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JandBwithR

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JandBwithR

 

Nov 2015

This are a few experiences  of myself, my wife Jann and our son Robert.

I have always felt the call of Australia. Out of curiosity I traveled there in 2000 and visited Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and then Brisbane and Sydney. It was a different era to travel made particularly tough by a primitive internet.  It was during the Sydney olympics and already then I got a taste of the sense of identity and pride of belonging to a country that was going somewhere. I made a second trip in 2007 At the time I was happy to postpone the operation of moving, there were multiple factors which were keeping me in South Africa. Our families and work prospects were good and we were having loads of fun.  Months became years and finally we decided as a family that the time was upon us to make the move. There is no criteria to help with this decision. All I can say is you will know when it is time to go. For us it was the end of June 2015. It all started with the first email. 

 

 

Dec 2015

Since 1997 I have toyed with the idea of leaving South Africa for Australia for all the reasons that one hears everyday, the economy, the political situation, a deep dissatisfaction with the behaviour of my fellow citizens, the crime....... After 18 years of stalling and choosing to 'kick the can down the road' I finally decided to make some concrete steps towards moving myself, my wife and our 5 year old son to Australia. I know it will be hard say goodbye and leave. But now, at the age of 44, I cannot wait any longer if I am to make a success of the move. I am therefor proud to say that I am waiting for my Police clearance certificate and the allocation of my VPO and will hopefully soon have my visa. The butterflies are starting. I need to sell the house soon. There is a mountain of work to be done to tie things up here in South Africa. Will my wife miss her Mom and Dad and I my Mom so much that we will want to return? Am I doing the right thing? We have a fantastic home and are surrounded by wonderful friends. My son is so happy at his school. Why is the question 'Why leave?', which I am hearing from all my friends that I speak to, troubling me so?

 

The truth was revealed more clearly to me on Wednesday morning when after another restless night on the couch in the lounge I was wrenched from my sleep at 2 AM to the ballistic sound of my front door getting smashed down with a fearfull noise. At first I thought gunshots were piercing the safety glass in the front door and I bolted into an upright position to get out of the way of the shards of glass raining through the lounge. This was no exploding transformer or fireworks accident. I realised that this was the day that I and my family would be facing our destinies as it became horribly apparent that Lucifer was about to step into my house. MY HOUSE! I realised in the mayhem that I had been screaming for the past few seconds, a most primitively mortal yell. I had also tried to push the panic button on the wall in my son's playroom, but it did not sound the alarm. Then in burst four 'fellow citizens' armed with pangas who proceeded to tie me up and frog march my wife through the house as they stole what ever they wanted. They threatened to kill us and abduct us if we didn't co operate. It was terrifying. They then stole my car and left.

 

I feel my story may be of assistance to those forumites both here and in Australia who have developed doubt in themselves over whether they are doing the right thing. For me, my will has been re energised. My doubts have been vaporised. My vision has been crystallised. There is no more 'Why?'. In its place there now sits a 'When?' and the answer to that is ' As soon as possible. 

Posted July 20 · Report post

Hi All

 

We have moved out of our home which we sold last month for what I thought was a little less than what it was really worth. It was all we had in terms of investment so it was really scary going through the process of choosing which offer to accept. The difficulty was knowing that we were under pressure to sell since we are on a 189 visa and have to land in Aus by November. It was tough work cleaning and fixing all the little things that had been left over the years and when it came time to move there was a mountain of stuff to ride to the tip or move into storage.

 

It was heartbreaking for my wife to find new homes for our 2 horses which lived with us on the smallholding. We also had to say goodbye to our 2 dogs and cat which we have decided to leave behind. They have also been re-homed. We decided to rent a small furnished chalet at a holiday resort just out of town. Here there is no lease which is handy. It is right on the sea over-looking the Southern ocean which has become a point of reference in my imaginings of what awaits us when we arrive in Australia where I expect everything except the sea to be different.

 

My 6 year old son was brought up in our previous home and it has become a bit of a moot point when comparing our 'home' now with what he was used to. We now live in 80m2 two bedroom place which has compacted us as a family and forced us to adapt to a lot less comfort and convenience. This I hope will prepare us for what awaits us in Aus. Extended family relations have been under strain with a lot of emotion floating about but we have been given the space to carry on chasing our dreams.

