South Africa

Living in South Africa?

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Living in South Africa

South Africa has much more in store for expats than you might expect. It’s impossible to make broad categorizations about the countless facets of living in South Africa, which is famous for its diversity — best go experience it yourself! Let us give you a brief overview.

At a Glance:

  • South Africa has eleven official languages. Although it is not the most commonly spoken, English still serves as a diplomatic language between various ethnicities and expats.
  • The country does not have a free national healthcare system in place. Before relocating, make sure that you have bought the correct health insurance coverage. Otherwise you will be left liable for uncovered treatment costs.
  • The water hygiene standards are high, and it is safe to drink tap water. South Africa also has good food hygiene standards, so feel free to try all the delicious street vendor’s dishes, locally grown produce, and dairy products!
  • Unfortunately, crime is a serious problem in South Africa, and despite the country working hard to tackle this problem, petty crimes, and more serious felonies, including acts of violence and sexual assault, are relatively frequent.

Many people around the globe may only have a somewhat fuzzy notion of what life in modern day South Africa looks like. For a very long time, the one thing most people knew about South Africa was apartheid, the system of governmentally backed and enforced segregation along racial lines. Fortunately, this is now history, and the nation has been working on establishing a positive image internationally.

A Country Building Its Image

The FIFA World Cup in 2010 gave the world a glimpse of modern South Africa. However, it was also criticized for failing to portray what living in South Africa means for large parts of the population. So, what is it like living in South Africa? The country is diverse in all possible aspects, from language to religion; which comes as a result of the many ethnicities unified in this nation. In South Africa, you can find some of the most wealthy and progressive parts of the African continent, but also some of its most dire problems. One thing is certain, however: expats will rarely experience life elsewhere like it is in South Africa.

Multi-ethnic and Multi-lingual


The reality, however, is that color divide still prevails in terms of education and income: the black population is, statistically speaking, still the most underprivileged group within South African society. Nonetheless, change does come step by step, and South Africa has already successfully begun to lose the aftertaste of decades of governmental inequality and segregation through a series of countermeasures.

Today, around 80 percent of South Africans identify as black Africans. This is a culturally and linguistically very diverse group, consisting, among others, of the ethnic groups of Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Bapedi, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, and Ndebele peoples. The white population, who is an equally diverse group, constitute about 8 percent of the inhabitants. Since 1994, the white population in the country has steadily declined. This is partly due to the low birth rate, but also because of the high number of white people leaving South Africa for various reasons, including the high crime rate that torments the country.


With the diverse ethnic roots of the South African people, it does not come by surprise that the nation acknowledges eleven official languages. While it is not the most common first language among the population, English still serves as a diplomatic language between the various ethnicities and expats, making it an important part of daily life. The South African accent is a very clear and decipherable one, so there should be very few, if any, communication problems.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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