What is life really like in South Africa?

(37 Posts)
GoSuckEggs Mon 25-Feb-13 15:09:30

How safe/unsafe is it really?
Can you go for a walk to the shops safely? what about at dusk?
can you go out for a pub lunch? Go for a day at the beach safely?
Do you have to live in gated areas?
can you take the kids for a walk to the park?

I guess I mean how different is life in south africa compared to the uk? I have always been drawn to south africa. I would love a true idea of what it is like living there.

FifromN12 Tue 16-Apr-13 22:29:37

I'm still debating UK vs Cape Town... So hard to know if we making the right decisions especially when children are involved...

ccgirr Tue 16-Apr-13 21:59:54

I live in jo'burg, been here over 2 years, and can walk around comfortably during the day down to the park or to local friends though you often don't want to in the heat! I also carry a handbag at all times and find a lot of people dress smarter here perhaps being a big city we were more out in the sticks in last uk location. I wouldn't walk at night but I don't feel any less safe than I did in London. There are parts to avoid in all cities. It is a great outdoors life for kids. Lots of outdoor cafes with play areas. It is expensive with private schooling, healthcare but then the schooling and healthcare is great because it is private. There are some good government primary schools too. We find it a great life.

ArabellaBeaumaris Thu 28-Mar-13 13:38:10
notmydog Fri 22-Mar-13 13:39:01

People so easily say that there are crime everywhere. That may be true, but I think there are few places where crime is so violent and brutal as it is in South Africa. This is a stunning country, such lovely people, wonderful weather. But we can't justify bringing up our DD here anymore, while she is a British citizen. We're leaving for the UK next month.

Internationaltraveller Sat 09-Mar-13 14:11:41

I lived in Cape Town for a long time and recently went back. They have really cracked down on drunk driving and driving and mobiles. I feel better about the driving there than I do here in Canada where people drive and text while on the highway.
You do need a car in Cape Town.
ExpectantDad123 - whereabouts are you moving? The Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont is where a lot of women I know have given birth. It's really nice. I think one of my friends got involved in a mummy group throughout the hospital.
The thing that absolutely sparkles about Cape Town is the amazing weather and outdoor life - that and the relaxed attitude of the people.
AngryBeaver no-one I know in South Africa walks around with a card in their bra!
ExpatWifey thanks for your honest account of what it's like to live in Cape Town

ajandjjmum Fri 01-Mar-13 13:15:02

My DC both spent a summer in a small town on the East Coast (school exchange) - on separate occasions. They were careful, but walked to and from school, met friends and generally enjoyed life there. DD so much that she talks about going to live in SA eventually.

Cape Town may be geographically in Africa, but it is its own place and not like the rest of South Africa at all ...

Xenophobic, corrupt, racist, violent

Salbertina Fri 01-Mar-13 08:16:55

Unbelievably beautiful- stunning landscapes and colour contrasts- vivid blue skies against bright green trees...
Friendly and warm people who enjoy themselves and laugh readily
A young, growing country with huge potential

Also violent, corrupt, unequal and chaotic.

I love and hate it in equal measure.

FreckledLeopard Thu 28-Feb-13 17:07:13

My ex-husband was South African and we got married out there. I'd visited a friend who'd lived in Cape Town prior to meeting ex, and had a great time in Cape Town. I stuck to certain rules - never went anywhere alone, took taxis, locked car doors when I drove etc - but found the city to be beautiful and never felt scared.

However, I then went to Durban (where ex's family lived) and loathed it. Scenery etc was stunning. But actually living with a South African (white) family in their gated house (barbed wire on top of walls; neighbours had electric fence on top of walls) gave me a sense of life in South Africa (outside of Cape Town) and it was so depressing. I hated the inequality, seeing women/babies trying to make a few rand selling things on the sides of the roads. I hate the feeling of being caged up and unable to walk around, walk to the shops. I found the casual racism ghastly. Ex's family had a black maid and black gardener and seemed to think they could order them around, talk rudely about them and act like colonials.

Then there was the talk about the way the 'natives' or 'blacks' would drive, how it wasn't fair that her (ex-SIL's) children couldn't go to medical school because positive discrimination meant that black people had priority ('but the blacks aren't clever enough and will drop out, so it will be ok'). Ghastly.

Obviously not all whites are twats out there, but the segregation really is apparent and so unfair. Plus the issues with lack of healthcare, corruption, violence....god knows how it will ever get solved, if at all.

Obviously I'm biased having had ghastly wedding/time out there. BUT, I would still never live there, because I couldn't bear the lifestyle, the killings, the unfairness of it all and the massive discrepancies between black and white. The country, though, is stunning.

GoSuckEggs Thu 28-Feb-13 16:32:21

thanks guys. there is a huge difference in experiances.

ExpatWifey Thu 28-Feb-13 15:45:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Salbertina Thu 28-Feb-13 15:11:39

Google childmag.co.za and search listings also Expat Cape Town. Hth.

