A Comprehensive Guide about Living in Pretoria

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Life in Pretoria

Situated in northern Gauteng, Pretoria is the third largest city in South Africa and one of the country’s three de facto capitals. Sometimes referred to as Jacaranda City due to the number of Jacaranda trees lining its streets, it is home to more than 740,000 people according to the 2011 census, and is a popular destination amongst expats due to its warm climate and relatively low cost of living.

Culture and Leisure

After a long association with apartheid, Pretoria has become a very culturally diverse city, but still has a more Afrikaner feel than other regions in the country. Pretoria is named after Boer leader Andries Pretorius and was the capital of the South African Republic until its abolition at the end of the Second Boer War.

While much of Pretoria is modern, including its impressive skyline, many old buildings from its turbulent past remain, including the Pretoria Forts, which were constructed between 1896 and 1897 to protect the city against foreign raids.

The center of the city is very much South Africa’s main business and governmental hub. While Cape Town (legislative) and Bloemfontein (judicial) are also capital cities, Pretoria is the country’s administrative center and is home to the Union Buildings (the seat of the nation’s parliament) and the Reserve Bank of South Africa, which is the country’s central bank.

Visitors and expats in Pretoria will find an abundance of things to see and do. There are many green spaces to explore including the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa and the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens, while history lovers will be drawn to the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History and the Van Wouw Museum. The main sport in Pretoria is rugby union, with the Blue Bulls plying their trade at the 52,000-capacity Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

Transportation in Pretoria

Pretoria is one of South Africa’s best connected metropolises. However, it does not have its own international airport and is served by the O.R Tampo Airport in Kempton Park (around 45 km to the south) and the smaller Lanseria (35 km south-west).

Trains are the main form of transportation in and around Pretoria, with high-speed Gautrain services operating from the Hatfield district in the east of the city to the main business region as well as to the OR Tampo Airport and Johannesburg to the south. Regular bus services run throughout the city as well.

Education in Pretoria

Education is always a key consideration for expatriates living in Pretoria and the city has one of the best qualification rates for teenagers in the country. There are in excess of 45 high schools spread across the city, including public (free) schools and those which charge fees, such as the Pretoria Boys High School. There are also specialist religious education providers, with the Tshwane Muslim School being ranked amongst the top 100 schools in the Gauteng province.

In terms of higher education, the University of Pretoria is one of the country’s leading research facilities and the University of South Africa is the largest university in the whole of Africa. The Tshwane University of Technology is located just north of the city center and has around 60,000 students.

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    With InterNations, you'll meet interesting expats wherever you go - both online and offline.

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    InterNations provided me with an "entrance" to the expat circles of Pretoria, so to speak, and helped me get to know other French expatriates.

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