How much does it cost South Africans to move to the UK?

One of the biggest factors influencing a decision to move to the United Kingdom is money.  Can you afford to make the move?  And will you be able to afford the lifestyle you want once you have settled there? 

We’ve compiled a list of the expenses you are likely to incur on your journey to living in the UK.

1. Visas

Settlement visa applications can be complicated and stressful.  You must decide if you will take the risk of handling the application yourself or if you’ll use an experienced immigration agency like Move Up to apply on your behalf.   

  • Ancestral Visa:                                 R57,963
  • Tier 2 General:                                R84,533
  • Entrepreneur Visa:                         R84,428
  • Tier 1 Innovator:                             R80,111
  • UK Settlement Visa:                       R71,231

*All prices pertain to the main visa applicant and include agency fees, UK government fees, National Health Service fees and courier costs. Prices were correct on the date of publishing.

Piggy bank

2. Proof of Savings

For most settlement visas the applicant is required to show they have a certain amount of savings in their bank account.  The amount varies depending on which visa you are granted, but usually ranges from R30,000 to R1 700 000. 

3. National Health Insurance

Some settlement visas require you to pay your National Health Insurance (NHI) fees upfront.  That amounts to approximately R41,000 per applicant and is usually paid along with your visa application fees.

Medical tools and a checklist

4. TB Tests

Applications for visas that allow you to stay in the UK for more than six months require a TB test that must be undertaken at a specified test centre in South Africa.  The TB test costs approximately R1,800 per adult and half that for children 11 years old or younger.  The certificate of results must be submitted with your visa application.  Visit the UK government website to find out which test centre is nearest you.

Passenger view of sunrise

5. Flights

The next big-ticket item is air travel.  Booking tickets as early as possible and choosing non-peak flights during a low-season period is the best way to save money on flights.  A one-way economy class ticket with one stop in Dubai from Cape Town to London will cost approximately R5,500 for one traveller.  Research your flight options here.

6. Overseas Furniture Removals

Most families prefer to take their furniture and household goods to the UK with them, rather than selling them off before emigrating.  The cost of sending your household items to the UK varies, depending on the size of the container you need to fit your possessions into.  A medium size cube from Seven Seas costs approximately R12,000 on the South African side and £250 on the UK end.

Puppy sleeping on a sweater

7. Pet Relocation Fees

The UK does allow you to bring your pets to the UK with you, but it can be expensive.  While it’s best to get a few quotes to compare, bringing your dog, cat or ferret can cost up to R26,000.  Be sure to read up on the government’s guidelines for bringing your pets to stay with you in the UK, too.

8. UK Monthly Expenses

Maxie took the big leap and moved to England in April along with her husband and their hound.  Being the organised person that she is, Maxie put together a spreadsheet of their monthly costs.

Below is a breakdown of monthly costs for a husband, wife and their dog living in Newbury, West Berkshire in a 3-bedroom, semi-detached house – and a car they bought with cash in 2019.

Rent £1,200 R24,000
EE Phone – Contract £43 R860
EE Phone – Pay as You Go £10 R200
EE Fibre (Internet) £30 R600
Petrol – 2 Tanks £120 R2,400
TV Licence (Monthly) £30.90 R618
Other Travel (Train, Tube, Bus) £100 R2,000
Utilities: Gas £26 R520
Utilities: Electricity £30 R600
Utilities: Water £17 R340
Council Tax £175.23 R3,504.60
Basic Groceries £250 R5,000
Car Insurance £72 R1,440
Nails at Salon £35 R700
Banking Fees £0 R0
Pet Insurance £27 R540
Miscellaneous £100 R2,000
Total £2,266.13 R45,322.60
Land Rover in snowy terrain

9. Buying a Car

Welcome news for South African expats is that buying cars in the UK is significantly cheaper than buying them in SA.  While filling up a tank of petrol costs about fifty percent more in the UK, you can purchase a second-hand, older car for just a few hundred pounds, or a newer SUV for around £13,000.

10. School Fees

State schools are provided by the government at no cost to British citizens and foreigners legally living in the UK. These schools are effectively funded by taxes. 

However, pre-school childcare can be expensive:

  • Registered childminder (25 hours for a child under 2):  £113 – £159 per week
  • Day nursery (25 hours for a child under 2):       £127 – £174 per week
  • Part-time nanny (25 hours):                                £250 – £400 per week    
  • Au pair:                                        Room & board plus £70 – £85 per week

Private education in the UK is very expensive.  Day prep fees can range from £10,000 to £20,000 or more in London, while day fees for senior schools can range from £12,000 to £25,000 per year.  Senior boarding fees cost around £35,000 per year, but some senior boarding schools are now exceeding £45,000 per annum.

Get in touch with our experienced consultants via or call 021 761 4608 if you’d like to chat through your UK immigration options.