Simplify your new start in South Africa by downloading these essential apps, making day-to-day life in your new home country much easier.
Whether you’re a seasoned migrant or new to the adventure, getting settled in a new culture can be challenging and time-consuming. However, knowing which apps to have at your fingertips – from ordering food to dealing with daily payments – can help you settle in quicker. Whether you want to calculate your cost of living, navigate Johannesburg’s traffic or find the best home to rent in Cape Town, there’s an app to help.
Here are our recommendations for the top must-have South African apps.
- Getting around: public transport
- Weather in South Africa
- South African safety apps
- Learning South Africa’s languages
- Handling your finances
- Eating and food delivery
- Travel apps
- Preparing for blackouts
- Finding accommodation
- News and current affairs
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Getting around: public transport
What’s the best way to get from A to B? Are any accidents causing gridlocks or delays? If you’re driving a car in South Africa or catching local public transport, you’ll frequently need answers to these questions. And having the right apps on your phone can make your travel that little bit easier.
A community-based app, Waze Navigation & Live Traffic is a firm favorite for traffic information in the country. Best routes are crowd-sourced, with live updates received by users. This makes it a reliable, real-time source of traffic alerts, including accidents, hazards, roadblocks, and roadworks. You can also customize the step-by-step driving directions to make your journey more enjoyable.
One of the most popular ride-hailing services, Uber operates in over 40 South African cities and serves over 80% of the population. With the app, you can find a driver near you, calculate the cost of a trip, and choose what sort of vehicle you want to ride in.
Catching the train? Gautrain can help you navigate your journey. Focusing on the 80km rapid transit railway system that runs between Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Tambo International Airport, this app provides information on departures, stops, costs, and peak times. It also operates information for those in Ekurhulen.
The app for convenient MyCiTi bus service, the MyCiTi app will help you get around Cape Town for affordable prices. With the app, you can plan your journey, access timetables, and view your card balance.
Weather in South Africa
South Africa has six climatic zones, ranging from arid to temperate. As you adjust to the new environment, you’ll need a reliable weather app to help you plan your days and dress accordingly. Cape Town, in particular, has such variable weather that you can sometimes experience four seasons in one day.
While international weather apps work in the country, AfricaWeather is the only app officially supported by the South African Weather Service. You can use the app to track incoming storms in real time and customize weather alerts. It also has hail alerts, giving you time to park your car undercover to prevent any damage, potentially resulting in car insurance claims.
For extended daily forecasts across the country, download AccuWeather. Simply put in your town of interest and the app will show you forecasts down to the minute.
South African safety apps
People moving to South Africa might be concerned about how to adjust to the country’s reportedly high crime rates. For this reason, safety-related apps are essential. Most companies offering home security systems have their own South African apps.
If you’re in Cape Town, you should also install the Buzzer app. Developed by suburban residents, the app tracks your location and can help you request emergency help from armed response companies. Additionally, you can use it to report suspicious activity, crime incidents, fires, and medical emergencies.
If you want to rest assured that your family members are safe, download Life360. The app lets you keep track of your family’s location through GPS technology. What’s more, it also has in-app chatting if you need to check in with your loved ones.
Secura will help you stay secure wherever you are in South Africa. You can use this armed-response app to call for assistance (no matter the time of the day), and Secura will send the nearest armed-response car to your live GPS location.
Learning South Africa’s languages
Learning one (or more) of South Africa’s languages is a great way to make you feel at home. Whether you’re shopping for groceries or hanging out with the locals, it’s important to have a basic grasp of the local language. And with 11 official languages to pick from, you’re spoiled for choice.
Hello South Africa
The Hello South Africa app promotes multilingualism by translating everyday phrases across various categories into all 11 official languages. The app is a spin-off from a printed phrasebook successfully launched shortly before South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
One of the leading language-learning apps, Duolingo can help you learn Zulu – one of the most widely spoken languages in South Africa. With game-like lessons, the app is full of exercises to test your listening, speaking, and reading skills.
Handling your finances
Left your wallet at home? No worries. Having a South African mobile banking app can help make your life a lot easier. Whether you’re paying for your utilities or paying for your golfing classes, a banking app can make all the difference.
SnapScan lets you pay without a card or cash. Simply use your smartphone to scan in-store SnapCodes, and you can easily make payments. Alternatively, merchants can send you a payment link. You’ll need an e-commerce-enabled credit or debit card and a South African SIM to set it up, but the app is compatible with most South African bank cards.
Wise is a convenient way to transfer money abroad to and from South Africa. Specializing in international money transfers, you can send your money to over 175 countries and over 50 different currencies with this handy app.
