Real estate in South Africa – What you should know
Whether you already live in South Africa or would like to immigrate there, the topic of real estate is, without question, of great interest. How easy is it to rent an apartment or a house locally? Is it worth investing in South African real estate? And can Germans in Cape Town or South Africa secure real estate financing in South Africa? We have compiled the most important information for you.
Investing in SA real estate as Germans in Cape Town or South Africa
Real estate is regarded globally as a good, but also risky capital investment. If you want to take advantage of a real estate market that is still growing, South Africa is a good place to go. There are interesting properties in all price and investment classes. You will find expensive million-dollar villas in well-known towns such as Camps Bay in Cape Town and interesting properties to buy in lesser known suburbs of Johannesburg or Durban. Germans in Cape Town for example, prefer areas like Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof or Camps Bay.
Very expensive properties only have limited worth as an investment. This is due to the fact that the prices are mostly at the upper limit, and it is difficult to sell such houses or apartments at a profit later. Alternative options are residential units in developed suburbs of Cape Town or Johannesburg. These are well-suited for use as rental properties. They are affordable to buy, bring a regular income and are often located in regions where an increase in property prices is expected in the coming years. In order to be able to make a calculated purchase decision here, it is worth working with a German-speaking real estate agent on site. By the way, the real estate market also offers German-language jobs for immigrants.
Rental property for Germans in Cape Town or South Africa
It is advisable to search for a rental property through well-known rental agencies. In an emergency, legal disputes can quickly arise with a private landlord. As a German immigrant in South Africa, you usually have to submit the following documents to an agency in order to ensure that you can cover the rent:
- Copy of passport with residence permit
- Bank statements of the last three months
- Proof of income amounting to three times the amount of the rent
- Contactable references from previous landlords
If these documents are not available in their entirety, finding accommodation can prove to be a challenge. It is therefore advisable to have secured accommodation for at least three months at the time of entry.
Real Estate Financing for Germans in Cape Town or South Africa
The process of real estate financing in South Africa does not differ noticeably from the procedure in Germany. Nonetheless, foreigners are particularly scrutinised. A permanent residence in South Africa for several years and a stable income are a basic requirement for many banks. In addition, the usual factors come to bear – such as the amount of income, possible equity and the purchase price of the property.
Living with children in South Africa – Kindergarten, School, University etc.
Would you like to emigrate to South Africa with your family? Or are you planning to start a new family somewhere between Cape Town and Johannesburg? There are German language jobs on offer and maybe you accepted one and are moving with your family and kids to South Africa. Now you need to find answers to many questions about raising children in South Africa. For Germans in Cape Town and South Africa, the choice of German kindergartens and German schools in the urban regions is very good. However, if you are in a remote region, you will face some challenges.
Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg – a first-class offer for German education
In big cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town there are many possibilities for German immigrants to send their children to a German kindergarten, or a German school. For example, institutions such as the German International School Cape Town – DSK (Deutsche Internationale Schule Kapstadt) – offer for example primary school education strictly in German. From the fifth grade onwards, classes are bilingual. At the school, pupils have the choice of completing their German Abitur, or their Matric in English. For Germans in Cape Town, all is almost like in Germany, just the weather is better.
German-speaking schools prefer to admit children who have attended a German kindergarten, to the primary school. Although this is not a prerequisite, it improves one’s chances of acceptance at such a school. This is because a place at the school is not automatically secured. German schools are always private schools, which consider each application separately. For a successful application, many factors come into play:
- German language experience of the child (language test by the school)
- Financial status of parents
- Residence status of the child
Costs for a German school education in South Africa
German schools and kindergartens in South Africa are always privately funded. And although there are isolated opportunities to receive financial support from the school, the school fees usually have to be paid entirely by the parents. Therefore a financial viability check is included in the application regulations of schools, and some kindergartens. Compared to school fees of other private schools in Cape Town, the school fees for the Deutsche Schule in Kapstadt, are low, as the school receives funding from the German Government.
