Expat Chronicles: Jozi to London to Cape Town

What’s your name?

Tracy Lee

Where did you move from?

Initially, from Johannesburg, South Africa. Lived in London for 12 years and recently moved back to Cape Town, South Africa!

Where did you move to and when?

I moved to London and lived and worked there for 12 years. I met my husband there, got my British Passport, bought a property and worked in real estate. Last year, we moved back to South Africa and settled in Camps bay.

What was your reason for leaving your home country?

I left South Africa honestly just because of the crime. My sister was hijacked – she was fine, but the trauma took its toll on our family and her and I both moved to London. (She is still there) My reasons for coming back to SA were because I was missing the country terribly. I missed the beaches and the great weather – and felt a calling to come home.

Why did you choose the country you chose?

I chose London because of the opportunities. To be blunt, I wanted to make money and the opportunities there seemed great. I had so many friends that had gone over and made a success of themselves in the UK. I chose to come back to SA because it’s home!

What is the best thing about your new country?

I now consider SA my “new” country! The BEST thing about being here is the people, the friendliness, the nature, the great weekends away and all the fantastic places we can go on holiday.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

What do I miss about the UK? The wonderful friends I made, the public transport (I’m still getting used to all the driving here!) I also miss the socials – in London we had a lot of friends and we spent a lot of time at one another’s houses. I miss the markets and all the parks. And I guess I do miss the feeling of safety. I am looking over my shoulder a lot here, but I do feel pretty safe.

Anything you struggled to get used to in your new country?

When I got to London, I honestly couldn’t understand a word people were saying! I struggled to get used to people not talking to one another and I found Londoners quite rude! Back home now I’m struggling to get used to being so safety conscious and I’m more fearful of driving now than I ever was before I left.

Will you ever go back?

I don’t think so. I think Cape Town is my forever home! But I will definitely go back to the UK for holidays and to see my friends, although I have already had 4 sets of friends visit in Cape Town and another 2 sets are coming for the festive season.

Which country do you identify with most strongly now?

Definitely South Africa.

Which country’s sports teams do you support?

South Africa, although I do have a soft spot for the English teams too!

How does the food compare?

In the UK you can find pretty much any kind of food and if you’re prepared to spend a bit, you can have really amazing meals, but all in all the food in SA is much much better! I love the seafood here and you just can’t compare the meat!! The first thing I did when we got to SA was make my husband Karoo lamb chops on the braai.

Was it what you expected?

The UK was what I expected, but I had no idea the weather was going to be quite so different. Back in SA, I’m actually less fearful than I thought I was.

How has your life changed?

The quality of life in SA is, for me, just so much better. I love the beaches, and the sunshine. For some reason we were hesitant to have children in the UK, maybe because we were so focused on working. But now, we’re starting to feel more settled and we are talking about starting a family. So that’s changed. We spend so much time outdoors now. We’ve been camping, which we never did over there, we are gardening too. We are also so spoiled in SA with domestic help, which makes life a little easier too. I do miss being able to hop on and off the tube and spend the day moseying around. Here, it’s in and out of the car…

What advice would you give to others wanting to do the same?

If you can go to the UK and build up your nest egg, buy property etc. and then come back to South Africa, you really can propel your life and your finances. It’s not that easy for a young woman in South Africa to earn a fat salary and buy property while in her early 30’s. If you work hard over there you can reap the rewards and then come home to enjoy them!