Lifestyle in South Africa


You are probably wondering what life is all about in South Africa. Find an overview of the South African way of living in this article.

Located at the Southernmost tip of Africa, South Africa is a popular destination for expatriation. Nicknamed the “Rainbow Country,” it holds a great historical heritage along with a magnificent blend of cultures following the English and Dutch occupation periods. By moving there, you will discover a friendly and hospitable population which is still deeply attached to its traditions and values in its everyday life despite modernism.


South Africa is world famous for its multicultural population including several ethnic groups as well as people from other origins. Thus the Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa, Ndebele, Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, San, Khoi and Métis live harmoniously along with the Whites, Boer, English-speaking people, Indians, Asians and many other expatriate communities. You will also find many clandestine people coming mainly from Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In fact, the clandestine community comprises some 3 to 8 million people.

Urban living

People living in suburbs, or townships, are rather united and friendly towards one another. They will not hesitate to greet one another in the street. Moreover, these areas provide free access to education for children so as to prevent social ills. Soweto, for instance, is a perfect picture of education along with tolerance and etiquette.

Pace of life

South Africa seems to have inherited several Anglo-Saxon habits. For instance, breakfast generally consists of eggs and bacon. Lunch is lighter while diner is served around 6 pm. Moreover, most restaurants usually close at 8 pm. In short, the pace of life is South Africa is quite similar to that of many European countries, especially in terms of waking up, having dinner and going to bed early. Summer, for its part, is marked by many festivals, particularly in Cape Town which welcomes more tourists.

Tolerance, open mindedness, culture

Despite all efforts to abolish apartheid and racial segregation, this tendency still prevails over the older generations. However, the youth seems to be more open minded, tolerant and welcoming towards foreign cultures, although this usually differs from one region to another.

Wherever you have settled in South Africa, you will come across people who will not hesitate to ask how you are. However, kissing on the cheek is not quite common in South Africa is in the case of Western countries and elsewhere.

Cuisine and eating habits

The South African population has two main eating habits. First of all, the braai is a traditional barbecue generally held on Sunday at home or in picnic areas, bringing together friends and family.

The braai often consists of boerwors (sort of large spicy sausages), lamb chops, chicken and beef ribs, along with umqumboti which is the traditional beer usually found in townships. The road-house, for its part, is similar to Western fast food outlets. The boerdog, which is a South African type of hot dog, is filled with boerwors.

The South African cuisine, on the other hand, is inspired from Dutch, British and Asian cuisines. It mainly consists of meat, especially that of the ostrich, corn puree (pap) along with tomato sauce, vegetables and chutney (famous accompaniment, especially for Indian food).


The South African calendar is market by several festivals. As from January 2, all communities get together in Cape Town on the occasion of the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, Kaapse Klopse. Similar to Shrove Tuesday, this festival lasts for a whole month.

In February, Southern beaches are overcrowded as it is the rainy season in the North. The Marula Festival, which lasts from February to March, celebrates the marula harvest season.

March, for its part, symbolizes the beginning of autumn. Cape Town and Johannesburg hosts several festivals dedicated to the special bond between man and nature: fruits, climate, colors, fauna and flora.

Newton is famous for its Joy of Jazz Festival while Soweto hosts the Arts Live Festival, the Soweto Festival and the Soweto Wine Festival, among others. In summer, as from November, other music festivals are held all around the country.

 Useful links: – Events in South Africa 
SA-venues – Events in South Africa – the A-Z of South African culture
Government of South Africa – Ministry of Arts and Culture

Recommend Your favourite team
Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
Write a comment

See also

The South African lifestyle is described as a 'Rainbow Nation' involving a mixture of several different cultures and traditions.
Known as the "Rainbow Country", South Africa is by far the most developed country in Africa, thus attracting foreign professionals, investors, students...
If you wish to drive in South Africa, make sure to have an international driver's license which is recognized by local authorities.

Questions and answers about South Africa

Ask your question
Fellow Filipinos in Johannesburg
By lowell.xxvi
Dr. Ocho
Meeting my diaspora
By Dr. Ocho

Expatriate health insurance in South Africa

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in South Africa

Moving to South Africa

Find tips from professionals about moving to South Africa

Travel insurance in South Africa

Enjoy a stress-free travel across South Africa

Flights to South Africa

Find the best prices for your flight tickets to South Africa