London streets, South African scenery
Source: (Creative Commons)

Living in South Africa is really similar to living in the UK in some senses, yet it is vastly different in other areas. If you’re thinking about moving to South Africa then you should probably familiarise yourself with some of the difference in the two countries.

For one difference, South Africa has infinitely more space than the UK, so there are longer distances between the country’s biggest attractions and cities. While this means things take longer to reach, it also means that within one country, people who live there can experience a number of different climates, vegetation and scenery – giving people a lot of choice In South Africa, you have the choice of beaches in Durban, safari near Johannesburg, and stunning mountain scenery in Cape Town. In the UK, for the most part the weather is similar in different parts of the country, as is the scenery.

Better Weather?

Another difference is the actual weather. South Africa is famous for being dry and sunny in general, while the UK is… well, is not. This means that the lifestyle in South Africa is automatically more centered around outdoor activities.

The cost of living also differs greatly between these nations. The conversion rate has the British Pound standing very strong against the South African Rand, meaning Britons’ money can go much further in South Africa than in the UK. The cost of living is also much lower in South Africa, in terms of rent, utilities, grocery prices and entertainment costs.

However, when comparing the NHS in the UK to South Africa’s healthcare, it is important to note that though South Africa does have a public healthcare system, expats will likely consider using the private route in SA, as the public system is very underfunded.


So what are the similarities? Well, to begin with a lot of people in South Africa speak English, with many even speaking it as a first language, especially in the cities. Another similarity is driving – South Africans drive on the left side of the road. Sports are another major similarity between the nations, with both sharing a love of rugby and cricket.

Both nations also share the fact that they are careful with their extensive national history, and have many museums documenting and commemorating such. Both countries have areas of good public schools and high ranking universities, while other areas don’t have such successful systems in place. Private schooling in both nations can be pricey.

Overall, city life in South Africa may not end up being too different to life in a UK city, but more rural areas may have larger differences in lifestyle.