In 2014, more than 60% of all foreign nationals looking to retire in South Africa were from Europe and an estimated R7.5 billion a year was being pumped into the economy by retired foreign nationals.
Immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg said that despite some negative perceptions of SA from a political, safety and economic risk perspective, foreigners still considered it an important retirement destination. He said the South African government welcomed retirees.
“The department of home affairs evaluates each application to ensure the retiree is not a burden on the state or job market. “But government recognises these individuals have a tremendous amount to offer both the economy, as well as the social fabric of the communities in which they live.”
Of 680 temporary retired person applications in 2014, 26% were issued to nationals from the United Kingdom, 16.5% from Germany, 6.8% from the Netherlands, followed by contributing countries such as Switzerland, Ireland and France and Italy. This is despite the results of the Global Retirement Index, compiled by Natixis Global Asset Management last year, which said SA was among the worst countries to retire in.
The index looks at retirement security in each country in terms of material well-being, health, finances and quality of life. Of the 150 countries evaluated in 2015, SA ranks 130th – the 21st worst country for retirees in the world. But some of the factors attracting foreign retirees to SA, according to Eisenberg, were the predominance of the English language, strong historical ties with German and Dutch nationals, good weather and the weakness of the rand.