Costs & Financing

Costs and Ways of Financing Your Ytay in South Africa


The co-ordination and implementation of your stay in South Africa creates costs. These vary with the projects and depend for example on the services included as well as the type of accommodation. In the placement descriptions you find some first information about the costs and what is included for the minimum stay requested by the respective project partners.


With pleasure we send you a detailed cost calculation for the projects that interest you, if you let us know how long you would like to stay.


To allow a better understanding why you have to pay for your stay and why they vary with the projects we have put together an overview of the various costs that are incurred when planning a stay in South Africa.


Further down below you will also find  some first ideas for funding your stay in South Africa.

What are the total costs made up of?


The total costs of your stay are made up of travel expenses (plane ticket, airport transfers, visa costs, insurances), living costs (Food, accommodation and daily transport) as well as the live&learn program fee.


The amount of costs as well as cost distribution depend on the specific project, the geographic location of your placement, the type of accommodation, your personal life style as well as the length of your stay.

The cost distribution for a 12 week volunteer or internship placement in Cape Town is typically as follows:


Living Costs


Travel Expenses


Program Fee

The living costs cover costs for your accommodation, food and daily transport in South Africa.



Your accommodation makes up about 22% of the total costs for a 12-week stay in South Africa.


The type of accommodation varies with the projects:

In some placements it is logistically not possible that you choose your own accommodation – in these cases usually the project offers accommodation in a volunteer house and charges a fee for this (in most of our animal conservation projects in rural areas).  In some other cases accommodation is offered by a live&learn partner, who will also provide daily transport to the project. Usually you live in a double room or share a room with up to 4 other volunteers.


Accommodation in a single room is possible in placements in Cape where you are free to choose your own accommodation. We will assist you to find a suitable accommodation close to your placement and provide you with recommendations from previous volunteers. Rents for furnished rooms are comparable to big cities in Europe. There are, however, considerable differences depending on the suburb as well as standard and facilities/services included (e.g. internet, cleaning service, bedding etc.).

Single Room in student or volunteer house: from 350 € / 415 US$ per month

Single Room in guest lodge or private rentals, e.g. through Airbnb: from 500 € / 590 US$ per month

Mehrbettzimmer in Studenten- oder Freiwilligenhaus: from 250 € / 295 US$ per month

Mehrbettzimmer in Gastfamilie: ab 200 € / 235 US$ per month


More information about the type of accommodation possible in the project of your choice you will find in the placemenent descriptions.


Please note: Unfortunately our project partners are not in the position to offer you accommocation free of charge. The costs would be similar to a basic salary for a local assistant. Hence, if our project partners would offer accommodation free of charge, international volunteers would take away employment opportunities for locals. Given the high employment rates in South Africa this is not justifiable. More than 25% of the South African population has no work, in some urban areas more than 40% of youth are unemployed. Since unemployment is also the cause of many social problems such as alcohol and drug abuse as well as crime and violence, we hope you understand that you have to carry the costs for the accommodation yourself.

Apart from state funded volunteer services it is common practice in most countries that volunteers are not reimbused for their voluntary services and are responsible for their living costs.



Food usually makes up about 19% of the total costs of a 12 – week long stay in South Africa.


The way food is provided varies with the projects:

In some projects food is cooked for you, for example by the guest family or the project team. In other projects you cater for yourself, you do your own shopping and cooking. Accommodations do have fully equipped kitchens.


Food costs are similar to Germany, however, very much depend on your personal preferences and life style. Prices in restaurants, cafes and bars are usually lower than in Germany/Europe, prices for groceries in supermarkets are similar to those in Germany. Some more products, especially local vegetables and fruits as well as fish and meat is cheaper, milk products and any imported food brands are more expensive.


If you are catering for yourself we recommend to plan with a budget of 50€ / 60 US$ per week. This budget allow you to cater for yourself most of the times, but also to explore the culinary diversity of the South African cuisine in local restaurants.


More information about how catering is organised in the project of your choice you will find in the placement descriptions.



Daily transport makes up about 19% of the total cost for a 12-week long stay in South Africa.


