Frequently Asked Questions about South Africa
South Africa lags behind the US and Europe in terms of fast, affordable Internet access but has adequate infrastructure that will help expats with keeping in touch without too much hassle.
What sort of goods can't be bought in South Africa?
Just about every home comfort or local speciality – from French truffles to German newspapers – can be found here if expats look hard enough, especially in the cities. However, with high import duties and limited demand, prices for these items will be high.
How do I go about buying a car in South Africa, and what should I expect to pay?
Buying a car is a straightforward process in South Africa provided it is bought from a reputed dealer, who will arrange for a compulsory roadworthy test and registration. Required documents include a current driving licence, proof of address in South Africa and passport. Cars are relatively expensive in South Africa, however, some Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW vehicles are manufactured in the country, provide better value and are cheaper to maintain.
How bad is crime in South Africa?
A lot of crime in South Africa finds its root cause in a society that is deeply divided by income and race. On the one hand, this means expats are most likely to encounter crimes such as theft but, on the other, crime is not restricted to certain areas, and therefore an overall awareness is advised.
How much will affirmative action affect expats?
It depends on whether an expat is seeking a job or moving to take up a job. Companies with over 50 employees in South Africa are penalised if they do not hire a certain proportion of previously disadvantaged staff. This can limit white job seekers, but should not impact expats with essential skills as they are exempt from such regulations.
Is it worth learning an African language?
Expats don't need to learn Afrikaans, Xhosa or Zulu to get by. However by making the effort to do so, they will deepen their experience of the country, given that 70 percent of the population speak one of these three languages as a mother tongue.
Is it affordable and easy to hire domestic staff?
Many expats find the affordability of domestic staff and nannies to be a big advantage of living in South Africa. There are numerous agencies to assist with screening and recruiting. Expect to pay in the region of 3,000 ZAR per month for a full time domestic helper and around 4,000 ZAR for a trained nanny.
If I am paying tax in my home country am I being taxed twice?
Probably not. South Africa has income tax treaties that exempt expats from statutory tax rates for certain types of income. They may also be able to claim foreign tax credits when they submit their home country tax return if they have already paid tax in South Africa.