Johannesburg is a sprawling city with many suburbs, catering for a myriad of lifestyles, nationalities and pockets. Jo’burg, as it’s affectionately called, has the largest man made forest in the world, with over 10 million trees. When you fly into South Africa and descend over Jo’burg, all you see is a sea of trees and swimming pools.
Up until recently there was little option but to drive to work but with the advent of the Gautrain, there are now quicker ways to travel from O R Tambo International Airport to Sandton and through to Pretoria. The traffic is absolutely awful in rush hour, like any major city, so most people try and live near where they work and near schools, rather than live in their car.
The major areas for employment are the CBD, which is the hub for mining, commerce and government, and Sandton, which is where many industries, including banking and finance, have their head offices.
Midrand sits to the north of Johannesburg, half way between Jo’burg and Pretoria. It’s an up and coming area with large plots, lots of horses and good schools. Perfect for the family who prefers to live in the countryside.
Fourways, Lonehill and Sunninghill
This is the area where the most of the expats in Jo’burg live. It is full of gated estates, upmarket shopping centres, excellent schools and is around 8 miles from Sandton. However, note that the 8-mile journey can take well over an hour in rush hour. Many people leave home before 6 a.m. to try and miss the traffic and that doesn’t always work!
Bryanston and Sandton
As Sandton is the corporate, financial and hospitality centre of Jo’burg, it is naturally the most expensive place to live in the city. Bryanston sits on the edge of Sandton and has beautiful large houses and small gated communities. Its streets are lined with jacarandas which carpet the roads, pavements and gardens during November.
A little further south from here, is Sandown, Hyde Park and Morningside which contain a mixture of elegant, large houses and upmarket apartment blocks. This is also the area where most of Jo’burg’s excellent private hospitals are located.
Randburg and Ferndale
This area is close to the centre and has its own business centre. It includes Cresta shopping centre which has everything you need, including a theatre. The area has a host of different sorts of properties, from large family houses to small apartments. It has excellent schools, parks, golf courses and, Johannesburg’s Botanical Gardens are close by.
Melville and Northcliff
Northcliff is one of the older Johannesburg suburbs which magnificent views over the city. Melville is one of the trendy suburbs where there are amazing pavement cafes, second hand book shops, quaint streets and restaurants. It has a bohemian atmosphere and probably more suited to adults rather than children.
Linden and Greenside
Greenside and Parkhurst are close to Melville and are renowned for their nightlife in the area. Both Linden and Greenside and their environs are within relatively easy reach of the CBD and Sandton. The area is great for families with large houses and big gardens. There are many young families living this area. Some of the best restaurants in Jo’burg are to be found here, together with pavement cafes, antique and interior design shops.
Parktown and Rosebank
This area incorporates some of the oldest and grandest suburbs in Johannesburg. It is also home to three of the oldest schools in the city – King Edward VII, St. John’s College and Parktown High. The houses are large and elegant and perfect for a family. The children will also appreciate the proximity to Johannesburg Zoo.
Bedfordview is ideally situated for those who travel frequently, as it’s only a few miles from O R Tambo International Airport. It has many excellent shopping centres and schools, and its housing suits most pockets, including the many gated communities.
The central business district of Johannesburg has been given a facelift over the last 20 years and is not the place it used to be. It had a reputation for being crime ridden and completely unsafe. It is home to the University of Johannesburg and, as such, has a wonderful student vibe. There are a wide variety of apartments available, with good security, which would suit a single person or couples without children. The area has a great selection of bars, restaurants and is famous for its nightlife.