Leading the way in relocations since 1991

Moving to South Africa

Where Dreams and Wildlife Collide

South Africa is a country located on the southern tip of Africa and is bordered by Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. It has nine provinces and its most well-known cities are Pretoria, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, and East London. Living in South Africa offers expatriates a unique experience of sampling a diverse and rich culture.

While most people think of Safari and wild animals when they contemplate Africa, there is much more to living in South Africa than this. The cities in South Africa are not unlike other cities around the world with sprawling skyscrapers, cosmopolitan dining and bar areas, and shopping malls to suit all budgets. However, those who are in search of a taste of the wild will not have to venture too far to find it. Just an hour’s drive from places such as Johannesburg are natural reserves that are abundant with all manner of wildlife, including lions, elephants, and zebra.

South Africa has a population of over 59 million people of diverse origins, cultures, languages, and beliefs. Around 79% are African, 9% Western, 9% Asian and 3% Indian.

South Africa as an expat destination

South Africa is a haven for expats seeking an outdoor and relaxed lifestyle amidst natural beauty. The country offers a plethora of outdoor attractions, including white sandy beaches, surf, wildlife, vast winelands, and mountains and trails.

South Africa is a cosmopolitan area, with people from all over the world living here. Despite its natural beauty and cosmopolitan atmosphere, South Africa is still considered an unsafe area to visit. Poverty and crime are prevalent in some areas. However, by exercising due care and caution, you can enjoy a peaceful and safe stay in South Africa.

The country offers a high standard of living at a relatively low cost, making it an attractive option for expats. Your money will go much further here than in many Western countries. However, if you plan to move to South Africa, it’s important to do your research in advance. Identify the areas of major cities that may pose a risk to foreigners and take necessary precautions.

Cost of living in South Africa

The cost of living in South Africa varies depending on the region and lifestyle choices. Major cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban have higher living expenses compared to rural areas. Housing, transportation, and healthcare are significant costs, with housing representing a substantial portion of expenses. While some goods and services may be affordable, inflation and currency fluctuations can impact expenses. Residents need to budget carefully, considering factors such as education, healthcare, and retirement planning. South Africa offers a range of lifestyle options to suit different budgets, from luxury living in urban centers to affordable living in suburban or rural areas. The low cost of labor in South Africa means expats living here can have a high standard of living and domestic help as the norm. Alcohol, eating at local restaurants and general service costs are also quite low.


South Africa is a multilingual country with 11 official languages. English is the primary language of business, government, and education, followed by Afrikaans. Indigenous languages like isiZulu and isiXhosa reflect the country’s rich linguistic diversity among various ethnic groups


South Africa’s climate ranges from temperate to subtropical, with mild winters and warm summers along the coast. Inland regions experience more extreme temperatures, and the country faces occasional droughts and flooding in certain areas.

Expat job and career opportunities

Affirmative Action policy in South Africa aims to promote equal opportunities and redress past discrimination. It includes measures like employment equity, preferential procurement, and skills development for previously disadvantaged groups.

Skilled foreigners with unique expertise or qualifications may still find opportunities, especially in sectors facing skills shortages. Employers must balance affirmative action objectives with the need for diverse talent to remain competitive in the global market.

Important websites are:

South African Government Online: www.gov.za
South African Tourism: www.southafrica.net
South African Department of Home Affairs: www.dha.gov.za
CareerJunction: www.careerjunction.co.za
PNet: www.pnet.co.za
Bizcommunity: www.bizcommunity.com
ExpatArrivals: www.expatarrivals.com/south-africa
SA People: www.sapeople.com

Key facts every expat should know about living in South Africa

  • Medical charges for foreigners in South Africa can vary depending on the type of medical facility, treatment or procedure needed, and whether the individual has health insurance coverage. Foreigners may be charged higher rates for medical services compared to South African citizens or residents. Private hospitals and clinics often cater to expatriates and may offer services at international standards but at higher costs.
  • Car guards in South Africa offer informal parking security services in public areas for a small charge. They are not officially employed by parking facilities or authorities but operate independently. While their presence may help deter theft or vandalism, their activities are informal and not regulated by law.
  • The term “robot” is commonly used in South Africa to refer to traffic lights or traffic signals. This colloquial usage is derived from Afrikaans, where “robot” translates to “traffic light.”