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Moving to South Africa: 10 Tips to Help You Get Started

How often would you like to see wildlife up close? Want a change of view in your horizon? It may be time to migrate to South Africa.

Often, South Africa has the description of “a world in one country.” This is because the country houses many different terrains and unique flora and fauna.

Allow us to give you 10 tips about moving to South Africa.

1. Find a Community to Move Into

The first thing you need to do is to look for an abode. Do some research on areas with friendly communities. If you already know a place where you will move into, that’s great!

South Africans are very polite, friendly, and welcoming. Meet people and get to know them. The key here is respect and sociability.

When you are conducting a search for homes, go for areas in a reputable part of town. Avoid areas with high crime rates. Don’t worry too much since the majority of crimes happen in poorer areas in big cities.

Try to contact expats about places they would recommend. You can also ask local real estate agents. Having your own property is a good investment, most especially if you plan to move with your family.

2. Prepare All Needed Documentation

There was a time when you could up and leave and start a new life somewhere else. Now, it’s a different story. When you are looking to move into another country, you need to apply for and process many papers.

The most important documents for immigrants are:

  • Residence visa
  • Passport
  • Residence permit
  • Work permit
  • International driver’s license
  • Customs forms
  • Employment letter

Find the time to process all your documentation requirements. As a note, it’s wise to carry certified copies of your documents when you travel within South Africa.

3. Set Up a Local Bank Account

When you relocate to South Africa, you will need to set up a local bank account. Most services in South Africa use electronic funds transfer. These services include phone and electricity bills.

If you want to pay bills via internet banking, it’s also possible. The country’s currency is South African Rand. Be careful when you use foreign credit cards.

Using foreign credit cards have a huge risk of fraud, so get a local credit card. Moving out is expensive enough on its own. Save yourself a headache by taking precautionary and safety measures for your money.

As a note, the cost of living in South Africa is cheaper compared to western countries.

4. Learn the Language When Moving to South Africa

One of the most common languages spoken in South Africa is English. Still, the experience of moving to a new country isn’t complete without picking up a new language. It will allow you to integrate with the culture better and understand the people right away.

Even before moving to South Africa from the USA, start watching videos or listening to podcasts on language lessons. Watch South African movies with subtitles and try to imitate what you hear. You can take language lessons in the country, too.

Don’t worry if you take a while to pick up the language. The language-learning process takes longer for adults. If you immerse yourself in the culture, you may learn the dialect within a year or two.

5. Buy Adapter Plugs and Transformers

Buy adapter plugs for your appliances. This tip is more for migrants who plan to take their electronics with them to South Africa. Most appliances in South Africa use Euro plugs.

While South Africa uses 220V, the US uses 120V for appliances. You want one or two step-down transformers. This is to ensure your appliances get the right power and work well.

If you don’t want the extra weight of adapter plugs and transformers, you can buy them at places like Builder’s Warehouse instead. If you don’t plan to bring your appliances, you can also opt to buy them once you’ve moved in. The downside is that it’s not as cheap an option as buying adapter plugs.

One way to get around this problem is to sell your appliances before you leave the US. As you clean your home before the move, put aside the things you are willing to sell away. You can at least use the money to buy new appliances.

6. Get a Prepaid Phone

We recommend buying a cheap prepaid phone in South Africa. After you get your phone, get a long-term plan. This way you don’t have to jailbreak your phone so it works with the service providers in the country.

This will be useful after the first few weeks of your move. Local agents, contractors, or security may call you through your phone. Getting an internet connection may take a while so it’s best to buy a prepaid phone first.

7. Arrange Your Internet Connection

When you’re living in South Africa, you may want to get in touch with your friends or family back in the States. Get a stable and reliable internet connection so you could catch up with them. The key is to find an internet provider that offers uncapped internet connection.

Note that the connection can be slower and pricey. You could get a landline internet connection. ADSL, ISDN, and Diginet are what landline companies offer.

8. Find Out Where Expats Hang Out

If you want to know how to move to South Africa in the cheapest, easiest ways, talk to expats. They’re likely to share their experiences with you. What they have to say about the country may be worth listening to, as well.

As you travel around your area, look for places where expats hang out. These sites can also give you a slight sense of home whenever you’re feeling homesick. You can also learn a lot from tourists or expats who are not from the US.

9. Live Like the Locals

South African living is very different compared to the American lifestyle. Everything from your shampoo brand to your car will change once you’ve moved. And depending on where you are transferring, the climate could be extreme.

If you plan to do a lot of outdoor activities, it’s best to get a car made for the terrain. You want an all-wheel drive or a car that can go off-road. Pick a vehicle that you won’t mourn over for daily dust buildup or thorn bush scratches.

Observe the local culture and immerse yourself in it. Eat what the locals eat and do other activities. You can better appreciate the people when you put yourself in their shoes.

10. Prepare for Culture Shock

Unless you’ve tried living in South Africa for a month or more, it could take you a long time to adjust to your new environment. The culture shock could result in a life of fear or paranoia. Take your time to adjust and try to appreciate the country.

Keep in mind that South Africa is still a developing country. The World Bank foresees that South Africa will have a 1.3% economic growth in 2019. Even then, that doesn’t mean the South African lifestyle will change too much.

There are some customs in America that South Africans also do. Like in the US, tipping is a common practice. The typical tip is 10% – 15% of the bill.

Get Ready to Settle in South Africa

That’s our 10 tips for anybody who’s moving to South Africa.

We’ll give a couple more last tips. This goes without saying: be wary enough but not terrified. Practice common sense when you are traveling and avoid crime-ridden areas as much as possible.

Looking to move but don’t know what to do with your house? Check out our post giving tips to sell your house. Do it fast and without too much hassle with our guide.


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About the Author

Kaya Wittenburg

Blog Author and CEO

Kaya Wittenburg is the Founder and CEO of Sky Five Properties. Since the age of 10, real estate has been deeply ingrained into his thoughts. With world-class negotiation and deal-making skills, he brings a highly impactful presence into every transaction that he touches.

He is here to help you use real estate as a vehicle to develop your own personal empire and feel deeply satisfied along the way. If you have an interest in buying, selling or renting property in South Florida, contact Kaya today.

Feel free to call me at: (305) 357-0635
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