White South African Expats Flee Global Turmoil for Home

Is South Africa Now Good Enough for Its Returning White Expats?

White South African Expats Flee Global Turmoil for Home

South Africa is currently witnessing an unprecedented trend: a significant number of expatriates are choosing to return, driven by challenging conditions in the developed world. The increasing cost of living in Britain and Europe, coupled with geopolitical tensions such as the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, has prompted many South African professionals abroad to reevaluate their living situations.

Richan Schwellnus, a tax attorney with Tax Consulting South Africa, has observed a notable shift. He mentions,

a significant uptick in inquiries from South Africans regarding the tax implications of returning home.

Similarly, real estate agents report a marked increase in sales to expatriates, indicating a willingness to reconcile with the drawbacks of South Africa they once sought to escape.

Historical Context of White Flight

The phenomenon of white flight is not new to South Africa. The term historically refers to the migration of the country’s minority white population, which saw a significant uptick following the 1994 all-race vote that brought Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) to power. This exodus has seen fluctuations, influenced by the nation’s socio-political and economic climate. In recent years, the migration trend has expanded to include black professionals, driven by concerns over safety, government corruption, economic mismanagement, and policies on land restitution and black empowerment. Despite worsening data on crime, employment, economic growth, and the addition of regular power outages, the desire to return has grown.

The Changing Perspectives

David Burger, an agent with Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Cape Town, sheds light on the changing attitudes of South Africans living abroad. He states,

South Africans living in the UK and Europe are becoming more miserable every day with wars on their doorstep, uncontrolled immigration, and the increasing cost of living.

This sentiment is echoed by Rory O’Hagan of Chas Everitt property group, who notes the influx of South Africans returning to invest in the economic hub of Johannesburg, bringing with them savings, skills, and international experience.

Political Climate and Returnee Decisions

The upcoming general election poses the possibility of the ANC losing its overall majority, potentially leading to a coalition government. Despite the political uncertainty, returnees are not waiting to see the outcomes, opting to move back and invest in the country’s future.

James Davey, a recent returnee, shares his personal story of leaving Britain due to the cost of living crisis, adverse weather, and perceived restrictions on free speech.

I could not face another day on the British hamster wheel

he confesses. After weighing the costs and benefits of living in various countries, South Africa emerged as the top choice for him and his family, offering a lifestyle and business opportunities that were unparalleled.

Davey’s experience highlights the appeal of South Africa for returnees, especially those with the financial means to afford private security and other services. This trend underscores a growing sentiment among expatriates that, despite its challenges, South Africa offers a quality of life that is increasingly hard to find elsewhere.

Financial Considerations of Returning Expats

To provide a clearer picture of the financial aspects considered by returnees like James Davey, here’s a simplified table summarizing the key considerations:

Factor UK (Previous Residence) South Africa (Current Residence)
Cost of Living High Moderate
Quality of Life Restricted High
Outdoor Lifestyle Opportunities Limited Abundant
Business Opportunities Constrained Vast
Safety and Security Services Public Private (Affordable with savings)
Energy Solutions Grid-dependent Off-the-grid options available

This table reflects the comparative analysis many South Africans abroad are conducting, leading to the decision to return to their homeland for its lifestyle and entrepreneurial opportunities, despite the ongoing challenges.

What do you think?


Written by Siphiwe Dlamini

Name: Siphiwe Dlamini
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Occupation: Journalist and Political Analyst

Siphiwe Dlamini is a dynamic and passionate journalist and political analyst based in Johannesburg, South Africa. With a unique blend of academic expertise and practical experience, Siphiwe has established himself as a trusted voice in the field of journalism, particularly in political reporting and analysis.

Siphiwe holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, where he honed his skills in investigative reporting, news writing, and multimedia storytelling. Additionally, he pursued a degree in Political Science, deepening his understanding of political systems, international relations, and policy analysis. This interdisciplinary educational background equips him with a comprehensive understanding of the socio-political landscape, enabling him to provide insightful commentary on current affairs.

Throughout his career, Siphiwe has demonstrated a commitment to journalistic integrity and a relentless pursuit of truth. He has worked for several prominent media outlets, including leading newspapers, television networks, and online platforms. His reporting has covered a wide range of topics, from domestic politics and social issues to international affairs and human rights.

Siphiwe's journalistic endeavors have taken him to the frontlines of major events, where he has provided on-the-ground coverage and in-depth analysis. His ability to contextualize complex political developments and communicate them effectively to diverse audiences has earned him recognition and respect within the industry.

Beyond his work in traditional media, Siphiwe is also actively engaged in public discourse, participating in panel discussions, debates, and academic conferences. He is committed to promoting transparency, accountability, and democratic values through his journalism.

As a political analyst, Siphiwe possesses a keen analytical mind and a nuanced understanding of political dynamics. He is adept at dissecting political rhetoric, evaluating policy proposals, and forecasting future trends. His insightful commentary helps citizens navigate the complexities of governance and make informed decisions about their collective future.

Siphiwe's expertise extends beyond mere reporting; he is also deeply involved in advocacy efforts aimed at promoting press freedom, defending human rights, and fostering democratic governance. Through his work, he strives to amplify marginalized voices, hold power to account, and contribute to the advancement of a more just and equitable society.

In his pursuit of excellence, Siphiwe remains dedicated to upholding the highest standards of journalism and serving as a catalyst for positive change in his community and beyond. With his unwavering commitment to truth, integrity, and social justice, he continues to inspire and empower others to engage critically with the world around them.


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