R37,500 a month to bail on South Africa – salary levels where workers will consider leaving

 ·21 Dec 2023

A significant number of South Africans are willing to relocate within the country for the right job or job opportunity – but an increasing number of skilled professionals are also willing to relocate internationally if the price is right.

These are some of the findings from the latest CareerJunction Employment Insights, which surveyed job seekers on their willingness to move for a job.

According to the survey results, almost 70% of South African job seekers are willing to relocate for a
new job, indicating high mobility within the labour force.

However, South Africans are significantly less likely to leave their home country. Only 26% (one in four) are willing to move to another country for employment.

The group noted that there is a clear correlation between age and willingness to move – with younger workers being far more willing to move to another province or city for the right job opportunity. Older workers tend to be less mobile and prefer sticking to where they are.

Notably, this trend reverses when looking at those who are willing to move abroad, however. Here, younger workers are less willing to venture off to a different country, while older workers are more keen.

“It seems that mobile job seekers are inclined to find international job opportunities with age,” CareerJunction said.

A worrying data point on those willing to relocate to another country for work is that those with more work experience and higher levels of qualifications and education are the most willing to do so.

This feeds into a wider narrative and anecdotal evidence pointing to South Africa losing vital and critical skills and experience through emigration.

While there appears to be no significant correlation between qualifications and job seekers willing to relocate, when looking at job seekers who state they are open to relocating, the correlation emerges.

“Looking at these trends where highly qualified and experienced job seekers are more inclined to move abroad speaks to the brain drain of local talent in South Africa,” CareerJunction said.


When looking at job seekers who state they are open to relocating, there is a stronger correlation of salaries and willing to move internationally for a job.

The more a ‘mobile’ job seeker earns, the more willing they are to leave South Africa.

“This may be partly attributed to skilled job seekers reaching an income ceiling in South Africa and finding more attractive earning opportunities abroad,” CareerJunction said.

The ‘sweet spot” for a salary to draw a South African worker overseas sits at between R450,000 and R800,000, where the decision to go becomes somewhat of a coin flip, and 50% of workers indicate a willingness to move.

From here, though, the willingness increases up to around 60%, who are willing to make the jump for a salary of R1.8 million or more.

Read: Why millionaires are calling it quits on South Africa

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