Moving to Pretoria
Long regarded as Johannesburg’s quieter, older sister, Pretoria has come into its own in recent years. Located in the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, it’s a thriving city, filled with exciting opportunities and diverse cultures.
Source: Flickr | Tony Mendez
As South Africa’s administrative capital, Pretoria is home to many civil servants, but a number of businesses are choosing to set up offices in the city centre as well. Pretoria has all the necessary infrastructure, as well as beautiful, leafy residential suburbs. It’s within easy reach of O R Tambo International Airport, but with a lower crime rate and lower costs than Johannesburg.
While the city still holds sombre reminders of South Africa’s pre-democratic history, it’s a contemporary hub of nationalities and cultures and, beaten only by Washington DC, has the world’s second largest number of foreign embassies. It’s also perfectly located close to game parks, dams, peaceful nature reserves and luxurious health spas for those must-have breaks.
Large industrial operations can be found in Pretoria and it’s home to steel, iron and automotive plants, so there are many opportunities in these sectors. Government and foreign embassy jobs make up a substantial portion of Pretoria’s market, and a large expat community exists as a result.
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Pretoria is a large city and has a need for regular products and services which will always feature job openings. A constant flow of visiting businesspeople and foreign dignitaries has also created a large market for travel and leisure businesses.
Most of Pretoria/Tshwane’s larger businesses are based in the CBD, but some are now moving out to gated business estates in suburbs such as Brooklyn.
Pretoria is an excellent opportunity to live relatively close to Johannesburg at a slightly lower cost. The most noticeable differences are in property prices and rent, however you would also find some savings on other expenses such as entertainment and dining out. Of course, if you are commuting into Johannesburg, you’ll need to factor in additional transport costs when making your decision.
Source: Flickr | Paul Saad
Groceries will cost a similar amount in any of the major South African cities: milk (1 litre) and a loaf of bread are currently R11 – R14 each. You’ll pay approximately R25 for a dozen eggs, and just R15 for 1kg of potatoes.
Water, electricity and garbage removal for a 1-bedroom apartment costs about R1200 per month. Check with your landlord though, as many will include a portion of this in your rent.
While tenants usually pay council tax in the UK, this is generally paid by landlords in South Africa – again, confirm these details for your specific agreement.
A simple restaurant dinner for two, with two courses and a bottle of wine, is approximately R350, while an expensive restaurant option is generally closer to R500. Beer is a firm favourite in SA, and most pubs and restaurants offer craft beers in addition to local favourites, priced between R20 and R45 for a pint depending on your preferences.
South African wines are excellent, and you can find really good brands for as little as R75 per bottle in a store, or R150 in a restaurant, but you can also expect R200+ for better wines in restaurants and bars. Even the cheaper options at R40 – R60 in stores are extremely enjoyable though, so make the most of this local indulgence.
Pretoria has limited public transport in and around the city and personal transport is generally preferred.
Taxis – Registered taxis cost approximately R105 for a 5km trip, but Uber is becoming increasingly popular and offers lower rates. You’ll see hundreds of minibus taxis but these can be difficult to navigate and aren’t recommended unless you learn a local dialect and know exactly where you need to get to.
Gautrain – The high speed trains run between Pretoria (Hatfield, Pretoria Station, Centurion or Midrand) and O R Tambo International Airport. They will also take you directly into the heart of Johannesburg’s business districts at Sandton or Rosebank stations. Hatfielt to the airport (one way) is R164 but if you’re traveling frequently, saver cards are available. Paid parking facilities are also available at Gautrain stations at hourly, daily and weekly rates.
Cars – Petrol and diesel prices fluctuate, but budget R13 and R11 per litre (as of September 2015) respectively.
Source: Flickr | Paul Saad
Beautiful Cape Dutch architecture is a feature in many of Pretoria’s tree-lined suburban streets, and a house or duplex with a garden is recommended to take advantage of this city’s wonderful climate. There are numerous gated developments, which offer additional security while still providing spacious homes and gardens – many even have private swimming pools, or a swimming pool shared by residents of the complex. These estates generally offer 24-hour security, while some are built around golf courses and even provide shuttle services to the Gautrain.
Apartments are available in suburbs and in the CBD, but most residents – especially those with families – are choosing duplexes or houses in leafy suburban areas.
