Jay & Nicole's Adventures in South Africa
Property Search in Cape Town - March 2002

(click any picture to get enlargement)

We searched the Cape Town area for a piece of property to buy.  It seemed that the prices are very low, as compared to our home lands.  We need a place to stay in Cape Town for three months during each of the next three years because of Nicole's assignment.  Buying property would give us control over where we stay.  

With our opinion that Cape Town will boom over the next five years, hopefully the place will appreciate in value.  Since it is a tourist destination we also would hope to get periodic rentals which all would make the investment worthwhile.

We viewed places without really developing our requirements or making a plan of attack.  I guess you can say that we just hoped that we would see the "dream place".  As time went on we developed some criteria and narrowed our search. 

The following is a description of the places we looked at, so that you can get a feel for what is on the market here.  At the end is a link to the page of the place we decided to purchase.  Click here to skip to that page if you don't want to wait.

One of the first places we viewed was a cottage in the touristy Waterkant area.  

Parking Bay (street parking overall is tough to find) 

Garden Patio Area; nice view over shrubbery 

Living/Dining area done in the 70's style (yuk!)

Selling Price: R1,200,000 (divide by 10 to get US dollars); this place would also require R600,000 more to extend second floor and add another bedroom.  
Since we won't be back in Cape Town for another year to do the work, we decided to pass on this property.   Stand-alone buildings also present security issues.

The next property got us really excited in the beginning.  It is also a stand-alone building in the touristy Waterkant district.  It's very big and has 3 separate units (good for renting); a 2-bedroom unit on the top floor with deck, a large 1-bedroom unit on the 2nd floor (with a pool) and a small 1-bedroom unit downstairs.  We could contract through a local realtor to manage any rentals (like I do in Tahoe).

The "Blue Cube" from below.  It sits on a steep hill and has great views.

Entry level (1 garage)

Side view of top deck  

Nice living room views 

Simple-style dining areas 

Open kitchen areas 

Nice Bathrooms 

Small pool with view 

Open kitchen on bottom floor (only way to this unit is down spiral stairs) 

Selling Price: R2,500,000 without furnishings.  The building was GREAT but a few things turned us off.  The building needed painting and a few other enhancements for it to be a good rental (new deck on top floor and air conditioners throughout
).  Unfortunately the rental income would not come close to covering our costs, so we decided to pass on this property.  If we had been in South Africa longer, and had a better understanding of rental property, then maybe we would have bitten.

We changed our to focus to communal properties because of the security and maintenance issues.  Apartments, condominiums and townhouses have easier access and many have 24-hour security.  Nicole got specifically interested in lofts because of the open-ness and Jay liked the idea of top-floor locations with views. 

 The first loft we looked at was an artist's place in a brand new complex:

Entry with garden view

Designer kitchen ; great looking and costly appliances / furnishings

Bar set-up, great for entertaining (except we don't entertain much)

Left: Guest bedroom area (pull-out bed) with only door to master bedroom

Right: Master bedroom 
with large hanging 
see-through painting

Selling Price: R1,250,000 including all furnishings.  This place was very, very nice looking but didn't seem very livable; is was more like an art studio!  
The owner combined two single units into one, so there wasn't a lot of open space and few views.  Since it wasn't located near any "touristy" areas (for rental purposes) and was far from downtown (Nicole's work), we passed on this place.

Note: We saw MANY nice places, all of which seemed somewhat reasonable!

The next loft we looked at was a very large 3-bedroom unit in an older building.

Top-floor location 

Interesting bedroom door 

Open kitchen/dining area  

Great Table Mtn. View 

Open 2nd floor (too open)

Guest bedroom 

Selling Price: R1,400,000, including a small pool on the deck.  This place was pretty cool and was the first really "open" loft we had seen.  It almost was too open though, even though the bedrooms were somewhat small.  Neither of us could see how we could furnish the place (someone used to give Yoga classes in this unit since the open space was so big).  The pool and other areas also needed a lot of work, which we currently don't have time for.   We decide to pass on this unit too.

We then visited the loft complex closest to Nicole's work, called The Studios.  The name either comes from the design of the units (studios - one large room that you make up like you want) or from the building housing a few film studio companies.  

We looked at two units in this complex a middle-floor unit and a top-floor unit.


Left: Front view of The Studios (white building)

Right: Side view

The complex has a pool and small courtyard inside the perimeter of the building  


Unit #1 area (bedroom, living and dining room) 

Kitchen Area (not a top unit so lower cieling)

Kitchen area (basic but very nice and super-clean)

Unit #2 living area (bigger than unit #1); an open 2nd bedroom could go on the left-hand side. 

Big patio area (windy) 

Bedroom & curved ceilings 

Selling Price: R650,000 for Unit #1 and R1,000,000 for unit #2.
Unit #1 was nice and open but was just too small.  Unit #2 was really open and had great views from the inside and from the big balcony.  Unfortunately the rounded ceiling made the place feel like an Army barracks.  We also could not think how we could easily make another bedroom and then furnish the place, as the layout was not typical.  We thought a lot about this place, but decided to pass on it.

The next unit was on the outskirts of town; an area that we didn't know very well.

Designer Kitchen

Nice look and feel 

Interesting bathroom 

Selling Price: R650,000 which was a very good deal.  The location of the complex and the lack of a nice balcony, though, made us decide to pass on this property.

This last set of properties is located in the building that Nicole liked the best, called Manhattan Place.  It's located pretty close to her work and the building seemed in good shape.  Unit #1 was a 1-bedroom unit (could make a 2nd) and Unit #2 was a 3-bedroom unit.

Unit #1 enty area 

View from 2nd floor 

Nice bathroom  

Unit #2 Living area 

Living area view 

Enclosed rooftop room

Selling Price: R900,000 for Unit #1 and R1,400,000 for unit #2.

Unit #1 really interested Nicole who liked the open-ness and the bricks.  Jay didn't like the layout or the view.

Unit#2 really interested Jay since it was so big and had great views (and a small pool).  Nicole wasn't turned on by the layout or the work which would have to go uinto the place.

We thought about the possibility of getting both of the properties.  Since a goal was to do a "project" together, we decided to pass on these properties and hope that something which "turned us both on" would pop up.  We really liked the building and the general look and feel of the units in this building though.

After all our searching we still couldn't find a place which excited both of us.  
We decided to give up our search until we got a late-night call from the realtor ...   click here to see the final property we viewed