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Any South Africans living in the UK thinking of going back?

(21 Posts)
GandalfsHat Tue 22-Jan-13 17:09:50

Have namechanged.


We've just returned from our semi-annual 'pilgrimage' to SA with DS1 and DS3. I was there for 6 weeks, DH joined me for 3 of the 6. The result is that DH is quite determined that we should go back, he is thinking of a 2 year timetable to go, possibly when eldest DS starts school. Has put his name down for a school (offers will be made from this June onwards) and has started planning this already (looked into converting mortgage to buy-to-let, recruiters, glanced at property). The kids had a whale of a time, was in the pool all day every day, we did all the stuff we used to do, met up with old friends. They all seem quite happy but are (imo) in denial about the crime etc, just live behind high walls on secure estates that cost a bomb...

As for me - I'm not so sure. Going for a holiday and living there are 2 different things. We have lived here for almost 7 years, came here as skint newlyweds with £2k and 2 suitcases and have done well I think considering, I love living here, although I can see the attraction of returning. DH has no friends here, but lots of family. He works crazy hours with a hellish commute (only recent though). We travel to London once every 2 months or so to see my friends and their DH's, otherwise are socially quite isolated where we live, though I am involved in quite a few things in our town. I think of England as 'home'.

There are just SO MANY things that worry me to no end about going back. Crime, cost of living (it has become soooooooooooo expensive), dire education system, private healthcare, etc. vs the outdoors lifestyle, being with family and esp grandparents, DH thinks he can earn more there than here, kids being exposed to our language more than just hearing it from DH and me, etc. We would live in CT.

The compromise would be to go for 10 years and then return. My worry is is that a) we'll start from scratch again, b) uprooting teenagers might not be that easy, c) our parents will then be mid-70's. Surely that is exactly the age when you don't want to leave them and move hemispheres?

Anybody else thinking of going back?

(Apologies for the essay)

DoodlesNoodles Tue 22-Jan-13 23:41:02

I am not a South African but having lived there for 4 years I can understand your dilemma (a little)

We had an absolute ball when we lived there. We felt like we were on holiday the whole time. We loved the weather, the outside life, the scenery and the lovely, lovely people (etc etc.) Our teenage DC's also thoroughly enjoyed it. They were a a private school with incredible facilities. We felt they had a carefree, slightly old fashioned lifestyle.

However, once the kids started to get older we felt the UK offered them more freedom and more opportunities. My eldest is now at Uni and having the time of his life. He goes out clubbing without any concerns and can travel wherever he wants whenever he wants, and I don't worry about him. I love the fact that my younger DC's can walk into town, get jobs and can do things independently.

Unfortunately, for our family, the risk of crime (and the appalling drink/dangerous driving) outweighs the positive.

Is it not possible to carry on how you are and continue to live in the UK but keep up your regular visit 'home' It is an easy flight. That way you can have the est of both worlds.

Salbertina Wed 30-Jan-13 16:19:02

Howzit, Op? Big question which polarises views hugely, as you know I'm sure seeing as you left SA! Not from SA either so not sure how much to say... It's a wonderful country, its an awful country.. Nothing in-between. Local FB is all about wonderful sunsets, braais ... And last night's armed breakin and which is the best gated estate to live in. Says it all!

Salbertina Wed 30-Jan-13 16:25:50

And yes as you say Op, its got hugely expensive.. One reason we're leaving. mug's game to haemorrhage money as we are.. Helps if you have low bond (interest rates v high) and dual-income (nannies cheap) and preschool kids

Salbertina Wed 30-Jan-13 18:36:02

Am guessing Afrikaans is yr mother tongue? Its having something of a resurgence in gov schools and there are some good ones and some excellent preschools (wY better than UK equivalents...) but you still pay even for gov ones. Kids have little freedom to roam, ferried everywhere by car. No way to live really sad

YouWithTheFace Wed 30-Jan-13 19:14:16

I'm v interested as we have a vv similar dilemma! I'm half-British but born and raised in SA, married to an Afrikaans man and raising our daughter bilingual. And the question constantly is, do we go back? 7 years here, all the pluses and minuses everyone's already said... but DH has just been made redundant and some of the options he's looking at are in the Cape and Jhb... As Salbertina says, it's a wonderful country, it's an awful country, and England is an nice country, without the amazing ups and terrible downs of SA.

My SA friends and family who are happy there all have the view that 'if the bullet's got your name on it, that's your day', and don't get too worked up about what-ifs. 9 out of 10 are doing better than they would here. But.

TodaysAGoodDay Wed 30-Jan-13 20:06:14

I'm South African, grew up in Springs and P.E.

I would go back for a holiday at the drop of a hat, but never to live. TBH the political situation is going to the dogs. My folks live in P.E still, they've been there since 1982, and things are getting so bad that they are selling up, selling my dad's business, and coming back to the UK. Basically the guy in charge of the municipality has a standard 6 education, and he and his cronies have bankrupted it. Nothing gets fixed properly any more, there are regular power cuts because there's no money left to mend or rebuild the power stations, and many people have a gun. I know because I had one.

My folks are British born and come over to the UK for hols every year or two, and they can't believe how much safer they feel here. The roads are organised, people obey the law (mostly wink) and you get help if you need it. Over in SA there is no benefit state, if you earn nothing then you have nothing. If you lose your home or your job or become disabled, the government won't give you a penny.

Don't go, or rather do go, but just for holidays. IMO.

Salbertina Wed 30-Jan-13 20:20:09

Cant help but agree, Todays sad
Better for hols.

