Goodbye Camps Bay Cape Town

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Since moving to South Africa we've been catching up on old blog posts and haven't really been posting about what life is like here. We'll try to remedy that in the next couple of days giving you a glimpse of what we have experienced here.

Brief Travel Update

We set out initially on a 9 month adventure with a bunch of questions, like: Can we cut it? Can travel-as-a-lifestyle work for our family? Can we afford to travel? And many others. Once we arrived in South East Asia (Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia) we discovered that SE Asia was not the place for us, primarily due to the year round heat. We knew we loved South Africa from our 6 months here in 2004, and so we extended our planned 3 weeks to 3 months in South Africa, and shortened our time in SE Asia from 9 months to 3 months. But in the end that left us with 3 months (part of Sept, Oct, Nov and part of Dec) before we return to the US for the Christmas holiday.

Sure we could stay in South Africa until December, but we're ready to move on. South Africa holds a very dear place in our hearts, but it is not home at this point in life primarily due to two issues, Internet and Safety.

So we've decided to try a couple places in Europe: Sofia, Bulgaria and Lisbon, Portugal. Both claim to have good internet, mediterranean climates and a cheaper cost of living. We fly out of Johannesburg on September 10 and land in Sofia Sept 11.

Life in South Africa

We're living much like we would in the US. We have a minivan (rental) a stand alone house, a great church, and a creche where we have enjoyed volunteering weekly. Except for a couple major exceptions life is very similar to some places in the US.

There's of course the cultural differences, like South Africans drive on the left side of the road, eat a lot of biltong, and call trucks Bakki (pickup) and Lorry (semi truck). Most of this is British and a little Dutch influence.  Very few people we meet don't speak English, in fact it's rare for the kids to have heard Xhosa (pronounced KOH-sa) - except for when we're in the townships, and even more rare for them to have heard Afrikaans - except for when we were away from the Cape Town area.

Even the price of goods is very similar. We found life here to be more expensive than it was the last time we were in South Africa. So while it's cheaper than LA, it's much more expensive than in SE Asia.

The Major Differences

IMG_7620Financial Disparity

Racism exists in the US, but 0utside the US, it's very very different. Here in South Africa, it's just as much about race as about finances. Granted, there are much more blacks who are terribly poor here, but in general there are all races in all financial positions. The issue is the financial gap. Many many many people here cannot afford to buy a pair of socks, or perhaps even food for the day. There are also more Ferraris, Bugattis, Aston Martins, and other incredible cars racing the streets. BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes are common place.  We live 10 minutes away from Clifton where Hollywood stars vacation in multi million dollar homes with their own glass elevators and more luxury than I can even imagine.

Yet, a 10 minute drive in the other direction brings you to a settlement/township/squatters camp where hundreds of people do not own property and live on less than $5 a day. (That's less than $1,800 a year... think about how long it takes you to spend $1,800, one month's mortgage and utilities?).

The disparity between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' is constantly in your face.  There isn't even a day that passes without rubbing shoulders with some of both parties.

In the US these two parties are rarely mixed together.  Rarely seen passing each other on the street or riding in the same elevator.  It is commonplace here.  If your heart hurts for this disparity then you find yourself in constant pain.

 

Safety

Everywhere we go in this world we watch over our kids as best we can. Shoot, when we lived in the woods in Newaygo we had a tough time letting them play out of sight. And we knew each of the neighbors! While traveling the world we pay closer attention to them. But here in South Africa our senses have to be heightened for their (and our) safety.

We've not (yet) had anything stolen, been mugged or robbed, or car/hi-jacked. But these are all too common occurrences in South Africa. We've been here before and we knew about the safety issues, but we through by now things would be better. Again nothing has happened to us, but the constant looking over the shoulder, and the heightened awareness grows old fast especially when you want your kids to have fun and play and not have to be concerned.

Internet

A common thread through all of our journey's have been internet woes and joys. Here in South Africa the internet can be okay as far as speeds go, however it is expensive. The cafes offer free wifi, but with limits of 200 megabytes, and then they charge per megabyte. Every service is capped, and billed per megabyte. So in the two months we've been here we've consumed or uploaded 200GB of data (so far) and that has cost us close to $2,000.

And the stability is weak, some days I can run speeds of 7Mbps, and later in the day I cannot even get the google homepage to load.

South Africa has so many positives, but until they fix the internet access issues (stability and charging per megabyte) they will not be a home for location independent entrepreneurs.

Our Place in Camps Bay

Camps Bay is an incredible place to live, just over the hill from the center of the Cape Town, it has a gorgeous beach, and incredible views of the atlantic ocean (and whales in the wild!) We rented a place here for two months because we got an incredible off-season deal. Most often this place rents for a week for the price we paid for a month. Check the video below to see the walkthrough of where we've lived for the two months. We leave here on Sunday, and we believe we'll never have a view quite as beautiful as what we have here.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1BpLtQXTYA

Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at nomadtogether.com and own connexdigitalmarketing.com We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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13 Comments

  1. Dan Andrews

    Lovin’ the adventure! Off to Europe it just gets better :D Thanks for sharing Paul.

