South Africa offers expats far more than you may anticipate. It’s impossible to make broad categorizations about the innumerable dimensions of life in South Africa, which is renowned for its diversity – the best course of action is to go experience it for yourself! Allow us to provide you with a brief summary.


South African life

South African Health Care and Insurance

South Africa’s Transportation and Safety

South African life

Many individuals around the world may have only a hazy idea of what life is like in contemporary South Africa. For a long time, the only thing most people understood about South Africa was apartheid, the state-sponsored and enforced system of racial segregation. Fortunately, this is history, and the country has been attempting to rebuild a positive worldwide image.

A Country That Is Creating Its Image

The 2010 FIFA World Cup provided the world with its first view of modern South Africa. However, it was condemned for failing to convey the reality of life in South Africa for a sizable portion of the people. So, in general, what can be said about living there? The country is diverse in every way, from language to religion, as a result of the nation’s numerous ethnic groups. South Africa embodies some of the African continent’s most “westernized,” prosperous, and progressive characteristics, but also some of its most serious issues. However, one thing is certain: expats will rarely have an experience identical to life in South Africa.

Numerous Ethnic Groups with Numerous Languages

Prior to 1991, the South African government classified the population into four broad ethnic categories: black, colored, Asian, and white. Following apartheid’s abolition in the 1990s, these classifications ceased to be used, at least for most official reasons.


However, reality continues to reveal the traditional differences, for example, in terms of education and money. Blacks continue to be the most disadvantaged group in South African society, statistically speaking. Nonetheless, change occurs incrementally, and South Africa has already begun to overcome the lingering aftertaste of decades of state inequality and segregation through a number of countermeasures.

Around 80% of South Africans now identify as black Africans. This is a culturally and linguistically complex group that includes the Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Bapedi, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, and Ndebele ethnic groups. Whites, a similarly diversified group, account for approximately 8% of the population. Since 1994, the country’s white population has been steadily declining. The factors are the low birth rate and the large number of whites who are unable or unable to remain in South Africa for a variety of reasons, including the country’s high crime rate.


With the South African people’s numerous ethnic origins, it’s natural that the country recognizes eleven official languages. While English is not the most widely spoken primary language in the country, it acts as a lingua franca for communication between ethnic groups and expats, making it an integral component of daily life. Due to the South African accent’s clarity and decipherability, there should be few, if any, communication difficulties. You are extremely unlikely to find yourself in a scenario where you are unable to communicate in English at all in South Africa’s major expat areas.

South African Health Care and Insurance

Concerning the Healthcare Infrastructure

South Africa’s health infrastructure is, on the whole, of excellent quality, particularly in metropolitan cities. Hospitals and clinics employ highly skilled and experienced personnel. South Africa features world-class heart and eye facilities, which attract a sizable number of medical tourists each year.

Pharmacies stock a wide variety of items that you may be familiar with from your native country. However, if you take prescription medication on a regular basis, you should be aware that some drugs can be quite pricey. If possible, pack a little supply that will last you at least a few of weeks or months to save money. Do not forget to bring all medications in their original packaging, as well as your doctor’s prescription.

South Africa’s requirements for water supply and food preparation are extremely stringent. You will have no difficulty eating from street vendors, purchasing locally grown food and dairy goods, or drinking tap water.

Expat Insurance: Ensure You Are Well-Informed

We strongly encourage you to purchase comprehensive insurance well in advance of your relocation to South Africa. Alternatively, negotiate with your prospective employer the inclusion of a group healthcare plan in your benefits package. There is no such thing as a national health plan. Even with insurance, you cannot always be certain that your insurance company will cover all charges. Healthcare prices in South Africa continue to rise, and some insurance carriers impose limitations on specific procedures. If the cost of a particular service or treatment exceeds this cap, you will be responsible for payment.