The way the daily transport between your accommodation and place of work varies with the projects:

In some placements the project team, guest family or the landlord will take you to and from work; in other projects, where you are free to choose your own accommodation, you are also responsible to organise your own transport. Depending on your accommodation and place of work you can walk to work, use public transport, UBER or you can rent your own rental car. We will advise you about the different options in your placement and we will also help you to organise your transport.


More information about the way how the daily transport is organised in the project of your choice you will find in the placement descriptions. 

Travel expenses cover costs for your plane ticket, travel insurance, airport transfers and visa costs.




You will book your own flight so you can choose the offer that suits your needs, interest and budget. Prices vary with airlines, time of the year, place of departure and whether or not you book a direct flight.  In average flights from Europe to Cape Town cost about 650 €, and flights from the United States cost about 700 US$. live&learn will provide you with tips where you can find cheap flights and what to consider when booking your flight.

Additional there may be costs for travelling from your home town to the airport. To help reduce your carbon foot print we reccomend using the train or other public transport, especially within Europe.


Foreign Health Insurance


To ensure that you can choose the offer that suits best your personal circumstances you will also book your own health insurance. Short stays may be covered by the insurnace in your home country or by your credit card provider. Depending on the length of your stay you should budget between 25 and 50 Euros per month for your health insurance. Other insurances such as travel cancellation insurance or liability insurances are optional. live&learn will provide you with tips where you can find affordable insurances.



Airport Transfers 

Airport Transfers are organised for you and usually provided by the live&learn team (all Cape Town placements) or by the teams of our partner projects. Generally it is possible to go straight from the airport to your accommodation if your flight arrives in the morning. If your project is located more than a 2 hours drive outside Cape Town or at the Garden Route an overnight stay in Cape Town may be necessary before you continue your journey. In such cases there will additional costs for your additional night(s) in Cape Town and for transfers to the bus station. You will find more information about this in the placement descriptions.


Visa Costs: Citizens of many nationalities are excempted from visa costs if the stay will be shorter than 90 days. Citizens of all nationalities have to apply for a visa beofre arrival in South Africa if they intend to stay longer than 90 days. The visa fees vary with nationalities and start at 35 Euro.

The facilitation of your volunteer or internship placement and the organisation of your stay in South Africa incurrs costs, which we call program fees. Program fees make up between 18% and 20% of the total costs for a 12-week long stay in South Africa.


The live&learn program fee varies with the projects:

The live&learn program fee varies with the projects and length of stay and also depend on which services are included (e.g. airport transfer provided by live&learn team, 1 day city tour in Cape Town, support with applying for a visa).

Stays up to 90 days without visa application: 650,-€, 750,- € oder 795,-€.

Stays over 90 days and stays with obligatory visa application: 850,-€, 950,-€ oder 995,-€

All program fees are included in the total costs stated in the placement descriptions. In some cases there is no program fee charged by live&learn. In these projects our partners employ volunteer coordinators and offer a comprehensive package including acccomodation and food. In these cases we fund the facilitation of your volunteer or internship placement by the commission we earn for assessing interests and needs of applicants as well as for supporting applicants with all travel preaprations.

What is the live&learn program fee made up of?


The live&learn program fee is made up of advice and support of participants, support of project partners, public relations, admin costs as weöö as quality management.

Our services aim at ensuring that you choose a project placement that meets your personal needs and interests so that your voluntary service or internship will be a success for both you and our project partner. Our consulting process as well as our support system in South Africa is tailor-made and ensures a high degree of indivuality. Hence participant advice and support make up for the highest proportion of the program fee.


Participant advice and support includes compiling and sending information on suitable placements, assist with decision-making as to which projects best suit your ideas as wel as possible university requirements. In addition, we will take care of your voluntary or internship contract, as well as any documents necessary for the accreditation of your internship, scholarship application or visa application. After you have decided on a project, we will help you with all travel preparations. During your entire stay you can contact us to share your experiences in the project, to clarify questions or to get tips on leisure activities. We also organize social events, in some placements we provide the airport transfer and also take you on a 1 – day live&learn city tour . Of course we also assist you with dealing with possible challenges or emergencies.

