The Expat Friend Blog

Knowing When It's Time To Go

One of the big worries, when you're thinking about moving overseas, is what happens if it goes horribly wrong, or you can't settle for some reason. I've been thinking about this a lot recently with Hong Kong, South Africa and Brexit currently in the news. South Africa, a place we called home for two years, has seen a lot of horrible events this year and it's taken me back to the time that we realised we could no longer stay there long-term. For the record, this isn't intended to be a 'woe-is-me' piece - living in developing countries has made me acutely aware of how advantaged I am, and that the problems facing expats are generally self-made; we have the luxury of being able to choose where to live, and also when to leave. 

* Please note, this post may be difficult reading, especially for victims of crime and sexual violence.

Choosing a School Overseas?

One of the hardest things about moving overseas is how it will affect your loved ones, but especially children, if you have them. It was the one thing that I spent the most sleepless nights on. There are many issues to consider, including how they'll adapt to their new lives, whether they'll make new friends and how best to continue their education. If you plan on sending them to school, you'll have to think about whether your children will do better in a private, local or international setting. 

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Emigrating

If you're in the thinking about, or planning stages of emigrating, and want some real-life advice, you've come to the right place! Our own adventures first began 6 years ago in South Africa and continued more recently in Mauritius. We've made lots of mistakes, and learned how NOT to relocate, mainly by inadvertently doing it the hard (and expensive) way. In order to save you time, money and heartache, I've compiled my top 3 list of the questions you should consider before emigrating.

The fact is, there's nothing easy about moving to a new country, especially if you're doing it without support from an employer or immigration agency. There's such a lot to organise and think about, and so much preparation involved that it can often become overwhelming. By breaking it all down, in these early stages, you'll hopefully have a bit more clarity about what you want to achieve, why, where and how.

Moving to a new country is, for better or worse, always going to be a life-altering experience. Before I start, I just want to make it clear that, on the whole, I've loved living overseas. Moving to new countries, with totally different cultures, has felt a lot like experiencing childhood again; everything seems new, exciting, confusing and without reference. It's permanently, and positively, shaken up the way I now think about the world, and my place in it.  

If living abroad is your dream too, don't give up. Get ready!  

Dog Days - My Experience of Rescuing Dogs in Mauritius

Before moving to a new country it’s easy to have an idealised view of what relocating will be like, and how your new expat life will pan out. Once the honeymoon period is over, you often have to get to grips with the reality of your adopted country and its culture. Expats often have to familiarise themselves with beliefs or attitudes that are markedly different to those in their home countries. It might be views surrounding gender, sexuality, religion, race, social mores, family, education or work that are taken for granted at home. Culture shock can be a real issue and, since moving to Mauritius, my own experience of this has been concerning animal welfare. Coming from a country where people treat their pets as a part of their family, the difference is startling, and I struggled to cope with my feelings at first. 

What could possibly go wrong?

After spending many years dreaming of moving overseas, my husband and I eventually had the opportunity to move to South Africa with our two children. We spent many months researching the immigration process, housing, schools and everything in between. We attended immigration exhibitions, spoke to expats on forums and did everything we were supposed to. We were pretty confident that we’d covered all bases, and felt emotionally and mentally ready for the move, so what could possibly go wrong?