The Ultimate Guide to South Africa

Written by: David Scott

Table of Contents


    South Africa is a country located on the southern tip of the African continent. It also includes the small sub-Atlantic archipelago in the Prince Edward’s Islands. The nearest countries include Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Geography South Africa is a broad grassland inland, with the Namib Desert in the northwest and the tropics in the southeast. The system of government is the republic; the head of state and the prime minister is the president. South Africa has a mixed economy, where there is a wide range of private freedoms combined with centralized economic planning and government regulations. South Africa is one of the members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

    South Africa is an amazingly beautiful country, its beauty and color attract a huge number of travelers every year and it is the most economically and socially developed country on the African continent, which makes it very alluring for tourists from all over the world.

    South Africa is a place where everyone should go at least once in their lives. It has gorgeous weather, amazing beaches, vast wildlife, delicious (and affordable!) wine and food, and breathtaking scenery everywhere you go!

    Whether you’re expecting to meet interesting people, go hiking, experience a Big 5 Africa safari, relax at the beach, or indulge your “foodie” side, this country has it all. South Africa provides great opportunities for those who prefer an outdoor lifestyle and opens your eyes to diverse cultures everywhere you go.

    Are you drafting to move to South Africa? Here’s what you need to know

    1. English is a language of business, politics, and city life

    If you live in a large city, you may have access to English, which dominates urban areas such as economic and government activities – but is rare in other areas.

    South Africa has 11 formal languages ​​- the fifth most of all countries – and English is only the sixth most popular when people speak at home.

    Only 8.4% of people use English privately, so it’s worth checking out which language is the most popular in your area of ​​the country and starting learning.

    2. It is a country with many parts

    The culture, language, and customs of South Africa vary from one part of the country to another and from different groups of people to another. In addition to the country’s 11 languages, at least two dozen others are spoken throughout the country, indicating a unique diversity that makes this rainbow country even more unique.

    This means that you cannot learn the subtleties of culture, which can lead to your surprise and uncertainty about how you will react to new situations. This fact must be approached with humility and flexibility. If you don’t know what to do, acknowledge your ignorance and ask for guidance. Lack of health care services

    South Africa ranks 127th in the world in terms of health care, regarding a 2018 study published. The Lancet funded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This means that the country lags behind countries with much lower gross domestic product per capita, including Tajikistan, Nicaragua, and Iraq. 

    South Africa’s relatively underfunded public health care system means that queues can be long – despite the fact that a hospital stay costs up to £ 50 a night, depending on your income group. 

    4. Today ‘does not mean today.’

    You should try to catch the local snake. Otherwise, it will confuse you every day.For example, when someone says “now,” they don’t mean now; it means sometime in the future. It can be several hours, several days, or not.

    When they say “no,” it’s more inspiring, and they’re probably faster than when they say “now,” but it means later, immediately. The term you want to hear is “no-no,” which comes from the African term “nou-nou” and is the fastest option. You are also used to hearing people ‘braai’ and ‘eish’ (frustration, mistrust, and regret) and also to describe things as ‘kief’ or ‘lekker’ when they like it.

    5. One capital is not enough

    South Africa has three capitals, divided between three branches of power.

    Pretoria is the executive capital, where you will find government and presidential buildings; Bloemfontein is the judicial capital, where you will find the Supreme Court of Appeal; Cape Town is the legislative capital, where the government meets. Despite constant pressure from some quarters, the situation has not changed since colonial times, partly due to the high cost of building the city as its only capital. 6. Reports of apartheid are constantly improving

    This superior white system of racial segregation and discrimination operated from 1948 to 1990, when Nelson Mandela was released, and negotiations on apartheid began.

    You don’t have to avoid this extremely sensitive topic at all, but make sure you only contribute to the conversations if you have something to add. This is an even more difficult task when you consider the role of the United Kingdom in creating an apartheid system, so silence is probably your best choice.

    6. Life here is cheaper

    The cost of living in is very low in South Africa than in the United Kingdom – especially if you earn at the level of the Britishun salary. In general, life in cities costs as much as you’re used to paying – through clothes can be cheaper, so you can avoid spending on branded stores.

