- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals South Africa Guide (PDF)
Expats moving to South Africa will find a world of wonders within the borders of a single country. From its immense geographic diversity to its 11 official languages, there is much to be enjoyed in the range and rhythm of life in Africa’s southernmost country.
Such extreme regional differences mean that expats should find somewhere to live that suits their needs and expectations. Overall, South Africa offers skilled expats a high quality of life and a working environment with plentiful opportunities. What’s more, adapting to the culture is fairly easy and enjoying the lifestyle South Africa offers is effortless.
Retirees, ambitious young adults and established professionals are drawn by the wonderful climate, the relatively low living costs and by the easy access to a luxurious lifestyle in the midst of an African aesthetic.
While there is plenty to be enjoyed about life in South Africa, the country does battle with high unemployment, deeply rooted inequality and inefficient governance.
Despite problems in the respective public sectors, private healthcare in South Africa is world-class and several of its universities are internationally ranked. The country’s private schools offer a level of education comparable to the best schools around the world and there are even some public schools which should meet the expectations of budget-conscious expats.
As a result of skill shortages in sectors like engineering, education, executive management and information technology, expats with the right skills and experience shouldn’t struggle to find employment.
Unfortunately, there is still some way to go in addressing the disparities entrenched by the Apartheid era and crime in South Africa continues to be a problem that affects many citizens and businesses. Private security is a necessary precaution and, with a booming security industry, can easily be contracted for affordable rates.
The most popular cities for expats moving to South Africa are Cape Town and Johannesburg. But this is where the similarities end – Joburg, as locals call it, is inland and has the constant bustle of a cosmopolitan business centre, while Cape Town offers windswept beaches, mountain-framed vistas and a more laid-back lifestyle.
Expats who move to South Africa often find that its idiosyncratic mixture of first- and third-world elements makes for an irresistible combination in spite of the challenges.
"My personal quality of life is a lot higher than at home but I realise I am one of the lucky ones." Cuban-born Clara shares her experiences of life in Pretoria here.
"It’s hard to pinpoint what I love most about Cape Town. There’s so much exciting and innovative stuff going on in this city." Cherry, an American expat, tells us about life in Cape Town.
Are you an expat living in South Africa?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to South Africa. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.