Tuesday 20 March 2012

5674 miles from home

That's how far it is from everything I know.

Imagine getting on a plane with 2 children and your hubby to live in a new country, a country you've never even visited, with 2 suitcases each and your hand luggage, containing xbox, toiltries, clothing, laptops, all the cables you think you'll need, all your UK paperwork and stuff you'll not actually use.
Your wordly goods at sat at a dock somewhere and are due to arrive with you 6-8 weeks after you leave, assuming they don't get shipwrecked, pirated off the coast of Somalia or stolen at customs.

You arrive, tired, smelly and emotional to be greated by a woman from the company, who shows you to where you can hand over your documents to hire your car. Please note she knows 4 of you are arriving, with more than just holiday luggage and hires a car without enough boot space.

She wants to whisk you to your apartment, but you need 5 minutes to catch your breath, again, you're not here nicely relaxing on holiday. There are no provisions in your flat, cos you obviously assumes you have milk etc in your hand luggage and tells you, you can pop to the shops later.

This isn't any ordinary country, they speak the same language and even drive on the same side of the road, this is South Africa, 20 miles north of Johannesburg and if you're not from round these parts, or even if you are, you've heard all the horror stories, you know how dangerous this place is.

We have an apartment rented for 6 weeks, hubby is sorted with a mobile phone and eventually a company car (THAT WAS NOT AN EASY CHORE) kids have uniform, books and are in school. And that my dear friends was the end of the help.

Rent a house - I've no mobile phone to call agents, that's if I even knew how to find an agent to call - I've no car to meet the agents.

Get a South African SIM - I need proof of residency just for a PAYG...apartment rented in company name.

Bank accounts - can't have one I don't work, but hubby can have one with verified copy of ID (1 trip to police station to verify documents) WHERE IS THE EFFING POLICE STATION? Copy of 27 page contract of employment (back to the police station) last 3 months pay slips...FFS WE'VE BEEN HERE 72 HOURS, letter from company to say we live at the apartment so we can have proof of residency and letter from hubby to give permission for me to have bank account with him acting as guarantor...can't have joint account, still don't know why.

In the meantime my UK bank card has been cancelled due to unusual activity ACCOUNT OPENED FOR MOVING TO SOUTH AFRICA.

Buy a car - hubby has to do this, apply for loan, repeat steps above, withdraw £1,500 daily from UK bank, 4 days in a row, walking to and from apartment to mall. Leave mall, walk to other mall with £6,000 in handbag to pay deposit, walk back to mall in tears, sign forms at bank, walk to car dealers to collect car.....CAR INSURANCE? FUCK...QUICK NAME ME A CAR INSURANCE COMPANY IN ANOTHER COUNTRY.

And so it goes on. I don't think I was asking for much really, to have appointments made with housing agents, provided with a PAYG SIM on arrival and a list of places to go and things to do. I wasn't expecting to have everything paid for, just someone to answer questions, accompany me and make a few calls on my behalf...I'M A FOREIGNER HERE, IT'S ALL ALIEN TO ME.

Same happens when I finally find a house to rent, contract sorted after several more trips to the police station, but water? electricity? TV? DO I NEED A TV LICENCE HERE? (yes) Internet? Telephone line? HOW? WHERE? WHEN? WHAT?

It's not been esay, I've moved many times as a child, as an adult and with my kids, but it's pretty much the same all over the UK, you know how things work, you know where to go to get certain things done, even if you don't know the exact location.

Now a year on, I've renewed the policies, more trips to the police station, I've given up trying to get a PO BOX number, I've given up on Barlowworld Toyota and the faulty tyre pressure guage and given up trying to extract an apology from Britannia Movers in regards to the lost customs paperwork and the lost container (see earlier blogs for stress caused there)

I'm not a wimp, I've relocated 5674 miles from everything I've ever known. I get things done, I've been scared, I've cried, I AM STRESSED, DEPRESSED, I've threatened to go 'home' but I'm still here, I'm determined to make things work, otherwise it's all been a waste of time...


  1. Oh God...You have my sympathy 100% - what absolute shite you have had to deal with, and the whole thing about banks accounts and your husband having to act as guarantor - makes you realise just what us ladies get as a result of women's rights!

    I am so glad that I opted to go with Pickfords to move our stuff rather than Britannia, after reading just that one line - My stuff was delivered to the door exactly 8 weeks to the day from leaving the UK house intact with no missing paperwork...lol

    Feeling terribly lucky to have had a much smoother ride so far - and will make a note to tell hubby that South Africa is definitely off the list of countries, I am prepared to move to without question....

    I so admire your courage with everything you are facing. I think perhaps you have more strength than you are aware of.

    Lou :-)

    1. Our biggest problem has been the lack of support from the company as in after we arrived, nothing...ive invested too much here to pack it all in...it has to work

  2. I admire you. Though you are stressed and depressed, the strength you have shown by staying is amazing.

    1. i'm determined to make this work, if I cave in now then I would have wasted all this effort