ExpectantDad123 Thu 28-Feb-13 14:37:26

Hello everybody. Myself and my soon to be wife are moving to Cape Town in April and she will be 23 weeks pregnant when we arrive. I was wondering whether there are any good NCT equivalent classes there? Also any other good antenatal or postnatal classes that we/she could attend in Cape Town. Many thanks

INeverSaidThat Wed 27-Feb-13 20:16:25

ExpatWifey. Don't be bored sad have you tried golf and or tennis?

ExpatWifey Wed 27-Feb-13 19:01:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

INeverSaidThat Wed 27-Feb-13 10:05:29

In the years I lived in SA I can't think of an occasion when I felt 'scared'. It was more that I was careful and aware.
I drove into our closest township (a shanty town part of it) on a weekly basis. I drove purposefully and with another passenger and I didn't feel at risk. I would walk around central Joburg (carefully ) I would not go alone though.
I wore always wore jewellery and carried a handbag.
In general, i found everyone very friendly, polite and helpful
I lived in several countries and SA was the best by miles but I couldn't stay there with teenage children. I think the UK is better for them.

Salbertina Wed 27-Feb-13 09:27:37

True... And i do have a neighbour who sometimes drives a few doors down for playdates, just as you say! She's the only one though..

AngryBeaver Wed 27-Feb-13 09:19:32

Well, I am glad to hear that salbertina. I am sure there are plenty of people in SA that would never leave, and areas that are safer than others. We only tend to hear the worst, as you say smile

I don't think Donal McIntyre's programme did SA any favours, either!

Salbertina Wed 27-Feb-13 09:09:03

I know what you mean, AB- it's the SA expats who tend to tell the scariest stories! I guess due to being more likely to be overseas anyway precisely because something bad's happened to them? Also i think we all feel the need to justify our life decisions "i left SA because..." in order to make sense of it or defend leaving the home country.
I have a handbag, as do all my (female) friends! Am more careful tho yes, but not got 4 dogs and i do walk.

AngryBeaver Wed 27-Feb-13 08:55:04

I live in NZ and there are a lot of SA expats here. One woman at playgroup told me that she had 4 big dogs as protection. She said that if she had to hang the washing out, she took the dogs and locked each door as she went.
And she still didn't feel safe whist doing it.
She said you don't ever have a handbag, you put your card in your bra and keep your doors locked in the car.But still, she was terrified every day going to work.
Another woman from school told me that people have dogs, but can't walk them outside. They just live in the gardens behind BIG gates.
She actually told me that her son had a playdate on a house 3 doors down. They openeed their electric gates DROVE 3 doors down, to where they opened THEIR electric gates, and then she drove in.

My hairdresser told me that she hates the fact her mum and sister are still in SA, unable to get over here. She has also told me some corkers.

I'm sure it would depend on where you live and it's a beautiful country, but I wouldn't live there in a million.

anonymosity Wed 27-Feb-13 03:23:59

I visited for work a few years ago - Durban and it was very polarized. So I saw small babies and toddlers living on mattresses on the bits of ground between busy roads and pre-teens dressed in bikinis outside brothels. Then I saw people dressed in fur coats and pearls eating in 5 star hotels for the equivalent of about 20 quid.

I had a driver who accompanied me everywhere and picked me up from my office at the end of the day - he never let me leave a building until I saw his car with the backseat door open and ready.

I did not feel safe. And I was pretty horrified and saddened by what I witnessed.

KatherineKrupnik Tue 26-Feb-13 09:14:19

I lived in Cape Town & walked to the shops, got the train into town, walked around the centre. Didn't walk alone at night but blokes I knew did. My family live an hour from Cape Town & don't lock up.

Salbertina Tue 26-Feb-13 07:31:28

Go- on what is your interest based? Have you been here on hol or something, family connections? Not a place to move to lightly- v v tough visa conditions for foreigners, v expensive to live, v long way from Uk!

GoSuckEggs Mon 25-Feb-13 22:16:07

thanks for your replies.

It is great to hear how people live, very interesting.

INeverSaidThat Mon 25-Feb-13 21:50:13

The murder rate in the Capes is higher than in JoBurg.

We lived in JoBurg in a huge very secure estate. We felt extremely safe in our estate and I didnt worry about the DCs wandering about. I happily drove all over the place in the day but was careful at night. I even drove into our nearest township to make deliveries to the local school. I was always quietly on the look out but I wasn't nervous.
We went on driving holidays all over SA and felt safe doing so. We were careful not to go too far off main roads but would walk along secluded (and stunning) beaches on our own.

I was always careful taking money out of cash points.

Drink driving and reckless driving is a huge problem. The road death rate is staggering.

Generally all South Africans from all backgrounds are wonderful honest and friendly but I wouldn't want to live there with teenage kids.

There are quite a few threads on MN about SA.

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