Johannesburg, South Africa Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa 10/28/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No; this was my sixth tour. I have served previously in Southern Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It doesn't matter where you live in the U.S. Getting back and forth between South Africa and your home is always a long grueling experience. After making many such trips, I have decided the direct flights, though shorter, are more miserable than breaking it up with a layover in London. But that's me. If you can finagle an upgrade to business, that will make a huge difference. In my numerous trips back and forth, I only managed to swing a cheap upgrade once, but boy was it worth it.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I was in Johannesburg for three years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is generally good and nicely-sized. Some of the homes are laid out in an odd fashion (mine was) that makes entertaining a challenge, but others tend to have a large central room where you can host people for cocktails, etc. Many houses have small pools - kids seem to like them, but most adults admit they never use them. I had a pool and never set foot in it once. Most yards (aka "gardens") are small.

Commuting times tend to be about 15 minutes in traffic for most U.S. Consulate employees. However, if traffic lights are not working, that can snarl traffic horribly. Frequently traffic lights are not working either due to malfunction or because the copper wiring has been stolen (happens a lot).

Quirks:
-There are no electric outlets in bathrooms, by law! This was a surprise to me.
-Because winter is short and mild, most houses aren't insulated in the way U.S. houses are. As a result, the interior of your house can be quite cold in the winter. Sometimes it is colder inside the house than it is outside! Since heating is from wall units, but not every room has one, most people end up purchasing small electric heaters to supplement.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can basically buy almost anything your heart desires in Joburg. For specialty items, you might have to work harder to locate them than you would in a city of comparable size in the U.S. (e.g. ingredients for Asian cuisines). Oddly, given the amount of coast the country has, there isn't much in the way of fresh fish. Some restaurants get fresh fish deliveries, but only a few grocery stores do (and I sometimes think the fish have been frozen and then thawed...)

I would say most food products are a bit cheaper in SA. Some products - like beef steaks and lamb - are remarkably cheap, even in restaurants. And of course there are products you can easily get in SA that are hard to find in the U.S. (e.g. porcini bullion cubes!) I buy lots of cleaning supplies, but haven't paid attention to whether it's more expensive in SA or the U.S.

Wine - you'll hear about SA wine: very inexpensive for truly outstanding wines. The sticker shock when you return to the U.S. is palpable.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing, really.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are tons of restaurants featuring all major cuisines - everything from Korean BBQ to Italian to Lebanese to traditional South African. Even the most expensive restaurants in the city are significantly cheaper than in the U.S.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None that I experienced beyond normal things (wall spiders, small lizards, etc).

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Diplomatic pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Readily available and relatively inexpensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Lots of gyms. People seem to like Virgin Active, though there are other options. They don't tend to stay open late into the evening, unfortunately.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use credit cards everywhere. Lots of people in SA do not carry cash on them. ATMs are common and I used them regularly without problem. In some locations, you might run the risk of getting mugged by someone casing the machine. Happens from time to time.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Most faiths and denominations are represented.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None - but I learned basic greetings in nearly all the official languages, which helped me in the office and on the street. As everyone likes to point out on this site, the locals appreciate any effort to learn their language and culture.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I would think Joburg would actually be better for people with physical challenges than most cities on the continent.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Mostly no on "safe" and yes on "affordable."

Most people rely on Uber. Do not take yellow taxis, minibuses, etc. The Gautrain, which runs from Joburg to both the airport and Pretoria is safe, clean, and dependable. Mission personnel use it with great frequency, especially to go to the airport. An accident on the highway (a regular occurrence) can turn a 20 minute car trip to the airport into an 1.5 hour ordeal. With Gautrain, the trip from Sandton station to the airport is always 15 minutes. You can't beat it.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I like to go off road, camp in the bush, etc. so a 4x4 with high clearance, but other people like compact cars. Burglary/carjacking is a real risk - especially burglary. My car was broken into once. Generally, leave nothing visible on any seat - put it all in the trunk.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Once you have a phone service, you can get internet turned on. Shouldn't take more than a day or two.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Great vets and kennels for dogs.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is no way to sugar-coat it: the risk of being a victim of crime in Joburg is pretty high. Lots of people experience it one form or another (burglarized cars is a big one). And some parts of the city are not safe to be in at night. Having said that, I traveled throughout the city extensively and often late into the evening without any problem. Be aware, and try to be in the company of locals if you are in a dodgy area.

