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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Expats, A new phrase for me. My husband has just accepted a new job offer in Joberg, SA. We have many questions I hope someone kind will help us with and offer advice. I have a 16 year old who will just be starting to drive and have many questions from him. Questions are:

Do you drive on the right or left side of the road?

If we all have US drivers license do we need to do anything different to legally drive in SA?

If we currently hold car insurance is it easy to get car insurance in SA?

I hear talk of frequent car jacking, does the car insurance cover that?

How are the internet connections? My son is an avid gammer and plays on XBox Live and needs a good internet connection to be able to play with friends in US.

Does any other Expat out there have similar age kids? Do any of them go to the private school by the Embassy? I can't remember the name of it right now. Wanted to talk about the kids experiences there if anyone can help with that.

We will be living in Joberg or Pretoria area so would love to start a friendship online with any others in that area so we can meet when we get into town.

Thanks in advance for all your help. I've lived in Salt Lake City, Utah for over 30 years so we are all very excited about the new adventure. Can't wait to get to SA.

Look forward to meeting new friends.
Linda
 

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Hi Linda,

In SA they drive on the left side. And on your driving licence must be in English, so no problem to drive here with it. Ask from your insurance in the USA a statement, how many years you didnot claim from them, it will help to lower the primium and yes car jacking is most of time included.


Well a big disapointment for your son, no the internet is not fast and stabel overhere and expensive. And there also a lot of power problems, specialy when there is thunder.

There is a international school nearby, ask the embassy.

If your husband is going to work in Jo'burg, donot live in Pretoria, in the morning and evening , the traffic is terrible.
We live in Kyalami, outside Joburg on the North side. And if you like to live were a lot of expats are living too, go and look for a house in Dainfern, North side of Jo'burg, near Fourways.
If you google.co.za you can find more.

When are you going to come into SA??

Regards,

Annemieke:)
 

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Hi,

Driving is quite rightly on the other side of the road. Your son will need to wait until he is 18 years old to be able to drive without an adult in the car. You can only get a 'learners' license at 17 but then you need to have someone with a full license with you. I think it's only in the US that children can drive from 16! :(

The internet is really poor compared to US and european standards. He will probably find online gaming very difficult. It's possible to get fairly high speed but international latency is very high which makes gaming rough. All the speed they advertise are 'local' speeds and international speed will be much slower. Also, there is usually a cap on international data transfer (and you will need to pay dearly for more).

Schools in SA are pretty different compared to the US too. Kids almost always stay in high school until the age of 18 (you can drop out at 16 but it's very uncommon). School discipline is probably higher than in the US and most schools wear uniforms. The education system is generally considered pretty good though.

You'll find that SA is a lot more 'wild west' than the US. You mentioned carjackings. This is a big problem. Insurance will cover this but there is a risk to life. You need to remember that nothign is worth fighting a carjacker for. This are almost always armed and very dangerous with no respect for life. You will need to grow eyes in the back of your head and always be aware, even in seemingly safe places like suburbs.

I don't want to scare you. South Africa is a little piece of paradise but it comes with it's problems. You need to be prepared. If you can go down there and see it. And, whatever you do you will need to accept very early on that it is nothing like the US.

Good luck - keep us posted!

H
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the info.

Boy, very interesting information. I don't think I'll mention the driving and the gaming issues to my son. He's pretty excited right now but that's just because he doesn't think there will be anything different when it comes to the gaming. It's probably a blessing in disguise, since he seems to spend way too much time on the gaming systems anyway.

The driving is going to make him sad but again, it might be another good thing. If car jacking and safety are issues he needs to learn to be aware of his surroundings before going out by himself in a car.

We have no illusions that SA will be like the US. My husband has been to Cameroon before, spending time in Yaounde and Dubaia. He experenced the mixed feelings of safety and fasination with the area. If my research has been correct, it seems like South Africa is a little better off than the Cameroon area.

We understand life as we know it will be changing dramatically, and that's what we're actually looking forward to experencing. While we are not looking forward to the issues of keeping safe, we are anxious to explore the continent. We think it will be a life changing experence for us all. My son has the typical teenage USA attitude that an easy, stressfree, comfortable life is a requirement and not a priviledge. We're anxious for him to get a taste of how the rest of the world lives and thinks. Salt Lake City, Utah is a safe little haven in the USA and, even though he's been to Europe, Mexico and other areas in the US, our son is pretty sheltered in his world views.

We are not sure of any of the exacts yet, as far as our living accommodations. We may have something already waiting for us provided by the employer, or we may get an allowance for housing. I believe my husband will be stationed closer to Pretoria than Joburg, any living areas better than others in Pretoria you might want to recommend?

Thanks again for your response. If you wouldn't mind, I'll probably be coming up with all kinds of other questions as we get closer to packing up and moving on.

