Hi! I am Marianne! A Dutch yoga teacher that lives on Mallorca (Spain) and I have lived in Mozambique and South Africa as well. I am looking forward to telling you more about my experiences of living abroad in Europe as well as in Africa!

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MARIANNE - Cultural differences in Netherlands, Spain, Mozambique and South Africa
Hi! I’m Marianne and I love practicing and teaching yoga!

What to expect in this article:

About me

Hello I am Marianne and I love practising and teaching yoga! 

I am originally from the Netherlands and I knew from a young age that I wanted to move abroad.

So far, I have lived in Brussels, Madrid, Artá on Mallorca (Spain), Tofo and Vilankulos in Mozambique and Cape Town in South Africa. At the moment I live on Mallorca and work from home as a freelance yoga coach and content creator.

I have 3 jobs: yoga teacher, coaching and content creator. This allows me to be my own boss, work from home and focus on things I like, such as yoga, hiking and being outdoors.

Right now, I am busy creating all kinds of e-learning material, which help people with their personal development and growth. They can take the e-courses at their own pace and at a time that suits them best.

People can also hire me to write content for their website and I also work as a part-time yoga teacher. I have been living on Mallorca for 2 years now, 8 km north of the nearest village.

My husband works as a carpenter and can do all kinds of constructional jobs on boats, but also in and around people’s homes. This allows us both to be very flexible with our time and we are living our best life in Spain. We do have to go back to the Netherlands every now and then to earn some extra money or to visit family and friends, but most of our time we are on Mallorca.

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Hugo (my partner) and I being happy in Mallorca.

My travels in Africa

In 2014 I went to Mozambique for the first time and I taught yoga for 3 months at Turtle Cove Lodge iTofo for 3 months. I taught 6 classes per week; in return I could live in one of their houses. It was amazing there and I fell in love with the African way of life. 

After that we drove from Nelspruit in South-Africa all the way to Cape Town (South Africa). We travelled and stayed in South-Africa for an additional 3 months and in 2018 we decided to go back to Africa, after we had been back in the Netherlands for almost 3 years. 

In 2018 we stayed in VilankulosMozambique for another 4 months. Here I worked at Bahia Mar Boutique hotel, which was another great experience. 

Even though, I have not lived in both countries for years, I still had a taste of what it’s like to live in Mozambique and South Africa.
After those months in Mozambique, I wanted to go to a more ‘developed’ country to do some shopping, go for lunches and take courses again. You can also do this in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, but I don’t see myself living there and prefer Cape Town in South-Africa.

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Beautiful Cape Town

If I could choose, I would love to live in Cape Town for a longer period of time. It feels like Europe in Africa for me. There’s so much to do and the nature is overwhelming. In Cape Town I could, for example, work in the mornings and in the afternoons go hiking on the slopes of Table Mountain or climb Lions head.

I have already been to Cape Town 6 times, because I love it so much. After graduation, I also travelled from Kenya to Cape Town by only using public transport. It took me 3 months. That was an amazing adventure, but I need to write another article about everything I experienced back then.

It’s then when my love for Africa started and when I knew I had to go back one day. If you ever want to travel from South-Africa to Tofo and Barra in Mozambique I definitely recommend travelling with Zelma who runs Tours2Moz. She’s really kind, experienced and superfast!

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''Africa in Europe'' (Mallorca)



Why we chose Mallorca

Mallorca attracts us very much as it resembles Africa for me. I have always wanted to live in Cape Town long term, but what holds me back still is that it’s too far from my family in The Netherlands. The first time Hugo and I visited Mallorca, it felt like we were in Cape Town, it’s like Africa in Europe to us.

Mallorca has everything we like; countryside, hills, mountains, small villages and a beautiful capital city and on top of that the sea is always near us. The island feels like it’s ‘ours’, because there are so many possibilities, but the only thing that is missing for us are the elephants and giraffes 😉

Nature is everywhere in Mallorca

Salary differences

Mallorca & The Netherlands

On Mallorca the local pay check is between 800-1200 euros per month. This is for working 6 days a week. The rent varies a lot and we ourselves pay 450 Euros per month, but I have no clue what the locals pay. There are poor people as well on Mallorca, but I have not seen much of the poverty yet.

