Spike in South Africans looking to emigrate – with load shedding the ‘final nail in the coffin’

More South Africans are considering leaving the country because of load shedding and a dramatic increase in the cost of living, says Sarah Young, an investment migration manager at Sable International. “People are paying more for less and are fed up,” she said.

Young said that for many people who were still on the fence about emigrating, increased load shedding in recent weeks is the ‘final nail in the coffin’, making them seriously evaluate their options outside of the country.

As load shedding has increased in scale and duration over the past few weeks – including successive days of stage 6 – Young said that it is not the only thing pushing people towards the door.

Additional push factors include:

  • Concern over the future of the country;
  • More safety and stability;
  • Better education for their children; and
  • Better job opportunities.

Financial services firm FNB  published its latest property barometer highlighting the key reasons why South Africans are selling their homes right now.

The group’s data shows that 8% of home sales across the country right now are emigration-related. However, this ratio increases to around 15% in the R2.6 million – R3.6 million price band and the over R3.6 million segments.

FNB’s data also shows that a growing number of families are selling their homes to relocate elsewhere in the country, with semigration-related sales jumping from 8% in Q1 2020 to 13% in Q2 2022. The bank said that this shift can be partly attributed to the growing work-from-home trend, as people move away from their offices to more desirable areas.

The bank’s internal data shows that the semigration trend is largely driven by the relocation path from Gauteng to the neighbouring North West province (Haarteebeersport) as well as coastal towns in the WC (Hermanus, Mosselbay, George, Cape Town) and KZN (mainly Ballito).

FNB’s data shows the average time properties spent on the market for sale lengthened to nine weeks and four days, from approximately eight weeks in the previous quarter.

This varied markedly across regions, with the Western Cape (eight weeks, one day) and Eastern Cape (nine weeks and four days) faring better, the bank said.  Homes in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng recorded the longest time on market, at approximately ten weeks, up from seven weeks and nine weeks respectively.

By price segment, the R1.6 million -R2.6 million bracket recorded the shortest time of eight weeks and six days, albeit up from six weeks and four days.

Sable International also noted that it is highly skilled South Africans who are considering their options. According to Young, medical professionals, alongside people who can work remotely, are increasingly looking to base themselves outside the country.

Pessimism among this demographic has been on the increase, with professional financial services company PPS reporting a general decline in professionals’ confidence in the future of their profession, with a shift from 67% in 2019 to 60% at the end of 2021.

PPS’s latest Graduate Professional Index (GPI) showed that highly skilled professionals across healthcare, financial services industries, and legal and engineering fields all are also losing confidence in the future of their country.

Where they are going

Sable International pointed to the following two options for immigration that are in high demand. The immigration firm reported ‘a lot’ of enquiries about their new passive income visa service for Portugal which has recently reopened its golden visa programme to accept new applicants.

Through Portugal’s Golden Visa Residence Programme (GRPP), qualifying applicants can receive European Union residency rights if they make a significant investment into property in the country, said Sable International.

“People are wanting to go to Portugal, but a lot of people we speak to are also evaluating their UK immigration and citizenship options in tandem,” said Young.

According to Sable International, the UK is offering new routes to British citizenship for South Africans and other people alike who previously did not qualify.

Under new laws, if you have a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent born in the UK or a former British territory, you could have a claim to British citizenship, Sable said.

“In the past, many have been denied nationality rights from their maternal line because there has been no change in the law. If you can prove that you, your parents or your grandparents would have received British citizenship under this new law, were it not for that gender discrimination, you can now receive your British citizenship,” it said.

Read: Big push to scrap 5-year driving licence in South Africa

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Spike in South Africans looking to emigrate – with load shedding the ‘final nail in the coffin’