9 Things You Should Know Before Relocating to South Africa

South Africa is one of the world’s most diversified and beautiful countries. There are few other places in the world where nature plays such a significant role in a nation’s culture or where you may view as many wonders (both man-made and natural) in one location. These are ten points to consider before relocating to South Africa.

1. Is English Spoken by Everyone? Consider Again!

South Africa boasts no fewer than eleven official languages, placing it among the world’s top three languages countries. Zulu is the most widely spoken language, followed by Xhosa and Afrikaans (a variant of Dutch spoken in South Africa, as well as in Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe). Indeed, English is South Africa’s fourth most spoken language, despite the government’s legislative and administrative efforts to promote its use. In truth, you won’t have any difficulty locating someone who speaks English in major cities, but don’t expect to readily communicate with the natives in more remote locations! While the majority of South Africans speak only one of the eleven languages, they are extremely proud of their indigenous tongue and eager to utilize it as much as possible.

2. Look for the Capital

South Africa is a large country, but it is also a little greedy in terms of capital city choices. Rather than settling on a single capital, South Africa maintains three – Pretoria, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein. Cape Town serves as the “legislative capital” and is home to parliament; Pretoria serves as the “administrative capital” and is home to the President; and Bloemfontein serves as the “judicial capital” and is home to the supreme court. Some argue that South Africa should simply choose one capital (the additional expenditures of having three are growing), but the country’s even distribution of power means that all three cities are critical to its operation. Simply keep this in mind for your next geography quiz — you’ll be the class leader!

3. Let’s Go Surfing

South Africa, one of surfing’s best-kept secrets, is a longboarding paradise that rivals Australia and Portugal in terms of quality. Durban and the eastern coast (Indian Ocean) offer incredible swell areas for surfers of all abilities, while Cape Town on the Atlantic hosts professional world championships – Jeffery’s Bay is consistently acclaimed as one of the world’s top beaches. Lessons are reasonably priced (avoid the hotspots), and while you may encounter territorial surfers in some locations, the locals are usually more than ready to expose beginners to South Africa’s enchanting waves. Put on your wetsuit and join an InterNations expat group!

4. Mother Nature at Her Finest

Few other countries are as endowed with natural wonders as South Africa. It is home to four of the world’s seven fastest mammals (lion, wildebeest, cheetah, and springbok) and 10% of all bird species. From the breathtaking Blyde River Canyon to the breath-taking Table Mountain (one of the world’s oldest), the Rainbow Nation has something to celebrate. Join one of our numerous groups in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, or Pretoria and discover this genuinely magnificent nation alongside other expats.

5. Ingenious Fast Food Concepts

As previously stated, South Africa is incredibly diverse. Apart from complicating the process of determining which language to speak, this also means that the diversity of food available is outstanding. Durban has one of the weirder offerings. Essentially, “rabbit chow” is a hollowed-out loaf of bread stuffed with delectable curry. It originated in Durban’s Indian community. Additionally, you can taste the modest vetkoek – a fried dough loaf stuffed with savory mince or sweet syrup. A stroll through the streets of any South African city reveals a variety of gourmet delicacies from many cultures and cuisines.

6. The King of Sports

This should come as no surprise, but South Africans are an extremely proud nation – particularly when it comes to sport. It is unique in that it is the only country outside the United Kingdom to have hosted the football, rugby, and cricket world cups (and has won the rugby variant twice). To play for the Springboks (South African rugby team) or Proteas (South African cricket team) is one of the highest honors a South African can achieve, and both teams draw large crowds whenever they compete. There are numerous ways to get involved in sports in South Africa, but InterNations has clubs located around the country that can introduce you to everything from trampolining to triathlons!

7. Africa’s Beer Capital

SAB Miller began as the Castle Brewery in 1888 to cater to the expanding number of miners migrating to Johannesburg during the so-called “gold rush.” It held the distinction of being the world’s second largest brewery. This has resulted in the proliferation of tiny craft brewers throughout South Africa, establishing it as the African continent’s beer capital. Summer is when beer gardens take over cities, so why not gather a few expat pals and relax with a local brew (such as Cape Town’s Triggerfish) and while away the hours?

8. Appropriate Greetings Can Be Difficult

Greetings are a regular source of contention for any traveler or expat, as they vary significantly between countries (and even within countries; see Belgium!). They are quite straightforward in South Africa, but there are a few guidelines to follow. Men naturally shake hands, so this is simple. A guy may kiss the cheek of a woman they know well (an air kiss, not a genuine kiss), although some women choose not to kiss or shake hands with males, preferring instead to nod their head. As with any situation, it’s always wise to follow your hosts’ lead and react fast to avoid making a faux pas. Additionally, you should keep in mind that greetings involve some discussion and small talk before to the start of an appointment – the weather, of course, is always a good topic of conversation.

9. The Rainbow Peoples

South Africa is often considered to be one of the most diverse countries on the planet. The majority of South Africa’s population is made up of a variety of ethnic groups. Not only that, but South Africa is also diversified in other ways: while it has a substantial disparity between affluent and poor, it also retains a sizable rural population. South Africa has had its share of difficulties in recent years as a result of the melting pot generated by all of these influences, but it remains an enthralling place to travel and get to know in detail.

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