A little while ago I wrote a blog post called When is it time to just say enough is enough? and I haven’t really mentioned anything about it since then so I thought it was time to let you know that we took this question pretty seriously and after doing lots and lots of research, we decided that actually, the time was now.
So we are moving to New Zealand if they will have us.
Of course the decision wasn’t taken lightly and there have been lots of things to consider but the bottom line was that there are so many benefits to leaving that it didn’t make sense for us to stay.
We went to an immigration talk and it was pretty interesting. The one thing that stands out above all else was the fact that most people who move to New Zealand and Australia move there due to very strong pull factors. There are things about those countries that appeal to them. They’ve visited previously and could see themselves living there. South Africans on the other hand are apparently more motivated by the push factors. So they (we) move there because of the bad things happening in our own country and many move without ever having even been to visit the country that they are moving to.
What’s interesting for me is a long love affair with that part of the world.
I visited a primary school friend who had moved to New Zealand when I finished high school and I knew I wanted to live there. So I applied for university there but they didn’t accept me and so instead I moved to Cape Town (from Swaziland) and I’ve been here ever since.
When my dad died over a decade ago, I packed my bags and went on a year-long adventure travelling the world. One of the places I visited was Australia and once again, I felt my heart sing as I spent 3 months travelling from one town to the next. I formed relationships with people who I will treasure forever. I knew in my heart that I was meant to live in that part of the world. I just fell in love with the casual attitude towards life and I always joke that Australians all live within a block of a pub. The relaxed lifestyle was so appealing to me.
So I applied to various universities across Australia. And I was accepted into every single one of them. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. Then I sat down and calculated the fees. The exact same degree in Australia cost a MILLION rand and it was just too much money to justify spending when I could get the degree here at UCT for 100 thousand rand. So I chose UCT. I chose Cape Town and I chose to stay.
During my first few months of law school – I met the love of my life and ended up marrying him. I hated law school too so good thing I didn’t choose to move across the world and waste all that money over there.
I didn’t regret not leaving because those choices have led me here, to this happy life I live with a beautiful son and a wonderful marriage but my heart always felt a little sad that I gave up on a dream that started when I was 18.
I still felt like I needed to go.
So recently, when my son was home from school alone with me for weeks – I nearly lost my mind. I was terrified of being alone in my own home. I was tired of carrying the panic button around and I was just ready to be done with this way of living.
And I sat my husband down and he absolutely thought I was crazy.
Then some time passed and he slowly started coming around to the idea and now… two short months later we are well on our way to moving across the big pond and starting our new life.
Some of our reasons for moving are push factors – I’m exhausted by the crime but for the most part, it’s the pull factors that won me over. The thought of working in the community development sector and earning a decent living doing what I love. Not having to switch my alarm on at night. Walking in a park and not wondering if I might get robbed. My husband doing his PhD and becoming a lecturer over there… the options for our future just made sense for us as a family.
Of course this will always be where my heart belongs. I am African before anything else but I am also excited for this new part of our journey. I don’t know what my life over there will look like but for now, I’m really looking forward to a new start.
I’m looking forward to new opportunities and for a world that feels different. I’m excited about it and I’m sad all at once. Does that even make sense?
I feel like I’m betraying my country by leaving but the truth is, my country will always be in my heart. Home will always be Africa but a new life is waiting for us.
For now though, yes, it’s time to leave.
Here’s to a new chapter of my life: Being an Expat (again)!