South Africa: What You Need to Know about Banking, Shopping, Healthcare, and More

One of the motivations for starting Joburg Expat was that I wanted to help those of you who came behind me with the long and often complicated process of settling in. I wanted to answer all of your questions and spare you some of the inefficiencies I had to endure.

In the end, my blog took on a life of its own and veered more towards the hilarious recounting of my day-to-day adventures, the almost philosophical reflections about South Africa and its people and life in general, especially as a parent, and a whole host of other stuff that popped into my head. Especially when it came to toilet humor. As a result, even though I’ve tried to keep it organized, the basic how-to aspect might have gotten lost at times. Whether you’re in the process of planning an expat assignment in South Africa or have just landed with 20 bags, 3 kids, and a dog, you probably have a million specific questions about the things that need to be done in the next few months.

The good news is, I’ve been answering precisely those questions in a series of articles I wrote for Expat Quotes, a website focused on services for expats around the world. It covers a wide range of countries and topics, allowing you to easily find what you need to know. Below I’ve listed excerpts from my most recent Expat Quotes contributions including links to the full articles. I hope you find them useful.

Opening a Bank Account

It is a question many an expat has asked when moving to a new country. Do I have to open a new bank account or can I somehow manage with the one I have in my home country?
To some extent, the answer will depend on how you receive your income. Some multinational companies pay their employees entirely in their home countries, some companies pay everything in the host country’s currency, and some allow you to divide up your income between both according to an agreed-upon ratioRead more…

banking in South Africa
Standard Bank Internet Banking


To the surprise of many newly arrived visitors and expats, South Africa is a very Westernized country – at least on the surface. This will become evident when you turn your attention to (almost) the first task at hand upon arrival – shopping. Most likely you will find yourself with rather more choices than you bargained for. Read more…


Most South Africans consider their public healthcare system a disgrace. In theory, everyone has access to state hospitals and health centers for emergencies and routine doctor’s visits as well as the dispensation of medicine, all for free or a relatively small fee. But due to understaffing, a shortage of skills, a lack of supplies, and frequent strikes, service is often bad and unreliable. Read more…

Going to the Doctor 
Unlike the majority of South Africans, most expats living in South Africa are fortunate enough to be able to afford private healthcare. This means you are more or less free to select your doctor of choice. Read more…

Choosing the Right School

Many expats automatically look at enrolling their children in an international school, because that is the thing expats do. But South Africa also has a number of excellent private schools on offer that are well worth looking into. Which school you end up choosing for your child in South Africa will depend on several factors. Read more…

International & Private Schools in South Africa

Below you will find a list of the most popular schools for expat children in South Africa, giving you a brief description of each school, contact details, and tuition rates. Unless otherwise noted, each school offers a K-12 education, culminating either in an International Baccalaureate, a South African matriculation, or another high school diploma based on which country’s curriculum that specific school follows. A few schools offer bilingual education but at most schools the language of instruction is English. Read more…

I hope you have found some answers to your questions. There is more on the Expat Quotes website and I hope you’ll explore it further. I’ve also written similar how-to articles for the websites Expat Arrivals and Expatica. Good luck with your expat assignment!

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