Cape Town - Inner city living is no longer just the domain of young and trendy urbanites and hipsters.
Almost a third of people surveyed by the Central City Improvement District (CCID) in its second annual residential survey have children, and nearly half owned their homes in the city centre.
And it’s becoming a popular lifestyle option for older residents, with 15 percent of respondents being over 55.
“This finding shows very clearly that it’s not only young people who want to live in the buzz of a central city,” said Andrew Fleming, senior researcher on the project.
“People are living in the CBD with children, but it’s a different kind of family living.”
The survey of 293 residents found that they were mostly between 25 and 44, employed and working close to their homes. Proximity to work, the “downtown” lifestyle and entertainment options were listed as the top three reasons for city living.
Fleming said the survey would help the CCID understand how to match its cleaning and security services to residents’ needs.
Safety was a concern, but Fleming said most people felt that the CBD was one of the safer areas in the city, although confidence levels were higher during the day.
Many residents indicated that they were attracted to the lock-up-and-go lifestyle afforded by city living. Older residents enjoyed being closer to the city’s hospitals.
Most respondents said they wanted more restaurants in the city centre, as well as shops that stayed open after five. There was a strong call for more delicatessen-type stores.
Residents with children wanted child-friendly public spaces and day-care facilities.
Most residents eat close to home, with 68 percent trying out local restaurants. For those wanting a bit of greenery, the Company’s Garden gets the nod from 81 percent of respondents.
Rob Kane, chair of the CCID said: “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.”
The city is also proving to be a long-term option, with 19 percent indicating that they had lived in the CBD for between five and 10 years, while 15 percent had been there for more than 10. Almost half said they would live in the city for at least another four years.
Most of the residents are architects and engineers, or involved in media, marketing, communication and other creative industries. More than two thirds are permanently employed, and 29 percent self-employed.
Almost a third of city residents are Capetonian, while 12 percent come from elsewhere in the province and 44 percent have come from other parts of South Africa. Foreigners make up just 14 percent.
City dwellers are environmentally conscious, with 63 percent using energy-saving light bulbs and more than half recycling.
But Fleming said a significant number – 63 percent – still used their cars to move around the central city.
As more sustainable and non-motorised transport options like MyCiTi and bike lanes became part of the CBD, and as the CBD became safer at night, Fleming said it would be interesting to see if the number of car owners dropped.
“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.”