It’s really no secret that a large chunk of South Africans leaving the country each year head to the UK. Living in the UK holds much draw for the average South African, for a number of reasons. In fact, the UK is not just alluring to the South African expat, but to many expats from all over the world. The statistics show us that the UK attracts more migrants than any other country in the world. But why, you ask? It’s mainly due to the country’s thriving economy, abundance of employment opportunities, and excellent standard of living. Of course, there are many more reasons why so many people are emigrating from South Africa to UK, and today, we are going to take a closer look at these.
South Africans in the UK
Before we jump head first into the advantages of living in the UK, let’s take a brief look at South Africans in UK and the community they are creating. The UK has a large migrant community of people from across the globe. In terms of how many migrants are from each country, South Africa ranks 8th on the list! In 2019, it was estimated that approximately 246,000 South Africans currently reside in the United Kingdom. Something of interest is that it’s not just South African families and business executives making the move to the country. If you take a look at main university towns such as Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Oxford, you will see very high numbers of South African students in residence and studying.
Why Immigrate to the UK
Living in the UK is something that many Saffas believe is “for them” and it very well could be for you too, especially when you compare living (and working) in South Africa to living and working in the UK. Longer paid holidays, above average minimum wage, and free healthcare – these are all the joys of settling into a working life in the UK. In South Africa, by comparison, the minimum wage is barely liveable, annual holidays rarely extend longer than 15 days and free health care is bordering on ineffectual.
Let’s take a good look at a few of the advantages of living in the UK below:
- Rich history and culture.
Of course, South Africa is jam-packed with history and culture of its own, but so is the UK. When moving to the UK, you will undoubtedly be drawn in by the country’s rich history and the interesting culture of the people. Its country, history, and culture, that couldn’t be more different to South Africa! When living and working in the UK, you will have historic churches, ancient architecture, castles, museums, and world-class tourist attractions “in your back yard”.
- Access to good healthcare.
Once you are living in the UK as a legal and registered resident, you will be given access to free health care with the National Health Service. Healthcare in the UK provided for free is exceptional. In fact, it is in stark contrast to free healthcare in South Africa.
- High standard of free education.
Schooling costs money in South Africa and the education is not always on par with British schools. One of the biggest benefits of emigrating from South Africa to the UK with children is that children from overseas have the right to attend school in the UK and children cannot be refused education based on their immigration status or nationality. In the UK, children are entitled to free schooling from the age of 5 to the age of 16. People seeking the best possible higher education also head to Oxford, which what some call the birthplace of higher education.
- The world is a stone throw away.
When you live in the UK, getting to any other destination in the world becomes more affordable and whole lot easier. There are 24 commercial international airports in the UK and because of its location, getting to Europe and other parts of the world, is absolutely easy.
- The job market.
Many people think of immigrating from South African to UK because of work prospects. With an unemployment rate of around 30% in South Africa, UK’s 4% unemployment rate is really attractive. The UK has the third largest economy in Europe and the country provides jobs to over 3.5 million non-UK nationals.
- Work environment, hours, and holidays.
Working in the UK is guaranteed to be comfortable as employee rights are taken very seriously. Businesses are fair with the expected hours worked and the minimum wage is decent. When it comes to holidays, employees in full time jobs are entitled to 28 days of paid leave per year as well as 9 unpaid bank holidays (called a public holiday in South Africa). As you can see, UK employees get double the amount of annual leave as South African employees do.
- Social life and relaxation.
Living in the UK is not all about work, work, work. In fact locals like to enjoy their free time at the local pub enjoy a hearty meal or out and about experiencing their beautiful natural scenery and surroundings. If you are a fan of dining, you will find the culinary scene quite impressive with some of the world’s best restaurants in various British cities. Got some time off on the weekend? Go on a mountain hike, stroll through the countryside or meander along the coastline.
FinGlobal: your cross-border financial specialists
If the time has come to make the move and the UK is on the top of your list, there are a few things you are going to have to think about before you go. For starters, you will need to gather advice and guidance on how to handle your tax emigration, financial emigration, accumulated SA retirement annuity funds, and foreign exchange. If you would like to chat to a consultant about preparing for a seamless move to the UK, or any other country for that matter, simply get in touch with us. Give us a call or send us an email today.