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  • Writer's pictureSean

Things to consider before moving to South Africa

Updated: Apr 18

South Africa is a vast country five times the size of the United Kingdom, and many people refer to it as a world in a country. This is because every climate you could imagine takes place within the borders of South Africa. There are gorgeous beaches, game reserves, mountains, deserts, forests, and vibrant urban city centers.

You could live there for many years and still have plenty of things to see and do. If you are thinking about moving to South Africa, it is certainly something we can help you with. We have plenty of experience in the logistics of international removals, but before you make your final decision, there are 10 things you need to know about this magnificent country and becoming a resident there.

1. Diversity of Culture and Language

The first thing to know is that it’s a good choice for people living in the UK because you speak English in most urban areas of South Africa. It’s used a lot in politics, business, and daily city life, but the further you get out of the cities, the less likely you will come across people who can understand and speak English.

There are 11 official languages, making it difficult to learn any second language that will benefit you because it depends on where you go. At home, native South Africans do not tend to speak English. It’s only the sixth most popular home language. This equates to around 8.4% of the population using English as their language in private.

If you want to start learning some second language skills, you need to decide where you are going first and then find out the most popular language in that area. The language also has an impact on the culture. Etiquette and culture are vastly different, depending on where you are in South Africa, so you need to learn customs and cultures quickly.

The best thing you can do is admit you are a newcomer, and guidance and advice are welcome. A humble approach Is better than making many faux pas and risking causing embarrassment or offence.

2. The Healthcare

In 2018, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded a study into healthcare systems across the world, and it was published in the Lancet. It ranks South Africa's healthcare as 127th, which is not good.

This ranking puts it well below Nicaragua, Iraq, and Tajikistan, all with lower gross domestic product per person rates. Although the NHS has problems, you will simply be trading long waiting lists for even longer ones when you move to South Africa.

3. The Cost of Living is Good

Conversely, the good news is that living costs are much better than you find in the UK. You will be well off if you come from the UK with a salary representative of your life there. Despite being cities and offering everything you could want, the cost of living is about half what you would pay in the UK. One thing that isn’t cheaper is clothing, but you will soon get used to this.

4. It’s All About the Drink

First, we can dispel the myth that South African water is unclean. Provided you are in a city or urban area. The water from the tap is perfectly safe for cooking and drinking. Bottled water is a better option in rural areas simply because of the bacteria found locally. It’s not unsafe, but more that your stomach won’t be used to it as it could cause upset. The best thing to do is ask other locals if you are concerned.

Drinking alcohol is another potential area of contention. Regarding driving after drinking, the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05g. In the UK, we are used to the legal limit being 0.08g, which is 38% higher. So, you must be very careful if you plan to consume alcohol before taking to the road.

You will go over the legal limit faster than in the UK. If you are caught drunk driving, you will be arrested, and the minimum fine is around £100; you could also find yourself with a two-year custodial sentence, so it’s probably not worth taking a risk. Most people, 69% of adults, don’t drink. Of the remaining 31%, 65% fall into the binge drink category.

5. Learn the Slang

One of the first things you need to do when you get to South Africa is learn the local slang. If you don’t understand, you will find that life is confusing. Quite laid-back, so when they say now, it’s not immediately. It could be anything from several hours to days or weeks, or they may never get around to it. If something needs to happen immediately, the term is now-now; if you are given this in response to a question for action, you may be in luck. Just now is somewhere in between, and it means they probably will get to it, but possibly not as fast as you would have liked.

Other terms to become aware of, or the expression of disbelief, frustration or regret, which is eish, and the word for barbecue, which is very popular and with a good climate. Unsurprisingly, people like alfresco dining and the word for barbecue is braai.

6. Religion Plays a Big Part in Life

Religion plays a large part in life in South Africa. Only 5.2% of the population reported no religious beliefs, with 86% being Christian. Most are active Christians, attend weekly religious services, and observe practices and cultures associated with the belief. In the UK, 52% label themselves atheists and only 38% state their religion as Christian.

However, it is not a state religion, and the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. On an individual level, you should pay attention and respect any beliefs you come across when making new friends and fitting into society. A little-known fact is that blasphemy is illegal in South Africa. However, it is not often a law that is enforced.

7. Embrace the Amazing Culinary Delights

Food is delicious in South Africa, although it is slanted towards carnivores. The communal barbecues or braais are held as social events and are well worth attending. It gives you an excellent opportunity to experience many different types of meat, including the traditional sausages made by the farmers known as boerewors. Air-dried meat you would probably recognise as jerky is trendy and made from game and beef.

These are excellent for snacking on and are considered relatively healthy. Another traditional dish you should sample is bunny chow, and although this is not a native dish, it was brought over by Asian immigrants. It has become immensely popular. You take a loaf of bread and hollow out the inside, using the crust as a bowl for curry and bobotie. The latter is made with minced meat, simmered with spices, dried fruit and herbs, then topped with milk and eggs before finally being baked.

8. Football, Cricket and Rugby Are National Games

If you’re a sports fan you will be pleased to hear that rugby, cricket and football are all very popular. Football probably has the edge, and South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup. In 1992, they hosted the African Cup of Nations and were triumphant in lifting it. It is thought that there are around 1.5 million footballers registered in the country, some of whom have even been seen in the Premier League over here. Lucas Radebe, Steven Pienaar and Benni McCarthy all hail from South Africa.

If you prefer rugby, you will find plenty of local clubs. In 2019, South Africa was triumphant over England in the Rugby World Cup, making them consistent winners and enabling them to claim the title of joint most successful country overall in the history of the Rugby World Cup. Their cricket teams are also going from strength to strength, and the country is very proud of its sporting heroes.

9. The Game Reserves are Legendary

You are unlikely to be in South Africa for long before the urge to head out to the game reserves and national parks takes hold. One of the most famous is the Kruger National Park, which is home to a wide variety of fantastic creatures, including leopards, elephants, rhinos, lions, cheaters, buffalo, vultures, and eagles, and, of course, the tremendous parklands that these beautiful creatures call home or stunning, featuring red dunes and tropical forests.

There are also wetland parks where you can see crocodiles in their natural habitat and spectacular coral reefs. However, any visit comes with a caveat that you must remember the sheer power of these animals and respect the rules at all times.

10. Tipping is Required

Finally, tipping etiquette is essential in South Africa, and the minimum tip should be 10% at a high-end restaurant. Still, 20% would be equally acceptable if you find a service excellent. In situations like hotel stays, ensure you are tipping around £2.50 per person daily, which helps you.

The takeaway

South Africa could be the perfect country for you to start a new life, and we are more than happy to provide a no-obligation quote if you are looking to relocate and need to move all of your belongings. Pinnacle removals are experts at domestic and international removals and we can take care of every detail for you. All you have to do is move yourself and your loved ones and wait for your belongings to arrive at the other end.

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