If Cape Town made Monocle’s liveable cities list


Every year Monocle magazine publishes its list of 25 most liveable cities. This year’s list was topped by Copenhagen, followed by Melbourne and Helsinki. It is unclear exactly how they end up with the list that they do, but we can be fairly certain that Cape Town won’t make it on anytime soon. Now not to say that the city should aim to impress the folks at Monocle, but how would it read if Cape Town did make it onto the list? I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see just how Cape Town compares to the other 25 cities  – particularly in terms of the mostly quantitative factors that Monocle considers for each city. Alongside the statistics for Cape Town are those of Copenhagen and the average of all 25 cities (where possible) in order to provide reference points.

Keep in mind some of these numbers have been rounded off and may be extremely inaccurate altogether.


Population: 433,688 in the city (CPH: 560,000; Ave: 1,900,000), 3,740,026 in the metropolitan area (CPH: 1,700,000; Ave: 4,300,000)

International flights: 20 destinations (CPH: 140; Ave: 147), of which 11 are intercontinental (CPH: 24; Ave: 57)

Crime: murders, 1,261 (CPH: 9; Ave: 37); domestic break-ins, 23,396 (CPH: 3,748; Ave: 6,773)

Sunshine: annual average, 3094 hours (CPH: 1539; Ave: 2019)

Temperatures: average high, 22C (CPH: 22C; Ave: 27C); average low, 11C (CPH: -2C; Ave: 3C)

Tolerance: Same sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006, and Cape Town has a vibrant gay community. However, homophobic violence is an ongoing problem in parts of the city.

Electric car charging points: 0 (CPH: 332; Ave: 265)

Unemployment rate: 23.9% (CPH: 6.6%; Ave: 7.2%)

Culture: 123 cinema screens (CPH: 14; Ave: 106), 48 art galleries (CPH: 70-80; Ave: 146), 24 museums (Ave: 79), 15 theatres (CPH: 28; Ave: 62)

Bookshops: 18 (CPH: 83; Ave: 255)

Green space: 27,683 hectares (CPH: 2,260; Ave: 19,726)

Key upcoming developments: The long overdue upgrade of the passenger rail system is scheduled for 2015.

Street life: When the wind isn’t blowing certain areas come alive, but the city makes it difficult for restaurants to have tables and chairs on the pavement.

Dinner on a Sunday: One can easily buy groceries on a Sunday, but finding a bottle of wine is a challenge. Many restaurants close, but it’s not impossible to go out for a decent meal.

Monocle’s fixes: Knock down the elevated freeways that cut the city off from the harbour and increase the residential population in the central city.

In summary, Cape Town doesn’t quite win in the crime department, there’s not much work going around, and your electric car may not start, but if you’re lucky enough to be alive, the sun is probably shining and there’s a mountain to hike right on your doorstep.

There are 3 comments

  1. Gail Y. Bennett

    Hmm, well, there you have it. City leaders, community leaders, what are your next steps for improving quality of life in your cities?

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