Johannesburg, South Africa

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 24, 2021

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Johannesburg, South Africa. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

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What do I need to know about living in Johannesburg?

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When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Johannesburg, they said:

"The biggest concern for this country is crime. You have to be careful and have to sacrifice a bit of freedom in terms of moving out," said another person in Johannesburg.

"Work with a relocation person to find out about shopping, schools, banking, etc. Check out Joburg (if possible) in advance. There are a lot of problems with crime so one has to be hyper aware at all times. But hey, it's Africa and Joburg in particular has it's own kinda vibe.........not a bad thing. Good luck," remarked another expat in Johannesburg.

How do I meet people in Johannesburg?

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When we asked people living in Johannesburg about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"I would suggest either an involvement with the Women's International Club or a similar group. I am not personally involved with any such groups, but have found I have met many people through going to the gym. Also, if you have children, you can always get involved with the school (generally) and meet other parents that way," explained one expat living in Johannesburg.

Where should I setup a bank account in Johannesburg?

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We asked expats in Johannesburg what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"None of the major UK banks have personal banking in SA and I only managed to open a non-res account via FNB on the recommendation of Intergate Immigration," explained one expat living in Johannesburg.

Will I be able to find a job in Johannesburg?

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When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Johannesburg, they reponded:

"The main industries are extremely diverse from mining to banking as well as the fact that Joburg is probably the capital of southern Africa which brings in all the embassies, the UN, etc. I'm not sure how difficult it would be for a person trying to move here without a job. Because of affirmative action and Black Empowerment, finding a job (unless you are previously disadvantaged in this country) is probably tricky," explained one expat.

What is life like in Johannesburg?

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When we asked people living in Johannesburg what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Work seems to be the general feel of Johannesburg..... accented with lots of holidays during the 'festive' season (Dec & Jan). People are quite social on the weekends and plan large all day 'braiis' (barbeques) with loads of families and loads of food and drink. Going to the 'bush' is also important when one can take the time," explained one expat.

Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Johannesburg accepting of differences?

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"Its a very diverse culture. people are tolerant with cultural issues and do recognise the differences," said another expat in Johannesburg.

"I have found Johannesburg to be extremely culturally and racially diverse........and economically as well. There are a lot of very wealthy people and there are a lot of very impoverished people. It's an interesting dichotomy. I have found most people to be accepting of me. Having said that, there is still an undercurrent of the old apartheid feelings. Remember that SA is still a very young democracy.....only 12 years.......so, there are still a lot of feelings, good and bad," remarked another in Johannesburg.

What are the schools in Johannesburg like?

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"The Cambridge qualifications are very flexible and give the students a lot of opportunities for study abroad. A fairly traditional school w.r.t. uniforms (blazers and straw boaters)and manners etc. Academic standards are quite high and they expect a lot from the kids.(not a bad thing) A super atmosphere around the school, the kids are happy," explained one expat living in Johannesburg, South Africa.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Italy, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and the Living in Panama Guide. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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William Russell Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quotes for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
Get a Quote

Johannesburg, South AfricaGuide to Living in Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What to Know About Living in Johannesburg

South Africa Forum South Africa Forum
Join our South Africa forum to meet other people living in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ContributeContribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Johannesburg.

Healthcare in South AfricaHealthcare in South Africa

Information about healthcare and hospitals in South Africa.

Johannesburg, South AfricaExpats Talk about Living in Johannesburg

Expats talk about what it's like living in Johannesburg, South Africa: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What Newcomers to Johannesburg Should Know

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