Are you looking to relocate to South Africa? Here we explore the best areas to live in South Africa for expats based on different factors.

If you’re considering a move to South Africa, whether as a family, a retiree or a worker, there are plenty of cities and towns to choose from.

We looked at the data from those who have used PSS International Removals in the past five years to discover which towns are most popular. We then spoke to people who had moved to see what they liked about each city. Perhaps this will give you some inspiration as to where to start looking if you’re planning a move to this beautiful part of the world.

It’s worth noting that this is not a best-to-worst list. When choosing where to relocate, people will have different priorities as to what suits their lifestyle best.

If you require assistance for moving your household belongings to South Africa, make sure to contact us to start the process. Now, let’s get started on the best places to live in South Africa as an expat from the UK.

1. Cape Town – Best for Tech ProfessionalsCape Town

Located on the Southern tip of Africa, Cape Town, with over 3.4 million residents, is an exciting city surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The pristine white beaches appeal to those who appreciate a sublime seascape, while the imposing mountainous backdrop provides a walker’s dream destination. You can reach the top of Table Mountain with just a two-hour hike, which could be perfect for a weekend wander.

Still, the topographical beauty is only a small part of what makes Cape Town appealing to those seeking to relocate to the area. The city is home to a vibrant and diverse community and is a cultural hotspot with great music (Cape Town Jazz Festival is a must-attend event), superb food and pretty good local wine too.

While it isn’t known for being one of the safest places to live in South Africa, its reputation for personal safety is being consistently improved. If you’re seeking work in tech here, you’re onto a winner. Cape Town is one of Africa’s tech innovators, and there is plenty of support for start-ups here too. If you don’t fancy starting your own business, there are plenty of jobs to be found in information technology, tourism and renewables.

The most sought-after properties in Cape Town in the city itself are often much more expensive than suburban living, but there are some affordable options in places such as Constantia, which could be perfect for those just starting. For those who want city living as part of the tech community, Woodstock is a great place to set up home, while Camps Bay, similar to Durban’s Umhlanga Rocks, provides residents with upscale beachside living and a great social hub.

Mark, who has made South Africa his home, raves about its beauty, “It’s the most beautiful place in the world! I never get tired of it. The beaches, the mountain, the forests, the winelands. There are so many things to do, but what I love most is seeing friends in the summer for a glass of wine at Groot Constantia or sundowners in Camps Bay or Sea Point.”

2. Johannesburg including Rivonia – Best for Young Expats


A good choice for those in business, Johannesburg has grown from a small mining town to an economic capital. Seamlessly blending the traditional and modern South African cultures, this is the place to be if you want vibrant city living that is exciting and affordable when compared to other major cities in South Africa. There’s also plenty of history on display here, such as the sobering Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City and Constitution Hill, perfect if you want to completely immerse yourself in the culture of this fascinating city.

There is a diverse mix of industries that Johannesburg plays host to, so the job market is rich with opportunity. You’ll find large multinationals with headquarters here in places such as Sandton, such as those in finance, telecoms, and tech. For those who don’t fancy a city job, there are also opportunities in the mining industry, as well as in various industries that support workers and their families in the city, such as education, hospitality and retail.

As far as housing goes, Johannesburg is one of the best places to live in South Africa for working professionals because of its affordability and proximity to job opportunities. In fact, it has been labelled as a top city for property affordability in a survey of global cities.

However, where you choose to base yourself depends on a number of factors. For example, Sandton itself is the part of the city to explore if luxury living is what you’re looking for, with a range of boutiques and entertainment options for high-net-worth expats. Although some parts of Johannesburg have a bit of a bad reputation there are many beautiful and safe suburbs such as Bryanston, Parkhurst, Rivonia, Rosebank and Ferndale to name just a few.

3. Durban – Best for Beach Lovers


As Africa’s third largest city, Durban (population 3.12 million) is an exciting place to be. Its port is one of the 10 largest in the world, and as such, provides plenty of work opportunities for those in logistics, and other related industries.