The school fees depend mainly on the region. In general, a full day of care in a kindergarten, costs about ZAR 3,000. Primary schools cost about ZAR 4,500 per month. The school fees can be paid annually, in advance. A discount on the total cost is often granted for this. Alternatively, quarterly payment of school fees is common.
Home schooling in German
If you are planning to move to a region far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, it is unlikely that you will find a local German school or kindergarten. Since there is no compulsory schooling in South Africa, it is possible to have children taught by private teachers. German-speaking jobs for teachers of all school levels, should not be that hard to find in South Africa.
Germans in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban will find it easier to access a comparable and good German school education for their kids in South Africa.
Immigrating to South Africa a – Banks, Money and Finance
It is not uncommon that German immigrants to South Africa continue to have financial obligations in Germany, or that an international money transfer becomes necessary. In most cases, the classic bank transfer costs a lot of money. Whether you regularly transfer money between continents, or it involves a once-off transaction, there are inexpensive ways to do this.
It is easy for Germans in Cape Town and South Africa to open bank accounts with any of the larger banks in South Africa, even if you do not hold a permanent residence permit. You for example accepted one of the German language jobs offered in Cape Town or South Africa and secured a work permit. Now you need to chose a bank that suits your needs best.
Cheaper Euro Transfers from Germany to South Africa
Maybe you want to transfer money from a German account to a South African account. A normal bank transfer is often rather expensive. An international bank transfer fee usually starts at around 25 Euros, as a basic fee. This is charged by the German bank. In addition, there are the transaction costs of the South African bank, which are often based on the transfer amount. For a R10,000 transfer, the fees stands around R350. The transfer can take up to five working days.
A better alternative is to use special service providers, which make fast and safe money transfers between Germany and South Africa possible. Today there are a fairly large number of these service providers. The Western Union is especially well known, but is comparatively expensive today.
Germans in Cape Town or South Africa should investigate a transfer solution that is best suited to their needs.
It doesn’t matter if you are using a bank or a different service provider for your money transfers, the procedure for the international transfer of money to South Africa stays more or less the same. If you service is solely an online transaction with your German bank account being online-enabled, it will be cheaper. If this is not the case and the transfer is more complex, it is bound to the more expensive conditions of providers such as the Western Union or your own bank.
Once you have chosen a service provider for the transfer, you can create your own account with them. For this, verification is necessary. Usually it is sufficient to send in a high-quality photo of your passport, identity card or driver’s license. In rare cases, documents such as bank statements or electricity bills will also be required to confirm your identity.
Attention: The transaction is only possible from your own account. Third party transactions are not accepted. This means that you cannot create an account with the service provider in your name and then transfer money from your husband’s account, for example.
How the money is transferred within the system varies from one service provider to the next. Most of the time you have the choice between a payment from your current account and a credit card payment. With a current account, you can then either choose to make a direct transfer, or to use an intermediate service, for example, an instant transfer.
Receiving money from Germany in South Africa
If you wish to receive money in your South African account, you may need to lodge a request with your bank once a year. In this way, you grant permission for the bank to process the international transfers internally. You may also receive a call from the bank to find out what the money is for, especially in the case of large sums of money.
German Churches in South Africa
The religious community in South Africa is very large. In contrast to the German religious system, however, South Africa has an enormous variety of churches and church communities. The majority of religious South Africans are Christian. Especially widespread is the NG Kerk, a Dutch Reformed church. It has about 2.5 million members in the country. However, there are also German religious communities in South Africa, catering to the needs of religious Germans in Cape Town or South Africa.
German parishes in South Africa
You can find German communities all over South Africa. Whether you take a German job in Cape Town or in Johannesburg, or run a farm in Natal, you will never be far from the next German community. No matter where you go, you will almost always find a German religious community, too. A well-known example is the evangelic lutheran St. Martini Church in Cape Town. It is directly connected to the German school in Cape Town and also runs a German kindergarten on site. The catholic church is also present in Cape Town.
Evangelische St. Martini Kirche
240 Long Street, City Centre
Telephone 021 423 2720
Katholische Gemeinde in Kapstadt
Nazareth House, 1 Derry Road, Vredehoek and Brownlow Road, Tamboerskloof
Telephone 021 423 2188
The German churches in South Africa offer church services in German and, as in Germany itself, bring the congregation together for events. They are suitable as a contact point for possible volunteer work in South Africa and offer support in many other areas of life.
