The Not So Big City Life

The Not So Big City Life

When you’re thinking about your next big career move, South African cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town seem like the obvious choice. Gauteng is a metropolis for young movers and shakers looking to climb the corporate ladder, while the proximity to natural beauty within the Mother City and all its wonders – wine farms, beaches and our precious Table Mountain – offers a more balanced lifestyle. 

Moving to any big city, as exciting as it seems, does however come with a number of cons that quickly outweigh the pros. Congestion, the high cost of living, massive stress levels, the ridiculous amount of human traffic during the tourist season, not to mention the escalating crime rate. While the hustle and bustle seems glamorous, the pressures of maintaining the good life can take a toll on a person’s general well-being as well as their wallet.  

East London, one of South Africa’s hidden gems, is a great alternative to big city life, with more and more job opportunities surfacing on an annual basis. Kwena People and Kwena Human Capital have seen an influx of recent job opportunities based in the Eastern Cape, ranging across a wide range of disciplines and industries including pharmaceutical, automotive manufacturing, textiles, production and FMCG. 

Here are 3 good reasons to consider East London as a possible destination:


Whether you’re shopping at Woolies, Pick n Pay or Checkers, the cost of basic living has become frighteningly expensive. The fluctuating fuel prices, transport, accommodation options and weekend entertainment costs eventually add up, and with annual salary increases hindering on productivity, moving to the big city on a budget and without guarantee may not necessarily be the wisest of choices.   

While consumables such as groceries, entertainment and data usage barely differ from city to city, the major monthly costs in East London are far more reasonable. Due to East London’s size, transport costs are more manageable than bigger cities as a result of spending less money on crippling fuel prices. The psychological benefits are also noteworthy. Wasteful hours spent in daily traffic reduces stress levels and increases productivity in the workplace.    

The majority of an individual’s monthly salary goes toward their rent and utilities. Without an established support network, most people venturing into the big city for the first time usually end up in communes or house share agreements, which makes sense considering the ridiculously high accommodation prices in larger cities. The cost of a one bedroom apartment situated in the city center of East London is nearly half the price of a bachelor unit in Cape Town’s CBD, which starts at around R 10 000 per unit.   

The “Clique” Song: 

It’s a reputation that most Cape Townians are quick to shrug off, but the fact of the matter is that Cape Town is extremely “cliquey”. Anyone who has ever relocated to Cape Town from another national city has mentioned the difficulty around making friends. It’s a sad social generalisation, and while some people strive to give Cape Town a better name, this type of social exclusivity could pose psychological challenges to anyone making their debut in the big city. 

Joburg by comparison is far more cosmopolitan and welcoming with a greater sense of inclusion, particularly within Suburban areas. It is however, not called The City of Gold without its reasons. There is a heightened fixation on status in Jozi, which to an ingenue braving a whole new world, could be slightly off-putting. It’s the “who you know” not “what you know” mentality especially among the elite social circles. If you’re not bringing anything of value to the table, then get off the seat.  

East London, on the other is notorious for being one of the friendliest communities within South Africa. The people are known for being completely inclusive regardless of age, race or gender, which is extremely helpful to a stranger making a new transition.


East London lies between the Buffalo and Nahoon Rivers and is historically the only city in South Africa with a river port. The oceanic climate provides warm temperatures throughout most of the year, making it perfect to explore one of the many beaches along the coastline including Kidds Beach, Leechers and Gonubie Beach.

The big city with a small town feel makes for an idyllic option to anyone looking to relocate to East London. For more information about job opportunities in the Eastern Cape, visit