Where South Africa’s richest people live

Most of South Africa’s rich elite still live in Johannesburg despite a steady flow out of the city to the country’s coastal regions.

However, most of the country’s most exclusive suburbs are located in Cape Town, the most expensive city in Africa to buy property. 

The luxury real estate sector is flourishing in South Africa, which continues to boast the largest concentration of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) on the continent.

According to Henley & Partners’ Africa Wealth Report, South Africa has 37,500 dollar millionaires, centi-millionaires, and billionaires. 

This is more than twice the number of wealthy individuals in Egypt and more than three times the number in Nigeria. 

South Africa also continues to dominate the list of the top 20 wealthiest cities and regions in Africa, with six areas appearing on the top 10 list.

Berry Everitt, CEO of Chas Everitt International, said the demand for luxury and super-luxury homes is not evenly distributed across these areas. 

This is largely due to the steady semigration of affluent individuals from Gauteng and other northern provinces to the Western Cape over the past ten years, especially during 2021 and 2022.

This trend is reflected in the decreased number of HNWIs living in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban and corresponding increases in the number of wealthy people who live in Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, and the Garden Route. 

Significant regional differences in the average prime property prices also demonstrate the value of good financial governance and reliable municipal services. 

Rising demand has made Cape Town the most expensive city to own property, costing around $5,600 per m² in its most expensive suburbs. This is compared to just $1,800 per m² in Johannesburg’s wealthiest areas.

The top ten most exclusive suburbs in South Africa, according to data compiled by Seef Property Group, are shown in the table below. 

RankSuburbAverage price (2023)Highest price (2023)
1CliftonR25 millionR150 million
2Bantry BayR22 millionR60 million
3LlandudnoR20 millionR33 million
4SandhurstR19 million
5BishopscourtR18 millionR90 million
6HiggovaleR16 millionR33 million
7WaterfrontR15 millionR54 million
8FresnayeR15 millionR71 million
9Camps BayR15 millionR42 million
10Constantia UpperR13 millionR70 million

Everitt said this differential creates new buying patterns in South Africa’s luxury real estate sector, with the country’s super-wealthy looking beyond Cape Town for exclusivity. 

The country’s super-wealthy remain largely unaffected by elevated interest rates and continue to spend enormous sums to live in world-class lifestyle estates such as Val de Vie and Pearl Valley near Paarl in the Cape Winelands. 

“We find that our southbound HNWI clients are now often eschewing Cape Town in favour of Hermanus in the Whale Coast, Mossel Bay, and Plettenberg Bay in the Garden Route.” 

In place of South Africa’s wealthy elites, Cape Town has begun to attract global elites through its publicity as one of the world’s most beautiful places to live.

Luxury homes in the city’s Atlantic Seaboard and Southern Suburbs continue to lure droves of affluent foreign business leaders, celebrities, and retirees, Everitt said.  

While the price of property may be prohibitive to South Africans, foreign elites are quick to see the value proposition created by the current rand exchange rate against currencies like the US dollar, the pound, and the euro.

At current rates, $1 million buys around 178 m² of prime property in Cape Town, compared to around 26 m² in New York, for example, or 29 m² in London. 

This means that for the price of a one-bedroom apartment in either of those two cities, foreign buyers could easily acquire a luxury two-bedroom oceanfront apartment in Camps Bay or a four-bedroom home in Constantia.

Joburg’s resurgence 

Joburg’s luxury market is showing signs of recovery and resilience over the past six months. 

An increasing number of immigrants, foreign HNWIs, and local buyers are taking the opportunity to acquire high-end properties in the city at well below market value. 

Luxury property buyers worldwide increasingly recognise South Africa as an excellent investment and second-home destination. 

Johannesburg, in particular, is seen as one of the most convenient and well-set-up gateways to Africa’s ‘new’ markets.

Thus, Everitt believes that Johannesburg will remain the most attractive base for both South African and foreign HNWIs keen to invest or establish new businesses in Africa and that its luxury property sector will continue to experience rising demand for the foreseeable future.

This appears to be backed up by the Pam Golding Properties Residential Property Index, which showed that at the end of 2023, the country’s economic hub had reclaimed its spot as South Africa’s dominant residential building region.

Pam Golding CEO Andrew Golding said Gauteng’s rebound comes despite the influx of “semigrants” to the Western Cape and the growing demand for Western Cape properties among property investors.

Gauteng regained its top spot as the largest market for planned residential building activity as developers continue to identify demand for homes in Gauteng.

One of the key trends in recent years has been the outperformance of the Western Cape property market. The number of residential building plans passed in the region surpassed those in Gauteng for the first time in 2022.

The Western Cape registered a further small increase in its share of plans that passed last year.

However, Gauteng recorded a surprise rebound in planned residential building activity and regained its traditional spot as South Africa’s dominant region in this regard, albeit by a slender margin.


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