It takes six months to settle into a new country’s system, finding a house, opening bank accounts, getting a tax file number, connecting telephone lines, setting up broadband, buying a car and getting to know your way around town, the shops and getting brand wise(knowing what brand of grocery item compares to what back in South Africa)
Once you’ve reached this point it doesn’t necessarily means that you are now a new citizen of your new adopted country, no, it just means that the honeymoon is over.
We have gone through the process 3 times.
The first time was in February 2006 when we boarded Air Singapore for our new home in New Zealand. The first 3 months was utter hell and I have never seen my wife so unhappy. We bought a house in a small town 30mins drive from my office. It was the only affordable place we could buy. My wife ended up hiding from fellow South Africans trying to abuse the fact that my wife was at home looking after the children and their wifes were chasing money. We sold the house and moved to the town where my office were and rented a nice new home. Things started to go better but the health of my youngest son deteriorated alarmingly as he developed a life threatening asthma. The grass were greener on the other side because of 1800mm rain a year.
Next stop Perth, Australia and the same thing all over again, this was July 2007. We made the jump across the Tasman successfully and again it was 6 months before we settled in. As time progressed we made brilliant friends, South Africans as well as Aussies. We found the Aussies much more open and friendly towards us than the Kiwis. I changed jobs and subsequently I had to change my sponsor. This is where my troubles in Oz started, a combination of an unscrupulous employer and the credit crunch had me out on the street and we were at decision time again less than 3 years after we left South Africa.
We knew that crime was worse than when we left, the electricity grid is under immense pressure especially in winter time, people are scared and uncertain about Zuma becoming president and yet we still decided to come back. It was more difficult to settle in back in South Africa than what it was in both New Zealand and South Africa, remember this time we moved without me securing a job first. (rooster note : Actually you're wrong about the crime. It's not worse...it's much better than 3 years ago)
Opening bank accounts, buying a car, FINDING A JOB is much more of a challenge but we went through all the pain and heartache (my wife hated every minute being back in SA).
But as time goes on and we are now 9 months down the line things are starting to look better by the day, children have settled in at school and our social calendar is looking better. There is a spirit of optimism where there was a spirit of doubt a few months ago, everyone knows that Zuma has to produce otherwise the DA will take another province in 5 years time. We had an excellent Super14 with the whole country united behind the Bulls, in many ways it was bigger than 2007 World Cup final. We hosted an extremely successful IPL20-20, we have the Confederations Cup ahead of us and the big price of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. To quote the organizers of the IPL 20-20, South Africa should be the hub for world sporting events. We still experience the best weather in the world, you will be surprised to see how much development has taken place and if you drive from Pretoria to Cape Town you are bound to see more wildlife at privately owned game ranches next to the N1 than what you would see in a weekend at Kruger Park. (Rooster note : Same allong the n2 from P.E going east)
Like all the other expats I was negative about South Africa and thrived on all the bad publicity because that was what defined and justified my decision to take my children away from their family, their friends and their country. I wanted to see South Africa fail in all aspects so that I can rub those that has crucified me for leaving noses in it.
I now know that by coming back I didn’t admit failure but I stood up and said that I am not going to forsake my country , I am here to make a difference. I pray to God to protect my family and friends from the criminal element in my country, yes, I am not blind to what is happening but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. Africa is in my blood.