7th Jun 2012 11:25am | By Rebecca Kent
South Africa’s thriving epicentre, Johannesburg, is booming in the face of global financial instability
Not only is Johannesburg the beating heart of South Africa, it is the foremost financial centre on the African continent. Its economy is strong, seemingly immune from global economic woes, and the city is blessed with possibly the greatest weather in the world. TNT explores what it’s like to live and work in a city known as Egoli, the Place of Gold.
An intriguing life experience awaits anyone moving to Jo’burg. The former stage upon which much of the country’s tumultous history played out, it is a frenetic and cosmopolitan place, buzzing with erratic minibus taxis, and modest markets and mega malls alike. Much of the city is clad by high walls and heavy gates, but beyond them you’ll find great restaurants, bars and clubs – particularly in Orange Grove or Melville – world-class sports facilities, and, most prominently, shopping.
The trendy Sandton City competes with Rosebank Rooftop Market, Northgate and Fourways Mall for shoppers’ bucks. Alternatively, Bruma Flea Market is ideal for African souveniers to deck out your home.
As well as its friendly locals, one of Johannesburg’s biggest attractions is its location. Swaziland, Lesotho, Durban, Botswana, Kruger Park, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are all extremely close by. “Forget the zoo,” says Michael Fraser, associate director of Robert Walters in Johannesburg (robertwalters.co.za). “You can see the big five in a safari, a two-hour drive away.”
However, in the city itself, there are ample parks, lakes and rivers, perfect for an unwind. And you can’t beat a braai, a South African barbecue.
After living in London for three years, with her boyfriend, South African Lauren Hatting, 31, initially struggled with the decision to return to Johannesburg, but her worries proved unfounded. “Being able to see my parents whenever I wish has made the move back and sacrifice of travel and earning pounds completely worth it,” she says. “We’re much happier being able to enjoy a lifestyle that involves a little more sun, space, fresh air and lots of outdoor living.” Hatting, who works in HR, is quick to point out the country’s relaxed, friendly nature. “It’s hugely apparent in everything, everywhere, and soon you settle back into life the way you always knew it.”