Johannesburg 4322256 1280

Johannesburg, often called ‘Joburg’ by the locals, is the biggest city in South Africa. With one of the largest urban areas in the world and a sunny climate, it offers many opportunities for businesses and expatriates alike.

If you’re mobilising assignees into the region or relocating yourself, this article, by Andrew Elliman from AGS Group, gives you a snapshot into what Johannesburg has to offer and what you can look forward to.

1. Opportunities to explore

Johannesburg is the centre of exploration in South Africa. In less than two hours’ drive you can be on a self-drive safari viewing big African game like lions, leopards, elephants and buffalos, not to mention the spectacular scenery that will complement your journey - the African landscape has some of the most spectacular waterfalls, sunsets, and beaches.

2. A diverse culture

Johannesburg is the hub of cultural diversity, with expatriates from all around the world creating a vibrant city. The population includes people from Greek, Italian, Lebanese and Israeli origin. Living in Johannesburg is a great opportunity to learn about new cultures without needing to leave the country!

The city of Johannesburg is also a landmark in South Africa’s rich history and there are many museums to learn from and enjoy. Some notable museums include:

  • The Apartheid Museum - established in 2001, this museum tells the story of Apartheid in South Africa during the 20th century. 22 exhibitions take visitors through an emotional journey of state-sanctions based on race through film footage, photographs, artefacts and more.
  • The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre - a world class science centre supporting maths, science and technology education.
  • The Lindfield Victorian House Museum - an opportunity to glance into the past and experience the South Africa of the 1800’s. Bookings are necessary.

Whilst exploring South Africa’s diverse culture, you could also visit the Nelson Mandela Bridge which is one of Johannesburg’s most iconic construction marvels. Named in honour of the late president, Nelson Mandela, the bridge is seen as a symbol of linkage and unity which Mandela established post 1994. Or visit the Nelson Mandela Square which is visited by thousands of tourists every year. The main attraction, a six-metre-tall statue of the late president, was completed in 2004 by South African sculptors and weighs approximately 2.5 tonne.

3. A world of flavours 

Johannesburg has many local markets where you can find a variety of freshly made foods from all corners of the world, including organic and fresh produce. There are also lots of top restaurants located within the city for you to try. Local and international chefs create some unique flavour combinations as well as a variety of good comfort food. 

Popular restaurants include:

  • Yamato, situated just off Oxford Road in Illovo, this family run restaurant serves traditional Japanese cuisine
  • Gunu, located inside the Saxon hotel, offers modern African dining in an elegant setting
  • Est Est Alea, a modern restaurant serving an a la carte and tasting menu of diverse flavours
  • Wombles, incorporated in 1984, this popular restaurant has been serving steak in a family and friendly environment for over 30 years  

4. Large shopping malls

Johannesburg has many shopping malls available with world class shops and excellent customer service. Sandton City, a popular shopping mall in Joburg, offers a mix of local South African fashion and international brands. The mall is next to the Nelson Mandela Square and forms one of the largest retail complexes in Africa with close to 300 stores. Whether you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it there.

In addition, the Mall of Africa in Midrand is the largest single-phase shopping mall, covering a retail area of 130,000 square metres. You can shop a variety of luxury and local brands here at more than 300 stores.

5. Staying active is easy

Joburg has many opportunities for those who enjoy an active lifestyle. There are many gyms you can join in the city or numerous cycling groups and athletic clubs with races happening year-round.

If you’re neither a cyclist nor a long-distance runner, you can take part in the city’s Delta 5km park run which takes place every Saturday or spend a weekend exploring the endless hiking trails close to the city. The top 5 trails include Klipriviersberg, Uitkyk trail, Hennops trails and Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve.

6. Affordable accommodation 

Johannesburg has lots of options available for housing ranging studio or two-bedroom flats to larger family homes. In comparison to other cities like Cape Town, prices are relatively cheaper, meaning you can enjoy a lower cost of living. Finding accommodation is easy as most estate agents are reachable online.

A popular area to live is the Maboneng Precinct. Maboneng is on the eastern side of the city's business district and it offers entertainment venues mixed with residential complexes and office spaces. The development was designed to make a bold statement with great restaurants, shops and festive events. If you don’t end up residing there, Maboneng is definitely worth a visit.

7. There's plenty to see and do!

The city has so many attractions to keep you busy on the weekends. You could visit the Lion and Safari Park which is 45 minutes’ drive outside of Johannesburg, the Botanical gardens or perhaps the Zoo.

There are also plenty of live sporting events to enjoy, you can watch the Blue Bulls play rugby at the Loftus stadium in Pretoria, soccer at the FNB Stadium or cricket at the Wanderers.

Johannesburg also has a vibrant nightlife scene with lots of cafes, restaurants and bars open till late. Melville, one of Johannesburg’s most popular tourist destinations, has many trendy venues and is popular amongst the cosmopolitan crowd. Other trendy nightlife venues are located throughout the city in Rosebank, Craighall Park, Sandton and Newton and all of them offer a variety of live music and delicious foods and drinks.

NES and Africa 

Moving assignees to Africa is not without its challenges. If you’re a company looking to mobilise employees onto the continent, our dedicated Global Mobility professionals, globally and on the ground, can offer consultancy, policy reviews and benchmarking, compliance audits, vendor management and more to alleviate the mobility burden and tackle the complexities of managing an internationally mobile workforce. 

Looking for more information about Africa? Listen to our podcast epsiode on 'Managing a Flexible Workforce in Africa'. 


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