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2. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot dry summers - but surprisingly cool in the shade. Mild winters that generally have cool days and colder nights. November through February, roughly, is the rainy season.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Morale is generally good. Biggest complaint is that Joburg isn't a walking city. You have to drive everywhere. Sort of like Houston, TX.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

For singles, yes - dating in Joburg would be like dating in NYC. I think all the major social media dating platforms are used here.
For couples, super great: from great restaurants to in-country travel (think wineries, etc) to incredible wildlife/wilderness experiences, adventurous couples will have a blast.
For families, same as for couples. Kids love safari (or so I hear). One downside is that the security situation limits what older teens can do in ways that they sometimes find frustrating.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think the answer is generally that the situation is relatively good, but SA still has a lot of problems on this front. There is a vibrant LGBT scene in Joburg. None of my single LGBT friends had any problem dating (that I was aware of).

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I thought so.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The country is still working through Apartheid and the damage it did to the country. Income inequality is staggeringly bad here. Most of the country's wealth is still controlled by the white population, so there is a push among the majority for the government to address access to services, employment, and education. It's very much a work in progress.

There have been a lot of violent protests against immigrants (largely from other parts of Africa). This will remain an issue for the foreseeable future.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How fun it was. I'd rather live in Joburg than Cape Town (though the latter definitely has a more majestic setting).

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

With pleasure.

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Johannesburg, South Africa 04/10/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Two other cities in Africa, three in Latin America.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It's 17-18 hours by plane to Atlanta (direct) or Washington, DC (plane stops for an hour in Dakar).

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3. How long have you lived here?

8 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Work at the US consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We have a large house in a gated housing complex, about 2 km from the Consulate. If there's no traffic, the commute is less than 10 minutes. Coming home in the afternoon it often takes almost 30 minutes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get everything in South Africa! We do ship in special products for baking, like baking chocolate and brown sugar, because we prefer US products for that, as well as some favorites for the kids, but generally you can get whatever you need here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More of my favorite brand of US peanut butter, since you can't ship peanut butter in the pouch. But it's not a crisis - there are a variety of peanut butter options here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

The restaurant scene in Joburg is large and thriving. There are great options for all kinds of food, and it's all delicious. You can get Chinese, fast food, pizza, etc, by delivery, and Uber Eats has recently started up (although I haven't used it).

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

The lizards in our house seem to keep the occasional bug population down!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Haven't used the local post office, as we use the pouch via the consulate. Courier mail (e.g. DHL) is also available.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Most people have at least a part time housekeeper. Household help is available and pretty inexpensive - live-in, full time housekeeper is probably R4,000-5,000. Nannies and gardeners are also available.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Full access to Virgin Active gym is about R500/month, so not expensive. There are lots of options and gyms are in good locations.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards and ATMs are both widely available. South African vendors will bring the credit card machine to you to swipe to help prevent fraud. We try to only use ATMs in very safe locations due to theft/scams at ATMs being very common.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I'm not sure, but I suspect that the full range of services is available in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, maybe others, too.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is widely spoken, no need for another language. Local and foreign language tutors are available.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Not too much trouble - there are generally accommodations.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The Gautrain is safe, other public transportation is not recommended. We use Uber a lot throughout South Africa, and it's safe and convenient.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You must have right-hand drive, and there are strict import requirements. It's easiest to buy a car here, and there's a thriving used car market outside of the expatriate community, so you're sure to find what you want. You don't need a 4x4, although many people have one for their adventures in southern Africa.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Broadband is readily available, and while more expensive than in the US, it's not ridiculous. They are just installing fiber - I understand the transition to fiber can be painful, but it works well once installed. Go for a non-Telkom provider to get better prices and good service. If you're with the Consulate, ask for an internet dongle on arrival and/or get a 4G modem from Cell C and load it up so you have internet right away - otherwise you'll find yourself waiting a week or two to get set up at home.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We use Vodacom for local service. We initially wanted a contract, but the documentation with the company was so painful that we ended up getting pay as you go, and it's fine. Sometimes the online payment doesn't work well (site issues), so we pay at our local grocery store to reload. It's worked out way cheaper than a contract and service is good.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

