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Leaving South Africa, this little phrase is likely to strike panic in the hearts of many South Africans. We are a fiercely proud and independent nation, and so when the topic of leaving our warm and sunny paradise is discussed, it’s often fraught with emotion and evident indecision. 

The obvious question then is, why are so many white South Africans leaving South Africa if it’s not what they truly want. Emigrating from your land of birth is hard enough if it’s something you want to do, from both a cost and emotional point of view. However, when it becomes something you have to do, the ball game changes completely. Surely no one would want to leave this wonderful country, home to the Ama Bokke Bokke rugby team, biltong, braai, and of course, the never-ending sun? It’s no wonder that cultures across the globe envy the South African lifestyle. 

South Africans emigrating

Reasons to leave SA in a hurry

Still, a gorgeous lifestyle also comes with its problems, and often these problems sway the host of South Africans emigrating to other countries. 

Most people consider their current country of residence’s economic climate and prospects when looking to relocate. They are usually looking to improve their opportunities and quality of life, and South Africans are no different in this regard. Therefore, most decisions to immigrate are based on need rather than the age-old phrase, ‘the grass is greener on the other side.’

When you get down to the nitty-gritty of what causes South Africans to leave the country, it’s mainly down to four factors. Employment, Education, Safety, and Healthcare.

One of the most significant deciding factors when it comes to South Africans leaving the country is unemployment. Looking for a job in South Africa is somewhat daunting, with a mere 32.6% of South Africans currently in gainful employment and a further 63.3% of all youths aged 15-24 years old actively seeking work. This shows the South African job market is saturated with high volumes of job seekers competing for limited job vacancies. Therefore it makes sense in a country where so many people are unemployed; first-world countries offering gainful employment are colossal draw cards. 

The cost and quality of education are other deciding factors for South Africans emigrating. With most South African public schools considered below par or performing poorly, many South Africans are forced to turn to private schooling. Private schooling may be the answer for those who can afford the high fees and are lucky enough to live near one of the 1600 private schools available. However, for those using the public schooling system, their skills and knowledge are often considered lower than those of their global peers. Therefore, countries that offer top quality and free education are considerably more attractive to South Africans emigrating. 

The accessibility of adequate healthcare is probably the drawcard that eventually synchs the deal for South Africans emigrating. Healthcare in South Africa works on a two-tier system that comprises a large subsidized public sector and a small high-quality private sector. It’s no surprise that the private sector provides a higher quality of healthcare than the public sector. This is due to the dramatic difference in funding and specialist care available. However, this also means that private healthcare is costly and creates an even bigger divide between the poor and wealthy South African. More than 75% of the population relies on public healthcare, which, although subsidised, is woefully inadequate compared to costly private healthcare. Sadly, more than 80% of the population relies on the public sector, showing that most South Africans don’t have access to adequate health care when needed. Therefore, countries that provide free quality healthcare hold the ultimate drawcard for South Africans with growing families and ongoing health concerns. 

The statistics

Let’s be honest; the sad truth is many South Africans leaving the county do so with a heavy heart. It’s not a decision that’s taken lightly and often is the only solution South Africans feel they have for the problems they face. 

Some interesting statistics show that the total number of white South Africans who have emigrated over the past thirty-five years totals more than 611 500. The numbers have fluctuated between 2013 and 2020, with the most recent figure showing a gain of 186 270 between 2018 and 2020. At the end of the day, emigration is down to personal preference. Often South Africans who emigrate realise that they miss the lifestyle and return, while others relocate never to return but long for the endless blue sky. 

Learning to adapt and fit into a new culture is tough when considering all that goes into immigrating, such as housing, work, schooling, and complying with visa requirements. Whatever your reason for emigrating, whether it be to improve your prospects or to follow family, the road is long and by no means easy, which is why so many people turn to a reliable emigration assist team who can provide helpful steps and advice along the way.

Wherever you’re going, FinGlobal can make the transition smooth & simple

Heading to a new country is tough – we’ve covered that. But what can make it easier? Being prepared and following the correct protocols can speed up your emigration and also ensure that you don’t have to jump over too many hurdles along the way. At FinGobal, we have ten years of experience to fall back on. We understand all the emigration processes from SA and have helped thousands of South African expats get their finances, tax, FOREX, and even retirement annuities in order when heading abroad. Whether you’re looking for advice or hands-on assistance, we’re here to help. Simply get in touch with us. You can give us a call on 028 312 2764 or email us at info@finglobal.com.