I appreciate all the helpful information.


Hi,

Driving is quite rightly on the other side of the road. Your son will need to wait until he is 18 years old to be able to drive without an adult in the car. You can only get a 'learners' license at 17 but then you need to have someone with a full license with you. I think it's only in the US that children can drive from 16! :(

The internet is really poor compared to US and european standards. He will probably find online gaming very difficult. It's possible to get fairly high speed but international latency is very high which makes gaming rough. All the speed they advertise are 'local' speeds and international speed will be much slower. Also, there is usually a cap on international data transfer (and you will need to pay dearly for more).

Schools in SA are pretty different compared to the US too. Kids almost always stay in high school until the age of 18 (you can drop out at 16 but it's very uncommon). School discipline is probably higher than in the US and most schools wear uniforms. The education system is generally considered pretty good though.

You'll find that SA is a lot more 'wild west' than the US. You mentioned carjackings. This is a big problem. Insurance will cover this but there is a risk to life. You need to remember that nothign is worth fighting a carjacker for. This are almost always armed and very dangerous with no respect for life. You will need to grow eyes in the back of your head and always be aware, even in seemingly safe places like suburbs.

I don't want to scare you. South Africa is a little piece of paradise but it comes with it's problems. You need to be prepared. If you can go down there and see it. And, whatever you do you will need to accept very early on that it is nothing like the US.

Good luck - keep us posted!

H
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the info.

Hi Anne,

Thanks for the information. I was also told that he won't be able to get a license to drive by himself until he's 18. I guess that probably a good idea if safety and car jacking are issues. He can really get to know the area and be familiar with his surroundings before going off on his own in a car.

I believe my husband will be working closer to Pretoria than Joburg. How far is that from the area you live near? I've read other posts saying you really want to live as close to your work as possible to avoid the traffic.

It would be great to have someone to chat with regularly and get to know before we get there. Already having some friends in place would take some of the stress out of the whole moving experience. Of course my husband will be emersed in his new work environment and that will leave me to get everything in our world set up for proper living. Setting up utilities, finding pharmacies, transferring perscriptions, finding a doctor, where to shop, eat, find other entertainment, buying a car, getting insurance, etc. etc.. I thought I was going to be able to retire with this move but I'm sure I'll be kept very busy the first year just getting us settled in.

How long have you been in SA?

Thanks again for your response. I'll make another post as the other questions come to mind.
Have a wonderful day.
Linda
Hi Linda,

In SA they drive on the left side. And on your driving licence must be in English, so no problem to drive here with it. Ask from your insurance in the USA a statement, how many years you didnot claim from them, it will help to lower the primium and yes car jacking is most of time included.


Well a big disapointment for your son, no the internet is not fast and stabel overhere and expensive. And there also a lot of power problems, specialy when there is thunder.

There is a international school nearby, ask the embassy.

If your husband is going to work in Jo'burg, donot live in Pretoria, in the morning and evening , the traffic is terrible.
We live in Kyalami, outside Joburg on the North side. And if you like to live were a lot of expats are living too, go and look for a house in Dainfern, North side of Jo'burg, near Fourways.
If you google.co.za you can find more.

When are you going to come into SA??

Regards,

Annemieke:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I forgot to mention

I forgot to answer your question about when we're moving to SA. The plans are to get us there by the first of Feb. 2010.

Hi Linda,

In SA they drive on the left side. And on your driving licence must be in English, so no problem to drive here with it. Ask from your insurance in the USA a statement, how many years you didnot claim from them, it will help to lower the primium and yes car jacking is most of time included.


Well a big disapointment for your son, no the internet is not fast and stabel overhere and expensive. And there also a lot of power problems, specialy when there is thunder.

There is a international school nearby, ask the embassy.

If your husband is going to work in Jo'burg, donot live in Pretoria, in the morning and evening , the traffic is terrible.
We live in Kyalami, outside Joburg on the North side. And if you like to live were a lot of expats are living too, go and look for a house in Dainfern, North side of Jo'burg, near Fourways.
If you google.co.za you can find more.

When are you going to come into SA??

Regards,

Annemieke:)
 

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An international driving permit will make your 'valid' US drivers license, valid here. Triple A can issue a permit to you. Get the permit in the states and not in SA. Also, FYI, the legal drinking age is 18 years. Do expect an adjustment period for your family. Some families love it (like mine) others are miserable. I think it depends on how adventerous you are and how much you mind sketchy people, power outages, or having the water turned off just after you soaped up in the shower.

Best!
 

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Even with an international drivers license a person under the age of 18 will not be able to drive around unaccompanied in South Africa. Your son will need to wait until he is 17 to get a Learner's license and then 18 to drive alone. As you said though - this is probably a good thing.

