Put Your Zebra Lederhosen On!

Once again, when October rolled around this year, we found ourselves in new surroundings, meaning we’d have to create yet another guest list for our annual Oktoberfest.

I don’t know exactly when we started this tradition, but I remember where. It was when we lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, and ... 


The Big Dream: A Theater for Alexandra

Alexandra, if you’ll remember, is the place I was warned to never set foot in. “Don’t ever take this exit,” were pretty much the first words of Noisette’s driver G to us when we first arrived in Johanneburg and he was driving us to our new home from the airport. As you’ll also remember, I totally ignored G’s advice. Mainly because I hate when people tell me what I can’t do. But that didn’t keep me from being scared to death when I did make that first foray into Johannesburg’s oldest and most notorious township. It did indeed look totally scary. A shantytown, crisscrossed by narrow winding alleys, building rubble piled up on corners, washing hanging on lines in grassless back yards, barefoot children scampering in the dust among a few goats, shady characters milling about and staring at me and, I imagined, my shiny car in a malevolent and greedy manner. Fast forward to three years later, and I’m now bringing you a story about a theater production in Alexandra. Yes, theater, of all things. Something you associate with culture and education and leisure – all attributes that don’t usually make a place like Alexandra pop into your mind.
From “Paradise Lost,” a Ntshieng Mokgoro production. Photo by Manuela Accarpio.
“Paradise Lost.” Photo by Manuela Accarpio

The thing is, Alexandra hasn’t really changed in three years. It has just changed in my perception. It’s amazing how powerfully your preconceptions can alter what you think of as reality. What looked scary that first day became vibrant. What looked disorderly became lovable. What ... 


Safari Lite: Cradle Nature Walk

cradle nature reserve

Our destination was Cradle Nature Reserve. Joburgers might know it's there, but I had never heard of it, even though it wasn't much more than half an hour from our house. The thing is, there is a lot of stuff out there. What's known as the Cradle of Humankind is brimming with hotels, inns, restaurants, B&Bs, and small safari parks, all set in the most picturesque landscape you can imagine.


10 Things all Expats Should Know about Moving

Moving is hard. Moving abroad sounds even harder. But with the right point of view it doesn’t have to be quite as hard as you think. If we can’t change reality, we can change our thoughts about it. Here, then, are some of these thoughts when it comes to moving your family to distant shores: =&0=&=&1=&=&2=&=&3=&=&4=&=&5=&

I reflected on this phenomenon when writing a previous post, How to Be a Successful Expat. So you’ve been a good expat and focused on the good parts, and you’ve resisted all attempts to dwell on ... 


South Africa: All You Need to Know about Banking, Shopping, Healthcare, and More

One of the motivations for starting Joburg Expat was that I wanted to help those of you who came behind me with the long and often complicated process of settling in. I wanted to answer all of your questions and spare you some of the inefficiencies I had to endure. In the end, my blog took on a life of its own and veered more towards the hilarious recounting of my day-to-day adventures, the almost philosophical reflections about South Africa and its people and life in general, especially as a parent, and a whole host of other stuff that popped into my head. Especially when it came to toilet humor. As a result, even though I’ve tried to keep it organized, the basic how-to aspect might have gotten lost at times. Whether you’re in the process of planning an expat assignment in South Africa or have just landed with 20 bags, 3 kids, and a dog, you probably have a million specific questions about the things that need to be done in the next few months. The good news is, I’ve been answering precisely those questions in a series of articles I wrote for Expat Quotes, a website focused on services for expats around the world. It covers a wide range of countries and topics, allowing you to easily find what you need to know. Below I’ve listed excerpts from my most recent Expat Quotes contributions including links to the full articles. I hope you find them useful.

Opening a Bank Account

It is a question many an expat has asked when moving to a new country. Do I have to open a new bank account or can I somehow manage with the one I have in my home country? To some extent, the answer will depend on how you receive your income. Some multinational companies pay their employees entirely in their home countries, some companies pay everything in the host country’s currency, and some allow you to divide up your income between both according to an agreed-upon ratioRead more…
Standard Bank Internet Banking


To the surprise of many newly arrived visitors and expats, South Africa is a very Westernized country – at least on the surface. This will become evident when you turn your attention to (almost) the first task at hand upon arrival – shopping. Most likely you will find yourself with rather more choices than you bargained for. Read more…


Most South Africans consider their public healthcare system a disgrace. In theory, everyone has access to state hospitals and health centers for emergencies and routine doctor’s visits as well as the dispensation of medicine, all for free or a relatively small ...