Crime, political instability and a struggling economy make SA a ‘pass’ for expats

 ·26 Sep 2016
Expat jobs south africa

While South Africa may be ranked as one of the cheapest and most affordable countries for expats to settle down or retire in, the country is slowly losing its appeal to foreigners, a new index shows.

The HSBC Expat Explorer index is based on an annual survey, which focuses on the experiences of expats in their new country of residence. The  overall league table ranks each country using a score that summarises expats’ overall impression of the country.

In the 2016 index, 45 countries were assessed, with South Africa ranking 33rd – down from 32nd in 2015, and from 22nd in 2014. In 2013, South Africa was ranked 15th, though it should be noted that more countries have joined the index since.

The survey is split into three main categories, looking at life for expats in terms of economics and financial security, family life and quality of life.

South Africa had its poorest showing in the economic category, where it placed 39/45 – the worst factor being the level of economic confidence, where the country placed last.

The second worst factor – closely related to economic confidence – was the political indicator, where South Africa placed 43/45.

The country’s economy has struggled in the last 12 months, adversely affected not only by global slowdown and natural disasters such as extreme drought, but also by political in-fighting and widespread corruption.

In the second category – family life – South Africa ranked 19/45, with particularly good healthcare for expats (8/45) in a generally affordable environment for kids. Two blights in this group include the poor quality of schooling (32/45) and tolerance in society (34/45).

In the experience of life and quality of life category, South Africa ranked a middling 22/45 – helped by a healthy property market (10/45), and South Africans’ friendly nature (10/45), but damaged by safety and security concerns, where again, the country ranked last.

The tables below show South Africa’s performance based on the survey:


Indicator Rank /45
Work-life balance 14th
Entrepreneurship 25th
Disposable income 28th
Wage growth 31st
Career progression 32nd
Job security 36th
Savings 36th
Politics 43rd
Economic confidence 45th
Overall 39th


Indicator Rank /45
Property 10th
Making friends 10th
Healthcare 11th
Health 14th
Integration 15th
Quality of life 16th
Finance 27th
Culture 30th
Safety 45th
Overall 22nd


Indicator Rank /45
Health 8th
Childcare quality 13th
Overall cost of children 16th
Quality of life 17th
Social life 17th
Integration 18th
Closeness with partner 25th
School quality 32nd
Tolerance 34th
Overall 19th

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