I’ve lived in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg for three and a half years now. The initial move was to get closer to work. Not because of all the faux Italian architecture. And definitely not because of the image associated with the various suburbs. But the rent is reasonable within a 1km radius from my apartment is pretty much everything I need. For example, a block away from my complex is a massive hardware store, all major fast food outlets (with drive thrus), four grocery stores, two Chinese restaurants, three pizza places, a Casino and about a third of Johannesburg’s population. There is also a really good pet store and tack shop. The rent isn’t too bad and I’m close to the major highways and driving to the stables takes me 20 minutes.
However, the amount of people and shopping centres causes a number of problems. Add on the fact that when they planned the roads they didn’t take the population density into account. So there is always traffic. Add on ‘infrastructure upgrades’ (to accommodate the huge office park down the road) and you’ve got constant construction going on and no traffic lights. It’s not unusual to travel for thirty minutes and only move 100m. And there are more being built – there’s even talk of massive development to link the gazillion malls in the area.
I’m very lucky that my complex is quiet. But there are a lot of people living pretty much on top of each other, so when the zombie apocalypse comes it’s going to spread really quickly. On the up side, even though there are probably at least 200 people in my complex, we all live anonymously. I greet my downstairs neighbour because I once helped him find his very ugly cat and we leave for work at the same time. But that’s pretty much it. No other interactions with the residents. And it’s wonderful.
But the majority of Fourways residents are single, young adults. They spend their evenings in the pubs, flirting and sleeping around. I’m pretty sure the Tinder hook up rate is the highest in South Africa and might even beat Vegas and Amsterdam. It’s also known as the Cocaine Belt. Probably because of all the one night stands and disposable income. The pharmacies make a killing selling STD treatments and Valium (because anxiety is the new black).
The area also has a device to person ratio of 3:1, which means the cell phone signal is weak because of the demand. I can only make and receive calls in one part of my house. And if I even lean a little in a direction it drops. I get better download speeds in rural areas. I can’t even take advantage of lower data costs. And no one does landlines anymore.
I love to hate Fourways. Because even though I whine about it on a daily basis, I still haven’t left. And I don’t think I will any time soon.