    South Africa’s economy is also growing encouragingly. Regarding the World Bank, the country’s gross domestic product per capita has doubled in the last two decades, while inflation has been steadily declining.

    7. This country is religious

    South Africa is a primarily Christian country, with 86% of the population identifying and only 5.2% saying they have no religion. It is common for people to be vigilant as well, with 56% of Christians saying they attend church every week. In contrast, 38% of people in the U.K. identify as Christians, while 52% say they do not profess any religion, according to the British Social Attitudes Survey.

    South Africa does not have a state religion, and the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but it is good to respect common beliefs when making friends and networking. You should also keep in mind that blasphemy is illegal in the country, although this law is rarely enforced.

    8. HIV / AIDS is an ongoing epidemic

    In the United Kingdom, it is easy to forget that we are still in the midst of an HIV / AIDS epidemic, with many people dying of AIDS-related diseases each year.

    This cannot be forgotten in South Africa.

    According to the CIA Fact book, the country has the fourth-highest prevalence of HIV / AIDS in the world and the highest number of deaths, 72,000 people per year.

    One of the country’s four main goals for the decade is to “make the generation under the age of 20 primarily HIV-free,” but HIV / AIDS is still the fifth leading cause of unnatural death, according to Statistics South Africa.

    Be careful, sensitive, and safe!

    9. The sun shone and shone and shone

    The weather here is as wonderful as you can expect. Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria enjoy almost 3,200 hours of sunlight each year – almost double the 1,633 hours that Londoners receive.

    10. Accept your natural environment

    Umhlanga sunset

    There are countless ways in which South Africa can breathe, and you will find most of them in countless natural attractions. You will find wonders such as Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which include lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, cheetahs, vultures, and eagles, with shades of tropical rainforest and red sand mountains.

    Be sure to also visit the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, home to beautiful coral reefs and streams infested with crocodiles. In a way, the country is incredibly diverse and almost five times the size of the United Kingdom. Get the most out of it.

    11. But not literally

    Don’t be so attracted by the natural beauty that you come close to a prickly viper, hippo, crocodile, buffalo, or black mamba, because they can kill many people every year. And to see thousands of people in South Africa infected with malaria every year, with dozens of stars, you need to make sure you protect yourself from mosquitoes.

    12. Does wine not explore some vineyards?

    South Africa has a record as one of the best wine producers in the world, and it is definitely worth it.

    The vineyards of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl in the southwest of the country are beautiful and produce some of the most delicious wines you can taste. And if you are a serious fan of fermented grapes, don’t forget to visit Swartland and the Valley of Heaven and Earth.

    These wine regions are less celebrated, but it is worth it if you appreciate the excellent Chenin Blancs and Pinot noir.

    15. Be careful with drinks

    The legal blood-alcohol limit for driving in South Africa is 0.05 g per 100 ml of blood, which is 38% less than the maximum of 0.08 g in the United Kingdom.

    For most people, this limit is equivalent to not one drink per hour. Make sure you are below the limit, as arrests for drunk driving can result in a minimum fine of Rs 2,000 (GBP 100), two years’ imprisonment, or both – as well as a criminal record.

    16. Alcohol is a problem area

    South Africa produces quality wines and beers, imaginative cocktails, and drinks such as Amarula, which are sold throughout the U.K.

    But the drinking habit in South Africa is complex and full.

    69% of adults avoid alcohol, but 65% of those who drink are alcoholics, according to the World Health Organization.

    17. Don’t worry about water

    In South African cities, you can fully drink and brew with tap water. However, you can also buy bottled water in the countryside – not because it is dangerous, but because it contains more bacteria in your intestines than usual and can cause you stomach pains.

    If you are worried, ask the locals if the water is safe.

    18. The food is good

    Be sure to visit a communal barbecue (barbecue) where the locals gather to chat, laugh and enjoy a variety of meats, including traditional boerwurstjes.

    Asian immigrants bring bunny chow – a pancake filled with delicious curry – and bobotie, which you prepare by mixing minced meat with herbs, spices, and dried fruit, putting in eggs and milk, and cooking.