Earn rewards with eBucks, South Africa’s leading financial rewards loyalty program. Working with your bank card, you can use the app while shopping or buying fuel to earn rewards. You can then spend your eBucks to buy flights, gadgets, daily needs, and more at a reduced price.
Eating and food delivery
If you’ve just moved, there are few better ways to explore the country than sinking your teeth into South African food. Some people will want to tackle their local supermarket, while others will be keen to visit restaurants. Whatever your fix, there are plenty of food apps to help you make the most of South African cuisine.
Mr D Food
You can depend on Mr D Food to deliver your favorite food straight to your door. Operating across the country, this app offers daily deals on all sorts of food – be it South African or otherwise. You can track your order in real time and pay with a card or cash, your eBucks, or electronically within the app.
Find restaurants near you in South Africa with the EAT app. Simply choose a restaurant, send a picture of your receipt to the EAT team on the app, and you’ll receive cash back thanks to their rewards system. It also works if you’re ordering takeout, so long as it’s from one of their participating eateries.
SASSI is a South African initiative to check the sustainability of your seafood. Run by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), you can use the app to check the sustainability of your food in real time – perfect if you want to avoid eating anything from the orange or red threatened list.
If you’re looking to buy fresh fish, Abalobi can help you out. This app connects you directly to fishermen across South Africa to buy seafood. With commercial fisheries making it hard for small-scale operations to survive, the initiative is a great way to support local businesses in your area.
South Africa is synonymous with safaris and majestic wildlife, such as found in the Kruger National Park, a nature reserve spread across two million hectares of bush and home to diverse flora and fauna. With plenty of things to do in South Africa, it can be tough knowing where to start. That’s where these apps come in to give you a helping hand.
If you’re visiting Kruger National Park, you can use the accompanying app, the KrugerExplorer, to explore this natural treasure. It includes popular self-driving routes and immersive guided journeys, with information on all the animals and plants found in the park. The best part? It works 100% offline, which you’ll need when going off-grid and driving around.
South Africa GuideWithMe
Discover all country has to offer with the South Africa GuideWithMe app. This offline travel guide has plenty of information and articles on destinations near your location and beyond. You can also use it to find hotel and restaurant suggestions, perfect to help you plan out your trip.
Cape Wine Farms
The Cape Wine Farms app helps you find wine farms and events in the Western Cape. A directory for wine farms, tours, and events, the app is full of reviews and recommendations for wineries around the country.
With The Entertainer, you can find deals and two-for-one discounts on things to do in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and Durban. Whether it’s fine dining, fitness, travel, or retail services, the app is full of deals to help you save some money in your pocket.
Preparing for blackouts
Unfortunately, one unavoidable frustration of living in South Africa is load shedding. This is when the government shuts off electricity in a controlled process to avoid countrywide blackouts. While the national energy provider, Eskom, provides schedules of the affected areas, these updates can be confusing. To avoid getting caught in the dark, you can download these useful apps.
EskomSePush can help you prepare for any blackouts in your area. With millions of users across the country relying on the app, you can use it to receive notifications and predictions for when the next blackout will be. You can also use the app to view the history of national load shedding for the last five years.
Load Shedding Notifier
For notification on when the power in your area will be cut, download Load Shedding Notifier. This app tracks the Eskom load shedding status in your region in South Africa and notifies you when a blackout is expected.
Are you looking into housing in South Africa? Knowing how to find property in a new place can be tough – especially in a country where housing is so diverse. However, with the help of a handy app or two, finding a new home in South Africa will speed up the process.
Private Property is one of the leading website portals in South Africa, and luckily, it also has an app. You can set detailed filters based on your needs, budget, and whether you want a pet-friendly place. With detailed descriptions and high-definition video walk-throughs, the app will also send you notifications for new properties on the market.
Find short-term accommodation in South Africa with Airbnb. One of the leading accommodation apps, Airbnb has plenty of options for rent across the country. Simply choose your location of interest, your price range, and your dates of availability, and you can view accommodations that fit your preferences.
Once you’ve found a place, you can download SweepSouth to give your home a professional cleaning. You can use this app to book cleaning or gardening services across South Africa. You can also use the app to reschedule and cancel services if another commitment comes up.
News and current affairs
With a phone in your pocket, keeping up to date with what’s going on in the country is easy. This is also a great way to learn about the culture in South Africa and pick up on the country’s official languages. To make all this possible, these useful apps can help you keep up with current affairs.
News24 is one of South Africa’s leading news portals. You can access the app to hear about breaking news, in-depth analysis, sport, entertainment, and opinion pieces.
For the latest news across the country, download eNCA. With up-to-the-minute alerts on breaking news, as well as plenty of articles on politics, sports, weather, and business, this app will keep you informed about all the big changes in South Africa. You can also use the app to stream news broadcasts and access videos.