Many Germans in Cape Town and South Africa also decide to become part of a South African church. This facilitates integration into the local community. The main features of the NG Kerk are very similar to those of the German churches. So, the church service is built up very traditionally. This also takes place in a classical church building. This is rather unusual for South Africa. Many churches use simple meeting rooms, or even large buildings similar to department stores, where the services are held.
Church in South Africa – Individual religious communities
Although the Christian faith is most widespread in South Africa, it is lived out in many individual forms. The classic German distinction between Catholic and Protestant churches can only occasionally be found in this form. There are many offshoots and individual churches, each of which refers to these religious foundations.
Well-known and popular examples are international churches, such as the Australian Hillsong Church. Especially in the urban metropoles, like Cape Town or Johannesburg, there are large numbers of followers of these international churches. In addition, there are small churches that often exist within cultural groups. There are several thousand self-governing independent churches registered throughout the country. They often have a small membership of 20 to 50 people and follow the general principles of the Christian church. However, some churches also have very unique views. For example, a few years ago there was a well-known incident in South Africa in which the pastor encouraged members of the church to eat grass!
Language Schools for Germans in Cape Town and South Africa
There are eleven official languages in South Africa. In addition to nine native languages, these also include Afrikaans and English. In large parts of the country, you can communicate effectively in English. English is the standard language in everyday life and in official places. South Africa is therefore a wonderful destination for an English language holiday. There is a variety of language schools to learn or improve English Language skills for Germans in Cape Town or South Africa. Some of these language schools might even offer German speaking jobs.
Germans in Cape Town or South Africa can learn English easily
As Germans in Cape Town or South Africa, who would like to learn English at a language school in South Africa, you have several options to choose from:
- In the context of a language trip (max. 6 months stay)
- As a full-time student with a student visa
- Private lessons on site, subject to possession of a valid visa
Language trips or holidays in South Africa, can be arranged by means of a tourist visa. Your stay in South Africa is a combination of lessons at a language school and a holiday in South Africa. These trips usually last between four and eight weeks and are offered for different age groups and language levels.
If you also want to work while attending a language school in South Africa, you can do so by obtaining a student visa. You can have a German-speaking job for up to 20 hours a week and learn English at the language school at the same time.
Immigrating to South Africa without any English skills
If you have succeeded in securing a German language job in Cape Town or South Africa, you can obtain a work visa through this job. For a residence permit, you do not have to provide any proof of knowledge of the English language.
Since it is, of course, advisable to speak English, a language school is a good place to learn the language quickly and efficiently.
Tip: If you have enough time to attend a course at an adult education centre before you leave for South Africa, you should definitely do so. Not only will you receive a good level of instruction, but the costs are also very low.
If you are already in South Africa, the best language schools are often located in urban regions. In Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban, it is easy to find a good, inexpensive language school. On a farm in Natal, for example, this is often more difficult. In such a case, you can find out whether it is possible to work with a private teacher. More and more language schools are also offering online lessons, via Skype.
Make sure there are no hidden costs when choosing a language school. For example, the general course fee may be very low, but the course materials may be expensive. Very inexpensive language schools also often work with large groups. Find out about the maximum group size before booking a course.
An International Move – Immigrating to South Africa
Are you planning to immigrate to South Africa and are now thinking about the best way to manage the move? There are several ways to start your journey in a well-prepared manner. But what is the best solution for you? We have asked Germans in Cape Town and South Africa and looked at the best possible options to move your household from Germany to South Africa.
Moving with your whole household – using a removal and relocation service
Once it is certain that you will move to South Africa indefinitely, you will have to decide whether you want to start from scratch, or take your existing household effects with you. If you only have a small apartment with a few pieces of furniture in Germany, it is hardly worthwhile to pay for your household effects to be moved internationally. In South Africa, you can buy used furniture that is in an excellent condition. In addition, there are many furnished apartments and houses on offer. In general, almost every rental property has a complete kitchen to offer, often with all the necessary electrical appliances.
