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Information about Johannesburg

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dewijk
11/23/2008 10:24 EST

Hi all,

I am currently thinking about applying for a job in Johannesburg. On that side I see a perfect match, but I am wondering if Joburg is a location where I would want to live with my family, with 3 young kids (5/3/1).

So I am looking for people who can help me answer a few questions.

1) I know that Joburg in general is not the safest place on earth, but are there area's where that is less of an issue? When I look at houses, I see some with walls/fences and some do not have these. Are these located in larger communities, with a wall around the community?
2) What part of the city would be te best place to find a nice and save location?
3) Can my kids play freely outside on their bikes or whatever?
4) At what age do childeren attend school?
5) What do people generally do after work, weekend? Stay at home or go out?
6) What is the wheater really like?
7) Any information you feel is valuable for making the decision to move from the Netherlands to Joburg.

Thanks,

Danny

expat4
11/23/2008 19:40 EST

1) Unfortunately there are really no places that are safer than others in Joburg. The crime can be and is everywhere.
2) We lived in the northern suburbs of Joburg. In the Sandton area. I would recommend that part of town as it's fairly accessible to everywhere. Depends also on where your office will be....
3) If you are living in what is called a 'cluster' (a group of housing surrounded by a 3 meter wall) it would be safe for your kids to play. But on the regular streets or parks....no!
4) Not sure about the age when kids start school as mine were older when we lived there. Do remember that the school year starts in January though!
5) If you are fortunate to meet and socialize with South Africans, you will find that they generally open up their homes and hearts to you. Most people have 'braiis' on the week-end that start in the afternoon and on into the evening. Very social!
6) The weather is unbelievably wonderful and can be very dramatic when the thunderstorm season begins. Winter and summer are brilliant!
If you are fortunate to make this move to Joburg, I would suggest you negotiate with your future employer on working with a relocation person that can help you and your family settle properly. They can be a wealth of information and can give you advice on schools, crime, etc. And please believe everything that people tell you about the crime. It is ever present and one must remain hypervigilant at all times.
Having said all that, we really did love every minute of the three years that we were there. But, we were extremely careful and lived in a cluster with armed guards, electric fencing, burglar alarms, burglar grates, etc.
Good luck with your decision!

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jtimman
11/25/2008 01:48 EST

Dear Dewijk,

Don't even think about it! Johannesburg is one of the most dangerous cities in the world! It's not safe for anyone, let alone a family with small children. A friend of mine grew up there and he tells me horror stories you wouldn't believe!! Those with homes that have decided to stay wall themselves in with 20-foot high walls and barbed wire fences. Even security guards that are hired by homeowners often flee from gangs of vicious thugs that roam the streets at night. Again, don't even think about applying for the job there. I don't care if they're offering $1,000,000 per year, do not take the job.

jmorgan
12/4/2008 03:55 EST

The crime in Jo'burg is real, but you don't need to let it rule your life. I've lived in the city now for about a year, and I also live in the Sandton area. When you consider where you are moving, you need to make sure and ask about crime in the 'cluster' and in the area. When living here you need to be aware of where you are and what’s going on around you and don't put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.
There are lots of places where a family can safely go. There are beautiful botanical gardens, zoos, game parks, etc. We go camping, hiking, or fishing nearly every weekend. Johannesburg is a city, just like any other city in the world. It is what you make of it.
This is an amazing time in the county's history where all the different cultures are finally free to mingle and express themselves openly. Your kids will have the opportunity to learn Zulu or Xhosa in school. South Africans are amazingly friendly and social, and they are very family oriented.
In all likelihood if you move here, your life will be touched by crime. Either you, or someone you know, will have a car stolen or house broken into. You need to be aware of the risks, but understand there are ways to reduce your odds of becoming a victim. I agree that you should hire a relocation company. They will be able to help you decide on a safe part of town and to advise you on safe places to take your family.
Good luck!

nrkrisch
12/6/2008 02:18 EST

I completely agree with your (jmorgan) sentiments and wanted to compliment you on really painting the most realistic picture of what life in the Joburg area is, and also the profound truth about witnessing history in the making here.

I live in the North West Province, in Klerksdorp, but spend a fair amount of time in Joburg because that is where my partner's father lives. Joburg has a lot to offer on many different levels, and I would add to your comments that the people who have made a conscious choice to stay in SA, live and work in Joburg, would admit that they love their lives in this beautiful country. You are correct to point out that city life anywhere comes with issues (and I am not trying to downplay the crime situation, for that is very real), but people wouldn't continue to renovate or move into bigger and more beautiful homes in Joburg if there wasn't something to offset it. Along with the gardens, museums, galleries, etc. an hour long drive provides so much for families to do - and if you are willing to drive a little further, there is even more. A wonderful country to discover - all it takes is initiative and energy.

I find South Africans, in general, to be amongst the most hospitable people I have come across anywhere. They are generous, friendly and will make any newcomer feel as though they are a long lost relative. Their larger than life personalities and joie de vivre add to the color of this 'Rainbow Nation' - and I mean this to be a statement across the board, transcending socioeconomic standing. For those of us from more rigid societies, that comes as quiet a welcome change.

As they say here, SA is "Alive with Possibility."

nrkrisch
12/6/2008 03:21 EST

Greetings.

I completely agree with your (jmorgan) sentiments and wanted to compliment you on really painting the most realistic picture of what life in the Joburg area is, and also the profound truth about witnessing history in the making here.

I live in the North West Province, in Klerksdorp, but spend a fair amount of time in Joburg because that is where my partner's father lives. Joburg has a lot to offer on many different levels, and I would add to your comments that the people who have made a conscious choice to stay in SA, live and work in Joburg, would admit that they love their lives in this beautiful country. You are correct to point out that city life anywhere comes with issues (and I am not trying to downplay the crime situation, for that is very real), but people wouldn't continue to renovate or move into bigger and more beautiful homes in Joburg if there wasn't something to offset it. Along with the gardens, museums, galleries, etc. an hour long drive provides so much for families to do - and if you are willing to drive a little further, there is even more. A wonderful country to discover - all it takes is initiative and energy.

I find South Africans, in general, to be amongst the most hospitable people I have come across anywhere. They are generous, friendly and will make any newcomer feel as though they are a long lost relative. Their larger than life personalities and joie de vivre add to the color of this 'Rainbow Nation' - and I mean this to be a statement across the board, transcending socioeconomic standing. For those of us from more rigid societies, that comes as quiet a welcome change.

As they say here, SA is "Alive with Possibility."

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