Relocating to South Africa

A Concise Guide to South Africa

South-Africa-LandscapeBritish expats have been relocating to South Africa for generations. In fact there are currently around 212,000 of us living in South Africa, that is more than France and only just slightly behind New Zealand. Therefore the country must have a lot to offer us Brits. Fox Moving and Storage have helped many of these people relocate to South Africa with ease. We have found that there are a lot misconceptions about South Africa so here we will dispel some of the myths about the country and provide you with a detailed report about life in this fascinating African country. We have provided British expats with a solution to their relocation and storage needs when they decide to take the plunge and relocate over six thousand miles away to South Africa so it is important to be armed with useful information before you plan the move.

The Changing Face Of South Africa

South Africa is one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in the world and British people have a long history with the place. We have a political, colonial and economic relationship with South Africa and ever since the end of the Second World War the number of British expats relocating to South Africa has steadily risen. British expats see South Africa as just as much a place to move to as America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. However the expats that have decided to move to South Africa have witnessed a lot of political and social changes that perhaps British expats living in other countries have not.

Since democracy occurred in 1994 there has been a new wave of British expats relocating to South Africa from retirees through to second home owners. There has also been an increase in British expats relocating to South Africa for business and deciding to remain there after their work placement has come to an end.

This may be largely due to the fact that South Africa is an incongruous mix of the foreign and the familiar to us Brits. You will still find architecture remaining from the colonial period and the country still has red pillar boxes. Universities in South Africa still uphold many of the British traditions and many of the teaching staff are British. In terms of shopping in South Africa there are many similarities. For example the Woolworth’s in South Africa is nearly identical to our Marks and Spencer, even selling ready meals such as sausage and mash and roast beef dinners. South Africans watch Sky News and the BBC, just like us, and many read The Telegraph, which comes as a weekly edition out here.

South Africa, The Land of Opportunity

Many people view South Africa as the land of opportunity because the post-apartheid economy has grown and has largely avoided the global financial crisis. Due to the numerous business opportunities available to people here there has been a wave of British professionals and entrepreneurs relocating to South Africa long term. These growing number of British expats come to South Africa along with the 60,000 tourists who visit the country each year also. Many of our British celebrities have fallen in love with South Africa, such as Graham Norton and Ruby Wax, and have purchased a second home here in Cape Town.

South Africa is also popular because it offers a retirement visa scheme, making it one of the top ten destinations in the world for British retirees. The positive coverage of the 2010 World Cup also helped the country increase the interest of British people.

So why is South Africa so popular with British expats?

As mentioned above South Africa offers a retirement visa scheme that allows you to reside permanently in the country as long as you qualify. The two main requirements are:

  • Have a monthly income of R20,000 (£1160.24) from a pension or retirement account
  • Have assets that equal R20,000 a month in income

However both spouses need to have this income, not just the one and it has to be a monthly income for the entire time that you reside in the country. You can also work under certain conditions in South Africa even if you hold a retirement visa.

South Africa is made up of extreme regional differences so most expats find an area that suits their needs and luxury-family-house-in-south-africa-1expectations and relocate here. South Africa offers British expats a great outdoor lifestyle with a fantastic quality of life. If you have a good level of education or perhaps a unique skill set then you could also have a fantastic work life within the country.

Young adults also relocate to South Africa in their thousands because the cost of living is that much cheaper than it is back home in the UK. The country also attracts the high rollers from the City because South Africa offers such a luxurious way of life for them.

Schooling in South Africa

The school system in South Africa is excellent. The private schools offer a level of education that could possibly rival some of the best schools in the world. South African universities are also internationally ranked and the public schools within the country are on a level of fee paying ones back home. British expats are often more than happy to send their children to a public school because the level of education is so high.

A Culture Shock

Many British expats find the move to South Africa a culture shock at first, largely due to the eleven official languages that are spoken here and the diverse social sectors. Commonly referred to as the Rainbow Nation because of its geographical variations and different cultures, some expats find the move a challenge at first. However here at Fox Moving and Storage we have been relocating British expats to South Africa for four decades and so whilst we understand that you may feel a little trepidation about the move, a lot of what is mentioned is largely untrue. For instance in South Africa there is some crime but not enough to alarm you in your everyday life. Crime is often committed in the poorest areas of the country, areas that are not frequented by British expats at any time. The only worry that British expats have in terms of crime is opportunistic theft, but this could happen in many countries across the world and is not limited to just South Africa.

People living in Johannesburg are more worried about personal safety whilst out and about in the city than those living in Cape Town. The two cities could not be more different because Johannesburg is very cosmopolitan whilst Cape Town is more laid back and beach life like. People would not think twice about walking the streets of Cape Town but this has only recently started to happen in Johannesburg. Here they live in gated communities where security is a high priority.

Socialising in South Africa

South Africa is a great place to enjoy a lively social life. The South African people are friendly and welcoming and when you first move here you should join an expat group or club to really begin integrating into your new life. A lot of South Africans have what is called a “braai”; it is very similar to what we would call a barbeque with beer, brandy and salad to accompany the hot meat cooked over hot coals. You will often be invited to one of these if there is a sporting event being televised or if you have attended a sporting event in your locality. South Africans enjoy their sport and watch football, rugby and cricket. You will also notice that many South Africans watch the English Premier League on the television all the time, just like we do back home in the UK.

Shopping in South Africa

South-Africa-franchisingYou can get many of the luxury brands that you are used to in the UK out in South Africa although typically they are more expensive. If you are looking for certain designer brands then you will have to go to Cape Town or Johannesburg in order to purchase them. However throughout South Africa there are many shopping malls that are very popular with British expats.

Generally just about every home comfort that you are used to back home in the UK can be purchased in South Africa. However be aware of high import duties and because there is demand for some items this automatically pushes the prices of certain items up.

Banking and Finance in South Africa

The banking system in South Africa is quite sophisticated and you will be pleased to know that there are many international banks along with local banks that offer British expats competitive rates if you allow them to manage your finances. The currency of South Africa is the Rand, known as the ZAR or simply R.

The four big banks in South Africa are ABSA, which is owned by Barclays Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank and First National Bank. For better rates you should use a private bank, such as Investec or Rand Merchant Bank (RMB).

You can use both your Mastercard and Visa cards in South Africa and it is very easy to open a bank account here. To do so all you will need is proof of ID, confirmation of your address in South Africa and be over 18 years of age. You may find it difficult to open a South African credit card account because you will need to have a good South African credit record, for this reason lots of British expats open an international bank account before they make the move to South Africa. It is beneficial if your bank has an international presence because often some of these banks are actually have a base in South Africa, such as Lloyds, NatWest, HSBC and Barclays.

Your move to South Africa can be relatively easy as long as you plan ahead beforehand. Fox Moving and Storage can take care of a lot of the preparations for you, such as storage needs and customs requirements. We will have a well thought through plan of what lies ahead for you because we have the detailed insight into what a move to South Africa entails. Over the forty years that we have been trading we have learnt what to do and what not to do when you move to South Africa, so you could say that our expertise is invaluable to you during these times. Call us today and let us begin planning your move to the Rainbow Nation.