Grieving for Gauteng

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

A recent news report listed Pretoria as the best city in Gauteng for those who want to enjoy a high quality of life. The title follows a Gauteng City-Region Observatory survey that measured quality of life throughout various municipalities in the province. We’re all familiar with the Kübler-Ross model, better known as the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). As a lifelong Joburger, I went through five stages when I read the news.

First came righteous indignation. “That survey can’t possibly be accurate. No one I know filled one in. The results must be rubbish!”

Then came humiliation. “We lost to Pretoria. There aren’t that many cities in Gauteng. I at least hope we finished ahead of Vereeniging.”

Flawed reasoning followed. “Why does Pretoria offer a better quality of life? In Joburg, our happiness isn’t even tied to whether or not our rugby team wins.”

Sad pleading was next. “But Pretoria doesn’t even have an international airport that can be used by the public. Their airport is good enough for the Guptas, but not the rest of us.”

Finally, I reached acceptance. “I’ve seen Joburg drivers and noticed that the city is growing at a rate of one shopping mall a week. When should I move to Pretoria?”

While Johannesburg may be my home for the foreseeable future, I often wonder what it would be like to up sticks and move elsewhere. But where would I go? If I had my way, I’d happily move to the KwaZulu-Natal midlands or Western Cape winelands. Unfortunately, I have caviar taste and tinned tuna budget.

Work hard at being lazy

I will probably have to spend the next 30 or so years at a desk job. That’s not to say I’ll be working. I will in all likelihood be napping. Point is I’ll be in an office. The quaint country life that I’d like just might not hold the kind of work opportunities that meet my current experience and qualifications. Unless anyone on a trout farm in the Midlands needs me to live on the premises and blog about their fish. Mind you, I’ve read some pretty pointless blogs in my time. “Fishy Tales with Tim the Trout” can’t be any worse.

The big decision for anyone who plans to move is whether they want a similar lifestyle, but in a different city; or a total change of pace. My feeling is that if I ever left Johannesburg, it would have to be for somewhere that offers a totally different lifestyle. As much as this city is vibrant and always has something on the go, quite often, it’s the “always on the go” that makes me want to leave. It’s not easy being lazy and unproductive in a city where people expect you to show up for work on time (or at all) and put in real effort.

Heart of stone

My biggest fear is that living in a big city will make me cold and unfeeling. If you’ve ever gone past an accident scene and thought, “At least the traffic is still moving. I can get home in time for 7de Laan” instead of “I hope those people are OK,” it might be time to consider a change, and not just of your TV viewing.

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