South African Exodus 2023, the Diaspora Continues - RIF Trust
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Caribbean, Europe Date: 22 August, 2023

South African Exodus 2023, the Diaspora Continues

South African Exodus 2023, the Diaspora Continues

Think of South Africa and what do you picture? Getting up close and personal with wildlife in Kruger National Park? Savouring a bird’s eye view of Cape Town from atop Table Mountain?

These are two of the most popular tourist destinations. But increasingly South African professionals are heading in the opposite direction. As in out of the country, with over 900,000 now living out of SA.

An increase in power outages, a rise in violent crime, and growing political corruption are the primary factors. We questioned Ilana van Huyssten-Meyer on her past life as a SA entrepreneur. She was a trailblazer for Latitude clients like Eugene Barkley

1.)  You left South Africa in 2005. Why?

“We left South Africa as a family in 2005 in search of new career opportunities for my husband. Like many expats before us, we planned a two-three year adventure whilst our son was still young. He turned four just before I packed up our house and moved to Muscat in Oman. 

Shortly after, we relocated to Abu Dhabi in the UAE and lived there for four years. In 2008, a career opportunity took our family home to Nairobi in Kenya. At the time, I ran a business in the UAE.  So I relocated to Dubai and spent three years commuting between Kenya and the UAE. The family eventually moved back to Dubai and we spent another four years there before heading to Cape Town in 2017. 

My son is now at university and I moved to Portugal a year ago. I also maintain my residency status in the UAE. This move was driven by different factors than in 2005. I am established in the citizenship and residency world now. So, this was an opportunity to move closer to my market. I have itchy feet and living in Europe gives me the freedom to travel more. It also allows me to spend more time in all our global offices.”

2.) How many friends and family members have followed in your footsteps? What are their reasons for doing so?

“There are many reasons why South Africans get second citizenship or residency. Many of my younger friends left for the US, Canada, and the UK for better career opportunities. Some moved to the UAE simply for the adventure and low-tax environment. 

As my friends get older, they start thinking about retirement, healthcare, and personal safety. This has driven them to Greece, Malta, and, of course, Portugal. For many of us, easier access and proximity to favourite travel destinations is a big bonus.

We dream about kids summer camps in New York, holidays in Vietnam, and trips to Brazil. St Lucia is also on our radar. As is Greece. I love exploring and searching for the next destination.”

3.) What is South African entrepreneurs’ favourite country or region to gain residency or citizenship in? Why is it so popular?

“Entrepreneurs typically solve their mobility problems first. The South African passport is not particularly strong and it hampers efficient free movement.

Caribbean citizenship remains a favourite because it delivers a solution quickly at relatively low cost. Imagine traveling every other week as a business person, but often your trip is cancelled because you did not get your visa on time and your passport is stuck at an embassy!

Since Covid though the debate changed and many are now looking at residency in a safe EU country as their preferred option.”

4.) If you were to look into your crystal ball,
what investment migration trends regarding South African HNWIs do you see emerging?

“You have to understand the push factors for a South African before you can start thinking about what pulls us. The political volatility and civil unrest, spiking crime rates, a failing power grid, and the perceived increasing restrictions on the free movement of capital have forced many South Africans to invest in an escape plan. Many are now triggering these plans and physically relocating to Europe or the Middle East.  

Language remains a challenge so many opt to move to the US, Canada, or Malta where English is an official language. Despite the language barrier, South Africans are attracted to Portugal as the nature, lifestyle, and weather are very similar to home.

You will often hear consultants in our industry complaining that it is difficult to close South African clients. The reason is simple. Despite all the challenges, South Africa remains a beautiful country that offers a fantastic lifestyle.”

Find Your New Citizenship or Residency

RIF Trust, who form Latitude Group with Latitude, is a global expert in residency and citizenship. If you are looking to exercise a Plan B in a more stable environment, we can help. Contact us to take the first step in your investment migration journey. Say hello to freedom and find your bridge to a new world.

South African Exodus 2023, the Diaspora Continues

Date: 22 August, 2023

Posted in: Caribbean, Europe