    And nowhere else in South Africa is air-dried meat. Two thin slices of biltong and dry sausage in the shape of a sausage, made from beef as a game, serve as a delicious snack.

    19. Tipping is a routine

    If you are already full of top restaurants, you should give your waiter a 10% discount, although you can pay 15% or 20% if you are more interested in the service.

    If you are staying at a hotel, give your family staff a tip of at least 50 R (GBP 2.50) per person on your trip and day.

    20. Football is the most popular sport

    Cape Town Sport Stadium

    The organizers of the 2010 World Cup have a long history of football fanaticism, which has developed since the end of apartheid.

    Two years following the election of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid, South Africa hosted and won the African Cup of Nations. This victory helped unite the country.

    There are now over a million registered footballers in the country

    21. Cricket and rugby are not far away

    All of these games may have been introduced by colonialism, but in recent decades they have been crucial to the unification of South Africa. The 1995 Rugby World Cup is a good example of this, but the continuing rise of rugby and cricket teams has since given rise to national pride.

    South Africa defeated England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and became the most successful country in tournament history, so you can do worse than winning these permanent winners.

    Disadvantages of life in South Africa

    • High purchase costs associated with buying real estate compared to other countries;
    • High inflation (now about 5 percent per year);
    • High crime in some urban areas;
    • Traffic jams and pollution in some cities and the high number of road deaths in the country;
    • Winter cold, humid and windy weather in some areas;
    • crowds at popular tourist sites;
    • Length and price of flights to South Africa from Europe or North America, even if prices fall.
    • You should also have it mind the following pitfalls that await anyone who buys property abroad:
    • Unexpected maintenance and repair costs (if you do not do your homework);
    • The risk of overpaying a house and not selling it and returning your investment;
    • The ability to increase your finances (for example, by taking out a large loan);
    • Hard work is associated with owning a large house and garden (although hiring staff is not expensive in South Africa).

    Finally, it is instructive to reflect on the views of South Africans, especially those who left the country in the first years after apartheid (an event sometimes ridiculed as a “chicken escape”), fearing the destruction of law, order, and style in Zimbabwe. Persecution of whites. According to the Homecoming website

    Which is a non-governmental site founded by two young women in South Africa; an increasing number of South Africans have migrated in recent decades – many to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States – and have returned disappointed with the time, high living costs, poor public service, and tensions. Lifestyle in their adopted countries and were attracted by the belief in the bright future of South Africa.

    Some commentators also say that there was a “conspiracy” in the 1990s to lure the worst people from South Africa abroad, describing the country only in terms of rising crime, AIDS, and political instability, which is the impression of some emigrants in South Africa. Approval because it reinforces their decision to leave the country. You rarely read about the positive aspects of post-apartheid in South Africa: houses and shopping malls built in cities, the fact that one of Daimler Chrysler’s most efficie3rnt plants is in South Africa, a multinational company earns higher incomes in Africa than anything else. Continent and falling interest rates and inflation rates. But that has changed, and in the 21st century, South Africa is better portrayed in a realistic, positive light, with a strong emphasis on the sun, space, bush, beaches, surf, wildlife, and clear skies. And barbecue.

    Differences between life in South Africa and U.S.

    Moving to Africa is a big change in itself, but with everyday differences, it’s definitely the hardest thing to live with. I know it personally, the creation of my character. When I started making things at home, the process was mostly painful and more or less predictable, which I neglected. Simply put, I want to know what will happen and get what I know. However, as one of my favorite authors said, “the world is not a factory that gives desire.”

    Living here in beautiful Cape Town is a problem for my pleasant little worldly plan because, say, there is not much in between my house and this place. Here are some of the differences I’ve noticed in my daily life here in South Africa:

    1. Share food

    Every time I go to dinner in the States, nine out of 10, I come home without thinking about anything; I’m not even sure I’ll survive the next day. I’m full. I feel it’s a common phenomenon because of the amount of food we normally get. I never realized how big the American parts were until I got here. I can order food, and it doesn’t have three sides, salad, and bread, and it’s a GOOD thing. I just enjoy the main course without exaggerating. Perfect!