A 1-bedroom apartment (85m2) can be rented from R4000 – R5500, while a 3-bedroom option will cost R8800 – R12000 in a decent area. If you’re looking to buy a home, prices range from R400 000 for a basic 1-bedroom apartment. Expect to pay R1.5 million upwards for a 3-bedroom house in suburban areas, but prices can stretch up to R4 million or more in the right location.
While some suburbs such as Groenkloof and Waterkloof are known to be more “upmarket”, each suburb has its share of good and bad areas. It’s often a matter of choosing the right street or gated estate, and while agents will provide excellent guidance, you should also chat to people from the area if possible, and even have a look on Google’s handy street view!
Source: Flickr | Paul Saad
Suburbs that are widely recommended by Pretoria residents for families and professionals are Groenkloof, Waterkloof, Lynnwood, Colbyn, and Waverley. Brooklyn is an extremely popular area among the younger set and boasts some fantastic restaurants and nightlife. Centurion is a great area for families, with a number of schools and shops nearby, and a recent survey by Fin24 showed its internet speed to be the second highest in SA at an average of 15Mbps.
Less expensive suburbs such as Highveld are also a viable option, but once again, we would advise speaking to locals to confirm that it meets your requirements.
Nature lovers are well catered for, and areas such as Hartebeespoort Dam combine modern living with a beautiful natural setting. You would also have access to both Pretoria and Johannesburg from this serene environment.
Cost of Moving
Your moving costs will of course depend on what you bring along, and with relatively low clothing and furniture costs in SA. Remember that while SA has a much milder climate than many European cities, winter in Pretoria still requires a good coat, so don’t leave all your thermals behind.
Moving costs for a standard 20 foot (1 TEU) container – all costs are estimated in GBP
Schools and Education
South African private schools generally offer a higher standard of education, but there are some excellent public schools too, such as Pretoria Boys High. Schools in Pretoria predominantly used Afrikaans in the past, but more and more are adding English instruction.
Pretoria has two international school campuses – Deutsche Internationale Schule and British International College which offers A- and O-levels. There are also many international schools in nearby Johannesburg which offer boarding facilities.
Private school fees can cost anywhere from R11 000 to R50 000 per year and there are many options to suit your child’s needs, from academics to sport and cultural activities. Pretoria’s most well-known schools include Courtney House International School, Hartfield Christian School, Cornwall Hill College, and Village Montessori. Detailed lists of private schools per area are available here.
Universities in Pretoria
The University of Pretoria is one of South Africa’s best tertiary institutions and is well known for its academic and sporting achievements. Tshwane University of Technology is also an excellent option, offering a huge variety of degrees and diplomas across six campuses. UNISA, South Africa’s renowned distance learning university, also has facilities in Pretoria.
Ranking against the World
Pretoria doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but it’s a wonderful place to live and while it’s a little quieter than Johannesburg, it offers many of the same opportunities. Its crime rate is lower – always a bonus – and its lifestyle more leisurely. Pretoria also boasts lower pollution levels than its more industrialised neighbour. The leafy, green suburbs are famous for bursting into purple and orange Jacaranda splendour each year, and there’s a wealth of nature within easy reach.
Washington DC and Delft (Netherlands) are sister cities to Pretoria, but it is often compared to Birmingham (UK), New Jersey (USA), and Canberra (Australia).
Pretoria has an average of 3,254 hours of sunshine per year and is located in a dryer subtropical zone. Average temperatures are 17C and rainfall is highest during the summer.
September - November
12 – 26 C
December - February
17 – 28 C (but can reach 30 – 36 C)
March - May
8 – 27 C
June - August
-1 – 22 C (but can drop to -6 C)
A Day in the Life
Waking up early is easy in sunny Pretoria, and even the winter chill doesn’t stop determined walkers, runners and cyclists from getting out to train. Leaving for work by 7am should get you to the CBD by 8 in the usual traffic, and after a productive day, why not enjoy a drink at a nearby bar or pub with your colleagues?
Source: Flickr | Paul Saad
You and your family will have plenty of choices for an evening’s entertainment – your favourite international cuisine, a variety of films, theatres and live music, or simply relax at home and enjoy a braai (South African barbeque) under the stars.
On the weekend you may want to take a drive to a nearby nature reserve, or stay closer to home and enjoy the remarkable Botanical Gardens. There are also plenty of shopping malls, boutiques, and sporting facilities in Pretoria – including the ever popular rugby and football stadia – so there really is something for every member of the family in this warm and welcoming city.