 

We are dying to buy our tickets. The hold up is on my work side where a new business owner (professional) is buying me out. It has not been an easy process and is far from over with a few more contractual issues which need to be sorted out before I can stop working. It is hard on everyone to keep a clear picture of the future when there are these sorts of changes. It would have been nice to just resign. On the otherside of the globe I have some potential jobs lined up. Some are East coast and some are in Perth. There is a degree of frustration in not been able to give definite dates to prospective employers. We are also not sure whether to land in Brisbane or Perth. This is getting our mates all worked up (some on the East coast and some on the West coast). I think in the end we will probably visit both areas, do some interviews and decide which job is best. I must say my heart wants us to go East coast.

 

Recently I have found myself OCDeeing over the exchange rate. We are currently moving our funds over to an Australian bank account and check the rate almost every hour. Luckily it has shown a tendency to improve (a process which happens slowly) so the question is how long do you wait? When the Rand weakens it happens quickly so you need to be ready to send your funds. All very nerve wracking and I cant wait to get it over and done with.

 

So all in all life is moving along and we are determined to enjoy the ride. We had a Farewell party over the weekend which was great. It is good to see my wife enjoy herself. My son went back to school yesterday and I noticed a bit of a skip as he went through the door and entered a bit of normality again. We are hoping to fly out on the 29th of August.

 

Aussie here we come!

 

14 October

 

We left South Africa on the 13th of September. It was a very strange feeling condensing our lives down to six 23kg bags and three 7kg carry ons. One bag for toys, one for shoes, one for bedding, one for small houshold items etc. The rest of our stuff we tried to sell and then give away and then throw away. All the time the feeling of letting go grew, letting freinds go, letting family go, letting things go. It was all very emotionally draining.

When the day finally came there were still some things not yet done and the last 48 hours were a bit crazy running to banks and accountants and used car dealers.  We sold our last car for a song and then got a lift to the airport to catch our plane. Crazy memories to look back on one day. Robert was so excited to fly in a big aeroplane. 

The flight was what we expected. Long,boring,tiring,long and uncomfortable. Too much time to sit and worry about things. We had decided to fly to Brisbane and stay with someone we knew for the first couple of nights near Ballina NSW. We touched down at 6 am on th 15th of September.

Change started almost immediately.

The airport was comfortable. It was carpeted. There was an immediate sense of lack of urgency with the officials. Everyone seemed relaxed and just did their jobs. As a result the travellers were relaxed. We declared everything, even the wooden pencil crayons in Roberts bag. We were not searched or sniffed. Our visas were activated and we collected our luggage. All our stuff fitted onto two trolleys. I got the impression that we looked like migrants. It was a strange feeling to not detect any attitude from migration officials, they were actually very cordial. This was not what I was used to. There were also older folk around, who were obviously volunteers, just there to help out. How strange. 

The plan was to take a train to Robina. We first sat in the queue for Optus prepaid sims. $100 for two sims, 6 gigs of data each and unlimited calls for a month. Curiously I could still send and receive sms"s on my South African sim card. I am stating the obvious now but  you cannot travel without a smart phone. Google maps is essential. We walked our bags to the train station. The man at the ticket counter wanted to know where we were from:huh:. Then he wanted us to get to the right platform so he left his booth and ushered us into the lift and helped carry our bags to the correct platform:unsure:. Then he explained what to do when the train arrived and how long it would be and told us he would radio to the train conductor to let him know we were coming and to  make sure we would be alright. 

Our freinds we were going to stay with met us at Robina and drove us to our first place to stay. Ballina is a small town  about 150 km South of Brisbane. Before we left Robina we went to Com bank to fetch my bank card which I had organised to have waiting for us.

 

Nobody exceeded the freeway speed limit. The countryside was beautiful. Numerous wildlife highway crossing bridges have been constructed to preserve the wild animals who want to cross safely. Why haven't we ever thought of this in South Africa? These people obviously care.

 

We needed transport. The first morning we woke to the sound of birds, which seem to dominate the wildlife spectrum. The birds are bigger and much noisier, especially the kookaburra. First I tried to get my drivers licence converted. I got a lift to a 'Service Centre' for this. The place was state of the art, brand spanking new inside. The process was painless except for the paying part. 

We then rented a car and travelled for a week to meet with prospective employers and get a feel for the East coast. Travelling was made super easy with Airbnb.  Food was tricky in that nothing was familiar in the shops, except for corn flakes and milk. The price of everything except timtams was 40% more expensive than SA. The quality is  much better in Australia however. After 4 weeks of shopping in Coles or woolworths I am yet to be let down. Vegetables and fruit are particularly good. Loads of specials on every shelf. I also haven't had a bad bottle of red wine yet  and I have been seriously chancing my arm. You can buy a good bottle of red wine for $5. Beer is a flatout ripoff. A sixpack $20 :(. I guess I'll drink more of the red stuff. Curiously no pinotage on the shelves anywhere.

