Common misconceptions and clichés about life in South Africa

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in South Africa can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in South Africa?

What are the most common clichés about life in South Africa in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,


The most common misconception about life in South Africa, by far, is that it is a very dangerous place. Especially Johannesburg still gets labeled as "the murder capital of the world" when in fact crime has been on the decline there for years and it is far lower on the list of dangerous cities than you would think, behind places like Chicago, Mexico City, and pretty much any city in Central America.

I'm not saying it's the safest place on Earth. That label probably goes to Singapore, a city where I've also lived. But while one never had to fear for one's life or even purse when walking the streets in Singapore, life there had other drawbacks. You have to take it all as a package. South Africa has many great things going for it. Instead of naming them all here, let me just point you to this recent blog post of mine about that very topic: … south.html

I hope I've answered your question. Follow me on Facebook to hear more from my blog, Joburg Expat, and tidbits of fun and interesting facts about life in South Africa:

I agree with joburgexpat above. I moved to Pretoria from Vancouver, Canada last year. I was freaked out by everything I had heard about the crime here, but a lot of it is just using common sense. I wrote about keeping safe as an expat in South Africa here: … igh-there/

As far as other misconceptions about expat life, I wrote a couple posts about it here and here.

While visiting in Florida with friends I heard some pretty laughable things. According to a few people there we have wild animals walking around our back yards and Tarzan swinging from tree to tree. A lot of people also think its super dangerous here but like the other posts its just a matter of being street smart. Any place can be safe or dangerous. A guy in Manhattan told me that Queens is pretty safe unless you walk around flashing lots of money or gold then obviously you will become a target and its like that here too.

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