All these services incurr personnel and material costs, which must be covered.

Not only the preparation and support of our participants takes a lot of time and attention, but also the selection and support of our project partners. Many of our project partners seek our advice on how to best work with volunteers and interns in the projects, how to set up systems for induction and support and what paper work is needed. i.e. for accredication of internships, applications for grants, scholarships or visas. Most of our partners also do not have the time and human resources to assess the suitability of applicants, conduct inerviews and to assist with travel preparations, such as finding suitable accommodation.


In addition, we support our project partners even when our participants are on site, for example in getting used to the South African work culture, dealing with challenges, and mediating in case of a conflict between project staff and volunteers or interns. In order to keep up-to-date on new developments with our project partners, we visit our project partners on a regular basis. Since we attach great importance to maintaining strong relations with our project partners, the program fee also covers costs for personnel and material costs for this task.

Our newsletter, website, Instagram and Facebook accounts help us to communicate current news from our project partners and new developments in South Africa. We also use these platforms to inform you about other interesting topics of global development work.


External communication is an important aspect of live&learn’s mission. We not only strive to reach out to our participants but also to a wider public as we seek to raise awareness for current political, social and environmental achievements and challenges in South Africa as well as current trends in international development cooperation.

Running a successful business requires good administration and management. This incurs administrative costs for example for bank charges, accounting, taxes, registrations with government agencies, communication infrastructure and office space.


Since we have only one office in South Africa, we keep the administrative costs low.

Quality management is an important topic at live&learn. With the help of various tools, we reflect and evaluate the experiences of participants and project partners and continuously incorporate them into the selection and preparation of future volunteers and trainees as well as project partners.


Continous adjustments to information we provide about our project partners, volunteering and interning opportunities as well as living conditions in the projects are another important part of our quality management.

Costs For Spare Time Activities

Not included in total costs are budgets for spare time activities in South Africa. Experience shows that our participants work with very different sizes of budgets. Cape Town and South Africa offer a huge varieity of spare time activities for all budgets. Nature lovers who intend to spend weekends with hiking, climbing, swimming or sun-bathing are able to survive on a very small budget. City, culture, night life and travel enthusiasts or people who are into various adventure activities should calculate their budget wisely.


Examples for typical expenses: 


Surf Lesson: from € 15,- / hour     Bungee Jumping: from € 60,-

Paraglidung: from € 135,-             Museumseintritt: € 4,- bis € 15,-

Theatre Show: from € 6,-                       Club Entry: from € 3,-

Cup of Coffee: : from € 1,50,-                Glass of Beer: from € 1,80,-


Day Trip in Cape Town:  from € 55,-

Day Trip to the Winelands: from € 80,-

Boat Based Whale Watching Tour: from € 80,-

How to fund your stay in South Africa


Depending on your age as well as professional status there are different opportunities for you to finance your stay abroad. Wir have put together a few ideas in this section.

Contact us for more ideas and personal advice!

Students and Graduates

Scholarships and Grants

Sublet your accommodation in your home country while you are in South Africa

Casual jobs in your holidays or while you are studying

Declutter your room/home and sell all unnecessary stuff on the flea market or online


Fundraise for your own trip (e.g. friends, family, shops or doctors in your home town)

Request money instead of gifts for your birthday, Christmas or other suitable occasions

School Graduates

Continued payment of your child grant is possible in many cases

Casual jobs after finishing school or while you are still at school

Fundraise for your own trip (e.g. friends, family, shops or doctors in your home town)


Declutter your room/home and sell all unnecessary stuff on the flea market or online

Request money instead of gifts for your birthday, Christmas or other suitable occasions


Scholarships and Grants

Approach your employer about different models to finance your sabbatical, e.g. value account

Sublet your accommodation while you are in South Africa


Fundraise for your own trip (e.g. friends, family, shops or doctors in your home town)


Declutter your room/home and sell all unnecessary stuff on the flea market or online

Request money instead of gifts for your birthday, Christmas or other suitable occasions

Contact us for more information about costs and ways of financing your stay!
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