To listen to our Podcast just click the player button or download it to your PC.
This month we interview our client manager Mark Wilkes on the topic of retirement permits for South Africa.
If you like to subscribe to our Podcasts please click on this link: https://www.intergate-immigration.com/blog/feed/podcast/
You can read the transcript of our interview with Mark below.
Intergate Immigration Service – Podcast October 2013 Edition
Hi I am Claus Lauter from Intergate Immigration, and as always thanks for joining me on our monthly podcast.
As promised last month this podcast we will be covering retiring to South Africa and I am delighted to welcome Mark Wilkes into our studio this month. Welcome Mark.
Hello Claus thanks for having me
So Mark tell me what is your role at Intergate?
Well Claus I am a one of Intergates client manager, I specifically look after the English speaking clients who enquire about our services and need immigration advice.
Why specialise in English?
At Intergate we were one of the first immigration companies who recognised the need for our clients to be able to communicate in there mother tongue and be able to relate to the needs of people emigrating from specific countries. We have amongst our team german, dutch, french spanish, afrikaans and of course English speakers.
Mark you sound quite English?
That’s correct Claus I moved to South Africa some 6 years ago now with my partner and I myself used Intergate Immigration for not just my permit but also many relocation issues as well.
So you yourself are an immigrant to South Africa does that help you in your role?
Absolutely – I fell in love with South Africa as many visitors do and decided to make it my home. Having been through the whole immigration process myself its easy for me to relate to all the decisions, frustrations and opportunities my clients face. Its a definite advantage understanding the difference between how things work in South Africa and how things work in say the UK?.
So how long have you been at Intergate Mark?
They didn’t give me much time off when I emigrated here Claus so I started a few weeks after my arrival so its seven years now.
Seven years is quite a long time tell me do you still find the job interesting?
That’s the best thing about my role. Its not just about permits and visas but moving peoples life’s. I get the chance to make a real difference to someone’s move to South Africa as successful as it can be and each day and each client gives me a new challenge. One of Intergates owners says I must have emigrated to South Africa a few thousand times by now as he is sure I treat every client as if it is me moving myself.
As Intergates most experienced client manager Mark how do you see your role?
Immigration can be a daunting process and of course it can be stressful. My experiences have shown me 3 things that really matter:
1. Empathy and understanding – I get to know my clients and their unique circumstances making sure I tailor my advice and support to their needs.
2. Service – I am always available to my clients, react to phone calls and emails promptly and pride myself on not just maintaining mine and Intergates excellent reputation but improving it.
3. Knowledge – moving to South Africa is a big emotional and financial decision for our clients and it deserves expert assistance. Websites can only tell you so much and its the client contact that matters. Advice and guidance so my clients can make informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls is paramount.
Well Mark today we are here to chat about retirees and the immigration process to South Africa for them. Tell me are there a lot of retirees choosing South Africa?
Yes there are Claus and its one of the areas I specialise in.
What makes South Africa so attractive to them?
There are a number of reasons some pull factors and some push factors. Many of the push factors revolve around people seeking a better lifestyle than they currently enjoy in their own countries. Be it the bad weather, high cost of living and even in some cases a sense of disappointment in their own country.
And the pull factors?
Well firstly its an aspiration of many retirees to retire abroad. Traditionally popular destinations such as Australia, Canada and the USA have immigration policies that are not too kind to retirees. They tend to seek immigrant workers with certain skill sets or those looking to invest into the country. Spain, France and other European destinations have gotten expensive had their own issues in recent years.
South Africa is immigration friendly to retirees and has no restrictions in terms of age in order to obtain a retirement permit. Beyond this its a welcoming country with many immigrants already her so settling in and making friends is easy.
And what sort of lifestyle can they expect in South Africa?
This is probably South Africa’s biggest draw card, firstly a first class infrastructure. South Africa offers a sophisticated banking and finance environment – in fact one of the safest in the world. Our communications industry is well advanced which is important for keeping in touch with loved ones back home.
Secondly – and please excuse me if I am biased but it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Amazing scenery, wildlife, wine routes, hundreds of miles of pristine beaches and of course a wonderful climate.