We don't have a pet, but vets seems to be quite good. There are no quarantine requirements, but South Africa requires animals to be flown in as cargo, which can be a hassle - and costly.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Most spouses who work do so in the consulate. Working on the local economy is not easy, I understand, due to regulations and permits.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are volunteer opportunities available with a lot of NGOs: schools, hospitals, etc.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Standard business dress (coat/tie for men, variety of business options for women) is common at work. Many people do a business casual Friday. This is a big, cosmopolitan city, so there are occasions for formal dress and nice going out clothes. Also bring clothes for hiking and adventuring!

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Crime is a concern. Walking around town is generally not recommended, and robberies/carjacking are relatively common. House alarms are a must as burglary is also a regular problem.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

This is a medical evacuation destination, as medical care is excellent. Many expat women have babies locally, people have minor or emergency surgery, get follow-up care, etc. The only health concern is some altitude (about 5-6000 ft) and very dry air.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is like in any large US city - some pollution due to traffic, very dry air, can be dusty in spring (September-November).

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

No particular concerns. Allergens are clearly labeled in local food products.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Sunny all year round. Winters have cold nights but generally mild days. Summers can be hot but not humid. Even during rainy season (November-March), it's not generally humid, as rain often passes quickly.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are American and French schools used by consulate staff - no personal experience with either.

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are lots of activities available - sports, dance, art, language, theater, etc. All of these available on the local economy, not through schools, which may have other offerings.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large - Joburg has a ton of expats for business, international development, diplomats, etc. Morale is typically good, as it's a great place to live.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

South Africans are very friendly. We socialize with other expats, with our neighbors, with friends met thrugh the kids' activities, via adult sports activities, etc. Follow your interests and you'll easily find friends.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for everyone - the social scene is large and varied, and there is a lot to do here.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, LGBT is not an issue here, and LGBT rights are well protected.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Race in general is still a major factor in South African society, still dealing with the unfortunate legacy of apartheid. I know expat people of color who have experienced racism on a daily basis - being ignored by service staff, etc.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel! There is so much to see and do in southern Africa, and Johannesburg is the best jumping off point. Safaris, beach trips, hiking, 4x4 driving, etc - it's all here.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Don't forget about Lesotho! You can snow ski there in winter, and the hiking in the Drakensberg is spectacular. The drive to Semonkong is long, but the Maletsunyane Falls and the hiking in that area is worth it. And the whole country is VERY different from South Africa, despite the proximity.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes - lots of jewelry and arts of all kinds are readily available here to buy.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Joburg has it all - proximity to more rural adventure while living in a large city that has everything you could possibly need. The beach is only 6 hours away by car or a short flight, safari is less than 2 hours away, a full service spa is right up the road....

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Without a doubt!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Dehumidifier, heavy winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunhat and sunblock, sense of adventure, road map for travel, slippers for cold floors in the winter.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah.

