South African expats are returning from places like Australia and the UK. Image: Pixabay

The reasons why many South African expats are returning home

In spite of challenges like load shedding, water shortages and rampant crime, many SA expats are finding reasons to return home.


South African expats are returning from places like Australia and the UK. Image: Pixabay

A large number of South African expats left their country of origin to seek ‘greener pastures.’

This emigration has often been motivated by factors like safety, free healthcare and more often than not – better economic opportunities.

The latter has now enabled many of these expats to return home with better buying power, in a country with a lifestyle that is hard to beat.

Expats invest in SA property

According to Bradd Bendall, acting chief executive officer of BetterBond, the favourable exchange rate is prompting expatriates to invest in property in South Africa.

They perceive the country as offering better value for long-term financial stability, writes BizCommunity.

“Inflation and higher interest rates are not unique to South Africa, but having pounds or dollars in the bank does give buyers of local properties a considerable financial edge,” Bendall says.

“It is therefore not surprising that, according to the Prime Residential Index, Cape Town has one of the best performing luxury markets in the world.”

Cape Town versus London and Sydney

The latest report from global estate agency Knight Frank puts a lot of this into perspective.

In London, R18.8m can purchase around 33 square metres of property, and for the same amount in Sydney, buyers can secure an extra 10 square metres.

In Cape Town however, investors can buy 196 square metres for that amount.

The surprising pull of Gauteng for expats

While Cape Town remains popular among expats for its lifestyle, Gauteng’s economic opportunities make it an appealing destination. It contributes 34% to the national economy, offering diverse job options and higher incomes.

BetterBond’s February property brief showed that Gauteng dominated the home-loan market in 2023. Semigration is driving house-price inflation in coastal areas of South Africa, and Gauteng provides better value for money.

Properties in luxury lifestyle estates are particularly sought after by returning buyers.

Prioritising family

Bendall says there is evidence to suggest that many South Africans settled overseas before they were married, and now want to bring their families back for a better lifestyle.

Additionally, buyers may also want to return so that they can be with family members who are getting older.

“They have pounds or dollars saved up, and they know they can afford far more than they could overseas,” he says.

Remote working has been a game-changer

Lastly, a portion of these buyers might still be employed by international companies. The flexibility of remote work has enabled them to settle back in South Africa, or become ‘swallows.’

“Some even opt to buy second properties in South Africa where they return for the summer, while working remotely,” Bendall adds.