5 Reasons why Expats are moving back to South Africa

Immigration is not for the faint of heart. You have to really want to make it work and be willing to go to extreme lengths to do so or else you will become one of the statistics of South Africans returning to their home country.

According to those statistics, almost half a million expats have returned to South Africa since 2009. There are countless reasons why South Africans are moving back but I have found the most common reasons to be this:

#1 Missing family and friends

It is a no brainer that family and friends are what life is all about so it comes as no surprise that this is the number one reason for expats returning to South Africa.  For some people, it’s enough to be able to skype or facetime on a regular basis but for others, technology simply doesn’t cut it. They feel like they are missing out on all the big events like weddings, births, and (sadly) deaths.

#2 Not being able to adapt to a new culture

Living in a foreign country sure sounds romantic and exciting but when expats find themselves on unfamiliar ground, they tend to stick to what is familiar. Many South Africans never adapt to the culture of their new country because they look for South Africa around every corner. I’m not saying you should forget who you are, I’m saying you should embrace change and new experiences.

#3 Starting over financially didn’t work out

It’s no secret that starting over abroad is extremely difficult! Emigrating from South Africa, thinking you will walk into a cosy life straight away, is nothing more than a dream. Many South Africans are willing to do anything, even entry level jobs and they are the ones that stick it out with exceptional results.

#4 The weather sucks

As you might know, sunny South Africa has one of the best climates in the world.  That is if you love sunshine and heat of course. I wouldn’t recommend moving to Vancouver (Canada), Melbourne (Australia), Ireland or anywhere in the UK if you don’t appreciate rain. You will get depressed!  It is crucial that you do your homework on the climate of your intended country so you don’t get any surprises later on.

#5 Never intended on staying forever

Yes, it’s true.  Some people emigrate temporarily to gain international work experience or to study abroad.  You might even want to move to a certain country so you could travel more but never intend on staying forever.

Deciding to emigrate from South Africa is probably one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make.  For some people, the grass will be greener on the other side. It all depends on you and your attitude.  Of course, you will miss your family and friends and you’ll miss South Africa because the mind tends to only remember the good things, but always keep in mind what your reasons were for leaving and if they haven’t changed, I’d think hard and long about moving back to South Africa.

Just to clarify: These are not my reasons because once I leave, I probably won’t return! Have a look at my other posts Top reasons for South Africans to emigrate now and Non-political reasons why South Africans should emigrate.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. l says:

    I grew up in Holland. Learned what work involved. Not dressing up to go to the office after ordering staff around how to keep my house and garden. Going to the office after doing house work. Coming home with grocerie, cook, do dishes, ironing, put in laundrey, hang to dry.Clean windows, bathroom, floors. Be pregnant, give birth without anesthesia, 3 times. Raising children and do all the dirty work, cleaning loads of laundry etc.. I have lived in SA on and off for 30 years, and I am still flabbergasted by how spoiled the whites have been. How they don’t blink an eye while ordering all lowe-rclass, black people around. No, they don’t know how to coop with real life. They don’t know how to keep house. They don’t know how to look after children without help. They don’t know what the real world lives like. I see them in Holland, struggling and complaining every step of the way. Grow up you spoiled brats and smell the coffee. Black people were not going to take care of you and your kids forever.


  2. Bronwyn says:

    Great article but your comment about Melbourne is completely unfounded. It is a fact that Sydney actually has a higher rainfall average in Melbourne! Yes we have colder winters but they only last around 3 months. Plus we have the most incredible clearly defined 4 seasons with amazing autumn leaves, Spring blossoms, hot summers and snow in the High Country over winter. We’ve just had the most incredible summer lasting all the way from November to April – 6 months of absolutely stunning weather and no humidity. And I’ll top it off by saying that Melbourne has not been voted the most liveable city in the world for nothing. We have lived in Melbourne for 9 years after moving from Cape Town to London where we spent 4 years. This place is home now and we adore it. We have a mix of lovely SA and Aussie friends who are like family now. My mum is still in SA and says that she’s so thankful every day that we live here where our two boys can have the most amazing life and opportunities for their future.


    1. Hi Bronwyn, thanks so much for your comment! To be honest, if I were to move to Oz, Melbourne would be my first choice! I love the fact that there are 4 defined seasons! And I personally am a fan of rain. I also live in Cape Town and intend to move to the UK for a bit (to travel) but after that it might be somewhere in Canada or Melbourne. Which area in Melbourne do you live?


  3. Kerry says:

    If you are prepared to work hard, adapt to change and build a community around you, you can thrive anywhere. We’ve been in Australia for almost 10 years and love it.


    1. I love hearing success stories! This gives me hope! Thank you!


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