Monday 25 May 2015

Expat life in South Africa and Dubai

I get asked all the time 'which do you prefer? South Africa or Dubai?'

I can't answer that question in the same way that visitors do, they say Dubai is much better. They mean safer, but then when we people come and stay with us they don't actually go off and do their own thing anyway, so it makes no difference where they are visiting us as I'm still the bloody unpaid tour guide.

I don't have a preference to either country in terms of the actual move, opening bank accounts, working out how things are done, dealing with different languages and cultures. It's unknown, therefore it's difficult, complicated and expensive.

There are 3 advantages that Dubai has over South Africa in regards to a relocation is that in Dubai:

1) It's consistent and the same rules apply to all, unlike South Africa which would depend on a) who you spoke to and b) what mood they were in, as that would depend on the information you were asked for on that particular visit.

2) I was able to go out on my own the first day and use public transport and walk around freely

3) I was able to get a SIM card, by myself, just by showing my entry visa stamp

The things that are the same are:

1) The company wouldn't deal with me
2) The relocation firm disappeared as soon as there were issues with the house, the container and my visa.
3) The medical aid is complicated, no one helps you find a doctor, dentist or even tells you what the emergency number is and where the nearest hospital is.
4) I'm lonely and it's taking a long time to build friendships and I have no emergency network
5) I'm depressed
6) I have no identity

In South Africa I had to deal with the children leaving home and for the first time in 22 years not being a mum, I am however grateful that with the move to Dubai I haven't had to deal with sorting schools out.

I spent the 1st year in South Africa settling the kids into their new lives, trying to find my niche, a job, a volunteer placement and numerous attempts to finish my studies.
I then spent 2 years enjoying life, made friends, had a network, had volunteer work, socialised, went on safaris, camping trips, got a cat and a dog, dealt with emergencies back in the UK and in South Africa camped in a township, raised funds, worked hard and partied harder and
The 4th and final year was spent waiting for a decision to be made by hubby's company as to whether or not we'd move to Dubai. We were told I could work there, something I was also told that on the move to South Africa, we were told things would be different this time, they haven't been. I knew I'd lose my identity again, that I'd have to make new friends and I thought it would be easier this time because a) I knew what to expect and b) I'd be working, but it's been harder than I expected, taken longer than I'd hoped.

I'm on my own for the next few weeks, hubby is back for 2 nights next week before he goes to the States and the 20 year old is stopping over for 3 nights on his way back from South Africa to the UK the following week, but for me I'm almost housebound due to the heat and a painful back and two doses of severe food poisoning so apart from physio, walks with the dog when the sun goes down, I'm lying on the bed watching you tube with the air con on, bored, lonely and depressed knowing how hard the rest of this year is going to be to reinvent my identity and find something to do with my time that's worthwhile and makes me feel valued, knowing this time, that at some point, it will all stop, we'll be packing up, saying our goodbyes and starting all over again somewhere else.


  1. You sound defeated. Pain and heat of course contribute to the whole feeling of it all being horrid. But don't worry, tomorrow is a new day. Long term friendships can be built on-line and life can now be built in a more portable way. At least that's what I tell myself as I feel so isolated here too and I'm not even in a foreign country, just 4000klms from home is all. *sigh* I'm sending you a big HUG

    1. i am wondering how much the problems with my back are due to the stress and depression and/or vice versa. which country do you live in where you are 4000kms from home?

  2. I can't imagine how hard all of the above is to manage every day. I hope that you find the worthwhile something you're looking for very soon. Thinking of you x

    1. On the whole Izzie I'm ok, its just when i try to do something different from the norm that i get down