South Africa is one of the best destinations for digital nomads. Whether you enjoy hiking, beach hopping, wine tasting or diving into delicious foods, South Africa has something for everyone! In recent years, it’s become increasingly popular for digital nomads. More and more foreigners are leaving home to work and travel and enjoy all that this country has to offer. This South Africa digital nomad guide will walk you through everything you need to know before you catch the next flight!
South Africa Visas for Digital Nomads
At the moment, there is no South African Digital Nomad Visa. Nor any visas designed specifically for digital nomads in South Africa. There is talk of creating a visa that would allow digital nomads to spend more than a few months living and travelling in South Africa. Most nationalities can stay up to 90 days on a ‘tourist visa’. Although many people don’t have to worry about getting a visa ahead of time or on arrival, it’s crucial that you check the requirements for your country of origin.
If you wish to extend your visitors permit in South Africa, you have two options. You can apply through the VFS to renew your ‘Temporary Residents Visa’. You’re able to apply for this extension any time within the 90 days but it’s recommended that you complete it within the first 30 days of arrival. This is because it can take anywhere between 10 and 12 weeks to hear back about your application (especially during the high season – December to March). The process to extend your visa can be a bit tedious and time-consuming, so be prepared.
The other option you have is what’s referred to as a ‘visa run’. A visa run is when you leave the country and enter another country in order to come back on a fresh 90-day visa. While it sounds like a piece of cake to book a cheap flight to Namibia and back, that often won’t cut it. You’ll need to fly to a non-bordering country in order to secure a new visa when you get back to South Africa. For example, you can fly to Tanzania or Kenya and back to South Africa and you’ll be fine. There are no set rules as to how long you need to be out of the country in order to get a new visa. However, 10-14 days is recommended in order to avoid suspicion.
Choosing Where to Live in South Africa
Cape Town is a popular place for digital nomads
There are many great places to call your home when you land in South Africa. Johannesburg is the capital and biggest city, as well as the business hub of South Africa. With that being said, it’s not near the ocean and is lacking a strong digital nomad community at the moment. Cape Town is by far the most popular destination for digital nomads in the country. With a long stretch of white sandy coastline and a beautiful mountainous landscape surrounding the city, it’s no wonder why so many nomads choose to make Cape Town their home base! Green Point, Sea Point and Gardens are all great neighbourhoods to look for accommodation if you’re planning on working from Cape Town.
Accommodation in South Africa
I would suggest you book accommodation for your arrival. Definitely one week, but probably two weeks as this will give you time to settle in and get your bearings as to where you want to work and travel in South Africa. When looking for short term accommodation in South Africa, you have a few options:
Hostels in South Africa
Hostels are a great option for digital nomads who are just starting out and on a budget. If you’re not comfortable sharing a room with people you don’t know, you can always get a private room in a hostel. That way you can still socialize with others while maintaining a place of your own to get work done. As you have just read, Cape Town is a digital nomad hub in South Africa. For your arrival these are some great hostels. 91 Loop Boutique Hostel is receiving great reviews. Only .3km from the centre of town, it is clean, safe and modern. A great place to start your stay in South Africa. Never at Home Green Point is another traveller favourite hostel in Cape Town. Located in Green Point it offers travellers modern, safe and clean accommodation in single, twin, female-only and dorm rooms. Great location with plenty of co-working coffee shops to work in. Get pricing and availability here. For more hostel options visit Booking.com or HostelWorld.
Hotels in South Africa
You’ll find many different hotels scattered throughout the country. Hotels are generally the best option for secure wifi and a safe and quiet place to work. But you may not find many other digital nomads staying at hotels, that’s if you want to meet other digital nomads. However, for your arrival, they are a great options. Hotels range from budget to splurge. Most digital nomads to South Africa, will book into budget to medium range hotels that offer free wifi. Mojo Hotel is a great starting point in Sea Point. It has a roof top terrace with great views and is close to cafes and the nightlife. Rooms are comfortable and clean and great for the digital nomad starting out in South Africa. For more options check out the map.
Airbnb in South Africa
There are plenty of Airbnb’s available in South Africa. This option is best if you’re planning to come with a partner or friend and want a place for a few months. Particularly if you like having a base to work and travel South Africa from.
This is the hardest to come by if you’re only in the country for a short amount of time. Most landlords are usually after a 12-month commitment which you may not want to give. That’s not to say there aren’t any options. You can use Facebook groups such as Huis Huis to look for people renting out a room for a few months!
Where to Work in South Africa
There are plenty of coffee shops for digital nomads to work in.
This South Africa digital nomad guide wouldn’t be complete without detailing the various options you have for workspaces. If you’re working and living in a major city such as Johannesburg or Cape Town (and their suburbs), you’ll find more than a few co-working spaces. Besides co-working spaces, cafes and restaurants are also commonly used by digital nomads in South Africa. Cape Town specifically is riddled with great cafes with wifi in the city and inner suburbs.
What Digital Nomad Job Will You Do In South Africa
Digital Nomads work online while they travel and it is wise to be making an income from this online work before you head to South Africa. After all you do not want to be in a foreign country with no income. So what online job will you be doing? Here is my list of possible online work opportunities you could do. And to be a digital nomad you require certain equipment, make sure you have the right equipment to be able to work online and be comfortable in your workplace.
Things To Consider about before becoming a Digital Nomad in South Africa
Before you decide to work as a digital nomad in South Africa, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
● Loadshedding. It’s not uncommon for the power to go out for periods of time around South Africa. It’s referred to as loadshedding and it happens randomly throughout the year. How frequently it happens and how long it lasts is greatly dependent on where you’re based. It can even differ from one neighbourhood to the next. As a rule of thumb, loadshedding happens less in Cape Town than in Johannesburg. You can use an app such as loadshedding times and plan accordingly if you have a meeting or deadline!
● Safety. Unfortunately, South Africa has a bad reputation when it comes to safety. There are certain safety rules you need to know about before you arrive. Including not walking anywhere at night and keeping your phone in your front pocket or purse whenever you’re walking or outside. With that being said, you shouldn’t let the safety concerns stop you from enjoying South Africa!
● Budget. If you’re coming from Europe, Oceania or North America, your money will go much further in South Africa than it would at home. Great news!
● Activities. There is no shortage of things to do in South Africa! From jumping off the world’s tallest bridge bungee to hiking Lion’s Head or enjoying a relaxing day by the beach. And don’t forget going on safari or climbing Tabletop Mountain! You’ll never be bored.
● Finding your community. South Africans are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. Making friends is fairly easy to do! You’ll also meet many other expats if you’re staying at a hostel or working from a co-working space.
Are You Ready to be a Digital Nomad in South Africa?
Have you started packing your bags? With this South Africa digital nomad guide under your belt, you’ll have no trouble fitting in and enjoying all that the country has to offer. South Africa is sure to exceed your expectations when it comes to finding a beautiful place to live and work! If you are planning a trip to South Africa as a digital nomad or already there, I would love to hear in the comments following.