knows the iconic views from atop Table Mountain overlooking downtown (CBD). What many do not realize is that track, the Platteklip Gorge trail, is one of 350 hiking trails throughout Table Mountain National Park. But my favorite Trail is Devil’s Peak, which offers 360-degree views of Table Mountain, the city, Camps Bay and the twelve Apostles. Other favorites are Skeleton Gorge Trail and Elsie’s Peak for whale and great white shark spotting… yeah, careful swimming on the False Bay side.
3. Strong Cape Town digital nomad scene
Cape Town has long been a popular destination for expats and, more recently, the modern-day nomads. The long hot summers and mild winters make it ideal to enjoy the beautiful outdoors discussed already. Then you have the global business hub and tourism industry attracting talent and entrepreneurs from afar. As a result, the already extremely diverse city is a melting pot of cultures.
The Capetonians themselves are friendly and welcoming to foreigners and the crime rate is on the decrease. As a result, there are a multitude of Cape Town coworking spaces and expat communities to connect with. Such groups provide a great support network and can help you overcome loneliness as a digital nomad.
4. Low cost of living
South Africa overall has a low cost of living, with comparison site Numbeo stating it is almost 50% more affordable than Australia. And rent, a whopping 60% lower than Australia. I distinctly remember the bang for my buck while living and working remotely in Cape Town.
I could afford to go out to first-class restaurants eating some of the best beef in the world while washing it down with top-shelf South African wine. After which, I could head to out to one of the many excellent bars in town and continue drinking to the wee hours. The next morning, I would check my bank balance without the money hangover… just the normal hangover.
5. Constantia wine region
While only a small wine region, not too many global cities can boast of having one in the middle of their metropolitan area. Constantia is a beautiful little pocket nestled amongst woodland between Table Mountain National Park and the Cape of Good Hope coastline. One of the loops of the aforementioned hop-on hop-off bus tours takes you on the Constantia Wine Route, which is an ideal way to do tastings without having to worry about driving (or spitting wine!).
The region is famed for its Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux blends and dessert wines. Make sure you stop by Constantia Beau Winery which has possibly the best view from any toilet that I’ve had the pleasure of… experiencing.
6. Dark tourism
Dark tourism refers to tourists traveling to sites of historical death and suffering, and museums the teach you about the tragedies. And while perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, research shows dark tourism is on the rise. This particular writer like to partake in it. Not because I get a kick out of it. In fact, I distinctly remember leaving the Killing Fields, Cambodia, in tears. I visit the sites for three main reasons:
- To gain a better understanding of the background and people of my host country
- To gain a greater understanding of how such a tragedy unraveled
- In the hope that we can all learn from where humanity failed
South Africa’s dark history is still relatively fresh, with apartheid only ending in 1994. While the Apartheid Museum is in Johannesburg, Cape Town has the District 6 Museum and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and he started the first draft of his world-famous autobiography.
7. Great nightlife
If you’re feeling a little too emo after some dark tourism, a good way to numb your feelings is to head out for a night of fun, entertainment, and dancing. Or, just a relaxed drink in a waterside bar. There’s something to tickle everyone’s fancy in Cape Town. The most famous street for nightlife is undoubtedly Long Street, which runs through the middle of the CBD. Here, you will find a wide variety of clubs, pubs, and bars to suit everyone’s taste.
To fill up first on some good food, head to Bree Street which is full of trendy restaurants lead by some of Cape Town’s best chefs. You will also find some cool hole-in-the-wall bars and eateries. On the other side of town, you can find great nightlife in the beachside suburb of Muizenberg, as well as some excellent chilled seaside bars in nearby Kalk Bay.
8. Incredible beaches
Cape Town not only has amazing beaches but such a diverse range landscape-wise. From long stretches of sandy surf beach to tiny tiny idyllic calm coves with giant granite boulders, the range is impressive. This is mainly because the Cape has two coasts; you have the stretch of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean side, then over the other side of Table Mountain National Park is False Bay, which faces almost the opposite direction towards the Indian Ocean.
Some of my favorite beaches include the trendy Clifton and Camps Bay near the city. Also on the Atlantic side, you have Llandudno, Noordhoek, and Kommetjie beaches. Then, on the False Bay side, you have Muizenberg surf beach and Boulder’s Beach with the penguins. The only downside to Cape Town’s beaches is the water is so friggin’ cold! But if you’re into cold water therapy, maybe that’s a good thing.
9. Impactful volunteer opportunities
As beautiful and incredible as Cape Town is, you can’t help but notice the massive wealth gap. You can see some of the most impressive mansions in suburbs like Clifton Beach and Rondebosch. Conversely, a short drive away you can find a township of extreme poverty. While most tourists only see the bright side of the city, one of the best things I did while living there was to experience the other side of Cape Town by volunteering in the townships. One of the best things about being a Cape Town digital nomad is you can immersive yourself and participate in the local culture.
I helped entertain kids between the hours they finished school and the time their parents came home. This kept them off the streets, out of gangs, and out of trouble. Another program was supporting grandmothers who were left to look after their orphaned grandchildren after their parents had died from AIDS. The children had hardly anything yet were full of spirit and gratitude which I leaned from. The whole experience changed me and it could for you too.
10. Wildlife safaris
Need we say more? While there are no wildlife parks inside of Cape Town, just a short flight and weekend away you have some of the best wildlife safaris in the world. Kruger National Park in the country’s northeast is up there with the best. If you wish to go further afield you have Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta in Botswana to the north. You can also do road trips to game reserves not too far from Cape Town but for the ultimate experience I recommend seeking out one of Africa’s world-famous national parks. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat (not in a zoo) is truly special. Additionally, it helps you understand the importance of combating poaching, wildlife conservation and sustainable travel.