Moving and Living in South Africa

From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the lively bustle of the souks, the city presents a fantastic ensemble of attractions and activities for its visitors and residents.

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South Africa Map

A land of golden beaches, jagged mountains, rich safari plains and barren deserts; South Africa encompasses all these things. The teeming wildlife is as diverse and spectacular as the scenery, with everything from elusive leopards and plodding elephants to playful penguins.

Moving and living in South Africa

South Africa’s cities are also enormously varied, with hustling Johannesburg at its heart, and cosmopolitan Cape Town an enclave of European chic at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. In between you can lose yourself for days on safari in the bush or explore quaint isolated towns breaking up the arid Karoo wilderness. The hot and humid seaside fun of Durban with its even hotter curries is another sharp contrast to the scattering of sedate resorts lining the pretty south coast Garden Route.

Abundant wildlife is South Africa’s major attraction, with the world-famous Kruger National Park delivering uniquely African sights, sounds, smells and memories. At the top end of the scale are luxurious world-class lodges with private butlers and game rangers who practically deliver the animals to your door. Travellers with more normal salaries can stay in the numerous ‘tented villages’ with tents permanently pitched on a raised wooden platform near communal facilities.

If the landscape sounds diverse, wait until you meet the people. South Africa boasts 11 official languages, mostly drawn from its indigenous population, while the colonialist legacy stirred Afrikaners, English and Indians into the mix. That blend has created a wonderful array of food, music and culture that offers something for everyone.

It’s affectionately known as the Rainbow Nation, although the bright racially harmonious future it once represented has been tarnished by yet another form of diversity – the vast and increasing economic gap between rich and poor. On the drive in from most airports the roads are flanked by shanty towns, often with communal toilets and electricity pilfered from the overhead power lines. The legacy of Apartheid, or racial segregation, is still hugely evident, and a visit to Johannesburg’s moving Apartheid museum and a tour of a vibrant township like Soweto are cultural highlights.

Moving To South Africa Sunset With Giraffe and Traditional Village
Moving To South Africa - Cape Town Waterfront Table Mountain

In stark contrast, the city centres are glowingly modern with bold new architecture interspersed between colonial buildings of the past. Cape Town has been chosen as the World Design Capital for 2014, heralding a year-long programme of design-focused events, while iconic Table Mountain has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, despite being extremely old.

On the political and economic side, the country has lost its way since the glory days presided over by near-saint Nelson Mandela. Yet there’s an underlying spirit of optimism and a can-do attitude that will save South Africa from sliding too far down the rainbow. The 2010 World Cup proved what the country can achieve when everybody pulls together, and left a legacy of improved transport, accommodation and sports facilities that benefit visitors and locals alike. As for the image of crime, it’s an urban legend that a car has been invented that shoots out flames to toast approaching hijackers but visitors should follow the usual precautions about safety. Just don’t let paranoia sap your enjoyment. A streetwise sense of humour keeps South African hearts beating faster and instils a delightfully warped sense of achievement from living on the edge.

South Africa’s cities are enormously varied, with hustling Johannesburg at its heart, and cosmopolitan Cape Town an enclave of European chic at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

Moving your household goods to South Africa

Visa and Immigration Information

When travelling or moving to South Africa, make sure your passport and visas are correct and valid. Check these links to find out some of the latest requirements.

Consulate / Embasy in Australia

Contact the South African High Commission by visiting Corner State Circle and Rhodes Place, Yarramumla, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia. Phone +612 6272 7300 Fax: +612 6273 1033 Email or follow the link to the Embassy website:

Visa Information

Visa information can be found here:

Passport Information

Passport information can be found here:

Immigration Information

Immigration information can be found here:

Citizenship Information

Citizenship information can be found here:

General Information

Please click the following link:

All about South Africa – Moving to a new lifestyle

Moving To South Africa - Zebra, Jacaranda and Coastal Bay

South Africa is located at the southernmost region of Africa, with a long coastline that stretches more than 2,500 km (1,553 mi) and along
two oceans (the South Atlantic and the Indian). At 1,219,912 km2 (471,011 sq mi), South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world
and is comparable in size to Colombia. Mafadi in the Drakensberg at 3,450 m (11,320 ft) is the highest peak in South Africa. Excluding the
Prince Edward Islands, the country lies between latitudes 22° and 35°S, and longitudes 16° and 33°E.

