Your guide to expat life in South Africa

An economic powerhouse on the southern tip of Africa


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South Africa’s fantastic climate, spectacular natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle are the main attractions for expats from all corners of the world

With 11 national languages and 9 provinces, the post-apartheid ‘rainbow nation’ is culturally and geographically diverse. Most expats live in Johannesburg, Pretoria or Cape Town – the country’s financial and political centres.

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South Africa highlights



South African rand

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Quick Facts

  • Population: 58 million
  • Capital Cities: Cape Town (legislative), Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial)
  • Neighbouring South Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nambia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
  • Main languages: South Africa has 11 official languages. English is the most commonly used. Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu are also widely spoken.
  • Time: GMT+2

Whether you're going to live in South Africa, or just visiting, a car is essential for both safety and convenience.

Steve, HSBC Expat employee

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Relocation Checklist

Our checklists give you a comprehensive overview of the kinds of things you need to do before you move and also what to consider in your first few months in your new country or region.

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Next public holiday

Heritage Day

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It's a wonderful country to raise children, and the culture is very diverse.

Expat Explorer respondent

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Open an Expat Bank Account with HSBC Expat. Find out more
Open an Expat Bank Account with HSBC Expat. Find out more