The climate in Durban is humid, with a warm ocean current, allowing for blissful exploration of the Golden Mile, a 6 km stretch of beach that runs 6 km from Ushaka all the way to the Blue Lagoon. Those looking for city living that is more relaxed than the hive that is Cape Town may opt for Durban’s more chilled out vibe.

However, when you’re not on the beach, there’s plenty to enjoy in the city, such as the vibrant food and music scene that this city is also famed for. Festivals of note here include the much-celebrated Durban International Film Festival, as well as the spectacular Diwali Festival.

For outdoor lovers, and those fond of sports, life in Durban is likely to be perfect. There’s lots to do in this area, such as surfing, hiking and fishing, and if you’re looking at getting a bit further into the water, you could even take up diving.

While Durban is not considered to be one of the safest cities to live in South Africa, many parts of the city are considered perfectly safe to be in, no matter what time of day you are out and about. It is worth speaking to a few expats in the area if you are concerned about security, as they could provide you with on-the-ground insight into where to base yourself if you opt to live in this beautiful city.

In general, though, Umhlanga Rocks is where you want to be if a beachy luxury lifestyle is on the horizon. It has a wealth of places to eat, safe swimming beaches and luxury apartments that offer great views of the surrounding area.

If it’s a more bohemian lifestyle you’re looking for, look at Glenwood. Perfect for families, with Flag Farm and Addington beach two popular attractions, there are also plenty of eateries to enjoy once you’re done.


4. Gqebera (Port Elizabeth) – Best for Students

Port Elizabeth_1

Gqebera, previously named Port Elizabeth, has a population of approximately 960,000, and is another great choice for nature lovers, but it also comes highly recommended for its universities, which are considered highly rated for inclusivity, academic achievement and their student community. As such, it could well be considered one of the best places to live in South Africa for families with older children.

When it comes to safety, Port Elizabeth is considered a relatively safe city. Expats rate Summerstrand top for students and academics looking to balance their lifestyle, due to its proximity to the beautiful beaches and Nelson Mandela University. For families and professionals, Walmer may be a better choice; it offers a more suburban style of living with plenty of parks and cafes to enjoy. A word of warning though, if you don’t drive, you may get a bit of a shock when using taxis in the area; they’re in high demand, and as such, can be pretty expensive.

Having said that, the job market is thriving in Port Elizabeth, and eclectic too. You’ll find construction workers, those in the arts, law, cargo and tech in high demand. Add to this the lower cost of living (Port Elizabeth is typically thought to be 2.3 times less expensive to live in than the UK) and you can see why it’s a popular choice.

James who resides in Port Elizabeth shares, “Port Elizabeth offers a relaxed vibe, boasting exceptional schools that actively engage with each other, fostering a tight-knit community. Despite its modest size, it’s large enough to ensure you’re constantly encountering new faces during outings. It’s notably family-friendly, arguably more so than any other place in South Africa.”

When it comes to culture, Gqeberha is hard to beat, with dedicated installations depicting the history of Nelson Mandela, and many museums and galleries to choose from. The nightlife is thriving, and the food scene is eclectic, so you’re sure to find something to tempt your palate.

5.  Pretoria – Best for Retirees


As the executive capital of South Africa, Pretoria (population 1.6m)  is located at the northern edges of the Gauteng province. Well known for its academic institutions, historic landmarks, and government offices, it can also provide a great base for those looking for a mild climate, good healthcare facilities and a relaxed lifestyle.

Pretoria is, perhaps, one of the best places in South Africa to retire to, with retirement communities and neighbourhoods catering specifically to older individuals. The suburb of Brooklyn, for example, is perfect for retirees due to its quiet streets, boutique shops and healthcare facilities on the doorstep.

If you’re looking to spend your retirement outdoors, the National Zoological Gardens and cultural monuments, such as the Voortrekker Monument can provide hours of enjoyment. If the weather is not quite so good, or you’re looking for activities that are easy on the less mobile, there are also plenty of museums and galleries to visit.

