Are you considering relocating and moving to South Africa?
Whether it’s the pull of warmer weather and sunny beaches, there are many reasons to emigrate to this beautiful country like the culture and the stunning scenery and incredible biodiversity or the country’s exceptional rugby team.
However, before you can decide, you need to know all the facts. That’s why we’ve outlined the biggest pros and cons to help you answer the all-important question: ‘Should I move to South Africa?’
Pro ─ It’s more affordable
Whether you live in the UK, Europe, or further afield, you’re probably familiar with high living costs. However, according to a 2022 Cost of Living Survey, this is where South Africa really excels.
This survey analyzed the cost of living in 227 major cities, from London and New York to Paris and Dubai. Three South African cities were included: Johannesburg came in at 193, Cape Town at 194, and Durban at 216. In contrast, London finished at number 15.
When comparing South Africa to London, groceries cost 40% less, consumer prices are 47% lower and rent is 63% cheaper.
Con ─ Struggling healthcare system
According to healthcare research from Numbeo, the healthcare system in South Africa leaves something to be desired. The Health Care Index by Country 2023 lists South Africa at number 49, putting it below the UK (17), Canada (29), and the United States (35).
However, if you have the cash to spare then you’ll find that South Africa also has an excellent private healthcare system. In fact, the country has more than 200 private hospitals and healthcare facilities. You can also find specific private health insurance policies available for those who are planning on moving from overseas.
Pro ─ Enjoy a larger home
South Africa offers an abundance of appealingly priced properties. This makes getting on the property ladder more affordable, which could allow you to invest in a larger home.
In 2021, the average property price in London was £521,146 but the average property price in South Africa was 1,575,214 Rand – a figure that was worth approximately £65,000. It’s also worth noting that Cape Town is the most expensive city in South Africa, so therefore there’s plenty of bargains to be found.
Con ─ Higher levels of crime
Whether you’re considering moving for a career opportunity, to be closer to friends and family, or to start a new chapter, you want to make sure you’re choosing an area where you’ll feel safe.
According to an article by Business Tech, South Africa’s crime statistics put the country at 187 out of 192 countries. The report used data published between 2019 and 2021 and ranks South Africa as the sixth most dangerous country in the world.
Pro ─ You can enjoy the great outdoors
South Africa is a fascinating mix of natural wonders and vibrant cities, which means you can enjoy the best of both, all while enjoying the sunshine. This includes National Parks and mountains, beaches and deserts, as well as wildlife and forests.
Stand on the red sands at the Kalahari Desert, enjoy panoramic views from God’s Window at Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve or relax on the beach at Tsitsikamma National Park. From Cape Town to Durban, you’ll find nature is always a short drive away.
Con ─ Power cuts can happen
South Africa has experienced rotational blackouts since 2007 due to continued supply shortages. The blackouts are a part of what it calls ‘load shedding’ to try and reduce the longer impact of the blackouts.
While this does have some benefit, in that citizens aren’t always plunged into darkness, the global energy crisis does mean these blackouts have gotten longer and worse in recent years. However, the advice given to newcomers is to look at investing in a generator that you use when you need it for your property.
Pro ─ There’s a much more enjoyable working culture
If you’re looking for a working environment where you can work hard, but play hard, then South Africa is ideal.
According to experts, South Africans like to be direct and get on with their jobs, but social gatherings and events at the workplace are regular occurrences and you’ll be expected to get involved with them. Such goings-on aren’t just about getting out of the office, South Africans (particularly in the business world) also treat these events as well-deserved rewards for hard work and are often used as a means of getting to know colleagues better.
Con ─ Public transport isn’t great outside major cities
If you don’t drive or aren’t willing to drive, then you can struggle to reach locations that are outside of the major cities. The public transport available within urban areas though can also leave a lot to be desired; it isn’t especially reliable and at times can be unsafe in some neighbourhoods.
Private taxis and other vehicles are one of the most popular options for those that don’t drive themselves, but if you want to head out of urban areas, this can be expensive.
Pro ─ LGBTQ+ rights are largely equal
South Africa is also a nation that scores highly on the ‘Equality Index’, in relation to the rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community, with a current rating of 76%. Public opinion on this subject is also much higher than in many countries and Cape Town itself has a vibrant LGBTQ+ culture – so much so it has earned the moniker of ‘gay capital of Africa’.
There’s of course a long way to go in terms of true equality – like many other countries – plus there are still some highly conservative areas to be found, but things like discrimination across different aspects of society are illegal and are helping to present South Africa as quite progressive in this area.
Once you’ve considered all of the above, a final thing to think about is getting your visa application sorted well in advance of your move if you do want to come to South Africa from abroad. These are required if you want to seek employment but the process of getting these sorted has historically been quite lengthy and can require chasing up.