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South Africa

How to Move to South Africa I Living in South Africa I Move to South Africa I Relocation Guide for Expat to South Africa

Relocating to South Africa

If you are relocating an executive to South Africa or if you are relocating to or within South Africa yourself, you have found the right relocation and immigration specialists. Helpxpat provides professional relocation and immigration solutions tailored to the needs of international executives.

Moving to South Africa

Expats moving to South Africa can look forward to finding an abundance of reasonably priced, comfortable housing options. Whether relocating to Johannesburg, Cape Town or anywhere else in the country, the range, quality and affordability of accommodation will make adjusting to life on the African continent that much smoother.

Relocating services in South Africa

For the past few years we have consistently relocated corporate executives to live in South Africa and their families to, and within, South Africa. We are responsive and professional, and always operate with care and sensitivity towards our client’s needs.

Whether you’re moving for work or to experience a new pace of life, a rising number of foreign nationals are considering South Africa for their new home.

Home Search in South Africa

Searching for a new property in South Africa can be stressful, time-consuming and very frustrating, often requiring that you view numerous properties that don’t meet your requirements. Helpxpat will save your time by assuring all properties closely suit your needs and reporting back to you with an itinerary. Our consultants in South Africa have considerable market knowledge and negotiation skills.

A safer option is to use the services of a relocation agent, who will be able to speak the language and understand the local nuances of the South Africa property market.

Types of accommodation in South Africa

The country has a vast selection of rental accommodation including bachelor flats in apartment blocks, Victorian cottages, standalone houses with big gardens, and semi-detached units in modern townhouse complexes.

The applicant may need to prove that their monthly income is sufficient to afford the monthly rent, and will be required to pay a deposit of usually one or two months’ rent to secure the deal. Leases are typically signed on a one-year basis, although it may be possible to rent for a shorter time.

The standard of accommodation in South Africa varies in direct proportion to income but is generally quite high. On the whole, houses are more spacious than in most European countries, and finding relatively inexpensive properties with big gardens and swimming pools isn’t uncommon. The South African institution of braaiing (barbecuing) ensures that most properties have some kind of outdoor entertainment area. Air conditioning and indoor heating are reserved for the wealthy.

How to find a home in South Africa

Expats looking for accommodation in South Africa should find a reliable relocation company. Relocation Company will have the most extensive list of available housing and can also arrange viewings for prospective tenants.

Accommodation prices in Durban

Rent prices in Durban generally vary from one neighborhood to another. Thus, prices offered in residential neighborhoods are quite different from those of tourist areas. In 2017, you can get a beachfront bachelor for R3,800 per month, or a 3-bedroom apartment in Glenwood for R7,500 per month.

In the outskirts and around coastal regions, you will need between R4,600 and R10,400 per month depending on the surface area as well as other criteria such as security installations. Having a view comes with a bit of a premium and houses go for, from R11 000 per month for a 3-bedroom house in Morningside to R35 000 for a 3-bedroom house in Musgrave.

Accommodation prices in Pretoria

Rent prices in Pretoria are rather lower than those of other major cities such as Cape Town. Moreover, the neighborhood and surface area have less of an impact on the rent price. Access to the university might make a difference.

For example, in 2017, you can get a bachelor flat in the city central for R3 805 per month and 1-bedroom apartment in Hatfield for R7 500 per month. Further away, for bigger, family-orientated accommodation, you can get a 2 bedroom duplex in Lynnwood for R9 900 a month. A 4-bedroom house in Lynnwood could cost you R 19 500 a month while a 5-bedroom villa in Waterkloof Ridge fetches R37 000 per month.

Accommodation prices in Johannesburg

As mentioned above, Johannesburg provides a wide range of accommodation, including studios, apartments and villas. Rent prices generally vary according to the type of housing unit, surface area, security and services provided rather than the neighborhood. Hence, you will need between R 3,000 and R 20,000 per month.

Home security in South Africa

Home security in South Africa is a concern; however, it often isn’t as paralysing a preoccupation as some might imagine it to be. As is the case in any country with large-scale social inequality, opportunistic and sometimes violent crime occurs in South Africa, but provided common sense precautions are consistently taken, such as keeping front and back doors locked and investing in an alarm system, expats should have nothing to be unduly worried about.

Choosing a right school in South Africa

The South African education system consists of independent schools and government schools.

Private education is far more expensive than public education but offers exceptional standards. These schools are attended mostly by children from middle- and high-income families.

Government schools are controlled by provincial education departments and standards vary widely. Former Model C schools are government schools that are administrated and largely funded by a governing body of parents and alumni. Some of the country’s best schools fall into this category, and fees are somewhere between private and regular government school fees.

There are also a number of reputable universities in South Africa. The best among these are the University of Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Stellenbosch, all of which regularly feature in international rankings.

International schools in South Africa

There are a number of international schools in South Africa that offer a variety of globally recognised curricula, such as that of the UK, the US or the International Baccalaureate. Many expat parents find that international schools offer a sense of familiarity and continuity to children who are able to carry on with their home curricula. International schools are also a great way to meet fellow expat families.