Getting around Pretoria is relatively easy too. The high-speed rail network connects to Johannesburg, and public transport is well rated here. The cost-of-living in Pretoria can vary, with city centre living being more expensive than cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg. Waterkloof could be a good choice for your professionals though, as its panoramic city views and luxurious homes help to provide a calm yet upscale style of living.


6. George – Best for those seeking a balanced lifestyle

On the Western Cape of South Africa, George, with its population of just over 12,000, is the ideal choice for those who enjoy a lively life on the coastline. Positioned between the mountains and the Indian Ocean, and host to a mild climate throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities to spend much of your life outside here.

For example, retirees will enjoy the tranquillity of the Garden Route, which they can traverse at their leisure, while families will have a wealth of neighbourhoods to choose from and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

George is well known for being one of the safest cities in South Africa for families too. Not only that, but it has excellent healthcare facilities, low pollution and you’ll find very little traffic congestion here. Younger families will be delighted to find the house prices are cheaper here than in most of the biggest cities, such as Cape Town or Johannesburg, especially when it comes to rentals. With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that it was handed the heady title of Best Quality of Life in South Africa in one global survey.

If you’re a keen golfer, the Fancourt Estate is the perfect choice. Its world-class courses are not the only thing to recommend, however. The accommodation here is the epitome of luxury living. That’s not to say golf is the only attraction in George though; Heatherlands is well-known for its spacious family homes and excellent quality schools.

7. East London – Best for Housing

While you may consider East London to be all about the long white stretches of beach, appealing to sun worshippers and surfers alike, this city has plenty of opportunities for those looking for a laid-back lifestyle, but a wealth of job opportunities for its 478,000 residents.

Educators are in demand in many of the nearby universities, while those in manufacturing, tech and automotive can also find opportunities here.

The range of housing available in East London is one of the prime considerations for expats. You will find options ranging from luxury homes in Bonnie Doon with river frontage, to the quaint yet beautiful neighbourhood of Cambridge, rated as the most affordable place to live in the area.

Special mention must also go to Beacon Bay, which seamlessly combines city and coastal living and is the second most affordable neighbourhood in which to own property. Nahoon is a good choice too – you’ll enjoy beachside living with great surfing opportunities as well as great coastal walks.

8.Mossel Bay – Best for Quieter Living

Mossel Bay

There has been a large shift in South Africa towards semigration. Many city-dwellers are moving out of the main cities and into the smaller or larger towns surrounding them. Mossel Bay (population 59,000) is one such destination that could be on your list if you’re looking for a more peaceful lifestyle, and a safer community too.

There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor life in Mossel Bay, too. The shallow bay plays host to plenty of ocean life, and you can explore this from a variety of perspectives, from getting up close and personal in the water, from a boat, or even from the air.

It’s no wonder Mossel Bay is rated as one of the best small towns to live in when relocating to South Africa. Its natural beauty, proximity to good healthcare services, and job opportunities in the city and outlying areas make it a great place for professionals, families and retirees alike. Dana Bay, for example, offers spectacular views of the ocean and a relaxed environment.

However, if you’re looking for a bit more excitement, Hartenbos delivers here too – it has a range of family-friendly attractions and a festive vibe, particularly in the holidays.

9. Knysna – Best for Healthcare


Officially known as a city, most people who live here do not consider it so. In Knysna (population 68,000), you will be surrounded by nature, especially at Featherbed Nature Reserve, and amongst the true culture of South Africa. Afrikaans is spoken often here and is required by some of the employers in the area. As such, it is also taught in the schools in the area.

If you want to immerse yourself in the culture of South Africa, and live in a warm community to raise children, Knysa is a particularly good choice. Retirees could find Knysa’s close community a joyous place to spend their retirement too, and its well-regarded healthcare facilities can provide peace of mind for those with increasing healthcare needs.

Retirees will find Hunters Home a great option in Knysna. Leafy and quiet, it also has great medical facilities. For families looking for security, Leisure Isle could be a good choice – although its exclusive properties come at a premium, the tight-knit community and spectacular waterfront views are well worth it.

