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These 5 CITIES are proving highly popular for SA EXPATS. Picture:

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SA Expats favour these five cities the most

Safety, security and great-paying jobs are what’s enticing SA expats to these cosmopolitan international cities.

05-09-23 12:27
SA Expats
These 5 CITIES are proving highly popular for SA EXPATS. Picture:

SA expats are spreading their wings in search of a digital nomad lifestyle. According to Statista, there are roughly 1 million SA expats living overseas. And that number continues to rise. People emigrating from South Africa are looking for a place that will keep them free from the political upheaval, corruption, inflation and crime of their homeland.

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So, which are the top destinations for professionals looking for adventure, high-paying jobs and affordable luxury lifestyles? Business Tech via Bloomberg, investigated the five hotspots for SA expats that are challenging the old order by luring companies and individuals to their burgeoning global cities.


sa expats
Skyline of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Picture: Britannica.

The Malaysian capital is becoming increasingly attractive to global businesses because of its large English-speaking workforce, easy flight connections and relative affordability. The city recently ranked first in a worldwide survey of some 12 000 expats.

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Average rent is $680 a month, or R13 000, which for this list is very affordable and is comparable to what SA expats know. The major cities in Malaysia have very advanced infrastructure, and the tropical resort islands are extremely relaxed and beautiful for that great work/life balance.


sa expats
The beautiful Algarve coast of Portugal. Picture:

Good news for SA expats is one of the oldest cities in Europe, Lisbon, has recently reinvented itself as an emigration hotspot. It was described by expat website, Dispatches, as the most popular expat destination in Europe at the moment. Safe to say, Lisbon is booming and no wonder when you consider its nightlife, great weather and spectacular beaches.

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Get this, a fully kitted-out three-bedroom house with a pool on the world-famous Algarve coast of Portugal will set you back $2 100 in rent. Okay, that’s still R40 000, but that’s for world-class accommodation near a ritzy beachside enclave within an international community.


sa expats
Dubai, UAE, has long been a popular destination for expats. Picture: Britannica.

The desert state has been on the SA expat radar for years now and has been challenging Hong Kong and Singapore for the most expats globally. The financial might of the Emirates has seen investment into Dubai reach billions to create a city of the future. Renting a luxury three-bedroom house in Dubai will cost in the region of $4 000, or R76 000. But the pay is excellent in the Emirates, don’t forget.

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There’s a fast-growing community of financial professionals relocating to Dubai. Taking advantage of lush golf courses, manicured estates and the year-round warm climate. For digital nomads, a time zone in line with Africa and Europe makes remote work easy, too.


sa expats
Bengaluru, India, is fast becoming the new Silicon Valley. Picture: Quartz.

Bengaluru, or Bangalore as many may still know it, is one of the world’s fastest-growing tech hubs. Now home to thousands of startups and software firms, it’s been fueled with blue-chip foreign investors such as Sequoia Capital and Goldman Sachs. So, if you’re in IT, this next Silicon Valley is an excellent option for you.

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Venture capital investment in the city touched $7.2 billion in 2020. And along with the growing expat community comes international schools, bars and restaurants that serve top-notch cuisine. Housing is affordable, too. A two-bedroom house in an upmarket neighbourhood will set you back roughly R10 500 per month. Totally doable!


sa expats
Expats are flocking to Rio. And why wouldn’t they when it’s this beautiful. Picture:

That iconic backdrop of a tree-covered Sugarloaf mountain surrounded by Rio’s Copacabana beach is one of the best in the world. Sure, the city did suffer something of a decline in the 1990s, overshadowed by financial hub Sao Paulo. But the laid-back vibe and world-famous beaches continue to hold an allure for many SA expats. Rent in Rio is high. A loft apartment will set you back roughly $4 000, or R76 000. But, come on, you’re living in Rio!

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However, the time difference back to Africa and Europe for digital nomads is keeping it further down this list. Other expats say they’re amazed at how many foreigners can be found in Rio. True to Rio’s style vibe, the city is all about balance, those who love to surf, meditate and beach will love the work/life balance it provides.

What do you think of these 5 popular SA expat hotspots? Are any of them on your list? Be sure to share your thoughts with our audience in the comments section below.