Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Advice from Steve Windwood in a Song of the same name- Arc of a Diver, 1980
We have been lucky enough to have a window of opportunity to get to know what it’s like to live in South Africa. Following the sale of our home in Southern California and considering that I was going to be on an educational trip with other agents in the two weeks just after, my husband and I decided to make the most of our homeless state before we made the next decision as to where we might next land. We also saw it as an opportunity to let the residential market “cool down” and for us to clear the slate of expectations: we were leaving our dream home and fantastic neighbors that we had come to love over the last ten years. Something had to give!
We figured we could trade our sunsets over the Pacific for sunsets over the Atlantic, sprinkled with some sunsets over the Botswana and South African bush. The three months we have been on the road have been some of the best days of our lives and have afforded me as a Travel company owner the ability to visit and sometimes stay in well over 60 properties – safari camps and lodges throughout Botswana and South Africa, wine estates in the Cape Wine Country, and hotels and guest houses throughout the Cape Town area. Beyond those trips on safari: 29 days in Botswana and 22 days in South Africa, we visited the fishing village of Paternoster along the Atlantic north of Cape Town and explored Hermanus,
Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl.
We lived in Franschhoek village in an Airbnb for 3 weeks, then based out of Cape Town in another lovely Airbnb in Greenpoint for the next 2 months. There is nothing like living in a village where the shopkeepers and bartenders know you by name and living in a trendy neighborhood in the city with nearby parks, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, a golf course within 10 minutes’ walk and the ocean itself visible from our condo and a mere 12–15-minute stroll.
We have made a lot of new connections and friendships in our short time here and not once have
we felt alone or at a loss for something to do or where to explore. I even joined a bookstore and a gym, found a new hairdresser and nail salon, a butcher, and an alterations place- all the necessities of living like a local.
Cape Town is a very easy city to navigate. It might not look like that from the air, or behind Signal Point or Table Mountain, but from Greenpoint which is centrally located we can walk the ocean boardwalks and parks all the way around the peninsula to Camps Bay- granted a 2 hour walk in each direction, but we enjoy the brisk ocean breeze, the parks full of moms, dads and kids, the futbol and rugby games going on the weekends, the scooters and bikes and skateboarders- everyone is out and about in nature, even though it’s winter. Its warm in the sun and beautiful most days.
Camps Bay would be my ideal choice for a second home or a long stay, - stunning properties, white sand beaches, easy access to shops, restaurants and nature, beautiful parks along the waterfront, while Clifton, Bantry Bay, Sea Point and Greenpoint, and some areas around the V&A Waterfront also have an appeal. The choices of beautiful places to stay are endless.
We can easily walk to downtown and nearby Kloof and Long Street, where there are neighborhood bars and restaurants filled with locals and very few tourists. The V & A Waterfront, while more filled with visitors is also a draw for the locals. In a 15–20-minute walk, there is a tremendous shopping mall , artisans’ workshop, a variety of places to dine and drink, a fabulous Aquarium and museums nearby the port, a place where you can catch any number of water vessels for exploring the bay.
Skate parks abound as do Stand Up Paddle Boarders and kayakers on the canals near Battery Park and the Waterfront. You can spend an afternoon on a comfy outdoor couch at one of the beach bars, such as Grand Beach, complete with live music on the weekends.
One of our favorite places to explore on weekends is the Farmers Market, located by the Futbol stadium and a 7–8-minute walk from our condo. The market includes traditional offerings of vegetables, fruit, spices, baked goods, pastas, meats, fish, but also T-shirt’s and other clothing, personal care items, fresh flowers and more! What most locals really enjoy is the massive food tent where local delicacies are dished out for breakfast or lunch or can be taken “to go” for dining at home through the week. A trip to the Farmer’s market requires 3-4 bags for the slog back home, well worth the time and effort!
While we sometimes leave our base to travel to safari camps, the trip to the airport is easy. It’s about 18-20 minutes on a Saturday morning; maybe 30 on a Monday back home. There is really no need to rent a car. Uber is fast and inexpensive, especially by US standards. A trip to the airport is $12. For longer trips we do rent a car, but it is comparable to car rentals in the US (or at least as when car rental was easy in the US before Covid). We even found a shop to rent a Harley for one weekend trip.
People are friendly and curious about our lives back home. They are happy to see travelers and welcome the time to talk and share their perspective on the world. Best of all they treat us like locals when we share our stories. Everyone is quick to share a smile.
There have been challenges of course, not the least of which have been in learning how to use new appliances (sometimes very quirky as compared to what we know), understanding new terminology and slang, getting used to the accents and pronunciations, even navigating some Afrikaans, driving on the opposite side of the road on the opposite side of the car, sometimes struggling to find comparable foodstuffs in the stores , learning to look the right way when crossing a street and converting Celsius to Fahrenheit while cooking or dressing for the day, or meters into yards on the golf course.
Moving here has been one of the most rewarding periods of our lives and learning how to navigate a new world has brought some significant insight and introspection that would not have been achievable back home. While we look forward to the next chapter, this chapter is one we will re visit over and over again. And for sure we know can live in smaller spaces; we just need beautiful views and accessible beaches and nature.
While you see a chance- Take it. It’s all on you.
From Cape Town : August 2021