Moving to Johannesburg
Move to Johannesburg and you will find that it is cosmopolitan and filled with energy. It has been a melting pot of adventurous spirits and innovative minds since gold was first discovered in 1886, attracting business savvy from every corner of the globe.
Today, it’s the largest city in the world that doesn’t have a river or seafront, but it’s the centre of trade and logistics nonetheless, and it’s served by the country’s top road, air and rail networks, with good access to ports.
Johannesburg, Joburg, Egoli (city of gold), Jozi… A city with many names and boundless energy. It isn’t an official capital city, but as South Africa and Africa’s largest business hub, ia different kind of capital is more important here.
Crime is an unfortunate reality in South Africa, and Joburg is often singled out as a hotspot. The reality is that almost everyone you meet will be friendly and not try to steal your car or wallet, but it’s important to take precautions. Walled/gated estates and communities are now commonplace in most Joburg suburbs, and will provide you with the extra reassurance of 24-hour security. The City also has a number of measures in place to prevent crime, such as CCTV surveillance on every street corner.
Joburgers don’t scare easily, though. They’re tough and resilient, and their positive, no-nonsense attitude makes it clear that there’s hope for even more change than has already taken place. The centre city is being revitalised with developments such as the lively Maboneng Precinct, and a bright new generation is breathing life into Soweto, Newtown ,and numerous other parts of this great city.
The majority of local and international businesses choose to base their headquarters in Johannesburg, so there are countless options in terms of fields and sectors, and the city is home to Africa’s largest stock exchange, the JSE.
BBBEE (Broud Based Black Economic Empowerment) is a priority for Joburg businesses, as it is throughout SA, and while a percentage of jobs are reserved for previously disadvantaged South Africans, there are still openings for foreigners – particularly those with critical skills.
Mining is not a recommended sector at the moment as it’s currently declining, but there are plenty of others to explore, such as manufacturing, heavy industry (steel and cement), media and retail. Entrepreneurship is always a winning option, particularly in fields such as IT and communications, which are also prominent features on the Johannesburg business landscape.
Tourism is another growth industry, with most international flights arriving at O R Tambo International Airport. Key tourist attractions such as major game parks are within easy reach of Joburg, making it an effective hub with excellent air and road access to Cape Town and other coastal attractions.
In comparison to the world’s major cities, Johannesburg offers a low cost of living, although it is slightly higher than other cities in South Africa – and worth every cent! Accommodation and transport will always be your largest expenses, but Joburg salaries are higher than those in Cape Town or Durban, often exceeding the difference in living costs.
Joburg is a city that dresses to impress, but your clothing budget will still be significantly lower than those required in London or Paris, unless you choose imported luxury brands. A dress or jacket from a chain store (similar to M&S) will cost R450 – R600, and a mid-range pair of ladies’ shoes is R400 – R800.
A litre of milk will cost R13, and a loaf of bread R10 – R15 depending on where you shop. Johannesburg gets a lot of its fresh produce from around SA so there are some marginal extra costs involved, for example 1kg of tomatoes costs R18, compared with R17 in Cape Town. A decent bottle of wine is around R80, whereas it would cost R75 in Cape Town, and !_currency(10_ (R200) or more in London.
Electricity, water, etc. for a 1-bedroom apartment will cost approximately R1200, but this can vary depending on your suburb and rental agreement. Be sure to confirm every item that you’ll have to pay.
Theatre, music, fine dining, relaxed pubs and places to see and be seen are all part of the fabric or Joburg life. The city regularly features international theatre productions and artists, and there’s an exciting local art and music scene too.
Best-in-house theatre seats can cost between R100 and R350, while a trendy nightclub charges up to R200 as an entrance fee and R60 and up for a cocktail.
An evening of fine dining for two, with excellent wine and three courses, can cost up to R1500, while a relaxed dinner of two courses and “nice but not fancy” wine is around R300. There are child-friendly restaurants with kids’ menus and play areas, which charge an average of R450 for burgers, chips, salad and cool drinks for a family of 4.
Joburg is getting in on the street food trend, and markets such as Neighbourgoods in Braamfontein offer delicious snacks at R25 – R60 per item. There’s a bar too, of course…
Taxis – Opt for registered cab companies wherever possible. These will charge approximately R110 for 5km, including the starting fee, and should have a meter and credit card facilities. Uber is always an option, with far lower costs. Minibus taxis are best avoided.
Gautrain – Traveling to the airport or to Pretoria on the Gautrain can save a lot of time. Each station has parking facilities with hourly, daily and weekly rates so you can coordinate your business and leisure travel conveniently. A one-way journey from Rosebank to O R Tambo International Airport costs R153.
Private cars are the best way to get around Johannesburg. Fuel prices are subject to change but it would be appropriate to budget R13 per litre for petrol or R11 per litre for diesel. When buying a car, new models cost R200 000 (very basic) and upwards. If you’re living in South Africa, an SUV is always handy and the new Discovery Sport S 2.2 TD4 Diesel is selling for R541 900.