Full country name: South Africa
Area: 1,221,037sq. km
Population: 54,002,000
People: 79.2% Black African 8.9% Coloured 8.9% White
2.5% Indian or Asian 0.5% other
Language: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu.
Religion: 79.8% Christian 1.5% Muslim 1.2% Hindu 0.3% Traditional African religion 0.2% Judaism 15.1% no religious affiliation 0.6% Other
Government: Constitutional parliamentary republic
President: Jacob Zuma
Vice President: Cyril Ramaphosa
Major industries: Mineral raw materials (coal, diamonds, platinum), agricultural produce, chemical products and machinery.
Major trading partners: UK, US, Germany, Italy and China
Health risks: No vaccinations are essential. However: * Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal are low risk malaria areas during December-April. ** A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one year old arriving from an infected area.
Time: SAST (UTC+2)
Electricity: 220/230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs have three fat round pins.
County code: +27
Mobile Phone network: GSM
Weights & measures: Metric with local variations

The interior of South Africa consists of a vast, in most places, almost flat, plateau with an altitude of between 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and 2,100m (6,900 ft), highest in the east, sloping gently downwards towards the west and north, and slightly less so to the south and south-west. This plateau is surrounded by the Great Escarpment whose eastern, and highest stretch is known as the Drakensberg.

The south and south-western parts of the plateau (at approximately 1100–1800 m above sea level), and the adjoining plain below (at approximately 700–800 m above sea level – see map on the right) is known as the Great Karoo, which consists of sparsely populated scrubland. To the north the Great Karoo fades into the even drier and more arid Bushmanland, which eventually becomes the Kalahari desert in the very north-west of the country. The mid-eastern and highest part of the plateau is known as the Highveld. This relatively well-watered area is home to a great proportion of the country’s commercial farmlands, and contains its largest conurbation (Gauteng Province). To the north of Highveld, from about the 25° 30’ S line of latitude, the plateau slopes downwards into the Bushveld, which ultimately gives way to the Limpopo lowlands or Lowveld.

South Africa has a generally temperate climate, due in part to being surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides, by its location in the climatically milder southern hemisphere and due to the average elevation rising steadily towards the north (towards the equator) and further inland. Due to this varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. The climatic zones range from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean. Winters in South Africa occur between June and August.

The extreme southwest has a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers, hosting the famous Fynbos biome of shrubland and thicket. This area also produces much of the wine in South Africa. This region is also particularly known for its wind, which blows intermittently almost all year. The severity of this wind made passing around the Cape of Good Hope particularly treacherous for sailors, causing many shipwrecks. Further east on the south coast, rainfall is distributed more evenly throughout the year, producing a green landscape. This area is popularly known as the Garden Route.

The Free State is particularly flat because it lies centrally on the high plateau. North of the Vaal River, the Highveld becomes better watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat. Johannesburg, in the centre of the Highveld, is at 1,740 m (5,709 ft) and receives an annual rainfall of 760 mm (29.9 in). Winters in this region are cold, although snow is rare.

The high Drakensberg Mountains, which form the south-eastern escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in winter. The coldest place in South Africa is Sutherland in the western Roggeveld Mountains, where midwinter temperatures can reach as low as −15 °C (5 °F). The deep interior has the hottest temperatures: a temperature of 51.7 °C (125.06 °F) was recorded in 1948 in the Northern Cape Kalahari near Upington but this temperature is unofficial and was not recorded with standard equipment, the official highest temperature is 48.8 °C (119.84 °F) at Vioolsdrif in January 1993

The South African black majority still has a substantial number of rural inhabitants who lead largely impoverished lives. It is among these people that cultural traditions survive most strongly; as blacks have become increasingly urbanised and Westernised, aspects of traditional culture have declined. Members of the middle class, who are predominantly white but whose ranks include growing numbers of black, coloured and Indian people, have lifestyles similar in many respects to that of people found in Western Europe, North America and Australasia.

South Africa’s biggest cities are very much westernised and hold few cultural surprises for Europeans. Handshaking is the usual form of greeting, sometimes in a more elaborate African handshake that foreigners will pick up readily. Casual wear is widely acceptable, especially in less formal Cape Town. Smoking is prohibited in public buildings and on public transport.

The presence of so many diverse ethnic backgrounds certainly adds some spice outside of the main business centres. Rural areas most likely to be visited by travellers include Zulu land in KwaZulu Natal where communities are based in small traditional villages with round huts (rondevals) and a few hustling, bustling relatively poor towns. In Durban you’ll be entertained by beach-front Zulu dancers wearing full animal skin tribal regalia. A more modern form of culture is the now commercialised Gum Boot dance, performed in wellingtons and mining outfits and developed in men’s only mining hostels when entertainment was scarce.

