Why South Africa

Why South Africa? South Africa is going through some tough times. The Rand has still not recovered from the low exchange rate against the US dollar, the interest rate has been cut for the first time in five years to 6.75% (base rate) this July and the electricity tariffs have risen in July again. The inflation rate has lowered to 4.8% in August 2017 and thus in the target range of 3-6%, however, the GDP has dropped to a 2.5% (quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter 2017) and the unemployment stands at a new high of 27.7%. Many tourists and foreigners are less than impressed with the constant news about corruption, the immigration still hinder further expansion of tourism and the exorbitantly high crime rate. Only the favourable exchange rate is seen a big plus by those earning in dollars, pound or euros. Otherwise investment seems to struggle quite a bit as the business confidence has dropped in a 32-year low. Read more here.

This all does not make for much positive news, but there is still a faint light at the horizon! Let us show you why we think the country at the tip of the African continent is still one of the favourite destinations worldwide for tourists, visitors and business travellers and why expats still should consider South Africa a great destination for working and living in this beautiful country. 

Why South Africa? Living in South Africa

Foreigners from all over the world live and work in the country and most of them feel very happy to raise their kids here as various expat surveys show. Tourists and travellers love the fabulous lifestyle South Africa offers. South Africa is renowned for the sunny blue skies, a stunning landscape providing rich scenery and endless views, acclaimed cuisine and of course, for its friendly people. 

And expats in South Africa enjoy this every day! Reading through the various international travel forums, it becomes clear that many international visitors praise this country not only for its scenic beauty but for its warm and welcoming people and many South African expats living abroad seem to get soon homesick and wonder why they ever left as the grass often is not greener 'on the other side'.

We have gone through the newest accolades and expat ratings and will show you here what makes living in South Africa so enjoyable:

Why South Africa?

South Africa is rated among the more popular countries for expat experience for families (33rd out of 46 in the HSBC expatexplorer survey 2017) and ranks quite positive for:

  • Prime accommodation and housing options (8th)
  • Making friends (8th)
  • Good childcare facilities (8th)
  • First-class private healthcare for families (13th)
  • Integration for families and personal experience (13th)
  • Work/Life Balance (21th)

       Source: HSBC Expat Explorer, 2017

(Ranking of 46 expat destinations worldwide)

Why South Africa and what makes South Africa one of the favourite destinations for travellers and visitors? Read here some awesome accolades and awards which South Africa and its major cities received have received recently.

Why South Africa? - South Africa Accolades

South Africa...

  • ... regained the title as Africa's biggest economy in 2016 and the country is also named among the African countries who will overcome challenges and succeed in 2017 by Atlantic Council.
  • ... has been voted the third place in 'The best country in the world' reader awards by the UK newspaper 'The Telegraph' in 2016.
  • ...sports Africa's leading resort with the majestic Sun City Resort as well as Africa's leading meeting and conference centre, the ICC in Durban and Africa's leading airport, O.R. Tambo in Johannesburg, as acknowledged in the World Travel Awards 2016.
  • ...is named the 'most beautiful country in the world' by BuzzFeed in 2015.
  • ...has been voted as the 'World's best Safari Destination' by World Travel Awards in 2014.
  • is voted the Number One 'Dream Destination of the World' by WYAN in 2013.
  • ...has one of the top performing housing markets in the world in 2013, according to The Economist.
  • ...is recognised as the best sports tourism destination worldwide in 2011, as awarded by the World Travel Awards.
  • ...is rated among the top ten countries for good practice in protecting investors in business in 2011 by the World Bank.
  • …is rated the third friendliest country in the world by Forbes Magazine in 2011.

Cape Town...

  • ... has been named among the top 10 cities in the world in 2017 by Lonely Planet. 
  • ...has been named the 'Best City in the World' in 'The Telegraph Travel Survey' in 2016.
  • ...has been voted the top spot in 'Best Food Cities in the world' in Conde Nast Traveler  Reader Choice Awards 2016.
  • ...is ranked as 'tenth best destination in the world' in the Tripadvisor awards 2015.
  • ...has with Camps Bay Beach, the second best beach in the world, according to the TripAdvisor Awards 2015.
  • ...has the best coffee shop in the world, called Truth Coffee, according to The Telegraph in 2015.
  • …is the 'Number One' city on the '52 Places to Go in 2014' by New York Times
  • ...is among the top three cities worldwide for ‘Best Travel in 2014’ in Lonely Planet.
  • ...is awarded ‘Best City 2013’ in the world in the Telegraph Travel Awards.
  • …has been chosen as 'World Design Capital 2014' and attracts thousands of visitors for this event.
  • …is among the ten most loved cities in the world, according to CNN in 2012.
  • …offers iconic Table Mountain which was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012.



  • ...and its International Convention Centre were lauded in the World Travel Awards 2017 as previously also in 2016 as the best meeting and conference destination in Africa.
  • ...the city's King Shaka Airport is ranked as the third best domestic airport in the world, after Tokio and Shanghai, by Skytrax Awards in 2015. 
  • ...is named as the second best luxury housing investment in the emerging markets by Christie's Real Estate in 2015.
  • ...has been voted as New 7 Wonder City of the World in 2014.
  • …is ranked as the top South African city for quality of living, as stated in the worldwide Quality of Living Survey by Mercer in 2014.
  • …is rated the 'Best City for Winter Travel 2013' by New York Magazine.
  • …has an international conference centre which is 'Africa's Leading Meetings and Conference Centre 2012' as per World Travel Awards.


  • ... Airport O.R. Tambo is voted best airport in Africa in the WorldTravel Awards 2016
  • ...is named among the top 50 places to travel to and visit in 2015. Travel + Leisure in 2015.
  • ...is one of the best cities to live on the African continent, according to Travelstart in 2014.
  • ...is rated the second most inspiring city of the world in 2014 and comes in after Hong Kong in the Good City Index
  • ...has with the Apartheid Museum, one of the best museums in the world, according to TripAdvisor Awards 2015.
  • …is the most popular destination with international travellers worldwide in 2013 according to MasterCard.
  • …is with Durban and Cape Town one of the least expensive cities worldwide according to Mercer in 2012. 

Why South Africa in my opinion...

I live with my family in South Africa now for over a decade, we have seen lots of changes, and also lots of improvements. The road infrastructure is improving with the implementation of public transport facilities and opportunities for sustainable energy sources are being more intensely sourced and also implemented at a faster pace than previously. The South African people are now more aware of xenophobic tendencies and racism and discuss this topic more openly than ever before. The communities grow stronger with many local private initiatives helping to grow the educational standards and improving living conditions for the disadvantage communities through a variety of measures. And for us, living in South Africa is as good as it gets. We miss our families overseas but we love living in South Africa. Our 'expat' children are raised very differently to what they would experience in daily routines in our home country. I think to live in a foreign country and being confronted with a diverse environment, diverse cultures and diverse options, benefits all of us. We all learn from each other when we live, work and play together. So embrace life and make the most of your stay in wonderful South Africa!

'Why South Africa' Article by Regina Graeff, owner of ExpatCapeTown.com and co-author of the 'Living in South Africa' expat guide book. Available at major bookstores and online at Takealot.com and Amazon.com. Join us on Facebook 'LivinginSouthAfrica' or on Twitter @expatlivinginsa

Image Credits for Why South Africa: shutterstock.com, SA Tourism, own images/canva design for why south africa blog image

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