But if you want to take your entire household with you for the international move, there are generally two options. On the one hand, you can rent a shipping container yourself. If you have the necessary capital, you could also rent an air freight container. You can then pack it yourself or have it packed. You will have to organise and pay for the packing and the transport to the container, as well as the unloading of the container at the destination, yourself. It is easier and often cheaper to hire a removal company that offers international removals from Germany to South Africa. Depending on the service you have booked, removal helpers will even come to your home and pack your belongings in special boxes and prepare the furniture for safe transport.
It is possible to book half, or even quarter container loads, via such a service. However, this option can delay delivery, as the company will wait until the remaining container space has been booked by another person. For shipping, you should allow at least two months delivery time.
How much space do you need to book for your move?
If you only want to send a few boxes, it may even be worth paying a fee for excess baggage on the plane. Check with your airline about the costs and the sizes of additional baggage.
If you would like to rent a container, or inform a removal service about the required container space for a move to Cape Town, the following key data is very helpful:
- One-room apartment – approx. 5 m³
- Two-room apartment – approx. 7,5 m³
- Three-room apartment – approx. 10 m³
A 20-foot container holds 30 m³ and a 40-foot container 67 m³.
Tip: Since German-language jobs in Cape Town and South Africa abroad are often expat jobs, you should ask your new employer whether they will cover part or all of your relocation costs.
Health insurance for Germans in Cape Town and South Africa
In Germany, health insurance is defined relatively simply by the generally applicable compulsory insurance. In South Africa the situation is more complicated. There is no compulsory insurance, but a multitude of insurance variants. Which option is the right one for your stay in South Africa? Is it better for Germans in Cape Town or South Africa to chose a German foreign health insurance or is it better to go with one of the local health insurers?
Use foreign health insurance when entering South Africa
Regardless of whether you are travelling to South Africa to do a German-speaking job or as a volunteer, comprehensive health insurance coverage is recommended. It is advisable to take out international health insurance in order to avoid any risk of gaps in insurance. This can usually be used for up to one year and covers other aspects, in addition to the agreed treatment costs:
- Patient transport back to Germany
- Treatment in neighbouring countries (specialist treatment)
- Travel cancellation insurance due to illness (optionally bookable)
This type of insurance is relatively inexpensive. It is usually taken out as an additional option to the existing insurance in Germany. Separate insurance policies are also available.
Taking out health insurance in South Africa
The health system in South Africa is organised very differently within the country. In general, there are public medical centres and hospitals for all inhabitants of the country. They accept patients without proof of insurance. The service is completely free of charge for low-income earners. These clinics and hospitals are particularly well organised in metropolitan areas such as Gauteng or the Western Cape, especially in Cape Town. Despite long waiting times, you get good treatment. At the same time there is a lack of specialists and personnel.
In other parts of the country, the service in the public health system is very bad. Especially in rural regions, there are enormous bottlenecks and also a lack of local clinics.
Therefore, as Germans in Cape Town or South Africa, it makes sense to take out health insurance in South Africa. There are a number of private providers who offer very different insurance packages. In general, comprehensive insurance is quite expensive. A very good insurance cover for the whole family can quickly cost up to ZAR 6,000 per month. Cheap alternatives limit the number of free visits to the doctor or work with a high co-payment. Some employers cover part of the insurance costs.
Alternative insurance policies
In addition to classic health insurance, special policies are popular in South Africa. For example, you can take out an insurance policy that only covers hospital stays. You will then receive cash for every day you stay at the hospital, so you can pay your bills.
It is therefore conceivable to pay cash for simple visits to the doctor and insure expensive hospital stays and surgery separately. A visit to the family doctor costs around R350. However, specialists such as gynecologists charge up to R1,200 per visit. The best type of health insurance for your purposes depends both on your own health history and on your financial means.
Immigrating to South Africa
Germans in Cape Town and South Africa
What Visa options are available to you?
