Foreign expats often underestimate the chilling forcefulness of South African winters. This is completely understandable. Without an onslaught of snow and icy storms, there seems to be a general misconception that SA’s wintry weather is a walk in the park. Of course, anyone who has experienced winter on this side of the equator knows that Mother Nature is at her most tempestuous here, and her moods are varied enough to cause locals a fair amount of beanie-clad discomfort.
Central heating is a virtual non-entity in South Africa. Hardly anyone enjoys the soothing warmth of a pre-heated home after a day’s chilly sojourn at the office. As a nation, however, we do have a list of budget-friendly ways to stay snug (and possibly even enjoy the cold) throughout the winter months.
1. Get an Electric Blanket
Nothing is quite as disappointing as frozen sheets on a cold winter’s night. Electric blankets are a South African staple. When you get home in the evening switch your e-blanket onto its lowest setting. Later on, when you crawl into bed, you’ll thank us for the great advice. (Remember to turn your electric blanket off during the night.)
2. Beanies are a Must
South African winter is unpredictable at best, especially in Cape Town. Grab your beanie when you head into the great outdoors. It may be mild when you leave your home but the wind could strike at any time.
3.Sneaky Office Blankets
When you leave home in the morning, be sure to take along a small blanket that you can sneakily drape over your lap in the office. It might seem strange at first, but every cubicle worker will tell you that no one bats an eyelid. As long as you don’t take your blanket along for any official meetings, you’re probably in the clear.
4. Scout Local Fireplaces
If you’re in the mood to go out, be smart about it. Keep an eye out for local restaurants, pubs, and entertainment hotspots that boast a toasty fire. You would be surprised at how many establishments cater for their frozen clientele, plus there’s nothing cosier than those glowing embers.
5. Go Gas and Save
Electricity costs tend to skyrocket when consumption increases. Save yourself the hassle of a hefty bill by opting for a gas heater rather than an electricity-greedy oil one. If possible, try to move towards a gas stove as well and avoid the frustration caused by power outages.
6. Befriend your Electric Slow-Cooker
Nothing beats the winter blues quite like a comforting bowl of stew or a fiery curry. Fling a few choice ingredients and spices into your slow cooker, turn it onto a low setting before you head out in the morning, and when you return home you’ll be able to dig into a hearty feast without any fuss.
7. There’s No Shame in a Hot Water Bottle
They may seem archaic but the fact of the matter is that a hot water bottle is a cheap and effective means of keeping warm when you’re on the go. Since most businesses are equipped with kettles, you’re able to keep reheating your snuggly hottie bottie throughout the day.
8. Bundle Up
If you’re heading out, make sure to bundle up in something warm. Windproof jackets are an absolute must. Scarves and earmuffs might not be a bad idea either.