Answering the question…is it time to leave?

Answering the question...is it time to leave?

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)! 

aeroplane flying away

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18 Discussion to this post

  1. Karin says:

    What struck me reading this was that it was exactly the same for us when we decided to uproot our lives and move to a foreign land : 13 years ago! Nothing has changed it seems.
    We are contemplating coming back to SA but I’m showing hubby your post first. We can’t be sacrificing the life in the UAE for what we left behind so long ago.
    Thank for the insight!

    • Karin, I’ve only lived in South Africa for 14 years and I can without a doubt say it’s MUCH worse now than it was then. I wouldn’t suggest coming back. Perhaps come on holiday and see for yourself but I can’t drive into my own drive way without looking in my rear view mirror that no one is following me. It’s no way to live. I know a lot of people say the grass isn’t always greener but I don’t want green grass, I just want a little peace of mind 😉

  2. Leanne says:

    Wow i love reading stories like this….. it definetely reminds me that im not alone in this and that there are other people that feel the same way. I love new adventures and thats what life should be 1 big adventure, who is to say we should stay in one place forever… it would be very boring. I feel and have felt for a long time that a different country calls for me… maybe soon i too will be on my very own new adventure. Good luck and cant wait to hear all about it. Yay

    • I love how you see this as being about a new adventure. It feels so scary to me but when you look at it from the point of view of needing a change and a chance to have an adventure it makes it sound a lot more exciting than what I’m going through, which is fear hehe. I love going to new places but this is such a huge leap for me and the perspective is helpful – because you CAN have an adventure with a kid right!! I think it’s important to live in a few places during your life. In the Sunscreen song one of the life tips is to “live in New York at least once” and I always loved that line… I never got to try that (or even visit) but this is the same type of adventure for me. I hope you get to go on a big adventure too <3 Thank you for the support <3

  3. Charlene says:

    All the best with this exciting new adventure!!! 😀 xx
    New Zealand seems like an incredible place to raise a child. Since having Zee, we’ve had this talk too, as I hate always being scared and worried for my child’s safety… and while I know it’s a huge decision, and not one we can afford just yet, I hope we do make it one day too.

    • Thank you Charlene! I’m extremely excited about this new adventure and I’m so excited about the life Oden will get to live, the simple things like walking in a park. I think having a child changes your priorities doesn’t it! It’s extremely expensive and a decision that takes time to prepare for but hopefully, when you’re ready, it will work out <3

  4. Tamarah says:

    You will be so sorely missed, but I am really happy for you that you have made a decision and are starting a new and, I trust, happy chapter in your life. The opportunities for Oden are also so amazing. I hope everything goes smoothly with the big move. Please keep us updated on the process – and some hints and tips…

    • Thank you Tamarah! I will miss you too but the great thing about our blogs is that they help us to stay informed even if we are far away and I think I love that the most about my blog. Forming friendships that mean so much! I will definitely keep you informed as I navigate these murky waters and hopefully… I can be helpful should you take the same path! Thank you for your encouragement. I am especially thankful that we are doing this while Oden is still too young to realise what he is leaving behind! xoxo

  5. Zoe says:

    So excited for this new adventure!! I think you will be so happy and successful in NZ, and make an amazing life for your kid, which is really the whole point. Also, just realized, with both of us moving halfway around the globe, will we sorta be closer to each other than SA? 😛
    Really though, hard decision, but I think the right one. Looking forward to following every step in your adventure!

    • Thanks Zoe! This means a lot. I know you know all about how hard this decision is to make and the feelings of what the hell am I getting myself it to but I agree, I think I will be happy and I hope that happiness will bring success too. But the most important part definitely is making a life for my kid where he will be safe and happy. Haha, I will totally have to visit you in your part of the world. <3

  6. It’s great that you and your husband is on the same level- that you both want to do this. All the best- you are going to do great in NZ. I have a old classmate who is that side and she always looks so happy there. I recently heard how fearful she was here in SA while we were working.

    • Thank you Melissa. I appreciate that. It has always been an option for me so him agreeing with me was wonderful. I’m sure we will be happy there. I know it’s a case of the grass being greener but I’m trying to see it as something new rather than something better… and hopefully it will be better anyway <3

  7. Bonnie says:

    Yay to new adventures. The excited but sad feeling makes sense 100%. I know you have made the right choice. ♡♡♡
    Cheers to new opportunities and a better life. xoxo

  8. ChevsLife says:

    “I feel like I’m betraying my country” – this line stands out for me, because you know what, when considering the country we are living in today, the hopes and dreams that we all have – our country is betraying us, through the dysfunctional leadership, etc.

    Jonelle, moving to New Zealand, means that we will still be neighbours, even though the distance is much further. The great thing about social media is that you’ve developed so many great relationships with people, some of whom you’ve never even met! These relationships will continue, the distance will not be a factor.

    Little Oden, he will grow up in a country that he will one day call home, even though your heart will always be in Africa, like most of world – even though they won’t admit it – we are all united in our quest to strive for the best life for our families, our children and ourselves.

    I wish you and your family only the best as you pursue this alternative option, and wait, let’s not forget that PhD . . . how awesome is the recent achievement?! I’m a firm believe that one should never feel guilty about decisions that are made in the best interest of family, quality of life and living – I mean you will only be a flight away 🙂

    • Chev! You’ve made me cry! Thank you for this beautiful message. Truth be told, I wanted to write that my country has betrayed me but I felt like even more of a Judas putting that down there. You are SO right and I need to remember that what matters is Oden’s future (as well as our own) and as you say, the world is a lot smaller thanks to social media. I have many dear friends as a result of my blog and many I’ve never even met but they still play a super important role in my life on a daily basis. Thank you for your support, love and understanding. It means more to me than you know <3

  9. Best of luck to you. We constantly have this conversation, our time isn’t now, but it will be soon I’m sure.

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