South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It is one-eighth the size of the United States, twice the size of France and nearly four times the size of Germany. Its oceans stretch for a couple of thousand of kilometers along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. South Africa proudly boasts some of the most beautiful coastlines on earth. The scenery is breath taking from the picturesque Garden route of the Western Cape, to the tropical coastline of KwaZulu Natal, to the vast flat plains and rugged mountains of the Karoo, there is something for everybody. As a whole South Africa is known for its outdoor lifestyle, its windswept beaches, its amazing wildlife and game parks and barbeques. It is also world renowned for Cape Town, for Table Mountain and for its magnificent wines and not forgetting the Kruger National Park.
If you have money in South Africa there are few countries that can beat the lifestyle. South Africa is full of surprises and regardless as to whether your idea of fun is riding an ostrich, or cage diving with the Great White shark, or surfing the waves on the beaches that are endless, or playing golf, or wildlife watching, there is heaps to do. It is no surprise that South Africa is fast becoming the adventure capital of the world. As a whole South Africa is full of authentic people of substance and character, who have a passion for their country and are proudly South African. People are generally very hospitable and gracious.
If you are an expatriate in mining, South Africa’s economy relies heavily on mining, so there are many job opportunities available. South Africa is extremely rich in mining and mineral and because of the country’s skills shortage in various areas including many in mining such as engineering, expatriates with the right skill set and experience shouldn’t struggle to find employment. There are more than 200 000 UK expats alone, currently living in South Africa, there are also numerous expats now living in South Africa from various other regions in the world. Many are drawn to the country by its relatively low cost of living, although in recent years it is becoming a lot more expensive.
Expatriates used to be very pleasantly surprised when arriving in South Africa to find how cheap it was to live in, but those days are gone. The instability and the decline of the rand combined with an economy that is heavily reliant on products that are imported, means that new expatriates arriving in the country could be in for a shock when they see the cost of living. Fuel prices have also risen sharply over the last few years. There are still certain areas in the country where rentals are extremely cheap, but good areas in the major cities are no longer as cheap, and with both domestic and expat markets occupying a lot of the same areas this is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.
Even though it is becoming a lot more expensive than it used to be, for those who have been earning top dollars overseas and have lived in countries such as Australia or the UK, they often still find South Africa extremely affordable. According to an article in the guardian.com in 2012 figures from the Department of Work and Pensions in the United Kingdom show that there were more than 38 000 UK citizens living in South Africa and drawing a UK state pension.
There is however sadly a downside to the sunny skies and beautiful landscape of South Africa, and that is that in spite of South Africa’s economy being the second largest in Africa, poverty and inequality remain widespread. Crime unfortunately tends to go hand in hand with poverty, and South Africa has a notorious reputation for its crime. Most immigrants from South Africa state that crime was a major factor in their decision to leave. However feedback from those who are living as expatriates in South Africa is mixed. Some feel that crime in South Africa is a major problem and that it is causing expats to reconsider moving to South Africa. Others feel the positives of the country, out shadow the negatives created by crime, and argue that there is crime in most major cities worldwide, and that the beauty of the country and hospitality of its people far outweigh the negatives.
The vast majority of expatriates working in South Africa chose to have their children schooled at either private schools or international schools. South Africa has some excellent world class private schools, but it’s important for expatriates to investigate school placements as soon as possible, especially if wanting to enroll children in private schools, as many of them are full and it’s not always that easy to find a placement for children in these schools at short notice. For this reason it’s often best to look at schools first, and then accommodation depending on what schools you have managed to get your children into. South Africa’s private healthcare is also world-class and several of its universities are internationally ranked.
Many expatriates feel that the Cape province (which includes the Western Cape, the Northern Cape and the Southern Cape) offer the best quality of life, with relatively low crime rates in comparison to the Gauteng and a lower of cost of living. The quality of life is fantastic, and the scenery beautiful. There are more jobs and higher salaries in Johannesburg than there are in Cape Town, but many feel that the quality of life offered in the Cape, far outweighs the negatives. Regardless though it seems that the majority of expatriates seem to settle in either Johannesburg or Cape Town. Johannesburg is known for its busy cosmopolitan business center and Cape Town for its windswept beaches and Table Mountain.
Crime is always an issue, regardless of where you live, and many expatriates are very nervous of living in South Africa because of the crime. For this reason gated communities are popular. If you do not live in a gated community, regardless of where in South Africa you live, it is important to choose a home that has good security and hire a security company. Summers are beautiful, but the winters can be cold, so when choosing a home preferably chose one that is north facing.
South Africa is a blend of third and first worlds, it is not for everyone but for expatriates in mining there are opportunities and for many expatriates, it is a place they happily call home.