I have noticed and heard that even when you live on Mallorca for 40 years, it could be that they still approach you as ‘the foreigner’.  I sometimes have the idea that they charge different prices for us expats. I find it a bit disappointing as I have been here almost 2 years already and I want to be treated the same as the locals, but I understand that people have to make money and that they think we have more to spend, even when that’s not the case.

The Netherlands

The same for in the Netherlands. There are people there as well who have less to spend, but my impression is that most people live a luxurious life and are not always aware of it. 
Some friends of ours easily earn around 3000 > Euros per month in The Netherlands and are able to save money and still they feel they should be earning more.
Of course, the cost of living is also higher. What I have learned from people in Mozambique is that they feel rich when they have family and friends to be with. I like that thought.

See these other articles about living abroad:

Mozambique

In Mozambique the differences between poor and rich are really big. Some families I know earn 30 – 100 euros per month for working 8-hour days at least 6 days a week. I also know a family in Tofo that was spending a month of salary per night on dinner in town. More than what they were paying various of their staff for a month of work.

I also know one person who earns 150 euros per month. With that money he has to take care of his family, their school fees, food and more so the salary I would say is far from sufficient.

In Mozambique rent for expats cost around 240 euros per month, which is cheap for Dutch standard, but expensive for Mozambicans. The differences are simply big. Locals go to the market to get a meal of rice or fish and meat, simple and basic for 50 Mets (Meticas). While expats have pizza in town for 400 Mets. per pizza, so they live in two different worlds so to speak.

South Africa

You can compare Cape Town to a European city, but your living standards depend. The center might be expensive to live, but people that live in the Cape Flats (townships) do not have much money to spend. You could say they are more in a survival mode.

Cultural differences in Netherlands, Spain, Mozambique and South Africa - Mozambique
Mozambique

Differences in punctuality

A big difference between the Netherlands, Spain and Africa is punctuality. Dutch and German people are very punctual (there are many German people that live on Mallorca) and when you want to live here, you might have to let go of wanting things to happen on time.

On Mallorca (Spain) things always change last-minute and it sometimes takes me about a month before I finally get to meet with someone that I had an appointment with.  

An example; If you are invited to lunch on Saturdays, the food will still need to be cooked. In The Netherlands it might already be on the table when you arrive at the agreed time.

In Mallorca you first sit down, have a drink and after 3 hours or so you might start cooking. As a Dutch person, I learned to ask what I should bring with me, since depending on what time you meet, you bring either wine of something sweet. I ask as well whether we can also arrive a bit later and who else is going to be there.

In Mozambique when you are invited for lunch, it’s also very different from how it goes in The Netherlands. One time we were invited over at 6 PM, but when we arrived our hosts weren’t home yet.

We didn’t mind as we were fine looking at the Indian ocean. They arrived at 7 PM with fresh fish from the market and then we started to prepare dinner. We didn’t eat before 10 PM.

In Mozambique you don’t need to make appointments to meet people. One guy told me that whenever he finishes work, he could reach his home in 15 minutes, but everyone in his village is his friend, so he has to catch up with everyone, which means it will take him 45 minutes or more to reach his home. 

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Boulders Beach in Cape Town

Do I need to speak the local language?

Mozambique
There are so many languages in Africa, Portuguese is the main language being widely spoken in Mozambique, but every region has its own dialect. We lived in Tofo, which is a very touristic area so people also speak English there.

In most of the cases we were able to communicate in English, but we always had a Portuguese dictionary with us. Next to that, we could also often use French and we used our hands and feet to talk and used Google Translate. You simply need to be a bit creative. 

South Africa 
In South Africa they follow Afrikaans and English at school and almost everyone speaks English. This is one reason for me for wanting to go back. I have been to Cape Town several times and I could easily say I am a Capetonian, as I would fit in much easier and get around to express myself more as I can here in Spain. Even though I would wish to take some English classes to keep improving my language. 

