South Africa (the Republic of South Africa) is located in the southernmost part of Africa. Its territory is 3 times the size of Germany and it has 55 million inhabitants. It has practically three capitals: Pretoria, the seat of government (official capital), Cape Town, the seat of parliament, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital. To put it bluntly: Moving to South Africa is not an easy decision.
The main cities of South Africa are: Johannesburg, the largest and most populous city; Pretoria, the capital; Cape Town, which offers the best quality of life in terms of safety and infrastructure; and finally, Durban. The currency is the South African Rand.
In addition to Afrikaans, spoken by 60% of the population, and English, the most widely spoken language in the major urban centers, there are 9 other official languages spoken by various ethnic groups in the country.
South Africa is a multiethnic country where whites, blacks, Asians, and mixed-race people live together, often with problems. Blacks make up nearly 80% of the population, whites about 9%, mixed race just over 8%, and Asians the remaining 3%.
Unfortunately, the potential of this ethnic pluralism was never used to promote the growth of the nation. On the contrary, it was always seen as negative and any form of integration was always discouraged.
The number of immigrants in South Africa is about 2 million (about 3% of the population). South Africa’s recent history is marked by apartheid, which deprived most blacks of their rights and from whose consequences they still suffer today. This racial discrimination officially ended in 1992, thanks to Nelson Mandela.
Moving to South Africa, visas
Citizens of visa-exempt countries may enter South Africa for tourist stays of up to 90 days without a visa. With this visa you are not allowed to work, but you can look for a job.
Citizens of other countries need a valid visa to enter South Africa. A visa is issued for tourist or business purposes and is valid for a period of 90 days. You need to apply for a visa in two ways (depending on the country): at the embassy or consulate online (e-visa)
There are many types of visas
Work Visa. If you want to work in South Africa, you must apply for a work visa. There are several types of visas.
Study visa. It is possible to apply for a study visa for the duration of your studies. You must also prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your stay. Previously, you were not allowed to work on a study visa, but now it is possible to work part-time (20 hours per week). A language course in South Africa is an interesting alternative to learning English. There are many schools that offer English courses.
Business Visa. If you want to start a business, it is possible to apply for a business visa. The minimum capital required is 5 million Rand. For all information and rules it is advisable to contact a good law firm specialized in investment and immigration.
Moving to South Africa, Finding Housing
After spending some time in the dorms, you will need to start looking for permanent housing. The search for accommodation is easy, there are many offers for every budget. When signing the contract, the landlord requires a deposit of two months’ rent in addition to the first month’s rent as security.
Rental costs vary widely, depending on the city and neighborhood. A studio apartment in Cape Town costs around €350/500 per month. The only incidental cost you will have to pay is electricity, as water is usually included. The cheapest solution, especially in the beginning, is to rent a room in a shared apartment (€200, in Cape Town).
A list of rental websites:
- Gumtree, classifieds website
- Privateproperty, real estate website
- Property24, real estate website
- Just property, popular website
- Junkmail, classifieds website
- Remax, real estate agent
- Rent Uncle, popular website
- Iol property, real estate website
- Mitula, real estate agency
- My property, real estate website
- Safarinow, short term rental
In general, the cost of living in South Africa is on average about 25%-30% lower than in Europe, the only really expensive things are education and health. Public schools are generally poor, so you will have to opt for private school, which costs at least €300/month depending on the level and grade.
Health insurance costs about € 100/200 per month, depending on the coverage. But for example, gasoline costs € 1.2 / 1.3 per liter. There are also significant differences between cities. In Johannesburg, for example, salaries are on average 30% higher than in Cape Town and the cost of living is cheaper.
Move to South Africa safety and health
South Africa is a country with a high crime rate, and when you look at the numbers, you do not feel so safe: homicides, thefts, robberies and property crimes are among the highest in the world. However, they occur in the poorest suburbs of the big cities. In the other parts of the city, it is enough to take the usual precautions that one would take in any other city in the world. We can say that Cape Town is the safest city in South Africa.
The health care system in South Africa is highly developed in both the public and private sectors. Just remember that the world’s first heart transplant took place in South Africa. All citizens and residents have access to the public health system. But the well-equipped public hospitals are often overcrowded and have long waiting times. Specialist visits and treatments are limited and there are long waiting lists, so it is advisable to take out private insurance.