Around two thirds of South Africans are Christian of some form including Catholics, Anglicans, and Dutch Reformed or African independent churches. Many Africans believe in traditional healers called sangomas, who give readings – including throwing the bones – and provide spiritual and emotional counselling and dispense African traditional medicines or muti. There are also significant Hindu, Muslim and Jewish communities. Johannesburg has areas that the descendants of former immigrants have made their own, including Fordsburg for the Indian community and Chinatown in Cyrildene.

Jan 1 New Year’s Day Public Holiday
Mar 20 March equinox Season
Mar 21 Human Rights Day Public Holiday
Apr 18 Good Friday Public Holiday
Apr 19 Holy Saturday Observance
Apr 20 Easter Sunday Public Holiday
Apr 21 Family Day Public Holiday
Apr 27 Freedom Day Public Holiday
Apr 28 Freedom Day observed Public Holiday
May 1 Workers’ Day Public Holiday
May 7 Public holiday Public Holiday
May 11 Mother’s Day Observance
Jun 15 Father’s Day Observance
Jun 16 Youth Day Public Holiday
Jun 21 June Solstice Season
Aug 9 National Women’s Day Public Holiday
Sep 23 September equinox Season
Sep 24 Heritage Day Public Holiday
Dec 16 Day of Reconciliation Public Holiday
Dec 21 December Solstice Season
Dec 24 Christmas Eve Observance
Dec 25 Christmas Day Public Holiday
Dec 26 Day of Goodwill Public Holiday
Dec 31 New Year’s Eve Observance

Mobile phone
Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies. Coverage extends to most of the country except the very remote
areas. GPRS for data coverage is also widespread. Airport kiosks can sell you a phone or local SIM card if you show some ID.

Internet cafes are common in towns throughout the country and wireless is available at airports and in upmarket hotels. Most hotels charge
for connectivity and it’s far cheaper to find the nearest internet café.

Airmail takes a minimum of two days to Europe, three days to USA and four days to Australia.
Post office hours
Generally Mon-Fri 0830-1530; Sat 0800-1100; longer in airports and shopping malls. The smaller post offices close for lunch 1300-1400.

South Africa’s many broadcasters and publications reflect the diversity of the population. Freedom of the press is constitutionally protected
and many newspapers have begun to flex their muscles with stronger and more critical political analysis. That includes fighting to retain
their freedom, as a new bill that threatens to curb that right has been tabled. The main English language newspapers are The Daily Sun,
The Star, Sowetan, The Citizen and weekly Mail & Guardian. International papers are widely available in hotels and airports, and a select few
in newsagents and bookshops. One of the most well-respected and analytical news websites is The Daily Maverick (www.thedailymaverick.

The state-run SABC and commercial networks broadcast nationally, and many viewers subscribe to pay-tv operated by Multichoice.
The proliferation of commercial and community radio stations includes Highveld, Jacaranda, 702 Talk Radio and Classic FM.

Office hours
There is no single office opening time and it varies from business to business, generally from either 0800 or 0900 to 1630 or 1700, Mon-Fri.

The South African economy dominates Sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture is strong enough for virtual self-sufficiency in foodstuffs: livestock is
reared extensively, and large amounts of sugar, maize and cereals are produced. Wine and fruit are exported in large quantities.
The industrial sector has traditionally been based on mining as one of the world’s largest exporters of gold, platinum and diamonds. It also
has considerable deposits of coal, chromium, manganese and vanadium. The telecommunication networks have seen major improvements
in recent years as undersea cables have brought international bandwidth in larger amounts at cheaper prices.

After decades of double-digit inflation, the period from 2004 to the onset of the global financial downturn was marked by healthy growth
and inflation of under 5%. In the run up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup a construction boom benefitted the country and inflation was capped
to 5.7% in 2010. The inflation rate was recorded at 5.5% in September 2012.

Unemployment remains a major problem, with an official figure of 25.5% in the third quarter 2012, but in many rural and urban townships
it is estimated to be much higher. Other long-term problems include poverty, a high level of HIV/AIDS infection and an inadequate
infrastructure for public transport and electricity.

The country still has a legacy two-tiered economy; one rivalling developed countries and a more basic informal sector, leading to an uneven
distribution of wealth and income. South Africa is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African
Union (AU).

South Africa has three major trade show, conference and exhibition venues: Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Cape Town
International Convention Centre, and the International Convention Centre in Durban. Smaller venues exist in the hotels and universities of
other major towns. South African Tourism provides information for conference organisers and delegates

Planning on moving to South Africa? OSS World Wide Movers can provide a complete door to door moving service with safe and secure packing for your valued belongings.

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