H
 

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Even with an international drivers license a person under the age of 18 will not be able to drive around unaccompanied in South Africa. Your son will need to wait until he is 17 to get a Learner's license and then 18 to drive alone. As you said though - this is probably a good thing.

H
Thanks for the clarification hhuberla. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Getting all the details

We're hoping to get more details from my husbands employer today. It's hard to know what we will be responsible for until we know what they have planned for us. We're also hoping that, since they have done this kind of international relocation a lot, they will be handling all the little details of permit, housing, etc. etc..

We are all looking forward to the adventure but I'm not sure my son, 16, will be as excited when he finds out his gaming on XBox live will be sketchy at best. We think it's great and hope he will spend his time doing other things than gaming. The power outages will cause some issues with that also.

I think we are going to be in the Pretoria area, any suggestions on where we should look for housing?

Thanks!

An international driving permit will make your 'valid' US drivers license, valid here. Triple A can issue a permit to you. Get the permit in the states and not in SA. Also, FYI, the legal drinking age is 18 years. Do expect an adjustment period for your family. Some families love it (like mine) others are miserable. I think it depends on how adventerous you are and how much you mind sketchy people, power outages, or having the water turned off just after you soaped up in the shower.

Best!
 

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Coming from my husband who has lived in SA all his life his advice for the best areas to live in Pretoria are Capital Park, Garsfontein, Muckleneuk and Centurion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Housing Area

Thank you for the information, I'll start checking on the internet for rentals in those areas.

Coming from my husband who has lived in SA all his life his advice for the best areas to live in Pretoria are Capital Park, Garsfontein, Muckleneuk and Centurion.
 

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Get Help

I assume your husband's employer has obtained professional assistance with the legal immigration issues - work and residence permits for himself and the family.
I would also recommend professional relocation assistance to help you orientate and settle. The American International School of Johannesburg is located to the north of the city towards Pretoria. as is Dainfern (golf estate) and other fully secure gated communities. I would strongly recommend that you ask your relocation service provider (paid for by the company) to search out suitable homes in that area, and to arrange for you to speak to the AIS. The fees at the AIS are expensive and it is usual for the employer to fund them.
Joburg is a very friendly place and I am sure that if your son attends there and you live in one of the gated communities you will make lots of friends, both American and local and have a great stay here in our city.
Crime is an issue to be respected rather than feared, and if you take suitable precautions and remain aware at the points of danger you will have a safe and fear-free time. Again your husband should ask for a securit briefing from a relocation company - avoid the security companies as it is their business to scare the life out of you so that you will make extensive (and expensive!) use of their services.



We're hoping to get more details from my husbands employer today. It's hard to know what we will be responsible for until we know what they have planned for us. We're also hoping that, since they have done this kind of international relocation a lot, they will be handling all the little details of permit, housing, etc. etc..

We are all looking forward to the adventure but I'm not sure my son, 16, will be as excited when he finds out his gaming on XBox live will be sketchy at best. We think it's great and hope he will spend his time doing other things than gaming. The power outages will cause some issues with that also.

I think we are going to be in the Pretoria area, any suggestions on where we should look for housing?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Living Areas

Thanks Rod, my husbands employer is pretty familiar with the relocation process in many foreign countries and we are scheduled for a security and training one week class before we relocate so I'm sure they will cover everything we need. We are all very excited to relocate, the stories of crime and car jacking does not intimidate us. I'm sure Joburg is no different from a large citie in the states like Detroit, Chicago, New York or DC. You just have to be aware of the areas that are not as safe and always be conscious of your surroundings.

Thank you for the information, I'll start checking on the internet for rentals in those areas.
 

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Places to Live in Joburg

hi, i just read ur mails. i will also be shifting to joburg soon. would liek to know whats' teh ebst area to stay???
Joburg is a large city of 3.5 million. It is very spread out, and including Soweto covers an area the size of Greater London. It has beautiful treed suburbs to the north, where most expatriates live, unless they have good reason not to, such as the location of their place of work.

Which suburb you choose will be a matter of budget and personal preference. The highly secure gated communities (also quite expensive) are all located in the far north of the city, and involve a difficult commute by personal transport (no public transport can be used by expatriates) to work daily. There are many modern apartment blocks in Sandton, if that is near your workplace, and the apartment lifestyle suits you. Otherwise most suburbs have secure compunds of modern houses with small yards and sometimes communal sports (swimming/tennis/gym) facilities. Most house are rented unfurnished, but apartments are usually rented fully furnished.

I suggest you ask your employer for some assistance from a professional relocation company - at least a short Orientation Programme to give you an idea of what is where - better still some home-finding or settling-in assistance.
 

