If ____ Wins the Election, I’m Moving to ... South Africa

On all-world beaches and the exchange rate dreams are made of

By Diane Rommel

If __ Wins the Election, I’m Moving to ... South Africa
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24 May 2016

Tell your Facebook feed enough times that you’re leaving the country if that guy (or gal) gets elected and eventually, you’re going to have to put your passport where your mouth is. Well, you’re in luck: this is our new series on some of the world’s best expat destinations for dissatisfied Americans.

Country of honor: South Africa

In brief: Modern South Africa was birthed in 1994 with the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of Apartheid. Since then, the second-biggest economy in Africa has confronted — with varying degrees of success — issues of racism, class mobility, economic stagnation, press freedoms, xenophobia and populism. So basically … America with giraffes.

Official language: Take your choice of 11. Conveniently, English is one of them.

Currency exchange update: Five years ago, the rand was about 6.6 to the dollar. Now, it’s closing in on 16.

Shack up here: One of the most sumptuous safari lodges in the world, book in at Lebombo Lodge on a private concession adjoining Kruger National Park. Early morning game drives, early evening sundowners and stargazing; just watch out for the hippos.

Toast your new life here: Optimally, get invited to a party atop the Carlton Centre — at 50 stories up, it’s the highest lookout point on the continent. Two notable geographic distinctions: tons of trees, as you’re in the middle of the planet’s biggest man-made urban forest, and a lack of navigable rivers: Jo’burg owes its riches to mineral deposits, not waterways. Otherwise, zip down to the bottom and head to Braamfontein’s Kitchener’s Carvery Bar, which in our experience lives up to the promise of the “legendary parties” advertised on its website.

Immigration situation: Americans get 90 days of visa-free travel to SA. After that, the country will look favorably among those of independent means, retirees with a “minimum prescribed net worth” of around 21M rand (about $1.32M), certain skilled workers and business owners and investors in specific industries (including mining, automotives, IT and biotech). Their Civic and Immigration Services will have more details.

Nota bene: South Africa not for you? Here's our guide to becoming an expat in Denmark.

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