moving to south africa

Moving to South Africa

South Africa Score
Shithole Paradise

What is South Africa?

living in south africa flag

South Africa is a cheap African country with beautiful nature and a high murder rate

The Republic of South Africa is one of the largest countries in Africa, roughly five times the size of its former colonial overlord the United Kingdom.

It has a very long coastline on the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and it borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho.

South Africa is the 6th most bio diverse country in the world, which means it has plenty of unique biomes, flora and fauna.

The interior consists of large plains, sparely populated scrub land, desert, but also plenty of lush green areas, national parks, mountain ranges and so forth.

It has an overall temperate climate, but due to its size and varied geography, the climate also varies wildly from one region to the next.

Over 60 million people live here, of which over 80% are black Africans, the rest are large populations of Europeans, Asians, Chinese and “Multiracial”.

This country boasts 11 official languages, such as English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Swazi.

As one of the very few in Africa without suffering from coups, South African has been holding regular democratic elections for nearly a century … well, in theory.

In practice, racial segregation and discrimination against blacks was widespread until a few decades ago, and now it seems the pendulum is swinging in the other direction and whites are being discriminated against.

You could call this payback, or well-deserved, and in some cases you might be right, but racism is still racism.

Currently, South Africa is a developing and newly industrialized country, with significant regional influence and the second largest economy in Africa – which, granted, is a pretty low bar.

However, crime, poverty and inequality remain widespread, with dozens of murders per day, a very high rape rate, and even the highest infant and child rape rate in the world, often due to the “virgin cleansing” myth, where they believe that having sex with a virgin can cure you of AIDS.

Speaking of which, South Africa has very high percentages of HIV, over 7 million people suffer from it, which is over 20% of adults.

Of course, this comes with a pretty low average life expectancy.

The private security industry in South Africa is the largest in the world, with 400.000 armed security guards, more than the police and the army combined.

It’s the only African country to have developed nuclear weapons, but also the first (and unfortunately one of the very few) in the world to have voluntarily renounced and dismantled them in 1991.

Cannabis is currently decriminalized for private use, but there are still several laws which prohibit aspects of this trade, so it’s kind of murky territory.

Currently there’s a bill being submitted which will clarify and hopefully broaden the scope of this matter.

Prostitution is illegal, but very widespread.

living in south africa map
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Requirements for moving to South Africa

Moving to South Africa is usually pretty easy for Westerners.

Most of us don’t even need to apply for a visa and can just go there for a period of up to 90 days, which can then be extended.

You can apply for temporary residence, and even permanent residence – but you’ll probably have to set up a business of some sort.

The cost of living is pretty low, so that isn’t a heavy deterrent either.

However, if you become a resident, you’ll be forced to pay taxes on your international income, which is a big no-no for me.

The climate’s pretty decent, the food is okay, but for me the high crime rates are a huge red flag.

If you want to move to South Africa, you better have the money to pay for private security.

But at least South Africa has a high proficiency in English, so there shouldn’t be a language barrier.

What is the cost of living in South Africa?

The cost of living in South Africa is low.

Not as low as some other African, Latin American or Southeast Asian countries, but low enough to enable you to live on a budget of around $1,000 per month.

As usual though, I heavily recommend you to count on at least double or triple that amount, and in South Africa this most certainly applies due to the need to live in a gated and guarded compound, and probably to pay for private security if you venture outside of the safer zones.

Having to pay taxes on your international taxes when you are considered a resident is really detrimental, because if you earn a lot of money, this could easily go up to 45%.

That’s Western-levels of government greed, so fuck that.

Benefits of living in South Africa

  • Great climate

    South Africa has a temperate climate on average, with plenty of sunshine and not a lot of rain

  • Beautiful nature

    The 6th most biodiverse country in the world boasts a lot of beautiful nature, fauna and flora

  • High English proficiency

    South Africans have one of the highest English proficiencies in the world

  • Low cost of living

    With a budget of between $1,000 and $3,000 you should not have any issues living here (except getting violently murdered of course)

  • Decent visa system

    Most Westerners do not need to apply for a visa beforehand, and we can stay there for up to 90 days, after which extensions are possible, as well as temporary and permanent residence

moving to south africa

Downsides of living in South Africa

  • High crime rates

    South Africa packs some of the highest crime rates regarding murder and rape in the world

  • Low economic development

    If you live in an upscale neighbourhood, this might not apply, but in general South Africa comes with subpar infrastructure and low economic development

  • AIDS

    South African citizens have among the highest levels of AIDS in the world

  • Racism

    Violent crime against mostly white people occurs frequently. Well, against anyone really, but there's certainly some racism involved with specific crimes against white farmers

  • Taxes on international income

    You are considered a resident pretty rapidly, and then you’ll be forced to pay taxes of up to 45%

Moving to South Africa - by the numbers

South Africa Score
Shithole Paradise

Climate: 8.5/10

Hours of sunshine (9.5/10) Temperature (8/10) Rainy days (10/10) Humidity (7/10)
22 C – 72 F

Level of English: 10/10

Very High Proficiency

Cost of Living: 8.5/10

Minimum Annual Wage Average monthly cost single person

Taxes on international income: 5/10

Between 0 and 45%+

If you are considered a resident, you’ll be taxed on your worldwide income and capital gains. If not, you’re only taxed on South African sourced income.

You are considered a resident if you are physically present in the country for more than 91 days in the current tax year and in each of the five or six preceding tax years.

Economic growth: 2/10

Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 1.6%

Usually it’s a bit higher than this, and in 2021 we even saw 4.9%, but on average it's still not great.

Safety: 3.3/10

Global Terrorism Index (10/10) Intentional homicide rate (0/10) Rape rate (0/10)

Visa: 8/10

  • Visa (10/10)

    Many Western nations are visa-exempted and do not need to apply for a visa beforehand, and they can then stay for a period of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. Extensions are usually possible. Some non-Western nationalities are eligible for an e-Visa. You can apply for a Temporary Residence Visa, which is valid for up to 3 years. Options here are visiting family, retirement, establishing or investing in a business, and so on.

  • Permanent Residence (7/10)

    You can attain residence if you’ve lived in South America for 5 years on a work permit, or on other grounds such as having exceptional skills, establishing a business, retirement, being financially independent, etc.

  • Citizenship (7/10)

    Possible through descent or through naturalization, if you’ve stayed in South Africa for 5 years and intend to stay there. Dual citizenship is possible, with restrictions.

south africa for expats

How is life for expats in South Africa?

If you have plenty of money to pay for private security and a walled and gated mansion, life in South Africa can be decent.

A low cost of living, beautiful nature, high English proficiency, decent climate and so on are some serious advantages, but the question is … are they sufficient to counter the rather significant disadvantages?

In my opinion: not at all.

High levels of violent crime, lower life expectancy, slow economic development, taxes on your international income and the prevalence of AIDS are all major red flags in my opinion.

I would strongly advise against putting any of your flags in South Africa.

If you are looking for an African nation to invest or start a business in, there are much better options, and if you want to live in a cheap, sunny location, go to Latin America or Southeast Asia.

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