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hey thanks so much!

my husband's office would be in sandton or sandown. we thinking of taking up a place near the office near. we not looking for house but ya furnished apartments. just want to check, have read so much about the safety issues, want to know are apts safe to stay? and also how is the sandton area? also personal transport is a must rt?
can u also help me with small but important things like, malls, what time do they shut? is it safe to travel alone in the evenings?
also, what can one do for leisure? just generally if you could help me with basic things like apartments etc and how much would they cost (rentals) in areas like sandton, sandown?
also, car buying/renting info? would u know any website whr i could find?
yes, will def chk with my husband's employer also but just doing my homework too:)
 

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my husband's office would be in sandton or sandown. we thinking of taking up a place near the office near. we not looking for house but ya furnished apartments. just want to check, have read so much about the safety issues, want to know are apts safe to stay? and also how is the sandton area? also personal transport is a must rt?
can u also help me with small but important things like, malls, what time do they shut? is it safe to travel alone in the evenings?
also, what can one do for leisure? just generally if you could help me with basic things like apartments etc and how much would they cost (rentals) in areas like sandton, sandown?
also, car buying/renting info? would u know any website whr i could find?
yes, will def chk with my husband's employer also but just doing my homework too:)
To answer your questions as simply as I can (remember there are always exceptions and personal preferences):

Apartments in the Sandton Central Area cost from R12,000 to R20,00 per month upwards depending upon location (the expensive ones attached to, or very close to the Sandton City / Nelson Mandela Square shopping centre) and size/quality.
Apartments are essentially secure and "lock-up-and-go" so that you don't have to worry if you go away for a weekend to the bush, The Cape or similar.

Personal transport is essential in Joburg - at least one car between you. You could only manage with one if your husband doesn't need his during the day, and you can drop him and keep the car some days at least

Shopping malls in Sandton open at 09.00 and close around 18.00, later on some days of the week. They are mostly open all day Saturday and until just after lunch on Sundays

Cars are rather more expensive than in some other parts of the world. Suggest you try Carfind.co.za - New and Used Cars for Sale, or Autotrader South Africa ? Buy and Sell Used Cars, New Cars, Used Commercial Vehicles, Bikes, Plant Farm Machinery and Leisure Vehicles to get an idea of new and 2nd hand costs for typical models sold locally. A couple of points about cars:
Strongly recommend you buy a 2nd hand car through a reputable dealer - preferrably the franchisee of the brand concerned. Avoid the classifieds.
Better buys in terms of resale value are those that are produced locally - Toyota (top) Nissan, VW, BMW, Mercedes, Ford. Stay away from French, American or Korean imports as a rule.
There are obviously restrictions as an expatriate as to the amount that you can finance and repayment period when buying a car.
Need to obtain a Traffic Register Number before you buy a car
Need an International Driving Permit in order to register a vehicle, although you can drive on a foreign license, so long as it is in English and has an integral photo

As to leisure and travelling in the evenings: obviously there are "no-go" zones as in any major city, but citizens of Joburg like to go out to movies and restaurants as much as anywhere in the world - in fact more than most places, so that says something about perceived safety. Leisure in Joburg is very social and also sporting based - whether watching or participating . It has a wonderful climate and a great many sports clubs (17 golf courses in the greater city area), and people spend a lot of their weekends away in the bush or other tourist areas.

Another website that may help your research is Corporate Relocations - Relocation Simplified - it has some other background info, and FAQs
 

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thanks!

hey thanks so much for the quick replies and great information. will post my queries as and when they cross my mind.
one more thing i wanted to chk with you, about car jacking is that very common? and which are the complete no no areas?
also, trying to understand n find areas that r closer to stay near sandton, in case sandton feels like a pinch on the pocket.
also, one more thing wanted to check with you, i'm an indian, would there be any indian shops etc that you would know of.
thanks!
 

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hey thanks so much for the quick replies and great information. will post my queries as and when they cross my mind.
one more thing i wanted to chk with you, about car jacking is that very common? and which are the complete no no areas?
also, trying to understand n find areas that r closer to stay near sandton, in case sandton feels like a pinch on the pocket.
also, one more thing wanted to check with you, i'm an indian, would there be any indian shops etc that you would know of.
thanks!
Slightly more economical areas near Sandton Central: - Morningside, Sandown, Strathavon, Parkmore, Atholl, Rosebank, Bryanston, Wendywood, Hurlingham, Craighall Park.

Car Hijacking - not as common as before. Smash and grab more common - prevented by putting handbags, laptops and shopping in boot/out of sight.

No-Go areas: - Alexandra, Soweto, old CBD (parts of), Hillbrow, Yeoville, Orange Grove, Diepsloot, and other traditiionally black townships, unless accompanied by a professional guide.

Indian Shops - a great many, but not too many in Sandton - more in the older suburbs and Fordsburg.
 
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