We’ve been in the country 88 days, not long is it?...I’ve never even visited South Africa before arriving here and Peter came for 1 week November 2010 to see if he liked it here.
In the UK, you know what you’re doing.....this is usually based on information from your family environment, friends and colleagues and from experience.......Mortgage providers, solve a dispute with a gas bill, best mobile phone contract....you know what magazines to read for reviews, you have a preference for a type of car and knowledge of how much things cost and whether you’re being ripped off or not...and if you don’t know.....you google, you ask.....
Well we don’t have any of that.......
We had no idea what so ever about anything in South Africa.....prices of cars.....who the insurance firms are...do we have a choice of provider for the electric....who operates the satellite TV...where to buy school uniform from?
We also had no internet, bank account or telephone.....so couldn’t google a thing.
What we did have was a good supportive network from the UK...mmmm we were wrong there...we opened up a bank account with the ‘World’s largest bank’ which would provide us with a credit history, off shore banking and a local bank account...they forgot to mention that off shore banking would cost more for each transaction as they don’t actually have a branch in SA, which means we can’t have local banking, which means we don’t have a credit history.
We couldn’t get a mobile phone or internet access as we didn’t have 3 months of bank statements (see above) so we couldn’t find out what we needed to do and how to do it.
We had to do everything at the same time...we needed a house to rent...but needed to phone agents...we needed a car to visit the houses to rent...but needed a bank account to finance a car...
I’m a resourceful person and although there was a HR person, who has since left the company (I for one won’t miss them), all they did was sort out Peter’s contract, rent an apartment for 6 weeks, in their name...so we had no proof of address, put us in touch with an agency to sort the Visa’s and authorised our expenses in regards to getting here....(see previous blogs for Removal Company, Driving Licence and Visa hassles, you don’t need to go back too far...we only started the whole process in November 2011)
Peter is trying to settle into his new job, different cultures, languages, methods of doing business, thankfully the children were sorted in school within 48hrs so I wasn’t dragging them around...I took to the streets, quite literally, I had to walk and drive to places armed with a local map of the area, no sat nav....prior to coming out here the advice I was given was not to do this...I stood on street corners, panicking as I made telephone calls and arrived unannounced at the kids schools and pleaded to use the internet to contact house agents. I walked into chemists and asked for advice on how I use the med aid card?...how I get a dentists?...the local cafe owner drew me a map for the local library, so I could study.
So everywhere I go and everything I need to do this is how it goes.....
‘I’m from England.....I’ve only been in the country xxxx weeks, I don’t know how things works here, please will you help me?’
Then these are the additional questions we now know we need to ask.......
‘Does the copy have to be stamped? And who would you like me to stamp it?...the school, the bank...the police...’(utility bills, DSTV)
‘Does this form need a witness to sign?...do you supply the witness or shall I get one?...can it be a stranger off the street (Customs) can it be my husband? (permission to have my own bank account) can it be my son? (Library card)’
‘Do I need additional forms, to the ones you’ve just told me about?’...
Everywhere we go and for everything we do we carry the following...even if they have a certified stamp, you still have to show original.....
Contract of employment
Proof of residency
Driving Licence, paper and photo card and The AA International Driving Permit
Bank Statement – Current
...and that is just the bare minimum
There’s always something else they’ll ask for.
The reason I write this today is Peter is on his 3rd visit to the Vehicle Licensing Department to prove that he is allowed to buy a car...I can’t buy my own car as my visa is for a visiting, therefore I can’t get my own finance, Peter can...We already have the car, it has plates, I have Insurance in my own right...thanks to ‘OUTsurance’...and another thing we also found out is when someone says to you...’It’s OK don’t worry about anything, we will sort it all out for you’....means we’ll forget to tell you something and you’ll have to do it...usually within 72hours...’you don’t need any paperwork...just the copy of your passport........’