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The Expat Chronicles - Meet Rory

by 1st Contact | Jul 04, 2012
  • This month we spoke to Rory, who moved his family from South Africa to London a year and a half ago. While he’s earning a great salary and his family enjoys the shopping, they’re missing the perks they were used to back in SA, so they are already planning their move back.
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    Where did you move from?

    We moved from Paulshof, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Where did you move to and when?

    My family and I moved to London in February of 2011.

    How did your move come about?

    I had wanted to make the move for years, but kept putting it off because of the mission. When my twins turned 3, my wife and I felt we had the strength to do this thing and I spoke to my CEO about a transfer. We had discussed it before, so it wasn’t a new thing and he and I started to put the wheels in motion. Eventually everything came together and we made the move at the beginning of last year.

    Why did you choose the country you chose?

    In one word: money. Our plan was to get there, get settled and eventually get our citizenship. I thought this would be a good way to get lots of money in the bank and then eventually go back to South Africa in 10 or 15 years’ time with a very healthy bank balance.

    What is the best thing about your new country?

    I am earning a fantastic salary, so life is good in that department. I am managing to save money every month, whereas in SA it was pretty much hand-to-mouth for us. I also enjoy lots of things about London itself. Public transport is amazing compared to South Africa and my wife loves the shops.

    But to be honest, we are not having a lekker time and it looks like our big hopes of becoming UK citizens are going to grind to a halt. None of us are particularly happy.- not my wife, not me, not our young twins and definitely not our 12-year old son!

    What do you miss the most about your home country?

    We miss just about everything. At the top of the list are our friends and family. We also miss the weather, the holidays, the people, the food. I miss the fun vibe at work. I miss my 4x4 weekends. We miss Cape Town, where we holidayed often…

    Ja, we miss everything about South Africa. So we are actually starting the whole entire process again to move back to SA, but to Cape Town this time. And again, I am transferring through work, who have been very understanding.

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

    Yes, quite a few things. We had been to the UK five times, so we thought we knew what to expect, but being outdoors people, campers and people who enjoy fishing and stuff like that, it has been a big adjustment. The weather is probably the biggest one.

    Will you ever go back?

    Yes. We hope to be back for good by October!

    Which country do you identify with most strongly now?

    South Africa!

    How does the food compare?

    With work, I have eaten at some very fancy restaurants and had some incredible meals, I have to say. My wife still cooks, so we’ve eaten well and the pub lunches are always great. I really miss my butcher in Rivonia, though.

    Was it what you expected?

    Unfortunately not. I expected that the adventure aspect would keep us all happy, but not so…

    How has your life changed?

    We are miserable and home-sick and spend way more time indoors than we are used to. My 12-year old hasn’t smiled in months – literally!

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

    Think long and hard before you make such a big decision. Do your homework and also make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. We have met lots of South Africans (and Aussies) who have moved here and settled nicely and are very happy, but if I’m honest I know my gut told me to stay put. We were doing it for money and money alone, and we’ve learned a big lesson here.

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    If you’d like to give life in a foreign country a try, visit or call 0808 141 5508 (UK free phone), 0800 003 163 (SA free phone), 1800 039 300 (free phone within Aus), or 0800 224 322 (free phone within NZ).

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