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What You Need to Know Before Relocating Employees to South Africa

April 24, 2015 10:30:00 AM EDT | By: Michelle Dopps

South Africa has easily qualified as the top global mobility destination in Africa for many years now. With the best infrastructure, biggest stock exchange and largest middle class in Africa, it’s obvious why South Africa has been at the top for doing international business. Thanks to a number of factors, however, these positives may no longer be enough to make South Africa an ideal destination. Trends in the following areas should be examined before deciding whether South Africa is a good decision for your company’s expansion.

South Africa skylineHome Rental and Property Prices
Rental prices in South Africa appear to be very reasonably priced when examined for foreign currencies, but the opposite is the case for local currency. The falling South African Rand (ZAR) and rising inflation makes it very difficult to get affordable rentals in terms of local currency. Furthermore, property prices in South Africa had the highest gains in the world last decade. Despite this, it may still be attractive for those not using the South African Rand to purchase property. This may not be possible in the near future, though, due to changing laws prohibiting foreigners from purchasing land.

Cost-Of-Living Concerns
Factors such as health care and internet/mobile access can greatly affect cost of living abroad. While South Africa does have the best infrastructure in Africa for both of these, the costs can be astronomically high. Mobile phone costs are the highest here than anywhere else in the world. And while there is public health care, it’s often sub-par, and foreigners turn to expensive private health care.

Safety Issues
Crime has long been a problem in South Africa. Especially for expatriates, top-notch security is a priority in their housing arrangements. A standard security requirement could include sophisticated alarm systems, gating, panic buttons and more, which obviously can add a lot of costs to the bottom line. Education about safety and precautions is imperative for assignees in South Africa, which can help to mitigate some concerns and issues.

New Visa and Immigration Developments
Last year, the South African government published a 272-page-long document detailing numerous changes to their immigration laws. These changes cover everything from visa applications to penalties to quotas. While the document was long and detailed, many of the items were not clearly laid out, and in the past year, many have already been revised or postponed. Sorting it all out can be confusing and time consuming.

This brief overview provides a glance at how complicated global mobility in South Africa can be. While there are still many benefits to relocating employees into the area, there are obviously many factors that still need to be considered. For a deeper look into the positives and negatives plus much more detailed information on each of these areas, download our new white paper now. 

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Topics: global mobility, employee relocation, BRIC, emea global mobility, South Africa

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