Taking the decision to up sticks and move abroad is a momentous one at the best of times, and will involve a complete life change. There will inevitably be a period of total upheaval, but after the dust has settled and you’ve managed to hang on to your sanity and keep things in perspective, you should be all set to begin the new life of your dreams. Following the move itself, relatively minor matters such as arranging house and motor insurance and integrating into a new social life will fall into place naturally. When moving to a place like South Africa the idea is that the benefits will comprehensively outweigh the drawbacks.
The big draw of course is the climate and scenery. The sunshine is practically guaranteed in most districts of SA and the climate is pleasant throughout the year.
If you avoid the more fashionable suburbs of cities like Cape Town and Durban, where prices go through the roof, you also get good value for money and can live on about a third of the money you’d spend on essentials in the likes of London. This is especially the case if you’re looking to move to a rural area with a big plot or a new urban development.
The typical rural property in SA is luxuriantly spacious and solid, with plenty of room to move around. There are numerous architectural styles to choose from as well, a real change from the monotonous uniformity of the average UK homes. The property market out here is also very buoyant and the purchase procedures are perfectly safe unless you’re completely reckless. If you decide not to buy you can rent instead, as unlike in the UK there are caps placed on the rents landlords can charge in line with the area and complete protection for the tenant.
On the daily cost of living side, local services and tradesmen are readily available and charge realistic rates for their work, and good food and wine are to be had relatively cheaply, with regular dining out a common feature of SA life. The public transport network is also good and relatively cheap, although telecommunications costs are about the same as in the UK.
Of course there are also going to be a few drawbacks to factor in, such as slightly higher purchase costs for property and the higher crime rate in some of the urban areas. Some of the roads too are notoriously dangerous, but information is readily available about where these are and you can take steps to avoid them when making plans. The same goes for traffic congestion and the relatively high pollution in some cities, and the dire winter weather in some areas.
As with much else, common sense and planning can save the day. In all the excitement, for example, you might be tempted to take on too big a mortgage or get loaded with high restoration costs for your dream home. Too large a property can involve a lot of work, although hiring staff in SA is pretty cheap. If you’re moving here for more freedom you don’t want to end up being overworked and struggling with repayments, even if you are in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings.
Lastly, if you get homesick, flights to and from the UK are long and expensive, although the costs are starting to slowly creep down.
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Freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.