Living In South Africa: Steffi Left Her Native Germany To Become An African Entrepreneur

Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in expat interviews, personal stories | No Comments

Steffi left behind the efficiency of Germany and had to learn new ways of working to succeed in South Africa. Learn about her journey here.

1. Where are you from originally?

I was born in Germany and lived in the southern part of Germany until I was 18 years old.

2. Where do you live now?

Since 2002, I work and live in Cape Town, South Africa.

3. What first attracted you to your new home? Did you try anywhere else on the way? Did you move for work or for lifestyle?

Before moving to South Africa, I worked in Vail, Colorado (USA) for almost two years.  As my husband is South African, we decided to move to South Africa.  I moved to Cape Town for completing my studies and to start our company ‘South African Tourism Company’.

4. What kind of property do you live in now? Will you stay here? What’s your ideal place to live in within your new country?

We live in a free standing house with garden and are very happy here.  We are planning to stay here as it meets most of our requirements when it comes to work, family, lifestyle etc.

5. Are you speaking a new language? If so, how did you learn?

We speak English here in South Africa which I studied in high school.  As I lived in the US, speaking English was fortunately no obstacle for me.  However, I do not speak Afrikans nor any of the local languages of South Africa, yet!

6. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?

After completing my studies here in Cape Town, I worked at the Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel, which is now known as the Westin Cape Town.  I was part of the opening management team.  Thereafter, I started, together with my husband, our Tour Operator company. Our company is internet based and we do work a lot with the German market as well.

7. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?

The Internet facilities in urban areas of South Africa’s is perfect.  We work off our own database and e-mails.  My top tip for online businesses in South Africa is to have a well structured and updated website as a presence which serves as a ‘shop’ for customers.

8. Are you paid in your new home currency or in pounds/dollars/euros? Do you exchange money often? If so, what service do you use?

Our clients pay us in South African Rands (ZAR) either by bank transfer or credit cards.  As I live and work here, I do not require to exchange money.

9. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to the move? How are their schools? Are they bi-lingual? Are there good future career opportunities within your new country?

 Yes, we have two children.  They were both born in Cape Town which made it easy for them.  Kindergartens here as well as schools are very good here.  They are bi-lingual, I speak Germany to them and my husband English.  There are some very good and well established Universities in South Africa.  When it comes to career opportunities, these are available here but are scare.   As the salary structure is very different from the European one, young professionals who do not find their aspired job move overseas, eg England and Australia.

10. Did you bring any pets with you? Or leave any behind? How did this work out?

No, we did not move with pets.

11. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?

I think it is up to the individual what one makes out of living abroad.  We enjoy living here in South Africa and have a lifestyle here which we could not afford in most other countries.

12. What are the best things about living in your new country? Has the move been good for the whole family?

The ideal weather conditions, the beautiful nature (beaches, mountains, lakes, oceans, national parks and game reserves) as well as the fact that the living expenses are lower are probably the best things of living in South Africa.  Yes, our moves has definitely been good for all involved.

13. What are the most challenging things about moving to and living in your new country?

One of the biggest challenges for me was to get to know the South African social structure and the way that work tasks are completed.  Coming from a highly competitive and advanced county like Germany where efficiency is key to any success, it was first hard for me trying to understand the way that operations are run and managed here.

14. Are you here for good? If so, why? If no , why not?

Yes, we are here to stay for good.  We love working and living in this beautiful country.

15. Any partings word to people thinking of moving to your country?

For people who love the outdoors, nature and wildlife, South Africa is a great country to live in.  With a bit of savings and hard work, one can succeed here and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while establishing one’s own social network (education, medical, safety etc).

About Steffi

I was born in Germany and after graduating from high school, I attended a two year hospitality program which took part in Connecticut, Florida as well as in Switzerland. It included both theoretical and internships in hotels.

I completed my BA in Tourism at the Washington State University in Brig, Switzerland. After working in the Colorado, US, for two years, I moved to South Africa where I completed my studies with an MBA in Business at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. Having been part of the management team for the opening of one of Cape Town’s most luxurious business hotels, The Westin Cape Town, provided me with a great insight of the South African hospitality sector. I have been involved in my own business now for 10 years and thoroughly enjoy working in the tourism industry of this magnificent country, South Africa.

Leave a Reply