Preparing to move to South Africa? Check out our expat guide, from education to transport, to make sure you’re fully prepared. You can then find out how Barclays can help.




As of December 2015, the population of South Africa is 54.9 million

Source: Statistics South Africa

Main languages

IsiZulu 22.7%, IsiXhosa 16%, Afrikaans 13.5%, English 9.6%, Sepedi 9.1%, Setswana 8%, Sesotho 7.6%, Xitsonga 4.5%, siSwati 2.5%, Tshivenda 2.4%, isiNdebele 2.1% “English is generally understood across the country, being the language of business, politics and the media, and is regarded as the country's lingua franca.” 



The main religion of South Africa is Christian

Source: Media Club South Africa

Time zone

Central Africa Time Zone (CAT) is GMT+2:00

Popular employment sectors

The key sectors that contribute to South Africa’s GDP and employment are manufacturing, retail, financial services, communications, mining, tourism and agriculture.

Source: Media Club South Africa


Most expats who are staying for more than 90 days will need to apply for a visa before arriving in South Africa at a Visa Facilitation Centre in the UK.

Source: South African High Commission - UK

Political system

The political system of South Africa is a Republic

Source: CIA World Factbook


Voltage - 230V 50Hz. Plug type C/D/M/N

Source: World Standards


South African Rand (ZAR)

International dialing code

The international dialling code for South Africa is +27

Internet domain

The internet domain for South Africa is .za

Social media

Facebook is South Africa’s most popular channel, with more than 11 million users. However, visual mediums YouTube and Instagram are also hugely popular. Homegrown platform Mxit was once very widely used, but numbers are dropping year on year.

Source: Incite Group


In South Africa, Broadband is widespread, but not universally available. Some homes still connect via dial-up. Many users also connect by wireless to the internet. The market is complex and developing quickly. In 2015, average connection speed was lower than the worldwide average, at 3.6Mbps.

Source: Traveller24

Mobile network coverage

Voice and text mobile signal is readily available across South Africa. While 3G is widespread (depending on the network you choose), 4G is limited to metropolitan areas and certain networks [2015].

Emergency numbers

Emergencies 10111 (or 112 from a mobile phone). Ambulance 10177.


Healthcare in South Africa varies from the most basic primary health care, offered free by the state, to highly specialised, hi-tech health services available in the both the public and private sector. An assortment of local medical aid providers and international health insurance companies are available to expats. Local providers offer various schemes and charge monthly premiums on a progressive scale. Most local health insurance providers in South Africa require that claims be pre-authorised; a stipulation which makes it necessary for people to keep their medical aid card in their wallet.



Traditional South African food is generally cooked over an open fire or in a three-legged pot (or potjie). Other food is also popular, such as a barbeque or 'Braai', red meat, seafood and biltong.

Source: Media Club South Africa


South Africans are usually casually dressed. Business casual is common, but check with the company.



In bars and restaurants, a standard 10-15% is common.
Taxi drivers expect to be tipped around 10%.
Hotel porters will expect R5-10.

Source: Travel CNN

Education system

The South African education system consists of three types of schools: independent schools, government schools and governing body-funded public schools.

School spans 13 years or grades, from grade 0, otherwise known as reception year. Education is compulsory from age 7 (grade 1) to 15 (or completion of grade 9).

Sources: Media Club South Africa, Independent Schools Association of South Africa

Top universities

  1. University of Cape Town.
  2. University of Witwatersrand.
  3. Stellenbosch University.
  4. University of Pretoria.
  5. University of Western Cape


Cost of childcare

Most families in South Africa have domestic help. Minimum wage is R1,066 per month in urban areas, but this is hardly enough to live on. For childcare, the recommended wage begins at R1800.

Source: Expatica South Africa

Cost of a nanny

A typical monthly wage for a nanny is between R4000 and R5500.

Source: Super Nannies

Family activities

A typical meal for 2 people with three courses in a mid-range restaurant costs around R380.

Source: Numbeo


Any valid driver's licence is accepted in South Africa, provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is printed or authenticated in English. “Keep left, pass right” is the general rule of driving in South Africa. This also applies to highway (freeway) driving.


Train ticket costs

With Metrorail, expect to pay around R6.50-R17 for single journeys in urban areas, or R12.50-R22-50 return, with monthly discounted passes offered between R135-344. Longer journeys with Shosholoza Meyl range from R90-260 for a single ticket, with longer journeys up to R630, from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

Sources: South African Railways,

Cost of a taxi journey

Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) R15.
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) R10.
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) R50

Source: Numbeo

Main airports

Home insurance

Bricks and mortar insurance will probably be a term of your mortgage. Costs can vary widely based on supplier and property value.

Source: Insurance Explained

Car insurance

Car insurance is not mandatory. It can be expensive and premiums vary greatly.

Source: Insurance Journal

Utility bills

Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment R1,078.90

Source: Numbeo

National Insurance Contributions

When you live and work in the UK, you make National Insurance Contributions (NICS), which mean you’re entitled to claim a state pension at retirement and other benefits. If you move abroad and stop paying UK NICS, the amount of state pension and other benefits you can claim when you return to the UK could be affected. However, you can make voluntary payments to top up your contributions. There are two types of contribution that you can make, either Class 2 or Class 3.

Source: GOV.UK

The information above has been collated from a range of reputable sources. Some of the lifestyle information may be anecdotal or the opinion of the source and is therefore a guide only. If living abroad and planning to return to the UK, you may want to continue making National Insurance payments in the UK to contribute to a state pension. Visit for more information.

What's next?

If you are thinking of moving to South Africa then Barclays can offer you the following services: Banking, Savings, Foreign Exchange and our Relationship service.

If you would like to discuss these services further, please call us on +44 (0)1624 684316*

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