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
Job South Africa Amsterdam
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%
Over €68,507 49.50%

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.

IT Salaries Amsterdam South Africa chart

IT Salaries Amsterdam South Africa chart

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