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Moving to South Africa

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By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 25, 2022

Summary: Moving to South Africa? Expats talk about what you need to know before moving to South Africa.

What do I need to know before moving to South Africa?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to South Africa, they said:

"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," commented one expat who made the move to Johannesburg.

"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," remarked another expat in Cape Town, South Africa.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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How do I find a place to live in South Africa?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"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," commented one expat who made the move to Cape Town.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in South Africa?

"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!," added another expat who made the move to Cape Town.

"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," explained one expat living in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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What is the average cost of housing in South Africa?

If you are thinking about moving to South Africa, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Lower, but so is the quality of the house. No, central heating and very large single pane windows to give examples," remarked another expat in 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," said another expat in Cape Town.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in South Africa

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

What should I pack when moving to South Africa?

We asked people living in South Africa to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"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," commented one expat who made the move to Cape Town.

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How are healthcare services South Africa?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in South Africa, they replied:

"I have insurance that covers hospital stays and some surgery. I also pay for "gap insurance", which pays most all of the shortfall in coverage for surgery. Result is that almost 100% of the costs were paid for the five major surgeries that we have had in the post 10 years," stated one expat who made the move to Cape Town.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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