10. Hermanus – Best for Work/Life Balance


Its unique seascape and proximity to the wilderness provide the 25,000 people living in Hermanus with a unique opportunity to create a work/life balance like no other. Known as one of the top whale watching destinations in South Africa, and surrounded by mountains, Hermanus also offers the perfect combination of leisure and career opportunities that can be perfect for young professionals hoping to raise a family.

Those working in hospitality, tourism and finance will be in demand here, in addition to educators and academics. There are plenty of family-friendly attractions to enjoy when you’re not at work, and the education system here is highly rated too.

One striking feature of this beautiful coastal destination is its housing. You will find a wealth of choice here, from luxury homes favoured by wealthy Capetonians, to smaller apartments and affordable  family homes.

Voëlklip, for example, is a good choice here, comparable to Plettenberg Bay’s Robberg Beach. With its easy beach access, and a relaxed vibe, it is the ideal base for families and professionals seeking a good work/life balance.

11. Paarl – Best for Wine Professionals and Families

Known as one of the oldest towns in South Africa, and famed for its vineyards, Paarl is home to 190,000 people, and provides many opportunities for those looking to find employment in its thriving wine industry. The vineyards here are well-regarded and contribute greatly to the area’s economic resilience. However, this is not the only attraction for those looking to relocate to South Africa.

Its quality educational institutes, combined with family-friendly neighbourhoods make it a prime destination for families, and the picturesque environment appeals to retirees and those who love the great outdoors. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing or active outdoor lifestyle, Paarl provides opportunities for canoeing, fishing, hiking and horse riding, to name but a few options.

House prices here are affordable here too, and it is considered a safe place to live. Courtrai offers picturesque views surrounded by beautiful vineyards, while Lemoenkloof may be a better option for younger families, with its great selection of homes close to schools and other amenities.

12. Stellenbosch – Best for Academic Excellence Stellenbosch (1)

Around 31 miles east of Cape Town lies the town of Stellenbosch with a population of 94,000. While it is also famed for its vineyards, Stellenbosch’s academic excellence may be its biggest selling point. Home to a well-respected community of over 32,000 students, it is a welcoming centre for academic excellence, research and innovation.

As South Africa’s second oldest town, it offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and a thriving wine industry. If you are seeking a laid-back lifestyle, yet with plenty of job opportunities in academia, retail or wine production, this may top your list. It is also notable for its fantastic transportation routes and laid back community, which can help to promote a great work/life balance.

When it comes to where to base yourself here, it’s worth noting that Die Boord is a popular choice for academics, due to its proximity to Stellenbosch University. However, Welgevonden Estate is also a great choice, offering secure living and more of a community feel, which may suit younger students and professionals.

Top tip: If you love the vibe of Stellenbosch but you’re really after a more coastal setting, you may find a comparable style of living in Stellenbosch.

13. Somerset West – Best for Active Families

A tranquil escape with picturesque landscape, and a quiet suburban lifestyle, Somerset West provides a town that offers more than rich cultural heritage to its 55,000 residents.

Famed for its Dutch architecture, and close-knit community, retirees will find a peaceful, leisurely lifestyle here. They can enjoy walking in the historic town centre, or for those more active, the Helderberg nature reserve offers the perfect setting for a leisurely walk.

Somerset West is also great for families with a good reputation for its schooling and many family friendly activities, such as the Monkey Town Primate Centre, strawberry picking at Helderberg Farm or perhaps more surprisingly, the Lourensford Wine estate, with a wealth of playgrounds and open spaces to explore.

Financially, the cost of living here is considered moderate. Housing prices are relatively affordable compared to the largest cities and the cost of dining out is also considered reasonable, which, considering the quality of the eateries in the area is a definite bonus.

Heldervue provides easy living for families along with great views of the Helderberg Mountains and False Bay. There are also plenty of good schools in the area. Alternatively, Schonenberg Estate offers a quieter environment in which to live, yet is still close to all the amenities a young family needs.

