Wednesday 26 February 2014

The one thing you need to know about being an expat.

Having just started our 4th year as an expat from the UK to South Africa, there are many things I'm still angry about, they prevent me from moving on, but haven't stopped me getting on with things.

I LOVE South Africa, the climate, the lifestyle, the wildlife, but it's not home. I'm not South African. I understand many things about life here but I don't like many aspects of life here.

When I visit the UK it's home, I know what's what, how things work, but there are/were many aspects of my life in the UK I didn't like either.

So what's preventing me from moving on?

The removal firm. Many issues but still things that annoy me today. It was only on the day of removal that the company informed us we couldn't take anything that had been used outside unless it was steam cleaned. It was 2 days before Christmas so we sold and gave stuff away quickly and cheaply. Then they inform us they couldn't book the shipping until after we obtained our visa number. In the end we didn't need to be homeless over Christmas and for another 3 weeks, we could've saved a lot of money if we'd been given time to get items cleaned.

The bank account. We opened an account with HSBC to move to South Africa. On arrival they cancel my bank card due to 'unusual activity' and then tell us that because they don't have a branch here, therefore credit history and ability to borrow money don't apply. We depleted our UK savings to get a deposit for a car (bought beds, kitchen essentials etc, due to delay in shipping furniture) and then borrowed money at 14% instead of 6% the HSBC were offering.

The company. Well it doesn't matter that these people no longer work for the firm, what matters is they lied on headed note paper (email) I can't work, they told me I would be able to. My son has had to return to the UK to complete his education because HR was so desperate to get a school place she never passed on his special needs reports and told the school he'd only be there 2 years. (He's dyslexic and SA main stream schools don't do learning support)

There have been many other things, but like stuff that happened in the UK I consider it to be part of life. Difficulties with neighbours, maintaining friendships and relationships, feeling and being let down, etc, etc, etc.

But just as I feel comfortable, just as I get used to the kids leaving home and making plans to fill the empty nest with further studies, travels, volunteer work the one thing happens that turns it all upside down.

The one thing I'd wish I'd known before becoming an expat is that as soon as you feel settled, adapt and make plans for your future you get asked to relocate. 


  1. oh no - relocate where? Hope it’s not a big one again

    jox (under my other login as I’m at work - Mum Friendly!)

  2. Oh, poor you. I feel your frustration.

  3. Oh no. I feel your frustration.