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Johannesburg, South Africa 09/18/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, spent two semesters in Austria during college.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Flew out of Denver. Lots of different ways to go. The most direct being DEN, ATL, JNB.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Seven months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Personal move.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We are not with the Foreign Service. If you are looking to move to South Africa on your own, this is a very good time with the favorable dollar to rand exchange rate. We bought a beautiful home in a lovely neighborhood.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Anything you could ever want is here, and much more. The only things that aren't as common are: mac and cheese, the huge cold cereal selection - mostly corn flakes or Cheerios/Granola, and Pillsbury biscuits.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Again, no need to ship anything but mac and cheese if that's your thing.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Um.. Everything! McDonalds delivers! KFC has been here a long time. There is also Burger King, Domino's Pizza. But better yet, support the local chains or small family-owned restaurants.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

No real problem with mail. I believe Amazon now ships to SA as well.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Many people willing to work domestically. If you want help, finding it won't be an issue. But best to ask a friend or neighbor for a referral. Because, really, you are letting a total stranger in your home. Anything valuable have locked away, including mail with personal (banking) information.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Lots of gyms. Also the crime isn't "so bad" that you wont see both men and women jogging by themselves.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Just like the States.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, many Christian. No problem there.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Learn some phrases in Zulu. Not because you need to in order to get by, but because the Zulu speakers will really appreciate having their culture acknowledged.

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Transportation:

1. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Cars are more expensive here. Also, getting used to the "correct" left side of the road can take a long time.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Lots of vets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

The women tend to dress up more.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

You can't help every single person who asks for money. Be aware of your surroundings, just like in any big city. From a terrorism perspective, it is safer than many other parts of the world.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Good health care, but do your hospital research before hand.

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Lovely. But the houses really are poorly insulated. So if it's cold outside, it's cold inside, etc.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Go with a local school, if possible.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschools everywhere.

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Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Wonderful for families. The black Africans, in particular, love children. Not uncommon at all to have a black man truly smile at your baby.

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2. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, but come prepared.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Ideas of "darkest Africa."

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3. But don't forget your:

Knowledge that some people really suffer. There are very few, and very limited, social safety nets.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

We chose to move here to be near family after many years in the States. There is something a little "magical" about South Africa. The charm of the people, the magnificent thunderstorms, the tea gardens and flowers. No place is perfect, but South Africans are very resilient, and are worth getting to know. We are glad to be here.

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Johannesburg, South Africa 08/03/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Mexico City

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Atlanta. Direct flights daily lasting about 14 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2009 to 2011

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

apartments and cluster homes. communte time to the Consulate is about 10-15 minutes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

wide availability of groceries and household supplies. prices are comprable to the u.s. most popular grocery stores are woolworths, pick n pay, spar, and checkers.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

not much, just those specific products that remind you of home. I shipped coffee, chocolate chip cookie mix, graham crackers, etc.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

fast food - mcdonalds, KFC, Chicken Licken, Anat, and Nandos (all good and cheap). sit down dining- tons of good places and variety- prices range from moderate to expensive.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

woolies has organic products in pretty much every category.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

nothing major, some ants are the only noticeable household problem i experienced. Outside never really noticed anything too weird. Mosquitos aren't a problem here.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

we send mail throught the embassy, but local mail with DHL or FeEx is okay, if not expensive for international mailing.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

domestic help is plentiful and affordable.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes. most join Platinum or Virigin Active. They are of superior quality.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

credit cards are widely accepted (they bring the credit card machine up to the table at restaurants). ATMS are regularly used here. it is recommended to use them in malls, etc. for security purposes. Never accept help or assistance in any form at an ATM it is more than likely a scam.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

lots of christian, jewish, and muslim services available in english.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

english newspapers available. DSTV is the choice for cable TV.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

almost everyone speaks english.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

there are some accomodations for people w/physical disabilities but its not 100% up to date.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

gautrain is new and safe to get to the airport and pretoria. local taxis buses aren't safe, but private taxis in the form of cars are okay. popular taxi compnies include Rose Taxi and First for Women.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

most vehicles are acceptable. most people at post have honda, toyota, nissan, jeep, BMW, audi, and mercedes.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

