Iternational Moving to South Africa from UAE

Moving to South Africa

In Moving Guides by Steven Kane

We are pleased to provide you with our guide on moving to South Africa from Dubai, UAE. Please make note of the special links at the foot of this page.

Capital City: Pretoria
Population: 53 Million
Official Language(s): English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu (and seven others)
Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
Time: GMT +2
Internet domain: .za
International dialing code: +27


As its name suggests South Africa is the southern most African country. With a coastline stretching over 2,500 km and a landmass of over 1.2 million square km, it is the 24th largest country in the world.

South Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological human fossil sites on earth showing that modern humans have inhabited South Africa for around 170,000 years. However the main tribal groups of today (Zulu and Xhosa) arrived from various parts of Africa around 1500 years ago.

The European arrival began as the Cape of Good Hope became established as a naval base. First the Dutch and then the British controlled this area. A series of wars broke out during the 1800’s including the Cape Frontier wars and later the Boer wars.

By 1961 the country became a republic and the government legislated for the continuation of apartheid. Finally after decades of upheaval and change, in 1994 apartheid legislation was repealed and the ANC won the first universal election and have been in power ever since.

Post-apartheid South Africa has not been without its problems, particularly in the areas of unemployment and security, however with its mixed economy the second largest in Africa and a GDP per capita which is relatively high for Africa, the county continues to develop.

Expats in South Africa

Since most expats move to South Africa for economic/career reasons, the urbanised areas of Johannesburg/Pretoria Metro, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth are very popular.

South Africa enjoys a mostly temperate climate much like the Mediterranean, although the Eastern part of the country is more sub-Saharan Africa. This climate does encourage an outdoor lifestyle and many South Africans enjoy an active sporty life.

There are many expat clubs and groups to make the transition to your new home much easier. Sport plays a major role in many people’s lives with football, cricket and rugby particularly popular. Of course the traditional South African Braai, (BBQ meat over hot coals – normally accompanied by alcohol), is a great way to integrate in a relaxed atmosphere.

Personal safety can be a concern, particularly in certain areas. However efforts have been made to focus on reducing crime and things are gradually improving.

Cost of living (Main City Average)

A meal at the standard restaurant is likely to cost roughly ZAR100-150 per person with a beer priced around ZAR30 and soft drinks around ZAR12 per can.  A reasonable bottle of wine costs approximately ZAR50-60 and a coffee typically sets you back around ZAR20

At the local supermarkets a loaf of bread is priced around ZAR12, a litre of milk approximately ZAR13 and a dozen eggs roughly ZAR22.

Public transport in most cities is reasonable with monthly passes at around ZAR400. Taxis start around is ZAR25 and then around ZAR10 per kilometre thereafter. Petrol is around ZAR13 per litre.

Accommodation is reasonably priced in most cities. A typical 1-2 bedroom apartment in the city would be approximately ZAR7,000. Outside of the city rent would reduce to around ZAR5,000.

Basic utilities for an average two-bedroom apartment will be around ZAR1,200.  Prepaid mobile phone charges are approximately ZAR2 per minutes and broadband Internet us roughly ZAR800 per month.


The school year runs from mid-January through mid-December. Some International schools follow the August to June year.

South African education normally starts around the age of 6 or 7 with 6 years of primary education followed by 5 or 6 years of secondary education.

The standards and regulations of public education varies widely throughout the country with some education free and some partially subsidised. Lack of funding, large classroom sizes and poor teacher training can plague some of the educational institutions however there are some very good public schools especially Model C schools, so it pays to investigate in your area. Despite this, many expats will look at the option of private education.

Private schools offer internationally recognised examinations and have excellent reputations. With smaller classes and a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Prices for International and private schools can vary widely from USD 4,000-15,000, which can include boarding.

Home schooling is an option and is increasingly common. In order to do this you will need to apply to the local department of education and they will offer guidelines.

There are some excellent colleges and universities in South Africa especially the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch.

Moving Documents

When moving to South Africa from Dubai, importing Household Goods and Personal Effects, you require

Original passport (incl. entry stamp)

  • Affidavit (returning citizen only)
  • Customs Form DA 302 and P1.160
  • Permanent/temporary residence permit / Work permit / student visa
  • Detailed Packing list in English
  • Bill of lading / AWB

Helpful Website(s):

Note: This document is provided as a guide for people moving to South Africa from Dubai, UAE and for information purposes only. Customs regulations can and do change at any time, usually without notice. Your mover will provide you with more information.