Retiring to South Africa: A guide for migrants

retiring to south africaRetiring to South Africa has always been popular with foreign nationals from Europe, America and the UK. Some people only come for a couple of months at a time, while others make their stay permanent.

Usually enquiries about retired visas spike as soon as the Northern Hemisphere’s winter starts arriving.

Seeing as it’s that time of year again, we thought we’d share information that’ll come in handy for your South African retirement.

We’re going to cover:

  • Retired visa requirements
  • Transferring money to South Africa.
  • Finding and buying a home.
  • Healthcare in South Africa.

Seeing as you cannot come to South Africa without a visa, we’ll start there.

The South African retired visa requirements

To apply for the South African retired visa, you have to be able to show that you can support yourself financially.

BUT – you do not have to bring your money into South Africa.

That’s right. You could transfer money to South Africa, but you don’t have to. It is not required as per the South African retirement visa criteria.

This is in direct contrast to most other popular retirement destinations around the world.

Why is important to show that you can support yourself with money you already have? The retirement visa is extended under the assumption that you’re not coming to South Africa to work or start a business. In other words, that you won’t earn or generate an income once you’re here.

How much do I need?

You must have an income of R37 000 a month available.

If a spouse or life partner is joining you, they must also have R37 000 a month available.

With the retirement visa available for up to 4 years, i.e. temporary residency, it means each partner must have R37 000 x 48 (48 months in 4 years) available.

The total is R1 7756 000 per person.

Income can be from:

  • Cash or cash equivalents;
  • Cash income generated by capital asset(s), like rental income or pension;
  • Or a combination of both.

To have this explained in person, speak to one our immigration consultants. You can either give us a call or get us to call you by requesting a call back.

Your alternative

It is difficult at times to show life-long income. Your alternative would be to apply for a financially independent permit for South Africa. For this permit you simply need to show a net worth of R12 million.

Be warned though that you’ll also have to pay the Department of Home Affairs a once-off fee of R120,000 if you’re permit is granted. The upside is that you get permanent residency straight away.

Is there an age limit?

Most countries have minimum and maximum age restrictions in place for retirement visas.

This is not the case for South Africa. Anyone of any age can retire to South Africa.

Why is this? Because South Africa values the contributions foreigners make to the country; financial and otherwise.

Transferring money to South Africa

Should you want to transfer money to South Africa, it is advisable to use a South African foreign exchange service provider. There are two reasons for this:

  • Currency exchange companies usually offer better exchange rates and no or little banking fees.
  • A South African-based company will be familiar with South Africa’s foreign exchange control regulations.

What is ‘foreign exchange control regulations’? These are regulations that control the flow of money in and out of South Africa. All transactions are affected, no matter what amount gets transferred or who the sender or recipient is. It is important to comply with South Africa’s foreign exchange control regulations, so that your funds get registered correctly when entering the country. If this is not done, you might not be able to return your money at a later stage.

One company that is able to assist is Incompass. Incompass is part of the Intergate Group. The team can help with money transfers in and out of South Africa, and can also help you set up a bank account from overseas. You can rest assured that you’ll be in good hands – Incompass is FSCA regulated as well as SARS and Reserve Bank compliant.

Finding and buying a home in South Africa

You are spoilt for choice in South Africa! You can choose to stay in leafy suburbs, overlooking the ocean, in the heart of the city or in the countryside.

Most people prefer houses or apartments, but we have found that some also consider retirement villages. Retirement villages are not old age homes! Instead they are purpose-built communities for retirees. The focus is on lifestyle as much as on accommodation. You’ll find amenities such as medical and dental clinics, housekeeping services, and spa and gym facilities at many retirement villages.

You choice of housing at retirement villages range from apartments and townhouses to villas. Furthermore, you can choose to purchase a sectional title, buy into a share block scheme or purchase life rights. Each of these options operate on a different purchase and ownership system. You can read more about all three options here.

However, should a retirement village not be for you, our suggestion is to speak to SAHomeBuyers. SAHB is also part of the Intergate Group and can help you find the perfect home. SAHB acts on behalf and in the best interest of the buyer. The team will be able to help you expertly navigate the legal intricacies of buying a home in South Africa.

We also suggest reading these two articles:

South African healthcare

South Africa offers private and public healthcare options.

Our public healthcare system is equipped to deal with any illness or emergency. Unfortunately, many South African public hospitals are under-staffed, under-resourced, and in disrepair.

This makes private healthcare the preferred choice for many South Africans. This is despite the fact that private care is more expensive than public healthcare.

To access private healthcare, you’ll have to join a medical aid. Some of the top medical aid schemes in South Africa are:

Whichever scheme you decide on, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of options within each scheme.

Options range from:

  • Basic hospital plans – that only cover you while in hospital; to
  • High-end plans – that pay for out-of-hospital expenses including doctors, dentists, certain specialists and medication.

Trying to understand all the information on medical aid schemes can be difficult and confusing, so we recommend speaking to a medical aid broker.

Quick questions:

How do you register with a doctor or dentist in South Africa?

All you have to do is call to make an appointment. You’ll complete a registration form at the time of your appointment. This will be kept on file. You are under no obligation however to stay with the particular doctor or dentist should you want to use another one.

What does it typically cost to visit a doctor?

Prices vary, but it a GP visit could cost anywhere from R250 to R500. Rates are usually higher if your visit are over weekends or during the evening.

What is the main difference between obtaining medical aid from a local provider as opposed to an overseas one?

Mostly the cost factor. Overseas cover comes at a far higher price. That said, the overseas cover is likely to cover more than South African options. You’ll have to decide which option suits your lifestyle and pocket best.

What is the NHI?

The NHI is the National Health Insurance. Our government has been working on the NHI for some time now. The plan is to have a fully functional NHI by 2026. This date was announced recently, which has created a lot of press around the NHI. You can read some of these articles here, here and here to get a better understanding of the NHI.

Contact us if you need help with your retired visa

To find out if retiring to South Africa is an option for you on the retired visa, simply send us an email or give us a call. To reach us by phone, you can dial +27 (0) 21 424 2460 for Cape Town or +27 (0) 11 234 4275 for Johannesburg.

Our consultants can assess you against all South African visa requirements at the same time. This ensures that you apply for the correct visa for you. Our consultants are up to date on the latest visa regulations, meaning you’ll get the right advice the first time.

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