Top destinations for expats in South Africa

On July 15, 2020 / by Sherone Lewis / Leave a comment

Copy of Tips to help you find some work experience (9)

Are you thinking of making a move to South Africa, but are still unsure of which city you belong in? Mercer’s Quality of Living survey is an annual document that rates the top cities to live in globally. The ranking is very comprehensive and is released every year to assist multinational organisations and employers to compensate their employees reasonably when placing candidates abroad.

Regardless of South Africa’s high political and financial unpredictability, these three cities still ranked in the top 100 of the world’s best for the quality of living, and remain a desirable destination for sending expats on assignment. According to Mercer, Durban ranks above the country’s economic giant of Johannesburg and the tourist paradise of Cape Town.


Durban has ranked as the top South African city to live in, in terms of the highest quality of life. Durban’s better ranking is primarily because of its high-quality housing, abundant recreational choices and superior consumer product availability. The seaside city is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also viewed as one of the leading centres of tourism due to the city’s warm subtropical climate and large beaches.

Cape Town

Expats often find themselves seduced into staying for far longer than planned when they visit Cape Town. Expats moving to Cape Town can expect a laid-back atmosphere providing a healthy, balanced alternative to the high-stress work environment of a city life. Attractions are diverse, ranging from internationally-recognised wine farms and stunning beaches to shark cage diving and hiking trails. Living costs and salaries in Cape Town are reasonable but lower than in Johannesburg, which means expats may struggle to save. Whether an outdoor enthusiast, art lover or a foodie, it’s easy to live the good life in Cape Town.


Johannesburg is the financial centre of South Africa. The city boasts a thriving banking sector where you’ll find plenty of career options in commercial, retail and merchant banking, mortgage lending, insurance and investment. With a great variety of job prospects on offer, Johannesburg performs incredibly well when it comes to work-life balance. Awarded second place for work-life balance in Internations’ Urban Work Life Index, Johannesburg takes the lead out of all South African cities, with Cape Town coming in 15th place. This is likely due to the amount of leisure options available for adults and kids alike. It has a relatively mild climate with lots of the sunshine and an increased rate of rainfall in the summer months. The remainder of the year tends to be fairly dry.
Each of these cities is unique and has something different to offer. If you want great weather all year round, Durban is the place for you. For culture, activities and outdoor living, Cape Town should be on top of your list. If making money is your priority, the city life in Johannesburg will be the obvious choice for you.

Whether you’re drawn to Cape Town’s coastal location, Durban’s delicious international cuisine or Johannesburg’s financial opportunities, you’re sure to experience South Africa’s wonderfully diverse culture and outdoor-oriented lifestyle wherever you decide to make a life for yourself. If you need any help in making the move to South Africa, make sure you get in touch with one of consultants today!

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Sherone Lewis

Sherone Lewis

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