high speed internet is available. most people use telkom, iburst, and mweb.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get a blackberry as most plans are prepaid, but w/blackberry you can use BBM or Whatsapp and text for free locally and back in the U.S. with friends and family.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

depends on where they come from. My dog came from the U.S. and there wasn't an issue with quarantine. I recommend a pet shipping co. to handle this portion as it can get complicated.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Pet care is good andf widely available here. I used a local vet and pet walking/care daily service. Kennels are good too. I recommend Sun Valley and Menlyn Kennels.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

it's hard to get a visa to work on the local economy, but it seems it's possible but can take a long time if it's not done through an inter-co. transfer.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

dress code is smart casual or formal at work and casual to smart casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

security is a concern, but does not monopolize your life. stay alert and aware of your surroundings and you should be fine.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

HIV/AIDS is a big deal here, but w/responsible behavior it should not impact your life. Private medical care is good and SA is used as a medical evacuation site for the rest of Africa.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

good (winters are dry).

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

summer is in the 70s and is the rainy season. winter ranges from the 50s to 70s and is dry.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

mission employees generally send their kids to the American school, though there are plenty of other good private schools in the area and some colleagues utilize these to avoid the lengthy communte to the American school.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

not sure don't have kids.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

preschool is available and utilized by embassy employees, though some prefer to utilize nannies full time rather than pay for school.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

yes. soccer, cricket, riding, track and field, etc.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

relatively large, i had american and other expat friends working on the local economy as well as friends from the Embassy.

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2. Morale among expats:

morale is good, i find most people enjoy life here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

great social life opportunities. plenty of clubs, restaurants, and lounges.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

this city is good for everyone.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

same sex partnerships/marriage is legal here and widely accepted/tolerated socially.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

there are issues but seems like mostly people get along in terms of day to day life.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

travel in SA and surrounding countries, city life in Johannesburg (great nightlife, shopping, dining, etc.).

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

local markets, lounges, restaurants, shopping, parks, theatre, clubs, etc.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

african crafts and jewelry.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

advantages include tons of cultural diversity, lots of entertainment in the city, great location for weekend trips,and mild climate.

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11. Can you save money?

you can, but it's hard if you take advantage of everthing there is to do here.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

DEFINITELY and will return if I have the chance.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

expectation for good customer service and thoughts that the city will function as it appears. The level of development here is only an illusion and often power outages, water outages, etc. are headaches.

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3. But don't forget your:

outdoor gear and sense of adventure as there are so many travel opportunities.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Jozi Chic, Johannesburg: Places and Spaces, From Jo'burg to Jozi.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Totsi, Long Walk to Freedom, Skin, Power of One, District 9, and Spud.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a great city to live in if you are open to diversity and citylife. Get to know the people and the culture and you will enjoy it here.

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Johannesburg, South Africa 07/11/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Mexico City.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

There are direct flights offered daily by Delta. The flight to Atlanta is 15 hours. Other flights through KLM and AirFrance have layovers in Europe before reaching the U.S. total time varies but is usually about 18 -20 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy/Consulate housing is generally on compounds. Generally a town house our stand alone house in an enclosed community with a security gaurd on call.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Woolworth's is the best grocery store with lots of fresh fruits and veggies and also premade dishes that actually taste fabulous; it is a little bit pricey, but in my opinion worth every penny. Pick n Pay and Checkers are also good but not as gourmet, but you can find everything there. Also Thrupp's is good for imported items, it's expensive but good for finding those hard to find U.S. items such as Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, etc. The deli there is also amazing.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More laundry detergent. I am not a huge fan of the local stuff. And maybe Kleenex with lotion. Other than that, everything is here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast food chains include: Wimpy (hamburger place: it's gross), Steers (another hamburger place: it's okay), Nando's (grilled chicken: it's good), Anat (kebabs, schwarmas: it's good) KFC, and McDonalds are some of the Fast Food locations. Dine in resturants are plentiful and very good, there are a lot of good steak houses (Turn n Tender and Grill House are good), Greek (Plaka is good), Seafood (Fishmonger is good), African (Moyo is good and popular) and Italian (Asiago and Sala di Pepe are good) restaurants. Pricing is reasonable and in most cases cheaper than the U.S.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

not too bad, there are ants, spiders, and some weird looking bugs but nothing overwhelming.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

