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Moving Abroad from South Africa: A Comprehensive Guide

By · September 22, 2023
Moving Abroad from South Africa: A Comprehensive Guide

Moving abroad from South Africa is an exciting and life-changing decision, but it comes with its share of challenges and complexities. Whether you're seeking new career opportunities, a change of scenery, or a fresh start, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the process step by step. We'll explore popular destinations, highlight top companies to assist with your move, discuss what to take and what to leave behind, and share real-life experiences from fellow South Africans who've made the leap.

Preparing for the Move

Choosing the Destination

While it may feel like everyone should have this figured out, the truth is, most people don’t. Choosing the right destination is a crucial first step. Consider factors like job prospects, cost of living, culture, and quality of life. Popular destinations for South Africans include Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. More recent additions to the list are places like Thailand and Portugal.

South Africans relocating abroad

Useful tip: Join a few Facebook communities for South Africans moving abroad.

Researching Visa and Immigration Requirements

Navigating immigration can be complex. Research visa requirements for your chosen country and consider seeking assistance from trusted immigration consultants or agencies specializing in South African expatriation.

Saving and Budgeting

Moving abroad requires careful financial planning. Create a budget that includes visa fees, moving costs, and initial living expenses. Consider opening an international bank account and explore currency exchange options to minimize costs.

Useful tip: If you want to take your household furniture and items, check with your local Freight Forward. Shipping lines charge more for “Shipper Owned” containers.

Top Companies for International Relocation

For a smooth transition, enlist the services of reputable international moving companies. They'll handle packing, shipping, and customs clearance.

Here are the top 5 international relocation companies (recommended by readers):

  1. Kings International

  2. Seven Seas Worldwide

  3. South African Relocations

  4. Execumove

  5. The Moving Guy

What to Take and What to Leave Behind

Packing Essentials

Create a comprehensive packing checklist, prioritizing essential items. Consider selling or donating items you no longer need to reduce shipping costs. Professional packing services can help ensure your belongings arrive safely.

Useful Tip: Do some research into the housing situation in the country you’re considering. In South Africa, we often have large homes and if you’re moving to the UK, for instance, that space might get a whole lot smaller. So, even if you pack only essentials, you might still need storage once settled in.

Important Documents

Gather important documents such as passports, birth certificates, and academic certificates. Ensure you have the necessary visas, permits, and certifications for your new country.

Selling or Storing Assets

Decide whether to sell, store, or transport valuable assets. Property management companies can help oversee your South African assets if you choose to keep them.

  • Beds and Bedding

Things like bedding and beds also often have different sizes once abroad, so it maybe be best to buy new once there.

  • Furniture

There is often also no real resell value for your South African furniture abroad exactly for this reason. So, if you need to sell, do it before you leave.

  • Clothes

You might also want to consider a wardrobe upgrade if you’re heading to colder countries like Canada or the UK. Our winter items just won’t cut it.

Useful tip: Depending on where you’re moving to, taking (or leaving) your furniture may be the best option.

In some countries buying new or even secondhand furniture can be quite expensive and in that case, you should take your furniture with you. Other countries have a great secondhand resell market or Ikea (come on South Africa!!) so buying new is more affordable than shipping- especially if you’re selling your items here before you leave.

Questions you should ask yourself before you book your move

  1. Are you moving to a rural community (the possibility of an older, more spacious home) or a major city (tiny cramped apartment)?

  2. Is accommodation already available?

  3. Is storage affordable in the country you’re moving to?

  4. Do they use the same power supply? If different, it will get expensive to purchase adaptors for all your electrics.

These are just a few of the questions that can help you decide whether to sell, store or ship.

READ: Check out our complete list of questions you should be asking your international relocation company.

Ready to move abroad?

Moving abroad from South Africa is a significant undertaking, but with careful planning and the right support, it's entirely achievable. Remember that each expat's journey is unique, and the challenges you face will be part of your growth. We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with the information and inspiration you need to embark on your own adventure. Safe travels!

Oh and if you've changed your mind and you want to do a mini move locally in South Africa, check out Wise Move! We'll help you get there.

What do our customers say?

Read reviews of Wise Move to learn stories from our customers.
Motorcycle harley davidson 1200 sportster
Kya Sand, Farmall
Zwartkop, Centurion
Reviewed 2 hours ago
So good that I'll use DJ again. Great service and communication. I'm abroad in Europe and managed to handle my SA assets with confidence
Illovo, Sandton
Dainfern, Midrand
Reviewed 7 hours ago
Nicolas removals were great. Good communication and did everything on time.
Cloetesville, Stellenbosch
Cloetesville, Stellenbosch
Reviewed 7 hours ago
The guys were great and very efficient. They were a bit late, but kept in communication. Would recommend them for any mover
Cape Town
Cape Town
Reviewed 9 hours ago
The team were efficient, careful and friendly. The removal was well done.
Exercise bike
Clifton Park, Gillitts
Prince`s Grant Golf Estate
Reviewed 10 hours ago
Excellent service from Klint and his team....highly recommended
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