Utilities (gas, water, electricity, refuse) in Johannesburg
Expats who are new to Johannesburg will probably be happy just to have found a house and be ready to move on with their lives. Details such as where one's water and electricity come from and how they are paid for, are often not on a mover's radar. However, if headaches are to be avoided later on, it is a good idea to be familiar with the various service providers.
For renters, the way in which utilities in Johannesburg are paid for may differ depending on their lease agreement. Some tenants have water and electricity included in their rent, some are billed by their landlord, and some have to set up their own accounts with the municipality. A lucky few may even have their company taking care of utility payments on their behalf.
Water in Johannesburg
Water is supplied by Johannesburg Water (which boasts of some of the cleanest drinking water in the world) and is billed by the City of Johannesburg. Each property has a water meter and it's a good idea to make an initial reading as soon as one moves in, to make sure that future bills are correct. The City of Johannesburg also bills residents for refuse, waste water and property taxes on the same invoice. So, if the landlord just passes on the invoice for payment as is, tenants should make sure that they don't pay property taxes, which are the landlord’s responsibility.
Waste and refuse in Johannesburg
Refuse is picked up curbside once a week by the aptly named Pikitup. Billing is administered by the City of Johannesburg, together with water and electricity. One big, black bin is provided by Pikitup but residents are able to purchase a second one if needed.
Recycling in Johannesburg
Unfortunately recycling is not yet widely offered in Johannesburg. Pikitup doesn't have its own recycling facilities but does provide a list of recycling centres on its website. Some neighbourhoods have a contract with a recycling company, which is included in residents' levy fees. In other neighbourhoods residents have to contract directly with a recycling company, such as Mama She’s Waste Recyclers.
Electricity in Johannesburg
Depending on where one lives, electricity is either provided and billed directly by Eskom, South Africa’s public electricity company, or by the City of Johannesburg. Eskom bills are sometimes based on usage estimates and sometimes on actual meter readings. The best way to ensure proper billing is for expat residents to perform their own monthly readings and either submit them to the Eskom website or to phone them in. As with the water meter, making sure an initial reading is taken upon moving in is a good idea, especially since billing disputes with Eskom can be lengthy and frustrating. Some houses have a prepaid billing system where electricity is purchased in the form of vouchers at supermarkets or through online banking transfers before usage.
Gas in Johannesburg
A few houses in the older parts of Joburg have direct gas lines, but almost everyone else using gas has to purchase 9kg or 48kg bottles for heaters and grills, or for fireplaces and stove tops respectively. It is a good idea to purchase these early before winter because supplies sometimes run out. Especially with the steep rise in electricity prices over the last few years, gas has become an attractive alternative for heating. Many an expat has opted to buy a gas heater instead of turning on the rather inefficient but expensive underfloor heating that looked so attractive when selecting a house.
Telephone and Internet in Johannesburg
Although there is an increasing trend toward cellphone communication in Africa, rendering a residential phone line obsolete, expats will still need an account with Telkom, the state telecommunications provider, for high-speed ADSL internet access. In the long run, an ADSL line with uncapped data service will be cheaper and more reliable than other options. For the actual data bundle it is advised to contract with a third party provider such as MWeb or Neotel which typically offer better service and value for money. The fastest line speed available in Johannesburg is 10 Mbps, but many neighbourhoods only go up to 4 Mbps. Residents should find out which line speed applies to their area before signing up for an expensive data bundle that is not supported where they live.
Security in Johannesburg
Those living in a freestanding home (something many expats do not choose to do) will have to contract with a security firm such as ADT for monitoring and armed response. On the other hand, expats who live in a security estate will have all of their security services included in their monthly levy (which most likely is already part of the rent). If they still choose to have their house equipped with an alarm system, they may have to pay an extra charge for the monitoring service.
Pest control in Johannesburg
Ants can be a problem in Johannesburg, especially during the wetter summer months, so many expats opt for a pest control service such as Rentokil. Some landlords might, however, be willing to pay for pest control but this should be negotiated before signing the lease agreement.