A Freelancer in South Africa
WHY I LOVE BEING A FREELANCER IN SOUTH AFRICA?
As an avid traveller and an aspiring journalist, I found remote freelance work to be the most effective option for my career. Promplty after graduating, I jumped on a fight to Cape Town in search for a new adventure. After realising the ease with which I could work as a freelancer here, I turned this post-grad vacay into a long-term stay. After a year, I am yet to go back home. What is it about South Africa that appeals to a digital nomad wannabe you might ask? The reasons are countless. I gathered some of them in this post.
Freelancing is easy to do in South Africa
Simplicity is the main reason why I chose South Africa. Like most freelancers, I have two requirements to combine work and travel free of stress: easy entry in the territory, and sufficient wifi coverage. Cape Town has both. With a Portuguese passport, I have visa-free access to South Africa for 90 days. For most European, American (North and South) and Southern African citizens, no visa is needed to enter the country. This is, first, one less cost to worry about, and second, time saved from avoiding hours at the embassy prior to departure. If like me you wish to stay longer, you can easily apply for a supplementary three months online.
In terms of wifi coverage and speed, I cannot lie, we are far from the 12-13Mbps European average. However, South African urban areas have some of the fastest internet of the African continent and of the developing world in general. Most cafes and restaurants offer free wifi and mobile data is easily purchasable although quite expensive.
Good accommodation is very affordable
Being a digital nomad comes with another major struggle: long-term accommodation. Finding a place to stay for more than a month without breaking the bank is far from easy. After avidly researching, I chose Once Travel as my go-to. The youth hotel gives a discounted rate for long-term stays. Personally, I enjoy the hostel vibe. Sharing a dorm was therefore not an issue. However, if privacy is a necessity for you, Once also offers a private ensuite option which includes a TV and breakfast. What I love about Once Travel is that it is a group of youth hostels. Their two branches allow you to stay in both Cape Town and Joburg at a lower price. Both properties have one free activity every day so if you need a break from work, you have the opportunity to explore a new corner of the city. These activities include (but are not limited to) beach sunsets, pub crawls, free drinks on-site, hikes, markets, walking tours...the list goes on! Finally, if you have a meeting while in Johannesburg, Once lets you rent a conference room for the duration of your session.
Coworking spaces are easily available
If you are like me, you are your most productive when you regularly change working environments. Neither Joburg nor Cape Town lack in places to work freely. Coworking spaces are a growing concept in both the Mother City and the City of Gold. In Cape Town, my two favourites are Inner City Ideas Cartel in the City Centre and GOODspaces in Woodstock.
I am not much of a coworking space person myself. There are few things I enjoy more than sitting at a café to write while drinking a warm coffee. Gladly, Cape Town has some perfect spots for a chill yet productive vibe.
Youngblood Africa, Bree Street.
Youngblood Africa is without a doubt a unique working space. Originally an art gallery, the venue added The Hot Skillet in 2018, an on-site cafe/restaurant. You will find yourself working surrounded by contemporary art while sipping on a cup of coffee. Youngblood Africa also hosts events with live music, special menus and exclusive artwork. A place not to miss!
Honest Chocolate, Wale Street.
Only a short walk from Once in Cape Town, Honest is the perfect spot for all the chocolate lovers. On a sunny day, sit in the courtyard and taste sweet and delicious delicacies. In the evening, after a long productive day, indulge yourself and try one (or two!) of the 200 drinks served by the Secret Gin Bar hidden behind the cafe, in a true speak-easy-like ambience.
A Touch of Madness, Observatory.
Slightly farther from the city centre, A Touch of Madness is a real hidden gem! Passing by, you probably would not even think it is a cafe due to its house-like setting. The lovely spot has several rooms, a back garden and fast wifi!
There is a negative side to staying in South Africa: transportation. Public transport differs greatly from what I was previously exposed to. After a while, I got used to public taxis and local buses but moving around was still an issue when I wanted to leave the city. Going to Stellenbosch wine farms for example, or spending a weekend on the Garden Route were quite a challenging task. Luckily, Once proposes a car rental option. The staff will assist you in booking a vehicle from either of the two properties. The car includes wifi onboard, camping material for two (pretty much everything you need! Tent, tables, fridge, table, chairs, pots and pans...no need to worry about anything!) This is the perfect option for a road trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg (or vice versa) as a short vacation in between meetings and deadlines.
Freelancing in South Africa is that smooth of a ride. Low cost, good wifi coverage, stunning working spaces...the country is the ideal destination for open-minded digital nomads looking for a one-of-a-kind experience. Click here to read more about what to do while you are here.