U.S. Govt. personnel use the pouch. Local mail isn't super reliable, but major couriers are available, and local mail isn't a complete disappointment if you have to use it.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Plenty and cheap.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

It feels like there is a gym on every corner here...Most people go to Planet Fitness or Virgin Active. Both gyms are nice and also offer luxury branches that are over the top, but if you like to indulge they are great.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

It's okay to use credit cards, but be careful identity theft does occur so make sure you have the appropriate protections in place. Using cards at major chains, etc. is usually okay. Also at restaurants if the waiter brings the machine to your table. ATMs are okay if you are security conscious, we usually use them only in malls, just make sure to not let anyone "help" you with the atm retrieval process and you will probably be okay.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Lots of churches here. From Mormon to Pentecostal to Catholic, to Muslim, to Dutch Reform Church to Methodist, you can probably find what you are looking for.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Most people use DSTV for cable. Cost is comprable to that in the U.S.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Almost everyone speaks English. The only issue is whether they understand your American accent and you understand the South African accent. But overall it's fine.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are not a lot of sidewalks, and if you are in a wheelchair, traffic doesn't slow down for you while you are in the street. Most malls, etc. have elevators and escalators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Local taxis or buses are NOT used by Americans. There are other taxi services that are okay like Rose taxi an taxi for Women (pink cars). The Gautrain just opened and it might be good to get to the airport, etc. and cheaper than taxis.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Most people buy cars here b/c of the whole left hand drive situation. Most people get BMW, Honda, Nissan, Audi, Toyota, etc. Cars are more expensive here than in the U.S. and in my opinon have more mechanical problems not sure if it's the terrain or just bad maintanence. In Jo'burg roads are okay for the most part, but pot holes are here and there and outside of the city it can get pretty rocky if you intend to travel, but the major highway system if fine and paved, it's just the back country roads that are a problem sometimes. In Jo'burg sometimes the traffic lights are out and often the street lights do not work and with road construction it can be a little scary driving at night... Other than that it's fine and there really aren't too many problems. Crime/car jackings are a concern, but just be aware but don't be scared to leave the hosue.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet service is crappy. You buy packages based on the amountof bandwidth you use monthly, and it can get kind of expensive for slow service.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cell phones are here and okay. You can pretty much get anything you want. If you don't plan on using them a lot, then maybe go for the prepaid option.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Depends on where they come from. My dog didn't have to be quarantined but I relied on a pet shipping co. to get everything in order b/c the whole process is complicated.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Pet care is good and readily available with private vets and 24 hour emergency facilities.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I think it's hard to get a job because of the whole work-permit situation. Most spouses of government employees end up working at the consulate or the embassy. However, depending on your skill set, jobs are available on the local economy I have American friends who are not affiliated with the U.S. Govt. who had no problem finding a job.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

At work mostly business casual and formal if necessary. In public it's pretty casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Crime is criticle here, that being said you can enjoy life out in the open here but just need to be conscious of your surroundings and security in general.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dry air is a pain in the winter, but other than that not too bad. Private health care is good.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is good/moderate, but it gets really dry in the winter.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Climate is mild most of the time. Summers are nice with a bit of rain, but it does get kind of cold in the winters and there is no central air so bring your electric heating blankets.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I hear they are good.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not sure, but probably accomodate.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Available and good too.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Relatively large. At the consulate there are about 30 Americans, and there are a lot of Americans living on the local economy as well.

