E&V: Why South Africa?
"I was always fascinated by Africa, its people and its wild animals. Later in my career I worked in Wildlife Projects in Africa and was always on the lookout to find a little place to live. After my children were born the search for a good school in a secure environment became the most important factor. My internet search took me to Southern Cross Schools in Hoedspruit, South Africa. I would have loved to have a school like that when I was young."
E&V: Why Hoedspruit?
"I was familiar with Hoedspruit, as my husband and I had gone on safari in one of the private wildlife estates adjacent to the Kruger National Park some years before. But it was clearly the Southern Cross School, with its nature based schooling concept that won us over.
I personally love the little town of Hoedspruit and its geographic location between the Kruger National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains. The surrounding private nature reserves are unique throughout the world and the whole area is part of a larger conservancy recognized by UNESCO (Kruger to Canyon Biosphere) Every morning when I look at the mountains I feel exhilarated to be here. In Europe we lived in Vienna (Austria), Munich (Germany) and Zurich (Switzerland) there too the mountains are omnipresent. The wildlife however is decimated.
E&V: How did you start looking for property?
"Through the internet, but it was difficult. First I had to find out which agencies are represented in the area. If I had known that Engel & Völkers had a shop here, I would have contacted you straight away."
E&V: You have looked at a lot of options and estates in the area. In your opinion which estate is the most attractive?
"I like a number of estates and the security they offer but mostly I didn’t like their rules and regulations. I have a different concept of life in Africa, of personal freedom and animals around me. Our choice fell on Leadwood Reserve as it offers the Big 5 and allows cats and dogs, plus it is only 10 minutes out of town. "
E&V: You are currently renting on the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate. What are your first impressions of local “Hoedspruiters”?
"I think they are cool. But then, I am a very open person myself and have made many friends already. Another thing I like about Hoedspruit is that it is almost an international place. You come across a number of nationalities which is rather unusual for a small town".
E&V: What else is important in your life? What about church, sport, medical facilities?
"There are plenty of churches here and we have found a local church already. My husband plays golf and soccer, both is available here as well. I myself have my own horses and am happy to have found African Dream Horse Safaris here.
The private hospitals here are very good, though the nearest one to Hoedspruit is more than an hours drive away. However you can choose a 24 hours emergency service based on a membership fee."
E&V: You are planning to start a business here. How did you go about this?
"We did quite a lot of research and took a long time preparing for the move. My husband drafted his own business plan for his brewery business and I will be working for another wildlife NGO."
E&V: As an investor into South Africa, do you have any political concerns or concerns in terms of tax implications?
"Our attorney and a bookkeeper are looking into the tax implications. Politically speaking we have a very positive outlook on South Africa even though the press in Europe takes a negative stance. My own observations from within South Africa are somewhat different."
E&V: What is your perception in regards to South Africa’s affordability?
"Prices have gone up and in many cases come close to European prices but the standard does not match up."
E&V: Have you had any negative experiences in the country so far?
E&V: How professional was the service received from real estate agents in the area?
"I personally have to congratulate Engel & Völkers on your property specialists. They were the only estate agents able to put themself in my shoes and had such a feel for our situation and needs."
E&V: What qualities do you look for in a real estate agent?
"An estate agent should be competent and patient. On the internet I would have liked to find more detailed information on the different estates and an overview of their rules and regulations. Also good maps for a general overview of the area as I need to be able to place a property."
E&V: Did you obtain assistance for your own South African Visa application?
"Yes we did. We have been assisted by IBN (Business and Immigration Consulting). My husband’s company has submitted a certificate of posting. Another option would have been to apply for a business visa. To qualify for a business permit foreigners are required to invest around ZAR 2,5 million within a time frame of 2 years and 5 local jobs have to be created within this period."
Engel & Völkers further recommends: www.intergate-immigration.com