Moving to Joburg? Hannah Can Help.

by | Nov 22, 2017 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg | 9 comments

Are you moving to Joburg? Or have you already moved to Joburg and need some help adjusting? If so, meet Hannah of Translating Me.

Hannah, a moving to Joburg expert, in BreezeblockHannah Pirnie, the bad-ass founder of Translating Me, at Breezeblock. I hope she doesn’t mind me calling her bad-ass but that’s what she is.

Hannah and I share many things in common:

  1. We’re both foreigners living in South Africa.
  2. We both have blogs.
  3. We both love Joburg.
  4. We’re both on a mission to help other people love Joburg as much as we do.
  5. We both have names beginning with H.
  6. We’re both bad-ass.

Basically Hannah and I are like the same person, only Hannah is way more organized than me and does a lot more stuff. Also she has three small children and two of them are twins.

I’m digressing. The point of this post is to tell you about the services Hannah provides — helping people moving to Joburg (or actually to anywhere in South Africa) with all of the practical, logistical, and emotional aspects of relocating and adjusting to life in this crazy place.

People often ask what I found most difficult about moving to South Africa. My answer is always the same: the bureaucracy. It took me years to get my bureaucratic affairs in order here — getting a visa, opening a bank account, getting insurance, buying a car, etc. If you want a glimpse into one of the bureaucratic hurdles I’ve faced, read my epic three-part series on registering a car in South Africa.

This is where Hannah comes in. She helps with all that bureaucratic stuff, plus much more.

I really wish I’d known Hannah five years ago. My epic and acutely painful car registration experience could have been a lot easier.

Moving to Joburg With Translating Me

I won’t try to describe every single thing Hannah is doing with Translating Me. But here are a few highlights:

  1. She holds regular free webinars for people interested in moving to South Africa.
  2. She has created a “local assistant” service, in which customers pay a monthly fee for a local Joburg assistant to help with literally every aspect of moving to and living here — from deciding where to live, to finding schools, to figuring out how to work here, to booking holidays, to meeting like-minded locals, to obtaining a traffic register number (the dreaded document foreigners need to register a car).
  3. She blogs about life in Jozi.
  4. She organizes “Hidden Joburg” tours and events to help newcomers network and really get to know the city in an intimate way. I’ve attended a couple of these events and they’re really fun.

Hidden Joburg Rosebank art walkA photo I took at the Kim Sacks Gallery during a recent “Hidden Joburg” art walk through Rosebank, sponsored by Translating Me and the Johannesburg In Your Pocket Guide.

I know there are lots of companies out there providing assistance to expat families moving overseas. But what I love about Translating Me is that it’s not just a faceless corporation handling logistics. Hannah moved to Joburg as an expat herself and experienced all the joys and pitfalls that every Joburg newcomer experiences. So she doesn’t just help people move; she helps them love this city and get the most out of their time here.

When asked to describe Joburg, I often say it’s an easy city to love but a hard city to get to know. Getting to know Joburg takes time, effort, and bravery, and it really helps to have a local to show you the ropes.

Knowing the city can be especially difficult for newly arrived expats, who are often warned by their friends, family members, and employers to lock themselves into their homes and never leave the gated community unless absolutely necessary. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating. I know many expats who have received this type of advice or read it online.

Hannah, like me, seeks to debunk this nonsense.

When I moved here I was lucky to have Jon, a South African partner who really knew Joburg and took the time to introduce the city to me. If I hadn’t had Jon, getting to know Joburg would have been much harder.

If you’re moving here and don’t have a Jon, then you need a Hannah. (Actually even if you do have a Jon, you probably still need a Hannah too.) Call her.

This post was commissioned by Translating Me. Opinions expressed are mine.


  1. justin chamblee

    Where is Hannah from?

    • 2summers

      She’s from the UK.

  2. autumnashbough

    There should be a Hannah in every city. 🙂

  3. Anna

    I’m keeping a note of Hannah’s details – we are moving to the Wild Coast…

    • 2summers

      Oh wow, that sounds like an adventure!

  4. Eva Melusine Thieme

    So great to see when blogger friends of mine cross paths. Great write-up of Hannah’s services, Heather! Glad you mentioned the Webinars which I’ve had a hand in as well:-) It’s so great to see Joburg being promoted and explained from different angles, and like you say by people who get it.

    • 2summers

      Yes! I’m hoping to participate in one of the webinars with you guys soon.


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