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2. Morale among expats:

At the consulate things are okay, but count on seeking comfort outside of the office. There are enough sponsored events, but because post size is small, people feel left out or excluded from time to time because everyone knows when someone else is organizing something. Families and married couples love it here. Singles do fine, too, but should seek friendships outside of the consulate community because most events are family oriented.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Social life is good. Many lounges and Clubs if you like that. Restaurants are good. Good theatre, concerts and art, too. Among the embassy community, someone is always hosting a dinner or party.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a good city for everyone.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Thriving gay/lesbian community here. Many colleagues seem to thrive here.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Xenophobia is a concern here, but not really for Americans; only for immigrants from neighboring African countries.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel. Cape Town and garden route are great.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are so many day trips and short weekend trips travel is great. Swaziland is 3.5 hours away, Madikwe Game Reserve, Pilanesburg, Durban, etc. all very close. Also Dining is great. Night life is good. Shopping and craft markets all over.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

African crafts, diamonds, tanzanite, etc.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Living in SA is much like living in the U.S. in terms of accesibility to items of comfort. Travel within the country and to surrounding countries is fabulous. People are generally friendly.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but not easily if you want to partake in all SA has to offer.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

sense of urgency, people take their time here.

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3. But don't forget your:

barbeque utensils, safari gear, and frequent flyer miles card (you will be travelign a lot).

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Jozi Chic, The Power of One, Cry the Beloved Country, Kaffir Boy, Frommer's Guide to South Africa.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Invictus, Skin, and District 9.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It's a good posting overall.

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Johannesburg, South Africa 10/26/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2+ years. Currently living in Joburg.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Educator.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

There are 2 direct flight on Delta from DC and Atlanta that are 17 hours. You can fly through London or other European cities. It is about 10-11 hours from the UK and Europe. SA Air is nice. SA AIr and British Airways have daily flights from Heathrow.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are beautiful housing facilities in Jo'burg and the suburbs. All are pretty much gated and walled in. Traffic is crazy here! The roads cannot accommodate all the cars. The gov't keeps talking about expanding William Nicol (a main road that leads into Jo'burg), but nothing has happened in the 2.5 years I have lived here.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Woolworths is quite possibly the best grocery store on earth! They are amazing. You will hear everyone say they got it at "Woolies". There are also a lot of other options. You can get US brands for a bit more, but the local brands are really good. Toiletries are widely available and reasonably priced. You can get local, US and UK brands.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

You can get pretty much anything here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

KFC and McDonald's. There are local chains as well. Nando's chicken is pretty good. There are tons of restaurants and it is very cheap to eat out.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Lots of bugs and no screens in any of the windows. Another thing you just get used to. There are sliverfish in houses. Mosquitoes, but no malaria risk here.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The SA mail system is unreliable. Customs likes to take things from the mail. If you need it, you must use a courier, which is super expensive.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It is widely available and cheap. I pay R150 (about $20) for one full day. It is very cheap to have a live-in maid or nanny.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are gyms everywhere. South Africans are obsessed with working out and looking good.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use a credit card everywhere except to buy petrol--you need a SA credit card to do that. ATMs are all over the place. There is just a ton of corruption in Joburg, so sometimes you have difficulty using foreign cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are all kinds of churches available.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes and yes. The local tv (DSTV) has local, UK, US and african shows.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is widely spoken.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Should be ok--there are elevators and ramps in most places.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The local taxis vans are INSANE! The locals take them. They have no rules and drive on the side of the road to pass you. There are new buses--not sure how that is going. The trains are being built for the World Cup.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You do not need an SUV unless you plan to do a lot of camping and game drives. We drive on the same side as the UK. Cars are expensive here and it is very hard to find an automatic. Parts are expensive. There are lots of carjackings and smash-and-grabs. Never leave anything visible in your car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

They call it "wireless", but I have a giant antenna attached to a long cord running through my house. There are all different plans. It is fairly reasonable. You buy it by bandwidth, so the plans are different than in the US. It is slow but not too bad. Another thing you just get used to.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cellphones are expensive to use here. Most people use them to SMS (text). Everyone has a cell phone.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Nope.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

I hear they are cheap and very good.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Lots to volunteer at. The American School always needs good subs.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

South Africans love to dress up. The women even dress up to go shopping.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

No real worries here. The tap water is said to be some of the cleanest in the world.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Just the regulars.