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Mozambique
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My husband in Mozambique
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Beeautiful views in South Africa

The Netherlands
The Netherlands is very easy to live in, as most people speak English, some even speak German, so you don’t have to worry about that. 

Mallorca
Lastly, I use Google Translate a lot in Spain, because not so many people speak English here. There are many German people who live on Mallorca. They even have their own German newspapers and radio channels. People often speak in German to me, when they hear I speak Dutch to my husband. I do answer them in Spanish, because we are in Spain 😉!
Only the young generation knows English, but they often seem a bit shy to talk. If you know French then you can also make yourself understood from time to time.

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Mozambique - Anastasia house – Turtle Cove Lodge where I used to work

See these other articles about living abroad:

Safety in Spain and Africa

I have felt safe everywhere I stayed, even in Cape Town, while it’s not known as the safest city.

I believe that when you use common sense and know which streets not to go and on what hours not to go out, you will be safe. The only time I did not feel safe, is when my friend came over and wore expensive jewellery and she got followed in the park by a small boy who wanted to have it.

We also heard many ’bad’ stories about Vilankulos (the place we stayed) in Mozambique and of course you always have to be aware of your safety and use your common sense, but the community was very supportive and we have always felt safe. 

Mallorca is also totally safe, no one locks their bikes here as far as I know and last summer we left our door open all day and night.
I can advise you to ask locals what not to do, at which hours you should grab a taxi, what you shouldn’t wear. Like: Don’t wear a bikini when you go shopping or to a café. Tourists do this here on Mallorca. That is one thing that is simply not appropriate and you can get fined for this too. A bikini outfit belongs on the beach according to me and many more people on Mallorca.😉

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Normal situation in Mozambique

Favorite spots in all 3 countries

Mozambique

Let’s start with Mozambique. The most beautiful thing I have seen there were the whales. You can see them between July and September. They come really close to the shore to play. We once saw them only 2 metres away from us. It’s an incredible experience! 

There are also whale sharks, turtles, dolphins and manta rays for example. You can book an ocean safari to go and see them; I recommend doing that, but don’t touch the animals.
Furthermore, Tofo and Vilankulos, where I stayed, are very accessible to people who are new to Africa. 

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South Africa

In South-Africa I would first of all recommend Cape Town; I travelled alongside the South-African coast, but Cape Town has stolen my heart. It feels familiar and feels more European than other parts in Africa and it’s a perfect combination of city + nature.

Next to that I have to recommend Nature’s Valley; you can go to the beach, go hiking and there is a very famous hike alongside the coast which you have to sign up for months in advance. 

Lastly, I would also say Buffalo Beach and Coffee Bay. Buffalo Beach is fairly close to Cape Town and Coffee Bay is closer to Durban and Mozambique. 

If you love surfing, you have to go to Cape Town, Jeffrey’s Bay or Durban, it’s heaven for surf lovers. On some beaches in Africa, it feels strange to go sunbathing. Sometimes these beaches are mainly used to get from A to B. Depends on where you are of course. In my opinion it’s a very luxurious activity to do and in some parts of Southern Africa it felt very awkward for me to do.

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Cape Town

Mallorca

I have not seen everything on Mallorca yet, but I like the North-side the most. There you have two big mountain ranges, but also many beaches. In the North-East you can find the Llevant Area (mountains) that is said to be like the highlights of Scotland.

Mallorca is also famous for the West side of the island, where you can go hiking and cycling in the Tramuntana mountains. Nature is never far away on Mallorca, which makes it an amazing place. 

P.S. Here you can read many more blogs about amazing places in Spain.

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Mallorca

Future plans

For now, I hope to stay on Mallorca for the next 4 to 5 years. I would love to eventually live in Cape Town and some months of the year in Mozambique.
For now, our biggest goal is to have an income by working online and to live + work wherever we want. Luckily, we are on our way to reach that goal fully.  

I hope you liked reading about all the differences in the countries I have lived in and perhaps I have convinced you to move abroad as well. If you have any questions, please send me a message on one of my social media platforms! 

XO Marianne

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