Making the move from SA to the UK
“Making an international move is not something to take lightly and requires a lot of research as well as the right reasons for making the move. As a family with a young child, our reasoning was based around the work opportunities abroad as well as the future for our daughter. For myself personally, the work opportunities were second to none in the UK vs SA – that and our ability to get British Passports for our family, it was almost a no-brainer. The trickiest part about the decision-making process was to almost disconnect oneself from certain realities and focus on the end-goal and the life that you can create for your family in the UK.”
I am not saying that the grass is always greener on the other side but I suppose the opportunity is what you make of it, and grabbing the bull by the horns is a great mindset to have when making this move. Leaving family and friends back in South Africa is the hardest part but you need to focus on the bigger picture and what is going to be best for your family.
For our family, the move happened very quickly. It was something that we had been thinking about for around a year or so, but had kept it very much to ourselves. It was only in January 2022 that things got more serious and we got the ball rolling. I was offered a job at GAP Talent before arriving in the UK – this is rare being able to have a job before taking the plunge! I moved over to the UK in May 2022 with the family only following 2 months later. We were really lucky and managed to get a rental in the Surrey area starting almost on the day the family arrived. Due to school holidays, we were only placed in a school a week before the year started in September but we managed to get into our number 1 choice of schools.
Some things we’ve learned since arriving in the UK:
- Summer was amazing! Arriving in the summertime definitely has its pro’s – the weather was incredible, the outdoor life here is second to none, when the weather is good people get outside and enjoy life in the parks, on the canals, at the beach or on the Thames (the same applies on the rainy days as our daughter says, ‘rain won’t stop us from going outside’).
- Rentals are hard to come by but not impossible – there is just such a demand for properties that when you see one you like, make an offer straight away and if possible, offer some upfront rental too.
- Food costs pretty much the same in the UK as it does in SA – maybe even cheaper, just shop at the right stores (Waitrose is more expensive but probably aligned to Woolies, Lidl and ASDA are your cheaper shops and everyone delivers so don’t stress about not having a car to start with).
- Cars – these come at bargain prices. If you want a cheap run around, you can pick something up for around £1000 (plus insurance and road tax which is annual at around £800 or so)
- Trains are almost always on time – you find yourself getting some rage when they are 2–5 minutes late! Things are just generally on time here, the 1st world works!
- People – we have made so many friends, people are just generally friendly (perhaps not on the underground in London though 😊). We have been to many braai’s and get togethers with people we didn’t know until very recently, and they are all amazing so far. We have been lucky, but you also make your own luck!
- Pets – it may cost you an arm and a leg but if you have pets in SA, bring them over – it’s going to be worth it. Our pets have made it feel more like home and they help you get out more, even on those rainy days!
- South Africans – your Afrikaans will improve when you move over, there are South Africans everywhere you go and we are in abundant supply. Half the people we have met in the United Kingdom are from South Africa!
The grass is not always greener on the other side – the UK definitely has its pro’s and con’s (will let you know when I find them), as does SA, BUT for us it has been a non-comparable move to have made and we wouldn’t change a thing. We will always support the Springboks, we will always be South African, but the UK has been really good to us so far, and we are very happy to call this ‘home’.
PS. We obviously had a get together on Saturday for the rugby and #heritageday. Biltong, braai, saffa mates and Rugby!
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