Half of Cape Town city residents live in rental property: survey

Cape TownCape Town residential property investors provide half the accommodation in the city centre, a new survey reveals. What’s more, people love living at the heart of the Mother City, with many staying in the area for at least 10 years and with no plans to move for several more – which is good news for property investors looking for low turn-over of tenants. An added advantage of having a rental property in or near the city centre is that it is likely to attract working people who understand the value of preserving a good credit record and are therefore likely to keep up with rental payments. The flip side of this picture is that it is apparently difficult for people to get a foot on the property ladder in Cape Town. At least half are opting for proximity to work and a fun lifestyle than making the choice to buy their own homes further out of town. – JC

From Andrew Fleming and Rob Kane*

Cape Town Central City’s residents are mostly between 25 and 44, employed, work near their residences and choose to play there too. They’re also savvy about issues such as energy conservation and like using green public spaces in the Central City.

These are some of the highlights of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) second annual residential survey, which this year saw a significant increase of 33% in respondents.

The survey also indicates that the people who choose to live in the Central City are its heartbeat at night; the element that gives the CBD its round-the-clock life and makes it a work, live and enjoy environment.

But from a practical point of view, the survey helps the CCID to understand how it can better match its services to the needs of residents to best deliver on its mandate of “safe, clean, caring and open for business”.

According to the latest available census figures (2011) more than 5 000 people live in the Central City, and there are around 1 459 households. The CCID’s latest survey attracted 293 respondents, and has delivered a more fully representative sample.

According to the 2014 survey, the top three reasons for living in the Central City are proximity to work, the enjoyment of a “downtown” lifestyle and the diverse entertainment options that are – quite literally – on the doorstep.

Nearly 50% of survey respondents revealed that they own their homes. The largest percentage – 19% – have been living here for between five and 10 years. A surprise is that 15% have been living in the CBD for more than 10 years and 50% of the respondents overall expect to remain for at least another four more years.

This finding shows very clearly that it’s not only young people who want to live in the buzz of a Central City.

About two thirds (62%) of those who completed our survey are aged between 25 and 44 (40% between 25 and 34 and 22% between 35 and 44). That said, more than 15% of residents who took our survey are over 55, which shows that this is an important and prominent age group in the CBD. It also indicates that the CBD area is ‘normalising’ in terms of the mix of residents, to be similar to suburbs surrounding the area.

When asked what kinds of additional retail opportunities respondents wanted in the CBD, the top three were more restaurants, retail that stayed open for longer hours (beyond 17h00) and more delicatessen-type food stores. This provides excellent information for potential businesses looking to locate in or relocate to the CBD.

Understanding what residents want is particularly important when you consider the growth in demand of ‘after hours’ activities and retail. This is consistent with what you would find in other downtowns with a strong residential component.

Another interesting result is the increase in the number of respondents with children. Last year only 10% of respondents indicated they had children. This has almost trebled this year to 27%.  Those who have children had their own wishlist, and indicated that they wanted more child-friendly public spaces; public toilets with baby changing facilities; and more daycare facilities.

Additional findings included:

·         91.3% of residents reported being happy or very happy to be living in the CBD – up from 87.9% last year.

·         The top three professional occupations of residents are architects and engineers, media, marketing and communications specialists and those employed in creative industries;

·         30% are Capetonians, 12% originate from elsewhere in the Western Cape, 44% have relocated from other parts of South Africa and 14% are foreign;

·         CBD residents are thinking “green”: 63% of residents have switched to energy saving light bulbs, 61% are  actively engage in power saving, 53% recycle, 39% have geyser timers and 42% enthusiastically seek out locally grown food retailers;

·         67% are employed full time and 29% are self-employed.

What was surprising was the large number of people (63%) who still use cars to travel around the Central City.

As the CBD incorporates more sustainable and non-motorised transport options, such as the MyCiTi bus route and bicycle lanes-  and as we see it becoming increasingly safer after hours with more people living in the CBD – it will be interesting to track whether the number of local area drivers drops. We have a wonderfully walkable CBD and encouraging people to leave their cars at home will increase the overall ‘health’ of the CBD both in terms of carbon emissions and the wellbeing of its people.

The number of residents using the MyCiTi bus service in and out of the CBD has increased from 30% last year to 37% this year.

Residents also do a lot of their eating and drinking locally. Nearly 85% of them visit local coffee shops and 68% frequent local restaurants at least once a week. And while their entertainment hangouts tend to be Kloof, Long and Bree streets, their yen for greenery in 81% of residents is sated by the Company’s Garden.

The CCID residential survey is conducted annually.

 * Andrew Fleming is the senior research who initiated the survey and Rob Kane is chairperson of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), which is a public-private partnership. The first of its kind in South Africa, the CCID is today one of 32 Central Improvement Districts (CIDs) and Special Ratings Areas (SRAs) operational in the Cape Town metropole and provides complementary, top-up urban management services, within a specific geographic area, to those rendered by its partners in the Cape Town CBD, namely the City of Cape Town and the South African Police Service (SAPS).



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