The gloves are off: Cape Town vs Johannesburg

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

We can all agree that South Africa has plenty to offer. What we can’t agree on, is which South African city is best equipped to offer residents its benefits. The debate seems to centre around Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Now, there are many wonderful places in the country you can reside in, and this article doesn’t mean to belittle other cities like Port Elizabeth, Durban or Pretoria. But the heavy weights of public opinion seem to be the Mother City and the City of Gold, the two largest and most prominent locales in the country.

Which city takes the prize of being the best city in this showdown?

Nature vs wealth

Those two nicknames, the Mother City and the City of Gold, are quite telling when it comes to determining the focus of each. The attractions of Cape Town, the Mother City, have their roots deeply entwined in Mother Nature. Just about wherever you go in the Cape, you have the stunning visage of Table Mountain, which makes for one of the most recognisable horizons in the country. Locals will often say that they can orientate themselves in the city, based on where they are in relation to the mountain. This is symbolic of how entwined you feel with natural beauty when in Cape Town. Besides the stunning mountains, you also have the oceans. To further solidify Cape Town’s claims to natural beauty, on a drive through the winelands you’re met with a different picturesque view after every bend in the road.

On the other hand, when you think of Johannesburg, the City of Gold, natural scenery is not what first comes to mind. It’s invariably money and careers that you think of. And for good reason. Johannesburg was the only African city to feature on the MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index, which ranked the world's top 50 cities that can be thought of as hubs of a new worldwide economy. Johannesburg had high scores for financial flow and ease of doing business.

Cost of living and salary

The general perception is that it is more expensive to maintain a living in Johannesburg than in Cape Town, but that Joburgers are paid more than Capetonians. In this instance, perception seems to be in tune with research. Apparently, Cape Town is between 24 and 32% cheaper to live in than Johannesburg. However, this disparity kind of balances out. Say for instance you worked admin jobs in Gauteng, depending on which industry you were in, you’d earn between 10 to 25% more salary-wise than your contemporaries in the Western Cape.

So which is better?

Johannesburg is thought of as the place to be to become successful, and Cape Town as the place to be to enjoy your success with many things to do. But it’s not always so black and white. There is plenty of wealth and success to be found in Cape Town, the city that boasts the most mansions in the country valued at over R20-million (155 in fact). And Johannesburg is not all cold concrete and urban jungle. The city boasts its own form of charm and beauty, and is recognised as the world’s largest man-made forest.

At the end of the day, whichever city you choose, it’s probably what you make of it. For instance, some people say that they find people in Johannesburg to be friendlier, and that Cape Town is “cliquey”. Others insist that Capetonians are some of the friendliest people in the country. So what do you make of it? Perhaps the state of mind you’re in when you live in a city has a big effect on how you react with the city, which is of course going to affect your perception of it. Either way, so long as you appreciate each city for its own merits, you’ll recognise the worth in both.

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