    2. Prices

    One difference I love is the prices. Everything is so cheap here! I can get a huge amount of food, which usually costs me $ 100 or more in the States, and the same here for less than half the price. Going to a nice restaurant is not a problem, because the average meal, including drinks, usually costs at least $ 5. Can I live here forever?

    3. Traffic

    Part of being in a three million+ populated city is the insane amount of traffic that goes along with it. But here’s everything else about driving. There are cars on the left side, the driver’s seat is the opposite than in the USA, people normally only drive-in slots and in the end, I didn’t see my life better. Crazy drivers like me here. People will travel in and out and stop and embark on any journey they take. Many times I saw my life flickering before my eyes as I took a taxi and got off the bus due to a constant abrupt stop in heavy traffic. It was a crazy galactic atmosphere, but I couldn’t help but laugh. 4. “African Time.”

    The last, most significant difference is the concept of “African time.” In principle, the general theme is that in Africa, everyone is more and more relaxed and relaxed. It really does exist, people. Some people like it, and some people dislike it, but what it is, it’s definitely part of the S.A. culture. You are probably fired from the U.S. because you go to work every day or even for a few days, but here it is more or less accepted because some may be too late! Personally, I really enjoy it because of my natural tendency to be late for everything. I finally found people who understood my struggle!

    Living in the ups and downs of South Africa

    1. Pros: Prospects!

    Wherever you go in South Africa, the scenery is breathtaking. Whether you are interested in the Sahara, green forests, coral reefs, Baobabs, waterfalls, gorges, nature reserves, volcanic valleys, reefs, beaches, or anything in between, there is a place in South Africa that will need you a lot. aah

    With more than twenty national parks (including the world’s most famous nature reserves), South Africa is a playground for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

    This also translates to a plethora of animal welfare, conservation, and reforestation volunteer programs in South Africa to preserve the incredible landscape!

    2. Con: The airfare

    While the price of living in South Africa is low, getting there is another story. Not exactly central or well-connected (although there are an increasing number of direct flights to both Europe and the U.S.), this exotic country is going to have you racking up a lot of sky miles for future trips abroad. 

    Volunteers in South Africa should look well in advance for plane tickets, ideally in the low season (March) if you have the flexibility. London and Dubai are the most popular layover cities in the States, so check multiple-ticket flights to save a significant amount of money.

    On the bright side, keep in mind that this is the biggest expense of the trip! Once in South Africa, you can gorge on all the braai and witblits imaginable for mere cents.

    What you can do: Start a Fund MyTravel campaign! It’s the perfect way to bulk up your savings or pay off program fees.

    3. Pro: The people

    Hospitality seems to be a natural skill in South Africa. Almost any village you set foot in, the locals are more than eager to welcome visitors, make friends with the guests, and open their homes and hearts to you.

    Whether this means a long home-cooked dinner or an all-night dance-off, the community’s desire for genuine involvement shines in everything they do. With music and dance, such a huge part of South Africa’s religions, the joy for life is loud and vibrates to include both locals and foreigners.

    Kick-off off your shoes, hang up your straw hat, and experience the true gold of Africa in the course of a lazy evening among friends and family.

    4. Con: Safety concerns

    Although comparatively lesser than a few decades ago, there is still violence in some parts of South Africa. While most of the violence is among ethnic groups or local gangs, it’s best for tourists to practice basic safety precautions, just like anywhere else in the world (e.g., don’t walk by yourself after nightfall, know the areas to avoid when alone, stay alert, keep an eye on valuables, etc.).

    Try to understand and research safety issues in South Africa as much as possible prior to departure. South Africa struggles with a lingering misogynistic mentality, so women, in particular, should stay in groups at night and practice common sense (don’t leave your drinks unattended when out and about, for example).

    If these are issues you’re passionate about, consider South Africa volunteer opportunities in youth development and gender issues to spread a greater sense of acceptance and equality.

    What to do: Research safety precautions in the area you’ll be volunteering in, listen to the advice given by your program provider or local friends and stay up-to-date with news and current events in South Africa.

