The High Life On A Shoestring: Cape Town vs. New York City



Nobody doubts the cultural and fine living credentials of New York City, one of the major crossroads of the world.  With world-class theatre, superb dining options that span every global cuisine imaginable, and hotels that grant incredible vistas from just about any room, the Big Apple seemingly has it all.

As long as you bring cash.

And lots of it.

Despite your tastes for the best that the world has to offer, a recent trip to Gotham was causing you some palpable pain in the pocketbook, and you’re actually doing rather well for yourself in your career!  This realization has given way to a fair bit of soul searching, where the question being meditated upon is: Can there be a place in the world that can deliver on a grand scale without leaving a smoking hole in one’s purse/wallet?

The answer to this question can be found on a continent that is typically forgotten by most when one seeks a city that offers up the accoutrements of the good life.  That continent is Africa, and the location that we are focusing on today is none other than the spectacular seaside city of Cape Town, South Africa.

Ever since the ethical roadblock of apartheid was lifted 20 years ago this year, this place has slowly begun to be noticed by jetsetters from around the world as a place where one can live richly on a shoe string.  Let’s contrast Cape Town with NYC, so we can make a compelling place for this stunning metropolis! If you’re considering relocating, Budget Direct has put together a great cost of living index which we’re sure you’ll enjoy.



Fine dining comes so cheap in the flagship city of South Africa that you may end up indulging in it too much for your own good.  A multi-course meal here will run you $30 per person, while the same splurge in New York will cost you at least $75! For those looking for international cuisine with a South African interpretation, be sure to try Ashton’s Restaurant at Greenways before heading back to your home base.



The deals keep right on coming when it comes to the luxurious dens where you will make your temporary home in Cape Town.  4-star accommodations start as low as $65 per person, while 5-star luxury is also attainable at a sub $100 per night rate, with the boutique lodging known as the Jambo Guesthouse posting a rate of $86 per night.

Back in NYC, those looking for at least four stars will have to shell out a minimum of $190 for a bed, with average four star prices in the mid to upper $200’s. Tip for New York bound travelers: watch for flash deals on popular online booking sites prior to your trip.



While Cape Town may not be the cultural nexus that New York or London is with regards to the theatre industry, it still has a vibrant performing arts scene that is definitely worth experiencing on its own merits. Tickets to individual shows can be had for as little as $7-8, while prime seats for big theatre shows cost about $40 or so. Your average ticket price to get into a Broadway musical in New York costs at least $94 for the worst seat in the house, while season tickets to the opera in Cape Town will run you no more than $120 if you snag the early-bird deal!

While many of the pleasures of New York City are expensive, one gets a lot for what they pay in many cases.  However, NYC does not have a monopoly on being able to live the high life, and a quick journey to Cape Town in South Africa will prove that point handily.


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