For anyone hoping to live the expat dream and spend their days lounging around in the sun sipping dry martinis, relocating to South Africa might seem like a golden opportunity to enjoy a better life in the sun.
But as with any other major life change, there are lots of important things you need to consider before you up sticks and move your family to South Africa.
Why Relocate to South Africa?
South Africa is a hugely popular destination and thousands of people make it their new home every year. The combination of hot sun, stunning scenery and wildlife make it a wonderful place to call home and despite having a reputation for violence and crime, South Africa has a lot to offer.
Expats living in South Africa can look forward to a wonderful outdoorsy lifestyle where the cost of living is relatively low. The country is popular with those who have retired and are living on a pension, but it is also possible to relocate and find work once you have settled since there are plenty of employment opportunities.
Here are some things to consider before you relocate to South Africa:
If you are planning on staying for any length of time, you will need a visa. Visa requirements vary depending on your circumstances, but if you plan on working during your time in the country then you will need to apply for a work permit. Should you wish to make South Africa your permanent residence, a permanent residency permit will be required.
Unless you are retired or have another source of income, you will need to find work once you have settled in South Africa. There are different Work Permit requirements in South Africa, depending on the type of employment you are looking for and what skills you have to offer. A general work permit will last as long as a work contract whereas other types of permits for skilled workers last for shorter terms.
Finding a home
Unless you have already spent a lot of time in South Africa, it would be sensible to rent a property when you first arrive. Buying a home is a major financial transaction and if you subsequently decide you hate the place, you could end up losing a lot of money trying to sell up quickly. If you are renting, you will need to demonstrate that you have an income of some kind, so expect to be credit checked by letting agents.
Once you relocate to South Africa, you will need to open a bank account and transfer funds from your native country. You will get a better deal if you open a local bank account while still in your home country, but if this is not an option, remember that you will need ID to prove your identity.
All medical care has to be paid for in South Africa, which means that you will need to have funds to cover any medical expenses you and your family may incur whilst living in the country. The cost of medical care is calculated according to your income and the number of dependents you have.
Unless you are already familiar with local customs and how life works in South Africa, it will be less of a culture shock if you try and find out as much as possible before you make a permanent move to the country. Spend time chatting to other expats on forums and ask for their advice about places to live and what to expect once you arrive in the country.
Other people’s experiences are often invaluable and can really offer a great insight into what life is really life in a foreign country.
Frankie Hughes is a writer who understands the appeal of relocating to South Africa. If you choose to move to find work and need information on work permit requirements, South Africa permit experts can advise you on what you need to start work in another country.