14. Bloemfontein – Best for Lawyers and Those in Politics

As the Judicial capital of South Africa, Bloemfontein is a city that is home to some 460,000 residents. A calm and friendly city, it is appealing to those working in the judicial system and politics as well as students in such areas. A cosmopolitan city, it provides just the right level of excitement with less of the downsides of many of the largest cities; for example, there is less traffic here, and a rather more countryside feel.

One notable feature is the thousands of road bushes that colour the streets of this large city. Add to this 300 acre Kings Park and the Franklin game reserve, and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature alongside the busyness of the city.

Furthermore, the schools in the area are some of the best in the country, and the crime rate is low. The climate here is also something that might appeal to those who enjoy the changing of the seasons. It can get pretty cold in winter, but summer tends to be very pleasant.

Professionals can find a great home in Waverley that provides green streets and impressive properties in which to live. For those looking to base a family here, Dan Pienaar is a good option, with community centres, schools and family-friendly activities on the doorstep.

15. Nelspruit – Best for Wildlife

Mbombela, also known as Nelspruit, home to 110,000 residents, is famous for scenic attractions, such as Kruger, National Park and its collection of galleries and museums. There are also plenty of places to get outside for some physical exercise. In fact, there are many places in the city where you can trail walk/run close to wildlife such as zebras and other game. Kruger National Park, Lowveld National Botanical Garden and the Sudwala Caves are just a few examples.

When it comes to jobs, as a popular tourist destination, you will find no end of opportunities in hospitality, sales and retail. However, at less than a 1-hour drive from Pretoria, it is well connected for workers who commute here too.

Those with young families will need to consider school access, as places are in high demand at state schools, but there are plenty of private schools on offer also. West Acres is a convenient option for families working in Nelspruit as it has plenty of access to shops, and other facilities. However, if you’re looking for something a little quieter, Steiltes might be a better choice, for its more peaceful environment, and its proximity to the great outdoors.

16. Plettenberg Bay – Best for Cost of Living

Plettenberg Bay

Located on the Garden Route on the Western Cape of South Africa, Plettenberg Bay (population 19,000) is known for its surfing. Central Beach and Lookout Beach both have surf breaks that are popular with those who love to ride the waves. With a relaxed lifestyle, this town provides an extremely affordable cost of living compared to major cities in the area.

However, it is more expensive than the rural areas that surround it. When it comes to homes, there are affordable apartments for those on a budget, ranging to luxury villas that sit on the coastline. While the primary language here is Afrikaans, English is usually widely spoken.

Plettenberg Bay is also a great place for foodies, particularly those who enjoy fresh seafood. The town is known for its oysters and has a diverse – and delicious – food scene to explore. While Plettenberg Bay provides plenty of opportunities for getting outdoors, we should mention that public transportation is limited. It is usually necessary to use a car for transport, as the town is also spread out quite widely so cycling or walking is not always an option.

That said, there are some great expat communities around, and several clubs and organisations to support those moving from abroad. Robberg Beach is a good option for expats, with great access to coastal walks and great opportunities for watersports on the doorstep, while those looking for a more countryside feel may opt for the farm-style housing in The Crags. You’ll also be closer to the animal life in The Crags with animal sanctuaries and nature reserves close by.

Are you looking to move your household belongings to South Africa?

Relocating to South Africa offers a wide variety of options, whether you are drawn towards the vibrant tech scene in Cape Town or the serene beaches in Durban, there is a place that feels like home for everyone.

As with any house move, it is vital that you research the area you’re considering carefully to see whether it will suit your needs. It may be worth speaking to expats themselves to gain good on-the-ground knowledge of life in the area you’re considering.

Once you’ve made your decision on the best city in South Africa for you, we’d be happy to help with your move. If you need to assistance in shipping your belongings to South Africa, PSS International Removals can assist you. With over 40 years experience in the industry, and an expert team, you will receive all the support and guidance you need to have a seamless and stress free moving experience.