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Top 10 Best Places to Live in South Africa

South Africa was voted the 5th most Beautiful Country in the World in 2017. SA has some of the biggest mountain ranges in Africa, lush forests, game reserves and exquisite beaches, also proud owner of one of the 7 Wonders of Nature: Table Mountain in Cape Town.

Nowhere will you experience a sunset like in South Africa. Whether you are an aqua baby and wants to live close to the sea or a bush baby that needs to be surrounded by the bushveld or indigenous forests, you have a wide variety to choose from. So, if you are not be able to stay on the beachfront or in the bush or forest, you still have options where you can live close to what your heart desires.

South Africa has 9 provinces, which may complicate your choice. We have compiled a list of 10 best places to live in. Even if you’ve been living in South Africa for your whole life, have you ever wondered where the best place or city to live in, is?

1.     Cape Town

Cape Town is one of South Africa’s three capital cities, it is also known as “The Mother City”.  Depending on which suburb you decide to live in, you will see the beautiful South Atlantic Ocean on the one side and the majestic Table Mountain on the other.

Adventure is at your fingertips with a list of activities on your doorstep. Things like hiking, cycling, diving and surfing. A day trip on a weekend will take you to the local wineries with exquisite wine tasting and learning more about the history of South Africa or even penguin watching or shopping in some of the largest shopping centers like V&A Waterfront.

Suburbs in Cape Town which are very popular are Camps Bay and Clifton where the villas are nestled on the cliffs and you have a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean.

2.     Knysna

Knysna is close to most South Africans’ hearts. This beautiful town is situated in the heart of the Garden Route, close to towns like George and Plettenberg Bay. Knysna offers an ocean view or a lagoon view as well as a short drive to The Tsitsikamma National Park, which covers an 80km stretch of coastline. When you live in Knysna you will have a to-do list to keep you busy for quite some time with things to do like visiting the Knysna Heads, where you can also buy a house, a boat trip around the lagoon, sailing, visiting the beach, whale and dolphin watching, a walk on Thesen Islands, a marina development composed of 19 islands, linked together with bridges and over 500 beautiful homes build in colonial maritime style.

You can go hiking in Tsitsikamma National Park and Nature’s Valley, 2 of their most famous long-distance trails are the Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail and the Otter Trail, or a shorter trail like the Giant Kingfisher Trial. On the more adventurous list are bungee jumping of the Bloukrans Bridge or zip lining in the forest. Kayaking, canyoning and abseiling is also on the list. Close to Knysna, perfect for a day trip is Noetzie Beach offering a secluded beach hidden away, a perfect escape from everything. One thing is for sure if you decide to buy a house in Knysna you will be a citizen of one of the best coastal places to live in in South Africa.

3.     Durban

Durban is South Africa’s 3rd largest city, known for its sunny climate and beaches. If you live in the Durban area you will have countless activities to keep you busy on weekends and holidays. If you have to travel into the city during the week for work, your fun-filled weekend will make up for it. Here you have the choice between the sea and bushveld in one weekend. Enjoy uShaka Marine World where you will become a kid again visiting uShaka Sea World, one of the world’s largest aquariums and the Wet and Wild Water Park. Shark Diving is also one of the most popular attractions in the Durban area that you don’t want to miss out on.

You can go for a walk, jog or cycle along the Golden Mile, which is the golden sand beaches lining the coastal edge of Durban’s central business district, if you don’t feel like walking on the beach you can just enjoy a relaxing day at the beach. Just an hour’s drive from Durban is the Tala Game Reserve where you can enjoy a guided bushwalk, game drive or explore the park on a self-drive safari. The Durban Botanical Gardens offer one of the world’s top collections of living fossil plants. When you walk through the pre-dinosaur cycad forest you it will feel like stepping onto a Jurassic Park set.

The best places to live in Durban, South Africa, is Hillcrest, Durban North, and Umhlanga Area. Mt Edgecombe and La Lucia are some of the most expensive areas to live in, with golf courses and hiking trails right around the corner. But with a view like this it sure is worth every cent. (add picture)

4.     Johannesburg

Johannesburg is South Africa’s biggest city and the capital city of Gauteng. If you decide to live in Johannesburg, you need to be someone that loves the hustle and bustle of city life. Just because Johannesburg is not situated next to the Atlantic doesn’t mean they don’t have exquisite houses and neighborhoods. The city offers the best shopping experience on the continent with their designer boutiques and famous branding shops. Some of the best restaurants offer a fine dining experience like you have never experienced in your live.

If the city life gets too much, you can take a trip to the Lion Park or enjoy a day at Gold Reef City amusement park which is located south of the city, on a gold mine that was closed in 1971. You can learn more about the SA’s history at the Apartheid Museum, hop on a Red Bus Tour around the city, visit the Zoo Lake, or play a game of golf at The Momentum World of Gold. Then get your adrenaline rush from bungee jumping at Orlando Towers, or calmly visit theaters, art exhibitions and local markets over the weekend.