Additional thorough information on all health-related topics is available on the South Africa Info Portal, a service provided by Brand SA. It should undoubtedly be one of the websites you visit prior to embarking on your new expat life. Another useful resource is the South African web directory Ananzi, which includes a directory category on health care and insurance among its numerous offerings. If you’re looking for direct links to all healthcare providers in South Africa, please visit the Board of Healthcare Funders of South Africa’s directory.

Significant National Health Concerns

The high prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the country is a major public health concern. Around 6.8 million people — or roughly 13% of the population — are estimated to have HIV/AIDS. Additionally, it is one of the most common causes of death in the country. The fact that new infections appear to be declining is a silver lining in this story.

Other major health problems include TB and insect- and tick-borne infections. However, unlike many other African countries, there is no need to be concerned about malaria, as the country is mostly malaria-free. Several rural areas in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, including the Kruger National Park and other game reserves, are at risk.

South Africa’s Transportation and Safety

How to Handle Your Foreign Driver’s License

You may use your driver’s license in South Africa for a period of up to twelve months if it is issued in English. If your driver’s license is not in one of South Africa’s eleven official languages, you have two options: apply for an international driver’s license before traveling to South Africa, or swap your original license for a South African one.

To exercise the latter option, your driver’s license must be legitimate, bear your photograph, and be accompanied by an authentication letter and — if necessary — an English translation. You should be able to obtain assistance from your embassy with the final two needs.

If you intend to stay longer than twelve months, it is prudent to exchange your license. Not only does this ease matters when it comes to road restrictions, but it also helps with insurance: some firms may require verification of a valid South African driver’s license, even if you were able to get insurance without one initially.

Conditions on the Road and General Advice

South African roads are, on the whole, in excellent shape and relatively safe. However, many drivers’ driving styles make driving in South Africa fairly unsafe – the country has double the number of traffic fatalities as the global average. Apart from aggressive — and occasionally inebriated — driving, inadequate illumination on some country roads and insufficient car maintenance can pose additional dangers.

Keep a sharp eye out for stop signs at intersections — South African traffic regulations make extensive use of four-way stop signs. Right of way is determined by arrival order: the first car is granted right of way, and so forth.

Motorists in South Africa drive on the left side of the road. Please keep this in mind at all times; you would not be the first forgetful expat to find themselves in a precarious scenario immediately after driving out of the vehicle dealership.

Criminality and Public Safety – Well-Known Issues

A very regrettable aspect of daily life in South Africa is the high rate of crime, both petty crimes such as theft and more serious offenses such as acts of violence and sexual assault.

Certain sources and foundations of this significant load on South African society are more obvious than others. For one thing, the country inherited a slew of unresolved concerns following the end of Apartheid, some of which continue to pose significant obstacles to this day (for example, wealth disparity). Urban sprawl drew many destitute families to large cities in search of jobs that were not accessible, or were not available in sufficient numbers. The worrisome unemployment rate and the number of individuals living in extreme poverty are undoubtedly significant causes, among many others.

Please comply with the demands if you become a victim of robbery. Violence has become nearly commonplace in some sections of South African culture, and robbers may not hesitate.

Sexual assault is pervasive in South Africa, as evidenced by the sheer number of reported occurrences. According to reports, one in every four South African males admitted to sexually assaulting a woman. There is no specific or enhanced risk for foreign women, although it is prudent to remain vigilant at all times.

We have already discussed how many expats and upper- and middle-class residents gravitate toward gated communities for all of these reasons.

That being said, there is no reason to believe that every time you leave the house, chaos will ensue. The South African government is well aware of this issue and has adopted numerous countermeasures to safeguard the safety of natives and expats alike. The vast bulk of your future daily existence as an expat professional in South Africa’s large megacities may be just as safe as in other expat magnets.

Are you considering relocating? If you have never relocated abroad, the procedure will be overwhelming; if you have, you are aware of the difficulties that await. Muvzilla can assist you with relocation, storage, and insurance at any step! Contact us immediately.

Show All