Coming home

I left South Africa in 2004 as a freshly graduated 23-year-old. My parents implored me to go to try and pay off my substantial study loan. I never worked in SA, other than part-time waiter jobs and starting a career in a foreign country was interesting.

My reason for leaving had very little to do with crime, government policies or employment prospects. My dad signed his house as collateral for my loan and we both wanted that burden removed as soon as possible. At the time the British Pound was 12:1 to the Rand and the UK thus appealed.

After arriving on a working holiday visa, I moved onto a Highly Skilled Migrant visa. I then met my South African wife and we were both in agreement we wanted to return to SA one day. We married in SA and chose to pay for the wedding ourselves. This meant a couple of years longer in the UK spent saving and we just got on with it.

Time flew and before I knew it, I now qualify for British citizenship. My wife and I decided this was as good a time as any and we just bought our flights back to SA. By that time I would have been naturalised and we will both hold dual citizenship.

Fortunately we don’t have children yet, so the move is easier in that regard. We are moving to Cape Town and are extremely excited about it. Obviously this means that I find myself reading News24 more regularly and the articles regarding expats, together with the comments, have caught my eye recently.

I can’t comment on SA as I have not lived there for a while, but judging by some comments, the country is still as diverse as ever. I try to read both the negative and positive comments. Some make me laugh and others have a high rage factor.

Now I will mention this, as I expect it would’ve been in some comment. Yes, we have experienced violent crime in the immediate family in SA. It is but one of the things we are trying to prepare ourselves for. Going back on holiday is barely the same as setting up a life and having to deal with everyday challenges. We certainly are not doing this with blinkers on.
 
We do not dislike the UK and found our life here comfortable and extremely fulfilling. We are leaving a healthy social life behind and will miss our friends dearly, but also look forward to making new acquaintances and catching up with old mates in SA.

I’ve only read accounts of those who’ve left, so now you have the account of someone who’s making the opposite move. We decided it was time for a new challenge and what better place to give a go than your country of birth.

I’m sure there are expats who have returned and I would love to hear their take on things. A few of our friends have- or are returning soon, but nobody has been there for more than a year.

I accept one can’t compare two countries, but it would be interesting to hear of someone who can truly speak from all three angles, SA, a new country and finally SA again.

- Are you a South African living abroad interested in sharing your views? What is it like for a South African living in a foreign country or how do you view South Africa from a distance? Send us your columns to feedback@news24.com and you might get published in our new Beyond Borders section.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.


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