Expat South Africa

For those looking to become an expat on the continent of Africa, one country in particular should pique your interest – South Africa. South Africa has very good infrastructure, modern cities, a wonderful shore line and incredible natural beauty. While South Africa has had its ups and downs politically and economically over the last several decades, today it has made giant strides and is once again becoming the jewel of Africa.


The climate of South Africa is considered to be sub tropical. It should be noted that the seasons are reversed in South Africa from those in America. The average temperatures are usually warm with lows ranging from the 60’s in the winter time (June through September) and highs in the 100’s in certain places during the summertime (December to March). Because South Africa is so diverse with high altitudes, plateaus, big cities and plenty of miles of shorelines, many areas have their distinct annual weather pattern. Rain is common in most places, but only certain times of the year, mainly the summertime; however rain does fall on the cape during the wintertime.


The Government of South Africa is a parliamentary democracy. South Africa is a modern, developed nation, possibly the most developed of all the countries in Africa, mainly due to the investment and colonization of Dutch settlers. While South Africa has had its problems mainly with apartheid over the last century, today, it is moving in the right direction, albeit with growing pains. For the most part South Africa is very stable, however for tourists visiting the nation, extreme caution should be taken. South Africa unfortunately is one of the most violent places in the world and tourists, as well as expats should be on their guard at all times.

For Americans looking to become an expat, you can enter the country without a visa (just a passport is required) for a stay of up to 90 days. You can find out more information about entry and residency requirements at the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in Washington D.C.

Tax System

South Africa has a very high tax rate. For individual income taxes, the highest rate is 40 percent, which is higher than many European countries. The corporate tax is more moderate with a high tax rate of 29 percent. Besides income taxes, there are other taxes that include a Value Added Tax (VAT), property taxes and a capital gains tax.

Medical Care

South Africa has generally good medical facilities. Most expats and foreigners choose to visit private hospitals and clinics. These private medical facilities are easily accessible if you are in a big city, as well as near game parks. However, if you are in smaller towns or remote areas of South Africa, you may have some difficulty finding medical care.

For those that work for a South African company or are starting your own, you can easily purchase health insurance. Private health insurance is usually far less than in the states. If you are considered to be a tourist living in South Africa, your best bet is to purchase travelers insurance that includes a medical component.

Real Estate

Purchasing property in South Africa is fairly straightforward and low risk. There are no restrictions against foreigners purchasing property, however property that you purchase must be documented and endorsed by the government in certain situations. It is advised that you talk to a real estate lawyer in South Africa for more details.

For those looking to stay for the short term, your best bet is to rent or lease property. There are many housing choices in South Africa and you can find almost any type of property in your budget range. For instance, you can find living arrangements for less than US $500 per month or as high as several thousand dollars per month, usually in the form of luxury condos or beachfront homes. Most landlords require a security deposit and sometimes a couple of months rent in advance.


The infrastructure in South Africa is very good and the economy is well developed making it extremely easy to find necessities. There are plenty of consumer goods in largely populated areas such as major cities and towns. If you choose to live in remote locations, you will usually have a harder time finding goods and necessities.

South Africa has plenty of luxury goods and a thriving tourist industry. South Africa has plenty of game parks in which tourists go on safaris, a large tourist industry that seeks its beautiful, pristine beaches and others that seek the incredible fishing and boating around the country.

There are plenty of entertainment options and those that are looking for almost any type of entertainment won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of night clubs, bars, restaurants and activities.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in South Africa truly varies. It is extremely easy for an expat to live for less than 1K US per month and for those with larger budgets to spend hundreds of thousands per year. For the most part housing is affordable and many necessities are affordable as well. While taxes can be high, many entrepreneurs find a well educated labor force in many areas of South Africa and starting up a business is generally a straightforward process.

For those looking for a country with both an exotic appeal and modern, stable cities South Africa should be on the top of your list.

Web Sites for Expats in South Africa

South Africa Country Guide

Country guide to South Africa from ExpatForum.com.

Extradition from South Africa

Extradition treaty between South Africa and the US
was signed on September 16, 1999

This treaty was entered into force on June 25, 2001

Map of South Africa