    Reply
  2. kaitangsou

    I think it sad to read the cliches about so called safety problems in SA? Myself having grown up during Apartheid, joined the army and fought both in and outside of SA, I can say the changes in SA is incredible, and it is becoming a beacon of hope for the whole world to follow…ten million people p.a. now come and have holidays here and it is extremely rare to hear that anything bad has happened to anyone of them!! Yes tourists are scammed, raped, robbed, murdered and otherwise ripped off daily in many other popular tourist destinations around the world, Thailand immediately jumps to mind, where I have already lost 2 friends, and where I had a cocked gun in my face twice, as well as being attacked with a machete in a coffee shop!! Also two of my friends, Saffas no less, got blown up in Bali, and I know of a multitude of people who suffered crime here in China!! Yet, SA, where u said you never had any problems during 2 visits and months of living and travelling all over, somehow SA is too dangerous??? Why?? I think this is yet another instance of institutionalized and inbred racism I am sorry to say, most WHITE so called Christian people just cannot accept that a country such as SA could have been improved and become a hope for humanity under BLACK leadership!! That is why it is almost a holy duty for so many of them to try and break SA down however subtle…Just few quick questions? So crime is absolutely no problem in the USA? That is definitely not my impression from following the news, and I fear to go there myself, I mean, a place where police can gun down children in public, how can that be safe? So there is no noticeable wealth gap in the US? Again, that seems erroneous judging from the news…Love SA or leave it but do not sneakily break it down…that is intellectual dishonesty at its worst, better look deep inside your own soul for the source of your fears…

    Reply
    • Becky Kortman

      NO, the US is NOT safe! We do not desire to live in the US either. We are leaving again as soon as possible. My reluctance in the safety of SA was from being followed by drivers when I was out jogging. I have the same concern in every country but it was only in SA that I was actually tailed. I would like to be able to exercise in my own neighborhood without fear to my personal safety. I am in no way “sneakily breaking down” South Africa. As I mentioned in my other comment, SA is my favorite country in the world and I would choose to live there over living in the US. However, SA does not have the things required for my husband’s work. I appreciate your obvious love for South Africa, but I want you and others reading to know my honest and very personal experience and feelings.

      Reply
  3. kaitangsou

    I think crime rates in SA are lower than US for example…or many EU and Asian countries…and I lived in London before and all over Asia…me and my family have never suffered crime in SA, but I did experience plenty living outside!! London is without doubt a gansta paradise, Thailand you have to be extremely careful too…

    Reply
  4. kaitangsou

    Best advice about SA, AVOID talking to negative Whties…many are still Nazis, or at least similiar to the US rednecks…

    Reply
    • Becky Kortman

      There are negative people all over the world and of all different races. I would suggest avoiding negative people in any country and of any race. We personally experienced crime in a high tourist area and also had a few experiences in the streets near our home that made us a bit uncomfortable. But, you are correct, in general the people of SA are wonderful! It is currently, my favorite country in the world!

      Reply
  5. Dan

    Hi Paul, I would like to know where you rented the minivan. We are moving to Cape Town in the next couple of months and we would rather buy a car than rent but for the first week we might have to rent something.

    Thanks
    Dan

    Reply
    • Paul Kortman

      We actually used Avis on Strand street. It was the cheapest I could find because I have a corporate account with them so I could get a pretty good discount. But if you’re only renting a vehicle for a week there’s a ton of rental places right at the airport (more expensive cause you have to pay the airport fees). Just pick one and you’ll be all set. http://www.gumtree.co.za/ is a perfect place to find a car to buy.

      Reply
      • Dan

        Thanks Paul. We’ve been looking into all the different options.

        Reply
  6. Warren

    Nice to read about your experiences in Cape Town Paul (and family). It seems more Americans are coming to South Africa and staying or leaving with positive experiences, good to see. I wonder if you saw any of the rest of the country in your minivan? The drive from Cape Town to Durban and further up the east coast is great, as are the other inland drives.

    From a South African currently in England (via Scotland, New York State, Rio de Janeiro, Hamburg (Germany) and next it seems Santiago, Chile (good to see families making the travel lifestyle work, keep it up); looking nostalgically at tales of home…

    Reply
    • Paul Kortman

      Thanks Warren!

      We miss SA too and often reflect in nostalgia on it. Hopefully it’s safty will continue to improve in time. (oh and the high cost of internet!)

      10 year prior Becky and I visited the whole country from PEI, to Durban to Cape Town, to Namibia and everything in between. This time around however with kids we avoided that much drive time. However besides the Cape we also went to Hermanus, took the train to Kimberly and visited friends in Bloemfontain before continuing on to Joburg and Kruger. All in all an amazing time in SA.

      Reply
  7. casandra

    The crime rate could be lower than in USA due to the fact that South African population is smaller then USA. I lived in ZA 40 years and saw horrendous crimes done. Very dangerous country and i must say i had to leave with tears in my eyes.
    My friends where raped, my son held wit AK 47,i was nearly hijacked in the middle of the city in day time. Uk ladies hired a car and where rapped in Zululand.
    The press is prevented to air these crimes. Crime pays in ZA that is why it is allowed to happens.
    One of the most beautiful countries in the world…lost paradise

    Reply
    • Paul Kortman

      We’re with you Cassandra, South Africa would be an incredible place without the crime, or at least with a reduced crime rate. Population size doesn’t matter, it’s more about the culture and percentage of problems. The more I learn about South Africa, the living conditions the corruption the more sad I become. It really is a beautiful country that has a long way to go towards healing and solving the many cultural problems. This is true on both the white and black side (as well as the colored!)

      Reply

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