Moving to South Africa and Terrified of all the Bad News?

Having lived  here in South Africa for over one-and-a-half years, it seems hard to believe that we were once prospective expats who knew next to nothing about this country and who were not at all sure we should even come here in the first place. I remember being pretty excited initially and going online to check out any available information, and my jaw dropping – this country was a cesspit of crime and we were about to be murdered. Or so it said on every expat-related forum I came across.

As you well know, we did come in the end and I started this blog, in large part to provide better information for all those expats coming after us and armed with the same questions. Which is why I was so thrilled when I read the following by Martina, a newly arrived expat in Joburg (also called Jozi):

“As soon as R’s job offer came through and we had to decide whether to take it, I booted up Google. The search results spewed out link after link to sites with negative stories – every chat forum was full of someone asking a question about Joburg to be met with vitriolic responses. I really had to dig deeper and deeper to find anything that showed Joburg in a positive light. I then struck gold, coming across the blog Joburg Expat. Reading through Sine’s posts and articles that she linked to, and then subsequently finding other blogs that are linked from her site, I found that there were these people living there that absolutely loved it, and spoke about the life that they lead in Jozi in such an inspiring way that I felt an inkling of excitement at moving there. I showed Rob the blog’s and both of us felt our confidence growing that we could actually experience a great life in SA, and not one necessarily in the prison of our home without being able to go out and see new things.” 

I’m ecstatic that I seem to have had a hand in this, as I truly think moving to South Africa is a great experience for most people, but I also feel the weight of responsibility. In fact, no doubt Martina is cursing me under her breath this very moment, while she is still sitting at home without a car waiting for the traffic register number to be approved. And she’s probably already spent 15 hours on the phone with Eskom and collected 20 reference numbers from them, although you can’t say I haven’t given enough Eskom alerts over the course of my blog.

Seriously, I’m very glad my blog is being found and read by the people for whom it matters most, and it’s very gratifying being able to help. And one thing Martina said in her post stood out for me so that I found it worth mentioning: Crime statistics show that South Africa has gotten safer – less violent crime, and less carjackings. Of course there are those who will say these statistics cannot be trusted, but anyone who has lived here the past two years would have to admit that things have improved. Whereas London and other European cities (the model of safety in one’s imagination) have lately experienced riots and murders that make you wonder how safe you really are there. With the rest of the world in recession, Africa seems to be on the rise, mainly because it has such a long way to go, but still. It is often a matter of the trend, not so much of where you are, and the positive attitude and can-do spirit is definitely contagious when living here in South Africa.