Friday 1 November 2019

Thoughts on moving (back) to South Africa and everything you need to know about an International Move.

We're no longer moving to South Africa from Dubai, but we'd started the thought process and looking into costs, paperwork and pro's and con's of another move. So when we had difficulties with our tenants in the UK, we were already in the right frame of mind to be dealing with a relocation and as Peter's job is seeing him work half the year in South Africa, it seemed the right thing to do for me to spend that half in the UK, rather than in isolation in Dubai.

I've started to blog our repatriation here

Here is the thought process we went through:

16th February 2019
Here we go again, the 3rd time in the past 9 years we've had to ponder this question.

Should we move abroad? It's something we both asked ourselves in 2010.

The first time we were asked this question was September 2010, we said yes with no hesitation and 3 months later with 2 kids, our furniture and visas in hand we flew to South Africa to start a new life.

4 years later now with a cat and dog in tow and no kids at home anymore, we had 3 months notice to leave South Africa (government weren't renewing our visas) we sort of had the choice of the UK or Dubai, but chose Dubai because neither of us were ready to return home and Peter's job would've had him travelling to the Middle East anyway.

Both moves took us a good year to settle in fully, get to know the customs, ways things were done and to establish ourselves with friends.

The last year of our lives in South Africa, at the point where I'd settled, accepted my new identity, found my niche were spent with the will we, won't be moving until all of a sudden it was just announced and we packed up to start all over again.

To say that Peter's company caused us problems with the move was an understatement. Here's a summary of exactly what went wrong with both our moves and how things could've been improved.

HR in South Africa just assumed we would be able to do everything they did and in the same way, but no. I was not permitted to work and everything had to be in Peter's name, so dealing with a new job, 2 kids in a new school, trying to find somewhere to live and most importantly living with the fear of our personal safety it was a very trying time for us all.

The move to Dubai was much easier but HR here had no concept of what it was like moving to another country from a country that is not your place of birth and we were on expiring visas, having to make trips to the UK to get the new visa in order.

So when Peter came home from work mid February to say it was being discussed him moving to South Africa to take over the business there, the first thing I said was 'hell yes, but this time everything must be in writing and I will not allow HR top deal with the physical side of things this time other than the paperwork required for the visas, we will do the rest.'

I can pack in 2 days, our entire lives, the cat and the dog and ready to fly whenever I get the word.

We'll have to go back to the UK to obtain our new visas but once we know the move is actually going ahead, the T&C's for Peter's contract are in place, salary agreed, repatriation costs back to the UK, either when he chooses to retire (he's 65 in 2022) or the job comes to a natural end, are all in place. I can start the following:
  • Look at export companies, I will itemise our contents for insurance purposes
  • Speak to local animal specialists about the cat and dog, injections, paperwork and time scales for relocating the pets 
  • Sell both our cars
  • Give notice to the landlord
  • Speak to the banks about keeping accounts open here
  • Declutter the house
  • Sell the garden contents (we have to return it to sand before we leave)
So here are some random thoughts on our potential move:

Pros                                                                                   Cons
Skype, voice over internet and VPN's work .                   Post doesn't work
Have friends there already .                                              Can't get PG tips or Aubergine Pickle
Time difference only 1-2 hours not 3-4 .                          Load shedding
Know how things get done .                                             Personal safety
Know where we'll live, on a golf course .                        Journey time to UK now 24 hours
Have a swimming pool .                                                   Hassles of doing the above bullet points
Cost of living much lower
Already have a sim cards, store cards, nail bar & hairdresser
Weather (apart from the winter, too cold)
Miss South Africa, always said we'd go back

27th February 2019
Haven't give the above another thought other than trying to work out how to book my return flights from the UK and include a trip to Australia to visit child 3, whilst working out how long we'd need to do a visa application from the UK and potential timescale.
We've also cancelled plans to holiday with friends in America, but there's another reason for that also. Our first grandchild was born and a son got married.
Then Peter phoned this morning to say that the 90% chance of the move had probably dropped to 70%, due to employment laws in South Africa, which we were aware of and would've been our biggest hurdle.

6th March 2019
All has gone quiet and Peter has said it's not going to be happening, it was a nice dream while it lasted but that's it, it's time to move on. I however think differently, this is what happened on 2 previous moves, lots of talk, don't say anything to anyone then all of a sudden it just happens and usually within 3 months of a decision being made, we pack and we go. So watch this space.........

15th August 2019
A move has been mentioned several times since the last update, but it's been based on assumptions. Over the past few weeks there has been a few announcements of people moving into new roles, which leaves us pondering where Peter will end up. We're due to renew our house contract in November and have to give 2 months notice if we want to move. As rent is paid upfront it's a bit worrying as to whether we'd end up paying for a house in Dubai for a year that we only live in for a few months. Moving countries is expensive, regardless of it being a company move. House allowance is paid monthly, but we'd have to find our own deposit as well as buying new cars, whilst waiting for deposits to be returned here.
I'm keen to move back to South Africa, and hoping it could potentially be a one way trip and we could retire there. I really haven't given too much thought to the job ending here and relocating back to the UK instead, but that could also be a possible outcome.

27th August 2019
A formal discussion for Peter in work, it's very frustrating. Our landlord has agreed to a 6 month or monthly contract but there's an admin fee of 7,500 AED (£1,500) Part of our rental agreement is that we return to the garden to a blank canvas so we have to demolish the fence, dig up the plants, lawn and tiling to sell. All this takes time and effort and I'm in the UK Sept 10th till the end of October. We also have to return to the UK to submit all our paperwork for our visa but need most of the documents completing here, medical and police clearance in South Africa as well as Dubai.

September 2019
We're not moving to South Africa (insert sad face) The salary offer was not good enough considering we don't pay tax in Dubai so there would be quite a drop in salary and as Peter retires in 2-3 years time, there's no reason to do so. He is however going to help out more in South Africa from Dubai, which means more travel for him, more complications with the cat and dog costs and boarding, so I'll have to curb my travelling for a while. The thought of being in Dubai now until next June is daunting.

October 2019
So I'm not staying in Dubai, things happen for a reason. We'd planned to give our tenants in the UK their notice late 2020 and for me to return to the UK, settle into the house and start looking for work. Our plans were changed on Monday (2 days ago) when the rental agents informed us there were issues with payments and the list of complaints from the tenants is getting longer, such as uneven kitchen floor tiles (they're slate and cemented) and poorly decorated (was freshly decorated prior to them moving in 2 years ago).

The plan now is I move back end of January into our family home, transfer the contents of the flat in South Wales (50 miles away) and put the flat on the rental market, buy a car. Set up utilities etc and return to Dubai in March to start organising the move to the UK with the cat and dog and sell the car. Spend April/May in the UK, board the cat and dog in the UK, return to Dubai, pack up contents, sell garden, find 2 bed furnished apartment for Peter. Return to UK with Peter joining me in June to wait for the furniture, unpack, get jobs sorted. Peter will return to Dubai in July for work and we'll decide what to do next in regards to keeping our relationship alive, will probably involve me visiting Dubai alternate months until he retires for good.

Our initial move from the UK to South Africa started on September 10th and we moved on January 18th. We will have had 9 full years outside the UK.

I've not published the post until now, as we wanted to make sure either a) the move was going ahead or b) we were staying put, in which case I've decided to share it with you anyway. At some point in time we will have to leave Dubai and go through this anyway, just back to the UK and the UK it is.


  1. What an ordeal! Thank goodness you are flexible. I guess it's nice that you have at least some resolution now. Good luck with the move!

  2. That's a lot of work, but having a plan helps I'm sure. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo