10 Reasons Why I Love Living in South Africa

12 Apr

People often ask me if I prefer living in SA or America. What a question! That’s like comparing apples to oranges. They’re just two totally different places. I have been living in South African for 5 1/2 years now and have discovered loads of amazing things about this culture and country. These are my top 10 favourite things (in no particular order)…

1) It is still a family oriented culture.

My husband comes home from work every day at 5:30/6 and has every weekend off. This is the case for the majority of people except maybe for those who work in retail. As well, all the malls are closed by 7pm at the latest and the grocery stores close at 8pm.  Businesses are closed on public holidays. Everyone wants off time and even though it can be a tad inconvenient, everyone accepts and respects this.

2) It is super, super multicultural.

( I just want to say that I know this looks a little ghetto with the Shutterstock watermark on it. It was the best image I could find to show what South Africans look like… so I just went with it.)

With 11 national languages and numerous ethnic groups, every day is like a box of chocolates- you never know what you’re gonna get.

3) Braais. 

A South African braai would be equivalent to an American grill out/ barbecue or an Australian barbi… but it’s a hundred times better!  There are a few things that make it distinctly better. First off,  a braai uses an open flame instead of gas. Preferably the open flame is made from wood but charcoal will do if there’s no alternative. Flame grilled anything is amazing so I think that’s self explanatory.

Secondly, a South African will typically only braai steak, lamb, pork chops or boerwars (a local type of sausage). You can bring chicken to a braai but you usually get teased for being ‘that guy’ who brought chicken. One thing’s for sure though, you will never ever  find a hamburger or hot dog on a braai! It’s just not done.

Thirdly, braai’s are amazing because they are typically an all day/ half day/ all evening affair. Everyone is there to enjoy the company, the warmth of the fire and the all the food.  There is simply no rush.

4) Living near the sea (and all that entails).

The gorgeous sunrises and sunsets (depending on what beach you’re at), the sea breeze, seeing the water sparkle on a sunny day, going to the beach, sun bathing/tanning, long walks on the beach, the laid back vibe and the fact that it’s totally ok to wear flip-flops everywhere and anytime. All that jazz makes living by the beach awesome.

5) Our insurance is AMAZING.  

Most people have insurance through their jobs but if you don’t it is also reasonable enough to purchase privately. We have insurance through my husband’s job and it works like this.

We choose a package from our insurance company, let’s say it’s a $5000 package. (I’m purposely using US $ since many of my readers are not South African and won’t be able to relate to Rands.) That $5000 is like a cheque  account with the bank. Every year on January 1st your account renews and is open for use. So we can go to ANY doctor we want or use that $5000 towards ANY medical expense we choose. We have used our insurance to pay for visits to the GP, gynie, dentist, chiro, physio, optometrist, for medicines and x-rays, just to give a few examples.

When you go to the doctor, they simple submit your bill to the insurance company who immediately deducts it off your account. No questions asked. No deductible for me to pay. No phoning your insurance company and fighting with someone to get the bill approved. It’s our money to spend as we want.

Once the $5000 in our account is used up (which is super easy to do when you have kids), we have a self-payment gap of, lets say $1000, that we have to pay for out-of-pocket. Once we’d reached $1000 we send all those receipts through to the insurance company who start covering us again for another $15,000. 

All hospitalizations are always covered in full, unless it’s an elective thing such as plastic surgery. I had a C-section with our twins and I think we paid a total of $20 to have their hearing tested in the hospital.

On top of all of that,  our insurance company would much rather keep us healthy than deal with our expenses when we’re sick. So, our insurance company has teamed up with a national grocery store and a national gym (amongst other stores) to give us reward programs where we can earn points from our purchases that give us discounts. So when you register at this gym, if you are a member of our insurance company all you have to do is pay a once off fee and you get a membership for life. Every time you enter the gym and swipe your card it registers with the insurance company and you earn points. When you go to the grocery store and buy healthy foods (they have a defined list on their website) you earn points. At the end of each month, the insurance company puts money back into our actual bank account based on how many points we earned that month. Boom. Awesomeness come to life.

6) Having a maid.

Just about everyone has a maid here, from middle class to upper class. Whether she comes one day a week or is full-time, most people use the services of a maid on a regular basis. It’s just the way of Africa. Our maid comes 2x’s a week and cleans our house from top to bottom. She also does all the laundry & ironing. I LOVE this part of my life here. It affords me so much more time to focus on my kids. Sometimes I wonder how I would cope back in the US without my beloved maid, becauseI’ve gotten so use to this luxury from living here! Wow, I’m so spoilt… and I’m lovin’ it.

7) People very rarely sue people.

It’s just not in the culture. Sueing is for legitamite, serious and unjust things- like it should be. It’s just so nice not have to even worry about that, ever.

8) Farm fresh fruits and veg.

South Africa is rich in farm-land and produces amazing produce. When we buy from the grocery store, the produce often still has dirt on it because it’s that fresh and came to us locally. It’s so fresh that it will go bad in our fridge within 2-5 days. Gotta love that freshness!

9) Ethnic food.

Due to the multiculturalism of SA, ethnic foods abound here which is good news for adventurous eaters. Ethnic foods that are part of a typical South African diet include all types of curry, portuguese chicken, sushi, rooibos tea and biltong. Life is good.

10) Safaris. 

Does this actually need explaining? The fact that I could drive  15 minutes down the road from my house and see this…

Let me just clarify that these animals live freely in game/safari parks or on someone’s private farm. It’s not like they’re roaming around our back yards or anything. But I will say that I’ve driven past many of these wild animals when driving in the countryside, whilst trail running I’ve run right past herds of springbok (antelope) and zebra. Recently I went to an outdoor wedding, in a game park (safari park) were a herd of giraffe were hanging out right by the ceremony location.

Expect more blogs about cultural topics in the near future. I’ll be giving you more of a feel for South Africa and…


6 Responses to “10 Reasons Why I Love Living in South Africa”

  1. bronwyn April 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    I love that you love my country:) and I’m kinda jealous after reading that post that you get to live there and I don’t:)

    • ruthjopson April 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      I will continue to love your country in your stead as long as I’m here:) It’s tough living away from home sometimes- most definitely.

  2. Natalie April 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    I kinda want to move to South Africa now…

    • ruthjopson April 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      We have a spare room ready for visitors at any time:)

  3. Audrey April 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    This is such an amazing list! I want to go and take my family. Ruth you live a very different life from highschool. How did you end up in SA? You girls are gorgeous and I’m so happy for you guys. :)). Keep blogging, I love reading it here in Indy.

    • ruthjopson April 13, 2012 at 6:28 am #

      First off, thanks for reading my blog Audrey! In response to your question, I ended up living here because my husband is South African. The short story is that we met online through a friend:) It’s crazy how small the world is these days.

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