One year in Joburg

This Sunday marks one year since Alistair, Boo and I packed up our Cape Town lives for the bright lights and big city of Jozi. Well, bright lights isn’t completely accurate due to regular power cuts, although the spectacular sunsets more than make up for it.

The first six months were a bit rough on my Capetonian sensibilities, but I grow to love Joburg more every day. This city has tested and stretched me in so many ways. It’s made me tougher, more honest with myself and, oddly, less spoilt. If you’d told me in Cape Town that I’d have to drive 40 minutes to work every day, I would have said “Never!”

I’ve had a few unlucky experiences, almost like the city was testing me:

  • 1 x smash-and-grab
  • 1 x bribe request from JMPD
  • 1 x truck landing on my car with me in it
  • Really crappy summer weather

However, the good stuff has been really, really good:

  • Lots of amazing new friends
  • 3 x very close girlfriends who I adore
  • 4 x fantastic trips to Zim, Moz and Clarens
  • 2 x great jobs with super-talented people
  • Book launches, dinners, music and wine

I haven’t been to Cape Town since February and I think that’s helped. Living between cities may sound glamorous, but a little commitment goes a long way. In fact, after saying for the past year that “I won’t buy property in Joburg”, Al and I have now bought a beautiful 177m2 flat in Killarney.

Many Capetonians have blinkers on when it comes to Joburg. They want to stay where they’ve always been, whereas living in Joburg makes you want to go everywhere – and the rewards have been worth it. I feel like I’ve become a grown-up. I’m more confident, less melodramatic and stronger as a person.

We will return to Cape Town one day. If I have kids, I want them surrounded by family like I was. But until then, I’m really looking forward to three or four more years in Jozi.


  • July 18, 2011 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    You’ve hit the nail on the head – I feel the exact same way. For the first year of my new life in Jozi, I couldn’t make it for more than 4 weeks without flying home to my mom in Durbs. I’d always grown up thinking that I’d stay a coastal girl forever. Fast forward 3 years and Jozi is my home. I don’t feel the need to fly to Durban nearly as often as I used to, and the new life Jozi has given me is wonderful.

    I also ‘grew up’ here. And although being an adult is so much harder than I expected, the rewards are so worth it.

    Congrats on your new property!

  • July 18, 2011 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Glad you like JHB…the unlucky stuff always sucks! I’ve had two wallets stolen in 4 months! But Joburg does have its own spirit. Its just different to Cape Town. It always annoyed me when Capetownians put JHB down but since I visted there last year I can definitely understand why you love it there. Its so beautiful.

  • July 24, 2011 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

    so interesting to read your perspective!

    i grew up in pretoria and studied in cape town, and have spent significant amounts of time in both PTA/JHB and cape town since then.

    so it’s always annoyed me that for the most part, people in cape town have a very negative attitude towards joburg, without ever having spent time there.

    and like you said, there are downsides to living in jozi, but i do think it’s amazing to know that beyond all that, there is definitely something special about it.

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