South Africa is home to an estimated 200,000 British expats, with its temperate climate, incredible wildlife, stunning scenery and comparatively low cost of living being among its main draws.
Cape Town and Johannesburg are the two most popular cities for expats, and there are a number of visas available depending on the purpose of your stay.
However, for all of South Africa’s good points, there are a few things to be aware of before moving to the nation.
One of the biggest concerns for people thinking about immigrating to South Africa is the country’s relatively high crime rate.
Official Statistics showed that 18,673 homicides were committed in South Africa last year, with an average of 50 people being killed every day – one of the highest murder rates per capita in in the world.
Car theft in South Africa is also higher than in a number of other industrialised nations. It become such a problem that in 2007 insurance company Hollard Insurance issued a statement that it would no longer insure certain car models that were being frequently targeted by thieves.
White collar crime is also a problem in the country, with fraud being a prevalent issue for both individuals and businesses. According to reports from 2007, over 72% of companies located in South Africa fell victim to criminal activity.
However, while these statistics may seem off-putting at first glance, you should be aware that the geographical spread of crime is narrow, with hot pockets of crime in certain area’s skewing the data – for instance, in 2010 nearly half of all house robberies took place in just one province.
The country is also making great efforts to tackle crime, with recently released data from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Statistics South Africa (SSA) showing that the rate of violent crime is falling, with the number of reported assaults falling by around 50% over the last five years.
As a newly industrialised nation and an emerging economy, South Africa is still in a period of rapid development and upheaval. A side effect of this is that public services in the country may be a little underwhelming compared to what you’re used to.
For example, many expats chose to explore private healthcare options rather than taking advantage of South Africa’s free healthcare system.
Fortunately, the private system is easily accessible for a fairly reasonable price, with many health insurance providers tailoring schemes towards expats.
Those living in South Africa also often complain about the country’s poor public transport options, with limited bus services and lack of an effective metro rail line meaning many South Africans rely upon minibus taxis to get around, with over 14 million people reportedly using them every day.
While these taxis previously had a bit of a reputation for being dangerous, recent government clamp downs have greatly improved standards, while a R123.5-billion investment by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) looks set to modernise much of the country’s rail system.
Residents of South Africa have also faced intermittent power outages over the last few years as the country’s beleaguered power utility, Eskom, has struggled to meet the power needs of the rapidly growing economy, leading to the company having to implement ‘load shedding’ – also known as rolling blackouts.
However, with economic growth increasing in recent years and foreign investment climbing, South Africa’s services are improving in leaps and bounds, with rising tourism demands also propelling the country’s infrastructure forwards.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s government is also making strides to increase spending on public services, with public spending rising by over 50% over the last decade as the ruling ANZ government implements an aggressive stimulus programme.
Those looking to move to South Africa are also likely to be aware of reports of corruption in the nation, with a number focusing on President Jacob Zuma’s reported misuse of public funds to upgrade his personal residence.
Zuma’s perceived corruption has frustrated many voters and even his own party members, arguably weakening the ANC government.
Meanwhile, civil corruption in South Africa is also considered to be an issue, although it’s mostly focused around the awarding of government contracts, with many individuals gaming the system or using personal connections to ensure they win these lucrative contracts.
However, public outcry against perceived corruption has become increasingly prominent in recent years, with growing uproar leading to a greater push to rout out corruption throughout the country, both in politics and business.
This has led to hopes that following Zuma’s current term in office, his replacement will make tackling corruption in the country one of their key policies.
One final consideration to make when looking to relocate to South Africa (or any other country) is how to exchange your funds for the local currency.
Looking into your options, securing an excellent exchange rate and avoiding transfer fees could save you thousands, so find out more about your currency transfer options.
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