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Where do I start? Jo'berg has a very bad reputation for being dangerous. There is quite a bit of crime, but it seems random. Lots of break-ins, burglaries, carjackings and "smash and grabs"-this is where a person will smash your window and grab a bag or any other item that is on the car seat. A simple way to remedy this is to not have anything on the seat. There are security guards, fences and walls EVERYWHERE--again, something you just get used to. There does seem to be a rise in violent crimes this is usually a carjacking or burglary gone bad. I am a single female, and I do feel safe here. You just need to be cautious and hope for the best. It is not nearly as scary as they make it out to be!

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Great medical care. No worries there.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is quite possibly the best weather in the world! It does get cold in the winter and in the evenings, and none of the buildings or houses is heated--which takes some getting used to. Otherwise it is sunny, sunny, sunny! And little to no humidity. The weather is one of the best things about Joburg.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AISJ has a good reputation. It follows the American and IB Diploma curriculums. It serves ov er 60 nationalities, so it is truely international. It is located closer to the northern suburbs of Joburg (Fourways, Lonehill Sandton) than to Pretoria. There is a small AISJ campus in Pretoria up to grade 6. The local SA schools are also very good, they just follow the southern hemisphere school year.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

AISJ can accommodate only minor learning disorders and special needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are numerous good daycares. AISJ has a pre-K as well.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes--at the American School, and there are tons of other sports programs in the communities.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty large. Just not close-knit, due to how easy it is to live here.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Eating out, clubs, bars, braiis (BBQ's). Great theatre. An obnoxious casino--Montecasino--where all the teenagers hang out. TRAVEL!

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3. Morale among expats:

Pretty high. It is very easy to live here.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for all. There is lots to do and the travel opportunities are fantastic! Teens find it difficult, due to not having the freedom to go out on their own. Single women seem to have it a bit hard, as SA men are not very open to dating foreigners.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There is a very active gay scene in Joburg. My gay friends say it is very welcoming and gay friendly here.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

SA is a very interesting place. There seems to be a lot of tension still due to apartheid. It is actually hard to explain. They have made great strides since 1994, but they have a LONG way to go. There is still much separation of races in the Jo'burg suburbs. And the economic divide is enormous--the very rich living a few miles from the really poor townships--which is one of the reasons for the high crime rate. There has been xenophobic violence in the townships due to the South Africans feeling that the Zimbabwe refugees (and others) are taking jobs from them.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are tons of things to do. Great restaurants, theater, bars/clubs outdoor activities--something for everyone. The travel within SA and to other southern African countries is amazing! SA travel is pretty cheap. The travel has been my favorite part of living in SA.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

African crafts.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely--it has been fantastic!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

heavy winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of humor and sense of adventure. And your patience...you will needs tons of patience. It may look like the US here, but scratch the surface and you know it is Africa.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Tsotsi, anything about Mandela, Yesterday

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7. Do you have any other comments?

South Africa is a fantastic country. South Africans are friendly and warm. They are just not too keen on getting close to people who will not be here forever. You will have so many great travel opportunities. The wine is to die for! I have yet to find a SA wine that I did not like! SA is a very traditional country. People tend to get married early and stay close to family. There are times you think you may be stuck in the 70's or something. Everything here is slow (except the taxis!) and African logic is not logical at all! Joburg is deceiving, as it looks a lot like the western world, but things do not seem to work right--which can be frustrating. Just remember TIA-"this is Africa" and you will be ok!

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