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Info & Lifestyle
The categories in this section covers the most common aspects of planning, preparing, investing and/or moving to the province. They are designed to be informative in a simple and straightforward manner. We cannot stress enough the need to appreciate the implications, logistics and cultural issues when  trying to fulfill your dream. While much of the information is based on requirement some of the guidance and detail has come from our own experience.Companies included are reputable and promoted mainly based on our own experience.

Please use the CONTACT US page should you require any further information or guidance.



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    Banking & Currency Description

    South African banking is comparable with most industrialised countries. The South African Reserve Bank is the country's central bank. There are four main banks detailed below and ABSA is now fully owned by Barclays.

    Bank trading hours Monday to Friday are usually 8.30am or 9.00am to 3.30pm. Saturday 8.30am to 11.00am. Sunday closed.
    There are plenty of banks around and are well located,in particular with shopping malls. There is also a large network of ATM's (automatic teller machines ) or "Hole in Wall" machines.

    NON RESIDENTS AND PERMANENT RESIDENTS - Are able to open a bank account with the necessary documents such as passport, utility bill etc and funds to start off. With regard to personal banking and as with the UK you can have a Cheque book, Debit Card & Credit Card. Ther are two main personal accounts, Cheque or Savings. For larger investments over R20,000 you should look to the Money Market Savings account, this account pays higher interest on a monthly basis with instant access and it is possible to secure higher rates of interest for fixed terms.

    For small company buisness accounts you are required to have the cc registration number, letter heading and utility bill etc.

    It is worth pointing out that most transactions are carried out with Cash, Debit and or Credit Card. There are now a large number of places / companies that WILL NOT accept cheques

    There are eleven locally controlled banks in South Africa listed below. However, there are four main 'High Street' banks which have branches located in all the main cities, towns and even local communities.

    The Four Main 'High Street' Banks are -

    ABSA - www.absa.co.za

    FNB - www.fnb.co.za

    NEDBANK - www.nedbank.co.za

    STANDARD BANK - www.standardbank.co.za


    LOCALLY CONTROLLED BANKS -

    African Bank Limited
    Bidvest Bank Limited
    Capitec Bank Limited
    FirstRand Bank - A subsidiary of First Rand Limited
    Grindrod Limited
    Imperial Bank South Africa
    Investec Bank Limited
    Nedbank Limited
    Sasfin Bank Limited
    Teba Bank Limited
    Standard Bank of South Africa

    FOREIGN CONTROLLED BANKS -

    Absa Bank Limited - Barclays -as mentioned above
    Albaraka Bank Limited
    Habib Overseas Bank Limited
    Habib Bank AG Zurich
    Mercantile Bank Limited
    South African Bank of Athens Limited

    ETHICAL BANKING IN SOUTH AFRICA
    ===============================

    South African banking is dominated by the big four, Absa, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank, with little Capitec trailing in very distant fifth place. If you’re looking at opening a savings account, Capitec are the only one where the account has even a chance of living up to the name, with the others eating into your “savings” with huge monthly fees.

    Generally, recommending a bank goes along the lines of “they’re less bad than the others”, and if asked to associate a word with “bank”, for most people it’d probably be a negative word such as “slimy”, or “greedy”.

    Certainly not “ethical”.

    There’s a difference between being ethical, and simply running a few worthy projects. Much like gangsters who sell tik and carry out hits on neighbouring gangs wouldn’t be considered ethical by most, in spite of frequently providing much-needed social services to their community, supporting an arts festival while funding a coal power station, or supporting a wetland rehabilitation project while funding an arms company would disqualify a bank by most measurements.

    Banks that claim to be ethical do exist internationally. In essence, this means they consider the social and environmental impacts of their investments and loans, and apply various criteria. The Co-operative Bank in the UK refuses to invest in companies involved in the arms trade, climate change, genetic engineering, animal testing or sweatshop labour. GLS Gemeinschaftsbank in Germany focuses on cultural, social and ecological projects, lending to organic farms, health food stores, kindergartens, nursing homes and the like, and is completely transparent about all its investments.

    Nothing similar yet exists in South Africa.

    However, there is a move underfoot change this, and form an ethical bank. It began in July 2010 from a group involved in the Stellenbosch Waldorf School community, and a board was elected with the eventual intention of developing an ethical co-operative bank.

    It’s not a quick process. The first stage is to register as a stokvel, recently formalised as a savings vehicle. To achieve this, they are looking for 30 to 50 paid-up members and a total of R20 000 savings.

    After this, the goal is to become a Financial Services Co-operative, and finally a Co-operative bank.



    The National Credit Act
    ------------------------------------

    This act came into effect on 1st June 2007 and requires all financial institutions and lenders to register as credit providers. Essentially this act aims to protect the consumer by regulating South Africa's credit granting practices so that you can benefit from a credit environment that is transparent, fair and responsible.

    To the South African consumer it basically means if your disposible income shows you cannot afford to have a financial loan for whatever reason you will not get it. Early indications are that there is a slowing down of consumer spending, in particular this has affected sales of new cars and luxury goods.


    CURRENCY
    ==========

    One Rand Equals One Hundred Cents. Rand notes available are R200, R100, R50, R20, R10, and the coins R5, R1, 50c, 20c,10c, 5c,1c. All banks will exchange currencies and traveler's cheques and most popular tourist & shopping malls have Bureau de Change.

    NOTE - UK Major Post Offices, and now Major branches of M & S offer good tourist exchange rates for the Rand (and buy back ) with no commission.>/B>

    CREDIT CARDS - All major credit cards are accepted most everywhere.

    TRAVELER'S CHEQUES - For what it is worth in all the years we travelled to South Africa prior to living here, we never once brought or used traveler's cheques.


    CURRENCY EXCHANGE / INTERNATIONAL FUNDS TRANSFER
    When emigrating, coming home or simply moving money,in some cases large amounts around the world you need to secure a favourable commercial exchange rate. It is worth spending a bit of time researching your options as this could save you a great deal.

    Many people will already have a favoured route to exchange larger amounts of money into their foreign Bank accounts. In the past we have used two options -

    1 - Bank - spend some time getting to know how your own bank works on this. Most banks will quote a commercial / spot rate or even a forward contract rate if requested. There is a perception that a bank is not as competitive as a Currency Broker, on two occasions we found this not to be the case. Also check the transaction fee amount as this is not always considered as you can so pre - occupied with the best exchange rate.

    2 - Currency Broker - So many to choose from. We have good service from FX Solutions. For further information please visit - www.fxsolutions.com