Retiring to South Africa: A guide for migrants

retiring to south africa

Considering retiring to South Africa? Then you’re at the right place! You’ll find all the information you need on this page. We’re discussing:

  1. The South African Retired Visa and its criteria
  2. How to transfer money to and from South Africa
  3. Finding and buying a home in South Africa
  4. South African healthcare

1. The South African Retired Visa

The South African Retired Visa lets foreign nationals like yourself spend their retirement years in South Africa.

Not ready to make a permanent move? You don’t have to. You could also only spend part of the year in South Africa if you so choose.

And here’s more good news – the South African retirement visa has no age restrictions. You can thus apply for this visa at any age.

What are the Retired Visa requirements?

When you hold a Retired Visa, you’re in South Africa as a retiree. As a retiree, you won’t be allowed to work or run a business in SA – activities that would normally be a source of income.

For this reason, the Department of Home Affairs wants to see that you’re able to support yourself financially while living in South Africa.

What are the funds I must prove?

For the Retired Visa, you must be able to prove a monthly income of R37,000. This R37,000 must be available for each month that your visa is valid.

Usually, a Retired Visa is issued for up to four years, which means you must have at least R37,000 x 48 (48 months in 4 years) available.

That means a total of R1,776,000.

How do I prove my monthly income?

Your 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.

You’re more than welcome to speak to one our immigration consultants for a detail explanation. You can either give us a call or get us to contact you by requesting a call back.

Can my spouse or life partner join me in SA?

Yes, your spouse or life partner are allowed to join you in South Africa. Your husband, wife or partner can do one of two things:

  1. Apply for an accompanying spousal or life partner visa, with you as the main Retired Visa applicant.
  2. Apply for their own Retired Visa. Your husband, wife, or life partner will thus have to meet all of the Retired Visa’s requirements, including the financial criteria as explained above.

What if I can’t meet the financial requirements?

If you can’t meet the financial criteria of the Retired Visa, you could apply for a Financially Independent Permit. Instead of having to prove a monthly income, you need to show a net worth of R12 million.

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 with the Financially Independent Permit.

2. Transferring money to South Africa

You’ll usually have two options when transferring money to South Africa:

  1. Using your local bank
  2. Using a money transfer company

Our advice? Use a South African money transfer company. The reason being that a South African money transfer is familiar with our foreign exchange control regulations.

What is ‘foreign exchange control regulations’?

South Africa’s foreign exchange control regulations control the flow of money into and out of South Africa – and makes transferring money tricky!

The aim of these regulations, according to the South African Reserve Bank, is to:

  • prevent the loss of foreign currency resources through the transfer abroad of real or financial capital assets held in South Africa,
  • effectively control the movement of financial and real assets into and out of South Africa; and
  • avoid interfering with the efficient operation of the commercial, industrial and financial system.

Why is it important to adhere to South Africa’s control exchange regulations?

Because if you don’t, it might have serious repercussions later on. For instance, if you fail to follow the correct processes and procedures when transferring your money to South Africa, you may incur a 10% ‘fee’ on currency transfers out of SA. In extreme cases, you may not be able to repatriate your funds out of South Africa.

You can read more about South Africa’s exchange control regulations here. To consult with a professional, contact Incompass. Incompass is part of the Intergate Group and a FSCA (Financial Sector Conduct Authority) regulated money transfer company .

3. 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.

To find the perfect home you can visit any of these prominent real estate websites:

Each of these sites list properties ranging from homes to small holdings that are for sale or to rent.

If you’re considering buying in the greater Cape Town area, including the Cape Winelands, and you’d like assistance with your purchase, contact SAHomeBuyers (SAHB).

SAHomeBuyers 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.

What about retirement villages?

South Africa does have 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 typically 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.

4. 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 healthcare 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. These 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 a GP visit could cost anywhere from R350 to R500 or more. 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.

Contact us to find out if you qualify for a Retired Visa

Want to know if retiring to South Africa is an option for you? Simply take our quick and free eligibility assessment.

Once we have your information, a consultant will contact you to discuss your eligibility for a Retired Visa. Our team is up to date on the latest visa regulations, meaning you’ll get the right advice the first time.