Foreign nationals are choosing South Africa for their retirement

In June 2023, a parliamentary Q&A session revealed that over 3,000 foreign nationals applied for South African Retired Visas between 2020 and 2022.

These foreign nationals came from 112 countries worldwide, including European countries and the United States, but also from countries on our own continent.   

UK retirees love South Africa

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in parliament that the Department of Home Affairs received 3,645 retired visa applications up to the end of 2022’s financial year.

The UK accounted for 571 applications, and Home Affairs received 508 applications from China. The rest of the top five countries with the most applications are Germany, Bangladesh, and the USA.


In total, 1,645 applicants were successful, while 499 foreign nationals had their applications rejected. The reasons for the rejections ranged from incomplete documents to applicants unable to meet the retired visa’s financial requirements.

The average turnaround time of a retired visa is 12 months, and 1,449 applicants were still waiting on outcomes at the time of the parliamentary Q&A taking place.  

Here’s why foreign nationals retire in South Africa

In 2022, South Africa was one of the top 50 countries globally to retire to, according to EnjoyTravel. SA ranked 39th and beat countries like Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.

Our country at Africa’s southernmost point is a popular destination thanks to its mild climate, affordable living costs, high quality of living, and laid-back lifestyle.

For example, groceries cost 49.7% less in Cape Town than in Amsterdam:

1L MilkZAR 17.35 (EUR 0.86)ZAR 23.48 (EUR 1.16)
Loaf of Fresh White BreadZAR 17.18 (EUR 0.85)ZAR 32.04 (EUR 1.58)
12 EggsZAR 34.36 (EUR 1.70)ZAR 79.81 (EUR 3.94)
1KG CheeseZAR 128.06 (EUR 6.32)ZAR 238.69 (EUR 11.78)
1KG Chicken FilletsZAR 82.49 (EUR 4.07)ZAR 196.08 (EUR 9.67)
1KG Beef RoundZAR 116.07 (EUR 5.73)ZAR 329.84 (EUR 16.27)
1KG RiceZAR 27.51 (EUR 1.36)ZAR 41.29 (EUR 2.04)
1KG PotatoesZAR 19.35 (EUR 0.95)ZAR 29.23 (EUR 1.44)
1KG TomatoesZAR 25.41 (EUR 1.25)ZAR 56.42 (EUR 2.78)
1KG ApplesZAR 25.11 (EUR 1.24)ZAR 44.69 (EUR 2.20)
1KG BananasZAR 26.40 (EUR 1.30)ZAR 26.40 (EUR 1.30)
1KG OrangesZAR 22.52 (EUR 1.11)ZAR 35.74 (EUR 1.76)
LettuceZAR 17.55 (EUR 0.87)ZAR 22.45 (EUR 1.11)

And dining out is going to cost you 43% less in Cape Town than in Berlin:

Meal at an Inexpensive RestaurantZAR 175.00 (EUR 8.63)ZAR 243.24 (EUR 12.00)
3-Course Meal for 2 People at a Mid-Range RestaurantZAR 675.00 (EUR 33.30)ZAR 1,216.21 (EUR 60.00)

South Africa’s diversity also counts in its favour

In South Africa, you can go on safari, taste wine, swim at a Blue Flag beach, and go to some of the best restaurants in the world. You could even do it all in one day!

On top of that, South Africa’s scenery ranges from subtropical coastlines to semi-deserts and sprawling cities. And let’s not forget that you can walk in Madiba’s footsteps and take the cable car up our famous Table Mountain.

Where do retirees go?

In our experience, the Western Cape is the most popular region with foreign nationals, especially Cape Town and surrounds and the Garden Route.

You’re bound to find expats in these cities and towns:

You’ll find many accommodation options in these areas, ranging from townhouses and luxury apartments to security and golf estate living.

The amount you’ll spend on a home would depend on the area and several other factors, such as the property’s size.

With that said, let’s look at the purchase prices of some 2-bedroom apartments on sale right now on Property24:

Bantry Bay (Atlantic Seaboard):




Plettenberg Bay:

Eager to also retire to South Africa?

Retiring to South Africa as a foreign national is possible if you hold a retired visa.

To qualify to apply for a retired visa, you must receive a minimum retirement income of R37,000 a month or R40,000 a month if your spouse or life partner is joining you. This income must be passive income, for example, pension, state pension, annuities, dividends, and rental income or interest.

You could also consider the financially independent permit, which grants permanent residency if you’re unable to prove a monthly retirement income.

To see if you qualify for either visa, take our free immigration assessment, and one of our immigration consultants will contact you to discuss your eligibility. You’ll hear from us within 24 hours.