Thirdly – the cost of living still compares favourably with many other countries. Socialising such as eating out, the theatre and hobbies are still affordable and in many cases means that the client can improve their lifestyle.
What about help around the house Mark – for elder clients this may well be important?
Its very common in South Africa for people to employ domestic workers for cleaning, gardening etc and typically this costs around 150 to 200 rand per day – or in pounds 10 to 12 pounds. Also handymen are readily available for all those other odd jobs at similar rates.
And the housing Mark – can you tell us a bit a bit about this?
Of course where one lives is very important – South Africa has no restrictions on ownership of property by foreigners nor any special taxes. Cost wise depends on where you live but for those looking to purchase property 2 million rand upwards can get you a very nice home in a good area. We also offer support to those moving here which is particularly useful to retired and foreign buyers with a dedicated buyers agency. It guides the client through all the pitfalls of buying a property and acts purely in the buyers interests.
What are the most popular areas for retirees in South Africa?
Historically and still popular is Cape Town – the Atlantic Ocean, Southern Suburbs and winelands areas are still, amongst the most sought after. That said with the increasing amount of tourists exploring South Africa there has been more and more retirres heading to Durban, around the kruger national park and the Garden route.
There really is becoming a more and more diverse spread of retirees through out South Africa and with such a choice of environments even the most discerning are finding there perfect retirement location.
I know medical treatment is an important issue for all of us as we grow older, hows that work in South Africa?
One of the things very different to South Africa than in most ‘first world’ countries is the lack of a social security net. Although progress has been made it is important to understand that you have to make sure you can look after your own needs. Medical is one of those areas. There are some absolutely first class facilities and professionals – in fact medical tourism is one of the fastest growing in South Africa. But for the foreigner they need to ensure they have medical aid in place, This is a type of medical insurance and should be viewed as compulsory for new arrivals.
The nice thing with South African medical aid is that they can not turn you down for cover, existing conditions can have waiting periods imposed and the premium payable can be age adjusted but they must accept you.
And can you assist with medical aid Mark?
Yes we can with our in house team providing the advice.
And everyone favourite subject Mark – tax?
South Africa is what I would call tax friendly. In the first place there is no tax on overseas pensions which depending on the tax laws in the clients country of origin can mean a tax free income – obviously a huge advantage. Secondly is the very low rates of capital gains tax at a maximum of 10% – again great news for those with savings.
You said earlier there is no age restrictions on retirees but what is the main criteria?
Basically the South African government does not want retires that will be a burden on the state so the main criteria is a financial one. Each applicant must prove they have 20,000 rand a month guaranteed income.
What do you mean by guaranteed income?
The easiest way to explain it is income that will last for life, such as a pension or rental income. As good practise we will always access this before taking any prospective client on to ensure they comply with the criteria.
Any hints and tips for retirees Mark?
Lots and lots in fact we have a relocation workbook that interested parties are welcome to email me for – it details all the things you need to consider as well as numerous hints and tips. One of the things that made me use Intergate, as well as join them, is that we can offer clients a full one stop service that not only takes care of the immigration but items such as housing, insurance, money transfers and tax issues.
Thanks Mark and if people want to know more?
They are very welcome to email me on mark at intergate hyphen immigration dot com. Or can call me on our UK number +44 (0) 203 764 0889.
And i understand you will be in the UK soon?
Indeed yes. I go over to the UK twice a year and conduct a number of free one to one consultations. Anyone wishing to take advantage need simply only email me or call me and reserve a spot for my November trip.
Mark thanks so much for your time and for all our listeners we will be welcoming Mark back next month as he talks us through Intergates relationship with Home Coming Revolution and an upcoming show he will be attending with them in November this year.
Thank you Claus and look forward to seeing you next month.
Well that’s all from me today, thanks for joining us and as always you are welcome to get more details on our website – just type intergate immigration into google to find us.
Tune in next time for our special feature on Home Coming Revolution when we will give more details on the show in London and talk through some of the issues facing homecomers and there partners.
Until then this is good bye from Claus.