Am surprised about other comment that 9/10 better off in Sa?? not anything I've seen, esp. around CT where v v hard to get decent job. most people we know work for themselves and if they're doing well it is due to dual income/low bond combo as incomes generally much much lower than UK while costs considerably higher.

Salbertina Wed 30-Jan-13 20:45:20

And yet can here the crickets and frogs outside croaking nr the pool, that upside down moon... walked along one of the world's most beautiful beaches this afternoon, followed by seafood supper.... Am v v v torn

Salbertina Wed 30-Jan-13 20:46:18

"Hear" even - not dyslexic, just iPhone incompetent

GandalfsHat Thu 31-Jan-13 13:34:25

Wow, I haven't been back to this thread for a few days, thanks for all the replies!

Salbertina - Are you a Brit living in SA at the moment? I agree with everything you said. Yes, we are Afrikaans speaking, we try and stick to OPOL as advised by a SALT, so far so good, but DS1 is mixing his languages and since he started nursery, his English has improved tremendously, to the extend that he now speaks whole phrases to us, replacin words he used to say in Afrikaans sad It's probably a losing battle anyway. Are you on your way back to the UK? I assume you're in CT?

As for the schools, I thought I'd put their names down for Bishops and see is DS1 get in, kind of let them make the decision for us. Slim chance, I know.

Youwiththeface, sounds like we're in the same boat...I make a point of reading Beeld, news24 and our local paper (my hometown) daily, and most days I want to weep.

As for work, I think my DH will get a good job based on what he did here. I don't know what I will do. I used to be a nurse, worked in private and state. Private is a bunch of money grabbing fuckwits, where your life really does rely on the strength of your bank account, albeit first world, American style healthcare. The state hospitals.. the things I could tell you will make you weep, I worked in Dbn hospitals Trauma Units, I saw it all for myself, and this was 7 years ago, I dread to think what it looks like now... I'm not even registered anymore, don't think I want to be either sad

BUt then, Salbertinas last post, the kids have a different kind of childhood, just because of the type of things they're exposed to, nature and wildlife, being outdoors, being with family, I don't know. I am SO TORN.

KatherineKrupnik Thu 31-Jan-13 13:40:30

I'm a Brit with a South African dad, I grew up here. DP & I are planning on spending a year or two in SA - for the obvious reasons - the family roots out there, the sun, the barefoot outdoors playing. But there is no chance we would stay longterm - different for us as 'home' is th UK but I would worry about my kids futur opportunities if we sank our futur into SA. However I have aunts/uncles/cousins (at bishops....) who are thriving & content.

Salbertina Thu 31-Jan-13 15:43:34

Goodness, the Bishops connections! Fab school...

YouWithTheFace Sat 02-Feb-13 20:17:26

I went away and thought about my sample group. OK, you can have a great life and do better in SA than the UK if you are a dual-income professional couple. Or if one of you earns insane money. Otherwise, ordinary people, not so much.

How much Afrikaans do Bishops boys speak, GandalfsHat...?

PS Dear God, Durban Trauma Units, you're a tough cookie. One of my stepfather's employees got stabbed in the lung once and went to Edward VII; my sister had to take him painkillers the whole time he was there!

Nix01 Thu 07-Feb-13 08:14:18


I'm English, living in SA and planning our move back to England. We have two small boys, aged 6 and 2.

We live in Jhb, so the crime is way worse than in Cape Town. Cape Town is glorious, but my opinion is that Capetonians are living in a bubble, reality is going to catch up with Cape Town as well.

You're aware of the cost of living, service non delivery issues, sub standard education system, BEE, violent crime, hatred towards white people etc but white children are facing their own set of issues when applying for university places and jobs due to the quota system. Our kids would probably have to leave SA to study further.

We're in our late 30's and have decided we need to go now if we hope to be able to retire with a decent income. Our Rands aren't worth much when we convert them, so we'll be starting from a pretty low base.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like to know specific details.

SouthernB Thu 07-Feb-13 11:42:31

Everything Nix01 said. I live in SA, lived in the UK for 3 years in the nineties. Should have found a way to stay there.

If you have a choice - do not return to SA. Doesn't make sense.

SouthernB Thu 07-Feb-13 11:53:09

Follow the SA newspapers online for a week or two - I'm sure that will convince you.

At the moment there are really violent strikes/unrest in agriculture - absolute mayhem, with so much brutal violence, total anarchy in some towns.

Also - I just read an article that the government wants to implement a new tax on graduates!

Add the corruption in every level of government - there are almost daily articles in the papers about shocking corruption, and yet, not a lot is done about it.

Then there is our president - accused (though not convicted) of rape etc, where in the world would such a person be allowed to rule a country?

Good luck with our decision.

SouthernB Thu 07-Feb-13 11:53:42

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Thu 07-Feb-13 12:45:37

When we returned to the UK the front page story in our local newspaper which serves a town with a population of 10,000 was about a little girl who lost her dog. A much nicer read than our local newspaper in JoBurg.

Salbertina Thu 07-Feb-13 19:32:48

Gosh but its so vital, so beautiful.. On a good day feel so much more alive here ., but many days when it grinds me down,admittedly. Probably going to be financial issues which force us to go. I see my dc in a strict gov school, v high standards and w tennis, swimming, gym coaches.. None of apathy or mediocrity I've seen in UK state schools. These parents are demanding ! And old fashioned approach to 3 Rs in a good sch also seems better. Ditto primary till 13.
God, i don't know! Sometimes thought of them being shut up with shoes on in some grey, nondescript British comprehensive fills me with horror..

Salbertina Thu 07-Feb-13 19:35:20

SourthernB are you in Jo'berg?

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