There is an acute shortage of skilled professionals in South Africa, which is made worse by the constant stream of emigrants to countries with better economies and governance.
Popular locations among those who leave South Africa to work overseas include the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is particularly popular among Afrikaans-speaking South Africans who are highly skilled.
The country attracted former Mindset Network CTO Johan Els in January 2017, who cited the ease of immigration, tax rebates, working public transport, education, and security among the myriad factors which made it preferable to South Africa.
He said he missed the large, open spaces in South Africa, as well as the larger houses, but added that he would not return until he was sure of his family’s safety in the country.
Professionals can also earn far more overseas than they can in South Africa, although this is balanced to varying degrees by the higher cost of living.
We compared the average salaries for IT jobs in South Africa with those in Amsterdam – the largest city in the Netherlands and its capital.
IT salaries comparison
We used figures from Indeed, PayScale, and Glassdoor to compare average pay in both South Africa and Amsterdam.
The Amsterdam salary figures are listed in Euros and are paired with a converted rand figure based on the exchange rate at the time of writing.
The average salaries for 10 popular IT jobs in South Africa and Amsterdam are below.
|IT Salary Comparison|
|Computer Support Specialist||R174,500||€45,509 (R828,931)|
|Web Developer||R194,817||€36,204 (R659,444)|
|Database Administrator||R203,277||€48,000 (R874,304)|
|System Administrator||R232,483||€44,390 (R808,549)|
|Information Security Analyst||R299,073||€63,202 (R1,151,204)|
|Software Engineer||R367,988||€51,947 (R946,198)|
|DevOps Engineer||R403,376||€57,137 (R1,040,732)|
|Data Engineer||R450,025||€52,238 (R951,498)|
|IT Manager||R500,685||€68,864 (R1,254,335)|
|Senior Solutions Architect||R965,437||€76,508 (R1,393,568)|
Taxes and net earnings
Amsterdam has a higher average salary, but it is also important to account for taxes and spending power.
The amount of tax you pay in South Africa and the Netherlands depends on how much you earn – placing you within different tax brackets.
The Netherlands individual income tax brackets are suprisingly simple, as the country has revised its personal income tax to boast a strikingly simple tax structure.
Below are the tax rates for the Netherlands for 2020, which consist of only two tax brackets.
|Netherlands tax rates|
|€0 – €68,507||37.35%|
Below are the 2021 tax bands for South African citizens, according to SARS.
|SA Tax Bands (1 March 2020 – 28 February 2021)|
|Up to R205,900||18% of taxable income|
|R205,901 – R321,600||R37,062 + 26% of taxable income above R205,900|
|R321,601 – R445,100||R67,144 + 31% of taxable income above R321,600|
|R445,101 – R584,200||R105,429 + 36% of taxable income above R445,100|
|R584,201 – R744,800||R155,505 + 39% of taxable income above R584,200|
|R744,801 – R1,577,300||R218,139 + 41% of taxable income above R744,800|
|R1,577,300 and above||R559,464 + 45% of taxable income above R1,577,300|
Cost of living
Salaries in Amsterdam are significantly higher than those in South Africa, but it is important to note that the cost of living is also significantly high.
This means that even though you may have a higher salary, you might not have as much spending ability.
The Big Mac Index can provide a rough idea of how currencies are valued against one another, but it is by no means an accurate tool for noting currency misalignment.
The index compares the price of a Big Mac in multiple countries across the world to provide a rough estimate of spending power.
The cheaper a Big Mac is in a country, the more purchasing power people in that country have.
Below is the spending power in South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United States, according to the Big Mac Index for 2019.
The graph shows the price of a Big Mac (in US dollars) in South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United States – illustrating South Africa’s lower cost of living.