Renting a 1-bedroom apartment in a good area of Joburg will cost around R12 000 per month, and 3 bedrooms in a similar area can be R25 000 or more. Prices are stable at the moment, but new developments in areas such as Maboneng are on the increase, and it’s advisable to get into the market now while a 33m2 loft costs R420 000 and a 282m2 townhouse is up for R3.9 million.
There are apartment buildings but most South Africans prefer a house or townhouse in a complex with an outdoor area, Braais (barbeques) in the garden are a way of life that you’ll fall in love with.
Northern suburbs such as Sandton and Rosebank have been recognised as Joburg’s more upmarket residential areas for years. Now that Sandton is the city’s major business node, this is even more apparent, and property values in the area continue to rise.
While suburbs are a good guideline of the type of homes available, circumstances can change from one street to another and it’s advisable to speak to residents in the area, as well as seeking the advice of a professional estate agent.
Almost all gated estates and complexes are family friendly, and these are the best option in any suburb. The following is a guideline of “typical” suburbs but it’s a good idea to choose one that suits your lifestyle and is within easy reach of work and schools.
Family Friendly– Gated estates are great for families because they often have safer gardens and communal areas in which children can play and ride bikes. Some streets with freestanding houses have an extra security boom gate and guard that only allow residents and guests to enter. Families favour suburbs such as Wendywood, Linksfield and Melrose which are relatively quiet. Many expats live in Sunninghill, Fourways and Lonehill.
Upmarket – Joburg is known for lavish lifestyles and beautiful homes. Its most expensive suburbs, as of 2014/15, are Sandhurst, Rosebank, Parkhurst, Dunkeld, and Westcliff. Hyde Park, Illovo, Melrose and Sandown are not far behind, and all feature fantastic gated estate options. Large freestanding homes are also numerous, with high walls and secure entrances. The development of Melrose Arch with its high-end restaurants, designer boutiques and trendy bars has added even more value to properties in the surrounding areas and makes these extremely attractive and convenient.
Hip & trendy – Melville, Greenside and Parkhurst are where you’ll find trendy boutiques, eclectic cafés and the most happening nightlife. Apartments, estates and freestanding houses are available and suit singles or young couples who enjoy being where the action is. Parktown is also considered a trendy spot for young families.
Up & coming – As we’ve already mentioned, the Maboneng precinct is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment. Even if you don’t live there, it’s worth a visit on the weekend for its fantastic restaurants, architecture, and the lively Market on Main. Newtown and Braamfontein are also moving up in the world… vibey place filled with culture and creativity. They’re best for young singles and couples, and are close to universities so they’re a favourite with students.
Please note, these are just some of the suburbs worth looking at, and Johannesburg is a large city with a lot to offer! Once you have confirmed where offices, schools and other important parts of your life will be based, find a home with the best access to these that provides good security and the lifestyle you’re looking for.
Cost of Moving to Johannesburg
Relocation costs will depend on the number of people moving and what you choose to take with you.
Moving costs for a standard 20 foot (1 TEU) container – all costs are estimated in GBP
|New York City||$19,270 CAD|
Schools and Education
Top private schools such as St Stithians, King Edward VII, Parktown High, St John’s College, Saheti, Crawford, and Heronbridge offer excellent academic, sporting and cultural facilities for day scholars and many also take boarders. There’s also a variety of international schools – American International School, British International School, Deutsche Schule, and Lycée Français Jules Verne which cater to expats.
Tertiary institutions are also numerous, with “Wits” (University of the Witwatersrand) and the University of Johannesburg being two of the most popular. A number of private colleges offer specialised diplomas and certifications, as well as degree programmes. UNISA has an excellent presence in Joburg too for those who prefer distance learning.
Ranking against the world
The city itself is part of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan area, with an estimated population of almost 8 million. Fortunately, there’s plenty of room for expansion and population density is significantly lower than other commercial centres.
Joburg is the place to be for business and commerce, and has more than a fair share of international hotels, conference venues, entertainment, restaurants, sports and leisure facilities. Its proximity to game parks and nature reserves means it’s also easy to take a break and enjoy some quality time.
Hot summers and cool but relatively mild winters are the norm in Joburg, and most rainfall takes place in the summer months, with spectacular Highveld thunderstorms lighting up the evening skies before a cool rain descends. Winter nights can be cold, but snowfall is rare (once every few years) and those accustomed to real winters will be just fine.
September - November
9 – 24 C
December - February
13 – 26 C (can reach 30 – 32 C at midday)
March - May
7 – 24 C
June - August
4 – 19 C (Can drop below freezing overnight)
A day in the life
Early morning gym sessions are popular in Joburg, and they’re a great way to avoid traffic if your gym is near your office! After a busy day, head to Nelson Mandela Square or Melrose Arch for a few drinks and dinner, or try one of Joburg’s internationally renowned restaurants. You could also take in some theatre or do some real social networking in a trendy cigar bar or club.
On the weekend, take the kids to soccer (football) or rugby practice in the morning, or head to a big stadium game later on. You can also find loads of family fun as well as shopping at malls like Sandton City, or explore the many markets around Joburg.
Need a weekend away? You’ll find game reserves, health spas, country retreats, and sports resorts within easy reach. Of course, it’s easy to have fun without going anywhere – just invite some friends around for a braai, open a few beers and relax in the South African sunshine.