Thanks so much for letting me visit, Sheena!
Sheena asked me to write about living in South Africa, but the only way to get what it’s like is to actually live here. Instead, I thought I’d share the top five greatest things and five sucky things about living in South Africa.
1) The weather. Plenty of sun, not a lot of disaster phenomena.
2) Climate variation. There’s a place in SA for everyone. From dry hot deserts to tropical paradises.
3) The views. Especially in the Western Cape, but not limited to it, there are some spectacularly beautiful places to visit. If you’re in Cape Town, do go to Table Mountain, but do take up to four hour drives in any direction.
4) Standards of living are pretty good, if you can afford it. In my town, what most Europeans would call a mansion costs about the same as a small two (maybe) bedroomed house in Europe. Food costs (in particular meat) are relatively low.
5) The food. Particularly biltong, which is cured beef similar to jerky.
1) Poverty and unemployment. No one really knows how bad it is, but counting the people who gave up on looking for work, we might look at something like a 50% unemployment rate.
2) Crime. Some areas are very dangerous to live in, due to the above-mentioned poverty and gang activity.
3) State healthcare, pensions, service delivery, education etc. not at a particularly high standard. Especially outside Western Cape.
4) Inflation. Our target percentage is between 3% and 6%. Reality is 5%-6%, so now some of you might see why I respond to complaints about 1 or 2% with amusement. To us, it’s not really cause for concern. It’s a fact of life. Unless you’re poor and living on the dole. In which case, odds are you’re screwed.
5) Bank costs. Due to said inflation, all our banks levy bank charges in order to be profitable. So in a sense, we’re all screwed money wise. If we bury our money in the back yard, inflation will wreck its value in a few years. Savings accounts actually aren’t much better, because the bank charges are often more than the interest rate. And if not, the difference isn’t big enough to match inflation. Yes people. In SA, we can and do save money in a bank and still walk away with less money than we’ve saved.
The verdict? I love living in South Africa, and think anyone with a certain amount of smarts can actually eke out a great life here. Also, it’s a great place for foreigners with Pounds, Euros and Dollars to vacation. Because your money value multiplies by up to a factor of ten, once you’ve converted it to Rands. To give you an idea, a good, middle income for a single person equates about $700-$1000 per month.
At the same time, writing about the negative bits to South Africa reminds me of just how fortunate I am. Got a job, a good salary, private healthcare, and a life-style comfortable enough that inflation, while felt, doesn’t really cramp my style. I know that this is an immense blessing, the value of which I’ll probably never fully grasp.
Would you want to visit in/live in South Africa?
And don't forget the novel.
Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...
When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.
But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.
Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.
M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects.
She lives close to Cape Town, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.
If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter. If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blog. You can also add The Vanished Knight on Goodreads