    5. Pro: The population diversity

    South Africa is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation” due to its sheer diversity of skin colors, cultures, and religions. Of its population of 52 million, ethnic groups include Nguni, Sotho, Shangaan-Tsonga, and Venda; white, Indian, and Asian populations are contributing their own threads to the colorful tapestry too.  

    With countless ethnicities and 11 official languages (including English!), the variety of sounds, smells, tastes, and opinions experienced while you volunteer in South Africa is a rich basis for cultural exploration. South Africa is a great balance of tradition and modern influence, both impacted by its people and their practices. People like you only solidify the country’s pride in diversity!

    6. Con: Potential health concerns

    Malaria and certain diarrhoeal diseases are found in South Africa, and there have been recent reports of bubonic plague. We don’t mean to scare you, but those are definitely a few experiences that you don’t want to add to your South Africa volunteering days, right?

    To maximize safety, get a thorough check-up before embarking and get up-to-date on all of your vaccinations. While abroad, avoid contact with infected regions if possible (if your volunteer placement is near or in one, you’ll receive plenty of information and cautionary advice!), carry a bottle of mosquito repellent and a net for sleeping, and pay particular attention to the food preparation.

    7. Pro: Pace of life

    One of your best memories of volunteering in South Africa may be the time you spent doing nothing (or what just seems like nothing!). Conversations on the side of the street that last until the shadows lengthen, dinners that extend into nightcaps, public areas filled with sitting men and playing children…the tick of the clock in South Africa is slower than in most of the world.

    It is also more meaningful. There is no stress, rush, urgency, or anxiety to get things done — and yet (eventually), it all gets done. Relationships and simplicity rule the scene, which is great at decluttering the Western mind and opening eyes to the importance of the small moments of life.

    8. Con: Pace of life 

    Also, the pace of life might be the source of no small amount of frustration while you volunteer in South Africa. Especially when dealing with bureaucratic matters or transportation, the sporadic opening hours, unorganized public bus routes, and unofficial businesses make getting anything done pretty complicated sometimes.

    Things take time (a lot of time), the workers radiate more nonchalance than urgency, and options (for anything) might be limited at times. Stock up on patience and chant Hakuna Matata under your breath to survive attacks of exasperation. Have it in mind that not all cultures operate with punctuality or what might be your perception of efficiency; things will happen when they happen. Until then, learn the beauty of idle hours.

    9. Pro: The impact

    There’s happiness more satisfying than knowing that your work has actually made a difference, both in your life and the lives of others. While you get the character growth, resume boost, an expanded mind, new field knowledge, and plenty of original melodies to sing at work, South Africa gets the best parts of you that you left behind.

    10 Reasons to Move to South Africa

    1. Landscape

    Aerial view of Cape Town
    Aerial view of Cape Town, South Africa

    Going to South Africa will enable you to explore the country’s great diverse landscape. It’s described as “A World in One Country,” and there is great reason for this. To start with, it has 1,600 miles of coastline, which stretches from Namibia and the Atlantic Ocean, around the tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas, where it becomes the Indian Ocean, and up to the Mozambiquan border. In the middle of the country is the Drakensberg, a beautiful mountain range that grows almost 11,500 feet and is always covered with snow. In variance, you have the Kalahari Desert on the border of Botswana and Namibia, where temperatures often reach and are above 105 ° F. There are areas with rolling green hills, native forests, rugged landscapes, lush green fields, and more.

    2. Flora and fauna

    animal photography in Africa
    Popular destination for photographers

    Anyone who moves to South Africa expects to see wildlife up close and in person. There are many game parks to view around the country, the most popular being the Kruger National Park. Once you are in to South Africa, you can experience these parks, both private and government, and enjoy true South African hospitality from small basic tented camps to 5* luxury. 

    South Africa’s plant life is long and beautiful. There are 22,000 plants from 230 different families. The country boasts that it has 10% of the world’s flowering species. The Western Cape is especially proud of its native flowers, and visitors from all over the world come to see the spring flowers of the province.