Some of the best suburbs and places to live in Johannesburg are Sandton, Melville, Rosebank, Greenside and Melrose Arch. Melville is a small suburb in Johannesburg but offers large properties and are surrounded with a lot of trees and plants, where you will forget that you are living and working in a concrete jungle.   

5.     Pretoria

Pretoria, known as the “Jacaranda City”, is one of South Africa’s three capital cities and is situated close to Johannesburg, in the province of Gauteng. A lot of citizens commute every day between the 2 large cities. Some say Pretoria is more relaxed than Johannesburg. In Pretoria you can broaden your history knowledge and visit the Voortrekker Museum. Enjoy a Game Drive at the Rietvlei Game Reserve, visit the many food markets over weekends, go mountain biking in Groenkloof Park, visit some of the spectacular restaurants the city has to offer or enjoy a picnic in front of the Union Buildings.

If you want the escape from the city you can also visit Dinokeng Game Reserve, Pilanesberg Game Reserve, or Sun City for a weekend filled with adventure and relaxing.

The best places to live in Pretoria are Lynnwood, Rietvalleirand, Menlo Park, Moreleta Park, Faerie Glen, just to name a few. Most of these suburbs are located in Pretoria East and has earned its name as the most valuable area in the province according to a report by Seeff Property Group. Pretoria East offers also the best shopping centers and attractions in Pretoria.

6.     Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein is the 3rd capital city and the judicial capital of South Africa, situated right in the center of South Africa. Bloemfontein has a lower population than the other capital cities and has a small-town feel. The weather can be extremely hot in the summer and winter temperature can often drop to below freezing point. Even though Bloemfontein is not situated next to the sea or a mountain range, it still has much to offer.

Home to some of the biggest historical landmarks like Hertzog Square, Naval Hill, Anglo-Boer Museum and the Queens Fort Military Museum, it is a history-lover’s mecca. The nature lovers can visit Soetdoring Nature Reserve and Zanchieta Wild Cat Farm, a rehabilitation center for wild cats of South Africa.

Some of the suburbs that you can invest in in Bloemfontein are Westdene, Waverley, Bayswater, Heuwelsig and Langenhoven Park.

Small towns to live in in South Africa

Not everyone has the need or heart’s desire to be surrounded by shopping centers or fancy restaurants. Some people seek the peace and quiet of a small town, enjoying their everyday life, but at a slower pace. We’ve searched for some of the best smaller towns where you can live and even buy a retirement house for the day that you closet your working boots.

7.     Clanwilliam

Clanwilliam is situated between the Cederberg Mountains and the east bank of the Olifants River, about 200kms north of Cape Town and is one of the oldest towns in South Africa. This town is known for being the Rooibos capital of the world and for hosting the annual Clanwilliam Wildflower Show in September. Some of the things that you can do in the town is hiking in the Cederberg Mountains, visiting the Bushman’s Cave “Bergteater” which is an open-air theatre, and a visit to the Old Gaol Museum. A picturesque house along the riverbanks might just be the right answer to the question of where to retire.

8.     Dullstroom

Dullstroom is a charming village in Mpumalanga and one of the best rural places to stay in in South Africa. It is SA’s premier fly fishing area and just 2.5 hours’ drive from Gauteng. It is the highest village in South Africa with an altitude of 2100m above sea level. Dullstroom offers you a true culinary experience with a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, craft-beer breweries, pubs and a whiskey bar to choose from.

All around Dullstroom you will see crystal clear dams offering trout fishing. Fly-fishing might be their main attraction but you can go hiking, mountain biking or enjoy a game of golf at Highland Gate Golf and Trout Estate.  More and more country estates are developing around Dullstroom, offering you a perfect opportunity for a countryside home, away from the city madness.

9.     Hogsback

Hogsback is a village situated high up in the Amathole Mountains in the Eastern Cape. Everything in this quaint little village declares that it is all about nature. The village is surrounded by centuries-old indigenous Afro-montane forests. The magnificent gardens have exotic plants from Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and even the Himalayas. The main attraction are the gardens that attract gardening tour groups from all over South Africa.

You won’t ever be bored here. You can go hiking, mountain biking, wandering about, bird watching, mountain climbing and horse riding, even start writing that book you’ve been dreaming about. Hogback offers garden clubs and book clubs to their citizens and a number of Hogsback parents home-school their children. Who wouldn’t want to live in a magical forest?

10.  Franschhoek

Franschhoek is a small town in the Western Cape, about 75kms from Cape Town. The town offers centuries-old vineyards and Cape Dutch architecture. It is known as South Africa’s food and wine capital and is tucked into the Cape Winelands.

After a hard week’s work, you can enjoy what the area has to offer, jump onto the wine tram and tour the wineries around Franschhoek, drive along the Pass where you will experience the magnificent view over the Franschhoek Valley. The small town is famous for having top of the range restaurants and exquisite wine farms. Franschhoek offers beautiful and picturesque estates where you can buy a piece of tranquility.

These are just 10 of the best places to live in in South Africa that you can choose from, but South Africa has so much more to offer and so many hidden treasures which you haven’t even heard of. Some of the places mentioned might fall within your budget range, others you might have to win the lotto in order to buy a house and live there. South Africans are proud of their country as it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.