However, there are two major downsides to international schooling. Firstly, fees can be exorbitant, and secondly, it can often be difficult to secure a place in some of the more popular schools. To stand the best chance at being admitted, parents should start the application process as early as possible. To mitigate costs, expats moving to South Africa for work should try asking for provision for school fees as part of their relocation package.

Homeschooling in South Africa

Homeschooling is increasingly popular with expat parents wanting to educate their children in South Africa. To do this, they have to apply to the head of the relevant provincial Department of Education and register their child. The lessons they offer must follow Department guidelines and records of the child’s coursework must be maintained.


Depending on where they’re from and how long they intend to stay, most expats will need a visa for South Africa. Citizens of visa-exempt countries like the UK, Canada, the USA and several others won’t need a visa if they’re staying for 90 days or less and are in the country for tourism or business purposes.

Holders of passports from non-exempt countries and those wanting to stay longer to study, volunteer or work in South Africa have to apply for a visa beforehand.

It’s worth noting that only visa renewals or extensions can be done in South Africa – expats won’t be able to change from, for example, a visitor’s visa to a work visa from within the country. To change to a new visa category, an expat would need to return to their country of origin and submit the relevant application at a South African embassy.

Temporary residence visas for South Africa

Expats planning to stay in South Africa for more than three months will need a temporary residence visa. This is sorted into different categories depending on what the applicant intends to do, such as moving to study, work or start their own business.

Permanent residence permits for South Africa

Expats wanting to stay for the long term will need a permanent residence permit for South Africa. The application process varies according to what they want to do in the country. The first thing to determine is which category the application falls under.

Direct residence permits are applied for on the basis of having been in the country on a work visa for the past five years. Residency-on-other-grounds permits cover other reasons for permanent residency, such as retiring, starting a business or moving to the country to join a family member or spouse.

Though some permanent residence applications can be made on a standalone basis in theory, most expats get a temporary residence visa first. This is often because permanent residence applications can take a long time to be processed and granted.

Benefits of permanent residency in South Africa

One of the most obvious benefits of a permanent residence permit is the fact that it is valid for life if the holder abides by the permit’s conditions. All other permits in South Africa require renewal or re-application at some point. Permanent residents can also sponsor qualifying relatives.

Permanent residence applications

Permanent residence applications can be made either in South Africa and in the applicant’s country of origin. But expats should get advice from an immigration agent because the process takes several months and might cause applicants in South Africa to overstay on their current visa.


Expats will need a work permit for South Africa if they want to take up employment there. But getting one isn’t always a consistent process. In South Africa, work permits are known as work visas and allow the bearer to enter, stay and work in the country.

The main consideration for work visas is still that a South African citizen must not be qualified to perform the task in question at the same capacity as the applicant. The documentation required to prove this is a grey area that partially depends on the personal discretion of officials. In this way, patience and persistence are highly advised for expats who don’t have an employer organising their permit for them.

There are several visas for expats wanting to work in South Africa, including the General Work Visa, Critical Skills Visa and the Intra-company Transfer. Either way, the first time expats apply for a visa it has to be at a South African mission outside of the country – it isn’t possible to change from a visit to a work visa after arriving in South Africa.

Types of work visas for South Africa

General Work Visas

To apply for a General Work Visa, expats must have a job offer from a South African employer. General Work Visas are issued for the term of the work contract, up to a maximum of five years.

Prospective employers have to prove that they were unable to find a South African citizen or permanent resident for the expat’s position. Linked to this, expat employees have to provide proof that they have the necessary qualifications or skills needed for the job. Expat employees are also not allowed to earn less than the average salary and benefits earned by citizens and permanent residents in similar positions.

Critical Skills Work Visas

The South African Critical Skills Work Visa enables foreigners working within certain fields to enter the country regardless of whether they have an offer of employment, as long as they have an occupation listed on the government’s critical skills list.

As is the case with General Work Visas, Critical Skills Work Visas can only be issued for five years or less. Expats on this visa will need to prove to the authorities that they’ve obtained employment within 12 months of being issued the visa. The main sectors identified by the critical skills list include agriculture, architecture, specialised financial jobs, information and communications technology, science and the medical field.

Intra-company Transfer Visas

Multinational businesses often use these kinds of visas for transferring personnel between branches in different countries. The Intra-company Transfer Visa can be eligible for up to four years. Required documentation includes an employment contract and letters from both the transferring company outside of South Africa and the receiving company in South Africa.

Relocation agencies in South Africa

Helpxpat specialise in helping people move and are set up to relieve employees of the issues that occur when moving to South Africa and we offer a wide range of services and provide aid in every aspect of your relocation – from visa struggles and work permits, to transport and finding housing.

Relocating without any assistance and help can quickly evolve into a matter of frustration, confusion and surrender – Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

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in South Africa, please contact our in-house Mobility Expert, Ms. Simi Sujith, Directly:

Mr. Sujith Chandar

CEO Asia & Africa

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For any urgent orientation / home search / school search and immigration services please reach out to:

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