    3. Livelihood

    If you are going to South Africa, know that you will experience a great lifestyle. Housing is a standard, and education is great. South Africa has to many different nationalities and melting pot cultures, which is reflected in their cuisine, house style, places of worship, and inhabitants. South Africans love their free time, which they use to spend time with family, eating, exercising, and having fun. They are hospitable people and really hospitable visitors and new residents, and they have nothing to love when you invite them to a Sunday braai lunch and expect to stay late into the night.

    4. Your Rand keeps up

    People who have moved to South Africa have found that their money is going away. The cost of living is usually cheaper than in other First World countries, so you can enjoy a standard of living for less money.

    5. Winery and dinner

    romantin dinner in South Africa

    For lovers of good food and wine, South Africa is definitely a place to relocate. The standard of South African wines is legendary, and there are many good restaurants, especially in Cape Town and Johannesburg, that have Michelin stars, while Michelin gives stars to African restaurants.

    6. Weather

    If nothing else tempts you to relocate to South Africa, it’s time. Nice climate! The sun shines in spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The temperature in some parts of the country sometimes rises above 100 ° F but cools mostly at night, so it is still possible to sleep. KwaZulu Natal Midlands and the Eastern Cape will experience very cold nights in winter, BUT the next day the sun will shine, and the temperature will rise sharply. Wearing clothes is the answer to life in South Africa during the winter.

    7. Life is slower, and you learn to be patient

    The course of life in South Africa depends on which city you move to. The fastest-growing is Johannesburg, followed by Cape Town and then Durban, where the pace of life is very slow. The saying “This is Africa” ​​(TIA for short) is something to keep in mind as you wait patiently for the phone call to return. The South African idea of ​​”today” maybe tomorrow or the new week, so patience is one of your virtues.

    8. Friendly people

    One of the unique things people see when they move to South Africa is the friendliness of the people. Regardless of their citizen or skin color, they will welcome you with open arms and tell you about the pros and cons of living in South Africa. Like every country, South Africa has some negative points, such as security. You have to be as careful and cautious as you can be in any country in the world.

    9. Sport

    Sports enthusiasts would like to live in South Africa. Most of the population is fascinated by cricket, rugby, or football. In second place are cycling, running and swimming. Schools dedicate every afternoon to sports activities so that children grow up in a sports culture. People are more competitive, but not the hooliganism that is always experienced in Europe. Supporters of the opposing teams will watch together and come out for a beer or three after the match.

    The great coast of South Africa is great for surfing and a game that many enjoy. Tennis, squash, bowls, croquet, badminton, swimming, and hockey are all played in many sports clubs around the country. There are also world-class golf courses in South Africa, where the 19th hole with a real South African welcome awaits you.

    10. Private healthcare

    Private healthcare in South Africa is the same as all the best in Europe and the United States: the hospital and staff are first class. The bonus of moving to South Africa is also the enjoyment of cheap cosmetic surgery. People all over the country come to the facelifts and so on and then go on safari to recover before they go home to look ten years younger.

    How to register for permanent residence in South Africa

    If you plan to make sunny South Africa a haven for long journeys, you may want to consider permanent residence. You do not necessarily need a previous visa to apply for a visa, and the freedoms and rights you have as a resident go far beyond what the temporary residents provide as those who have applied for a permit in the past, applying to the South African Department of the Interior (DHA) can be a lengthy process. With the institution undergoing changes in immigration regulations for the first time in ten years in 2014, which have serious consequences for foreigners, applicants may be more worried about themselves than ever before.

    “I know from experience how long the visa application process is,” said Nora Dawud, founder, and CEO of Black Pen Immigration. Dawud is a qualified lawyer who is qualified in Germany and South Africa and has exchanged his place of residence in Tübingen, Germany, for Cape Town.

    Black Pen Immigration shares the web’s interior design and visa requirements, and their experience continues to reduce the stress of applying for permanent residence. Though, the German Consulate General in Cape Town recommended Black Pen Immigration as their preferred immigration company in South Africa. In addition, Black Pen Immigration is a member of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in South Africa.

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