Monday 4 November 2019

Repatriation Part 1 Things we have to do

There's lots of Things to do for this move to the UK. In many ways I'm discovering it's more of a relocation and not repatriation. There is as much stuff to do as there was to move from the UK to South Africa then relocate the the UAE.

Our move to South Africa from the UK was completed within 4 months of being asked to move to our arrival. Visas had to be in place on arrival and as we later discovered the student visas for an Afrikaans school was not our best move and it dictated where we lived. We eventually sent our youngest back to the UK for boarding for his last 4 years of education and the other child finished school at almost 19 with his Matric which was only equivalent to 5 GCSE's grade C. We stayed in a furnished apartment for 6 weeks, before moving into a house, then moving again the following year.

We were in South Africa 1 month short of 4 years.

For our move to the UAE we had to be in the UK to attest and certify our documents for the visa process and once they were in place we were able to move to Dubai and apply for our visas. However there were several surprises such as the cat and dog arrived, we'd rented a villa, but were unable to set up the utilities until the visa was in place, which was almost 12 weeks later and we had to live in hotels until then. Also we were unable to ship our air freight until visas were in place and our container sat in customs in the UAE for 9 weeks. We've also moved house after 3 years.
We've been in Dubai 2 months short of 5 years now.

Both moves were organised by the company and they were not successful. For starters when I called the rental agent or the removal company I was informed the contract wasn't with me , which meant Peter had to keep stop what he was doing to contact HR for them to call the companies, report back to Peter and then to me. it was time consuming and at one point our container in South Africa was effectively lost for 3 days.

There have been many financial surprises to deal with also. The company paid for the packing and shipping of our container. They provide a housing and car allowance in both countries and they paid school fees. They also pay all costs for visa applications, including flights. But this money is paid into Peter's salary monthly, so we had to find money to purchase vehicles, pay school deposits and fees and pay the house deposit up front. On our arrival in Dubai we had to pay a full years rent up front. When we left South Africa our visa expired along with our bank accounts and we went from the end of November until the end of January with only Rand in cash to spend.

We'd arrived in South Africa with the Rand at 11:1, when we left it was 27:1. We'd depleted our UK savings setting up in SA.

5 years on and we've recovered financially, we've had tenants in our UK home. The first set stopped paying rent in 2013 and we had an expensive eviction through the courts to recover our home. In 2016 we then purchased a flat near my parents so we'd have somewhere to stay when we visit and the rent from our home covers our running costs for both UK properties.

On our last visit to the UK in September and October we discovered our current tenants had only paid the rent owed under mediation and we were advised they weren't going to pay in October on time either, so we've made the decision to action a Section 21a and claim occupancy of the property in January 2020.

As Peter is 62 and retirement age in Dubai is 65, we don't have long left here. We'd discussed our plan of action for his retirement and our repatriation to the UK, which involved giving our tenants notice in October 2021, getting the work done in the house ready for when Peter retired and it's eventual sale after he returned to the UK, for me to find work and then decide where we were going to live.

We had hoped for one more final move back to South Africa, but it hasn't happened, so we've brought our plans forward. Peter hasn't made a decision about his retirement date yet.

I'm now having to travel back to the UK in November/December as our tenants are leaving early so I can get the locks changed, set up utilities, council tax etc and get the flat rented out to cover the monthly costs. The cat and dog will move back the end of January on my next trip. I will need to be back in Dubai in March as we have friends visiting, I'll return in April for a month, then back to Dubai to organise the packing and shipping of our furniture and move Peter into a 2 bed apartment, which will be our home in Dubai when I visit alternate months.

I will return to the UK end of May to meet the container and Peter will join me in June to help with the unpacking and any jobs in the house I've been physically unable to do.

I'll stay in the UK until the end of October, then back to Dubai till February.

So what next?

You can read more of our Repatriation story below:

Some of these links aren't yet live and will be updated.

Repatriation or Operation Relocation

Part 1 Things we have to do

Part 2 Starting to get organised

Part 3 Transfer of Residence

Part 4 Relocating pets. Dubai to UK

Part 5 Sorting out our new home in the UK

Part 6 Bob and Pushkins arrive in the UK. What do they think of it? February 2020

Part 7 Renting an apartment in Dubai May 2020

Part 8 Vacating a Villa in Dubai May 2020

Part 9 Moving Day May 2020

Part 10 Relocation


  1. What an incredibly busy time you have coming up, make sure you rest up when you can! What an experience over the last decade or so, you must have become a whizz at packing! I hope your move back to the UK goes well! Sim x

    1. If I'm honest I don't actually do the packing, we employ a firm to do it for us lol

  2. Phew! I am exhausted reading all about it! I have moved countries once only - and it's 25 years ago now. All went well but I wouldn't want to do it again. Good luck with everything.

    1. I'd rather not be doing it again, but hey ho, such is life