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  • Writer's pictureHannah D

Best cities for expats to live in South Africa

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Moving to a new country can be a daunting experience. With a population of over 60 million, South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Finding the perfect place to live can therefore be stressful and overwhelming.

Whether you are planning to buy or rent in South Africa, you'll need to do your homework to determine which city is best for you. My guide covers the main cities in South Africa and some of the more beautiful areas for expats to live in. I recommend visiting any suburbs you're considering living in to see firsthand whether you like the area, and to alleviate any safety concerns you may have.

Look at sites such as Private Property and property24, as well as estate agents, for available sales and rentals.


The largest city in South Africa, also known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold".

Johannesburg is going through somewhat of a rebirth, with the construction of loft-style apartments and offices turning neighbourhoods into trendy, vibrant hangouts.

  • Fourways - A shoppers paradise with a popular outdoor market and large malls. It also has several reputable schools.

  • Sandton - Plenty of choices when it comes to apartments, houses, and estates. A short commute to the business district and the Gautrain.

  • Rosebank - Smaller with more of a community feel, but not lacking in parks, restaurants, and shops.

  • Bryanston - Here you'll find larger homes close to quality schools.

  • Parkhurst - A quaint little suburb that is popular with residents for its street life and sidewalk cafes.


The administrative capital of the Republic of South Africa (RSA). Pretoria is proud of its culture and history with many monuments and museums and is home to some Jo'burgers who prefer its slower pace and laidback lifestyle. Along with warm climates and vast outdoor spaces, it's a great choice for expats who work from home but are happy to commute to work several times a week.

  • Waterkloof - An affluent sought-after area with entertainment facilities, restaurants, and attractions. It's even home to some ambassadorial residences.

  • Brooklyn - Located only a short distance to the city, you can find high-end properties and several upmarket malls here, along with the Pretoria Boys High School.

  • Centurion - The perfect base to explore the city. There are many primary and secondary schools and the largest private hospital on the African continent.

  • Waverley - Full of character, Waverley offers a home for everyone with the safety and security of the area the main considerations.

  • Groenkloof - Famous for its white Jacaranda trees. The University of Pretoria campus is only a 3 km drive and the N14 freeway links Pretoria and Johannesburg (via the N1).


The third-largest city in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town. On the road to recovery after the July riots, this coastal city is known for its African, Indian and colonial influences. The warm climate and beaches add to the expat appeal.

  • Morningside - An affluent suburb that is favoured by those working in the financial district. Despite how close it is to the city, it remains relatively peaceful and quiet.

  • Glenwood - Caters to young and trendy professionals who have a penchant for city living.

  • Durban North - A stone's throw away from the city centre with breathtaking views. Schools and amenities are on your doorstep.

  • Queensburgh - Great for families due to its affordability and variety of properties, not to mention schools.

  • Hillcrest - Amongst rolling hills you'll find many estates here and it's only a 30-minute drive to Durban Central.

Cape Town

Cape Town is the most popular city for expats to live in South Africa. Appealing thanks to its rich history, an abundance of things to do and famous landmarks. There are many safe neighbourhoods in Cape Town for expats to make their new home.

  • City Bowl - An area at the foot of Table Mountain with lots of amenities and close to quality schools.

  • Waterkant - Popular with young professionals due to its proximity to Cape Town Central Business District (CBD) and within walking distance to shops and restaurants.

  • Table View/Bloubergstrand - Enjoy spectacular views of Table Mountain and lots of watersports such as kite surfing, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding.

  • Hout Bay - There's no shortage of walking trails and sandy beaches in Hout Bay. There's also a real feeling of community here.

  • Atlantic Seaboard (Sea Point, Camps Bay, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay & Green Point) - The perfect area in terms of proximity to the ocean and inner city. Upmarket with hip bars, restaurants, and shops.

  • Southern Suburbs (Constantia, Claremont, Newlands, and Bishopscourt) - Those looking for secure gated estates close to top private schools, look no further.

  • Helderberg (Somerset West and Gordon's Bay) - More of a commute into the CBD, but worth it if you like peace and quiet as well as being close to some of the finest wine estates.


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