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Moving to South Africa > Tips for Moving to South Africa

Moving to South Africa

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: If you're thinking about moving to South Africa, expats there have a lot to share about moving to South Africa - deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in South Africa and more.

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

If you're planning a move to South Africa, expats there offer advice about what they wish they had know before moving to South Africa - topics covered include deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in South Africa and more.

Deciding Where to Live in South Africa

When we asked expats living in South Africa to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:

"Wanted somewhere that was close to the beach (5 mins away) somewhere not too close to the city but not too far (15min drive away from city central) and somewhere that felt safe. Table View has all that going for it and I really love it here," said one expat who moved to Cape Town, South Africa.

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Expats living in South Africa interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

What to Bring When Moving to South Africa (and what to leave behind)

When we asked expats living in South Africa what they wish they had brought when moving to South Africa and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"My family, More photos, Native forest I could have left my winter clothes behind and made my suitcase lighter - doesnt really get cold here. I really only moved here with a backpack and a bag so I need everything I brought with me," said one expat who moved to Cape Town, South Africa.

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Advice for People Moving to South Africa

"Choose a home with very good security and hire a security company. Choose a house with mostly north facing windows for maximum benefit from the Sun in winter. Reconsider moving if your family has respitory problems. The pollution is very bad in Johannesburg. Visit http://www.earthlife.org.za/campaigns/toxics/air.htm for more information," said one expat who moved to Johannesburg, South Africa.

"Don't bring too many big items as the exchange is still good (even coming from NZ) and it is cheaper to buy here. Check with the local police station in the area you are looking in to find out what the crime is like there. Spend time in that area getting the feel for it and for the traffic if you are working in he city," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to South Africa.

"Use an estate agent. But, more importantly, ask other people who live there. That is how we found our community and we really love it. The pace of life and the weather here are wonderful!!!," commented one expat who made the move to South Africa.

Typical Housing for Expats

When we asked expats in South Africa about the type of home or apartment they life in and whether that is typical for expats, they replied:

"I don't know any expats here in South Africa at all - only been here 4 months and not so easy to meet people. Its a free standing house with a big yard and a pool - lovely!," said one expat who moved to Cape Town, South Africa.

"Single family home in a gated community. It is very typical for most expats. In fact, I have been told that the majority that live in there are expats. Bacause it is in a secured community, our child can walk and play in freely. But, there are too many walls with the community," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to South Africa.

Housing Costs in South Africa

"Lower, but so is the quality of the house. No, central heating and very large single pane windows to give examples," said one expat who moved to Johannesburg, South Africa.

"Haven't lived in NZ for a while but compared to UK and Ireland and US where I lived it is much cheaper (except food) - I could never have the lifestyle anywhere else that I have here," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to South Africa.

"Housing costs are much lower than in the U.S. I do not know the average cost," commented one expat who made the move to South Africa.

Banking in South Africa

We asked expats which banks in South Africa they use and their experiences. They said:

"None of the major UK banks have personal banking in SA and I only managed to open a non-res account via FNB on the recommendation of Intergate Immigration," said one expat who moved to Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Finding a Job in South Africa

If you're searching for a job in South Africa, expats talk about popular industries and how expats find employment.

"The main industries are extremely diverse from mining to banking as well as the fact that Joburg is probably the capital of southern Africa which brings in all the embassies, the UN, etc. I'm not sure how difficult it would be for a person trying to move here without a job. Because of affirmative action and Black Empowerment, finding a job (unless you are previously disadvantaged in this country) is probably tricky," said one expat who moved to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Expat Health Insurance in South Africa

Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Join our South Africa Expat Forum

Visit our South Africa Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in South Africa.

Read Next

10 Tips for Living in South Africa

The reviews of expat life in South Africa are mixed. Some expats feel that crime is a big problem and causing an expat exodus. Others debate that the crime rates match those of other big cities in the world.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: May 23, 2019

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