Cape Town has the same variety of accommodation types you’d expect to find in any well developed city. Security estates are steadily increasing in popularity, with much of South Africa’s upper middle class seeking safety from criminal intrusion behind electric fences and armed patrol guards. For the same reasons, well-secured apartment blocks are growing in popularity.
On the other hand, certain areas are sufficiently well policed for this not be necessary. This is the case in certain areas on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, as well as upmarket residential districts like Constantia. See ‘Where to live’ for an outline of the pros and cons of Cape Town’s various neighborhoods, or read ‘Areas to live in’ for a thorough description of the facilities, schools, restaurants and other attractions you’ll find in Cape Town’s most prominent neighborhoods.
Below are the main types of accommodation, aside from freestanding houses, that you’ll typically find on offer in Cape Town:
Terraced and Semi-detached Dwellings
Terraced houses are common in the lower parts of Tamboerskloof, throughout the BoKaap and in most of the hillside suburbs of City Bowl. They’re a cheaper option than standalone housing while being more attractive than apartments for many due to their direct street access, gardens and outdoor leisure areas. Furthermore, the quaint, Victorian facades and spacious, wood-floored interiors of many of Tamboerskloof’s terraces make them particularly popular with Europeans.
However, despite how thoroughly barricade most of these structures are, with burglar bars on the windows and trellis doors at the all the entrances, they’re still not considered as secure as guarded apartment blocks. If you choose to live in one, be sure it has an alarm system, and have it monitored by a good security company.
Semi-detached houses are far less common. You’ll find them most frequently in security estates, such as those in the Devil’s Peak area.
Cottages, Bungalows and Chalets
In South Africa, the term ‘bungalow’ usually refers to a small log house or wooden beach house, the kind popular with holidaymakers. These are popular in the low-lying parts of Clifton and Glen Beach, as well as on security estates in Hout Bay and Constantia.
‘Chalet’ refers to similar types of dwellings, but may hold the added connotation of the structure having wide, overhanging eaves and a sloping roof in the Swiss style.
The most typical form of cottage in Cape Town is one that lies on a property with a full-scale house, providing additional income for resident-landlords. Such garden cottages usually provide studio or one-bedroom accommodation.
Fully detached cottages are also currently in vogue in the fashionable De Waterkant area. However, as with all of these three accommodation types, they tend to be marketed for short term, high yield holiday rentals, rather than long term letting or sales.
Apartments and Flats
These are self-contained housing units occupying part of an apartment building. The terms ‘bachelor apartment’ and ‘studio apartment’ generally mean the same thing – an apartment in which living room, kitchenette and bedroom are combined into one room, with the bathroom located in another. Bachelor apartments are distinguishable only by the fact that they tend to be slightly smaller.
Loft apartments are two-storey spaces in which the second level area occupies only the back half the apartment’s floor space, leaving the lower-level living area near the front of the apartment with high double-volume ceilings. The spacious appeal of the living area is often enhanced by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the street.
The term ‘flat’ can refer to any of the above-mentioned type dwellings, but tends to be used to describe cheaper, less-desirable abodes.