Every year, around one million Germans leave Germany to make a new start in another country. The reasons vary widely. Often the move to a warmer climate is desired. Therefore, immigration to South Africa is at the top of the German list – in Cape Town alone, the German community comprises up to 60,000 people. Germans in Cape Town and South Africa give a variety of reasons why they want to live in South Africa.
If you have also decided to make a new start in South Africa, the biggest hurdles you will face are likely to be of a legal nature. Even if a German passport is an unhindered admission ticket for holidaymakers, as a resident you must obtain a residence permit. There are, however, many ways to do this, as you can see by the large amount of Germans in Cape Town and South Africa.
Visa requirements for pensioners in South Africa are based on financial security. If you want to immigrate from Germany to South Africa as a pensioner, you can prove your financial independence either through a secure income, or sufficient capital. Capital investments, such as real estate, may also be stated as fixed capital. The monthly pension income must be at least 37,000 Rand, a verifiable capital at least 12 million Rand (as of March 2019). There is no age limit for this visa application.
A work visa for South Africa must be applied for from Germany. It has not been possible to do this locally in South Africa since 2015. In order to submit a successful visa application, the employer in South Africa must be able to prove that it could not find any suitable South African candidates. A German speaking job increases the chances for a work visa considerably. It is often argued that the position must be filled by a German native speaker. The work visa is limited in time and must be renewed after three to five years. It expires when the employment relationship no longer exists. It is easy for Germans in Cape Town or Johannesburg to find a suitable German language job.
Student Visa – Study Permit
A student visa can be issued for a variety of school types. It is not mandatory to enroll at a university for this purpose. Visiting a school is also possible with a study permit.
Within the framework of a classic student visa, it is usually possible to work up to 20 hours per week. The student visa is also issued to persons who spend an academic year doing research – this type of student visa for South Africa may be extended to a maximum of three years. There are especially many Germans in Cape Town of all ages, who make use of this visa type.
If you would like to volunteer in South Africa, you can obtain a volunteer visa for up to one year. Depending on the type of organisation you are involved with, you will have to prove that you will be able to support yourself financially for the duration of your stay. For example, if your volunteer organisation provides accommodation and meals, the requirement for proof of equity is reduced. There are various organisations through which such a residence permit is possible:
The volunteering visa cannot be extended locally, or transferred to another visa. Many Germans in Cape Town or South Africa use this type of visa to gain valuable work experience or take time off for a social year.
The partnership visa can be applied for by couples, even without a marriage certificate. In addition, only one of the partners must already have a valid residence permit, but he or she does not need to be South African. It is important that the partner (homosexual partnerships are also recognised) is able to support the applicant financially.
Family Reunion Visa
If a residence permit is to be acquired on the basis of a common child, a DNA test is often required to establish if the father is a South African. This is to prevent people from incorrectly recognising paternity.
The family reunification visa also applies to children and parents whose children are already of age and one of the two parties already has a right of residence.
If a company is founded in Germany, but the day-to-day business is to be conducted in South Africa, the business visa can make this possible. You must prove that the company is financially viable. Many Germans in Cape Town or South Africa own a working business in South Africa, that delivers a good income for them.
Critical Skills Permit
In 2014, a revised list was published for the very popular Critical Skills Permit in South Africa. This includes 214 different job profiles. For these, you can apply for a general work permit if you meet the desired qualification profile. The critical skills visa intends to make it easier for qualified German speaking professionals to gain a foothold in South Africa. There are many Germans in Cape Town on this particular visa type.
Immigrating to South Africa from
Germany – applying for a permanent or temporary visa?
The above mentioned visa forms are always temporary residence permits. It is not so easy for Germans in Cape Town or South Africa to gain a permanent residence permit. Among other things, you must prove that you have lived in the country for many years, or that you have family contact in the country. The processing of permanent residence visas often takes long, sometimes up to many years.
Where do you get support for a visa
application for South Africa?
Since the rules for visa applications in South Africa are constantly changing and are often rather obscure, it is worth contacting an immigration lawyer for Germans in Cape Town and South Africa. Many companies have contacts in Germany as well as in South Africa. With a German-speaking lawyer, the ambiguities can be clarified quickly and efficiently.