We travelled to Caloundra, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Port Stevens and Gosford before returning to Ballina. Once back in Ballina we set about buying a car. We decided on a small car first. After much searching we got a demo model Mazda cx3. My first ever new car. We thought it safer to buy with warrenty and predetermined service payments. We kept our search limited to Mazda and Toyota as they are popular brands. Cruise control is a must.

Another two weeks down the line and I have started to work in Coffs harbour, we have rented a house and Robert has started his fourth term of Kindy/Grd R.  Jann has been hard at work finding second hand washing machine/furniture kitchen utensils etc. It has been a big job this move.

 

We are content now that we have our own space.

 

What is different?

 

People are relaxed here....................no worries mate.

I haven't seen anyone get flusterred yet or worked up about anything.

People are curteous. Pedestrians are given right of way.

They care about children and the aged........ a lot.

There is a strong sense of community. Everyone has a role to play.

I dont feel judged. 

People are mostly helpful.

Everything works.

 

GOOD2GO and doggit like this
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RedPanda

;) and the only thing you're wondering right now? "Why didn't I do this years ago?"

Great post, thanks. :) 

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Thanks for sharing @JandBwithR

My husband often asks if there are other people our age who have "made it". He is 45 and I'm 43. So chuffed when I find great examples like you.

Seems like you found a job quite quickly. Any tips for those of us still in limbo? 

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JandBwithR

Thanks Husky, I'm not sure if we can say we have made it yet but it has been fun and easier if you keep things simple.

 

I have attached a link to a vid I made on how to make your own biltong. I miss it along with good dry wors.

 

 

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JandBwithR

26 April 2017

 

It has now been a little over 7 months since we landed. Enough time has passed for us to begin feeling the seperation from our old friends and family back home. This place is starting to feel like home now. I find myself feeling I should begin planning my first visit home sometime in the near future.

 

We are getting to know our way around town. Where to go to get the things that we need and what they are likely to cost is becoming quite familiar. I am still trying to keep our lives simple. We dont have too many contracts or debit orders. Still no income protection, medical aid, life insurance. Cell phone and wifi is pay as you go. We decided to try survive as long as possible with one car. We rented a home within walking distance to work and had a towbar fitted to our car so we could tow a trailer. We bought a trailer second hand for $1500 a few months ago to move larger items and to go camping with.

 

Camping has been fun over the summer. We probably have spent more money than we should have on second hand camping gear but it has been worth it as Australia takes the great outdoors very seriously. There are dozens of camping destinations within a few hours drive of Coffs Harbour and we have been mighty impressed with the beauty and levels of organisation at the resorts. Hundreds of families in all types of rigs. The going rate is about $50 per night for a powered site. Culturally enriching experience. Curiously the wild vegetation is rather docile and almost entirely lacking in thorns. The only thorns I have come across are a motley crew called 'bindies' which Australians trepidly warn you about. These rare bandits lie in ambush in unkept lawns and attack in gangs of three or more. Irritating at most in that they are hard to find while hopping on one foot without your specs on. In African nomenclature it would be a category four subsection 13b thorn ie hardly worth a mention, the result being we go barefoot a whole lot more.

 

For the past 4 months we have been hunting for a home. Initially I didnt want to buy within the first few years as I was afraid that we would move around a bit as we settled into Australia. Some points that made us reconsider:

I am feeling secure in my job

Interest rates are currently low

House prices seem to just keep going up (I still maintain they will come down but have not been able to convince anyone here yet)

Rent is quite pricey (we pay $450/wk..... worse if you would be in Sydney I believe)

Rental neighborhoods generally produce dodgy neighbors.

Cash in the bank earns negligible interest.

Wives prefer having their own homes.

The process of buying a home is quite different to South Africa. Metaphorically its like comparing goldfish to piranhas. Show houses are open for about half an hour on a Saturday. One ritually removes ones shoes before entering a home. Its not unusual to bump into the same sales agent at another house later in the day. I have found that offers have got to be on or above the asking price if you want to be seriously considered. Having said this there are amazing apps for optimizing and organizing your house shopping experience. Children suffer, my son has resorted to sitting in the car with his ipad and a bag of chips every Saturday morning for the past few months while mom and dad fly around looking at houses. We hope to enter into a sales contract soon.

 

My son is into his third term at his new school. It is a private Catholic school and is very organised. It costs about the same as private Catholic schooling in South Africa. Interestingly there are no hair regulations. The teaching environment is quite a lot more sophisticated than in South Africa with a lot of modern technology used. School starts at 9am and finishes at 3pm. There is a very safe and organised bus/public transport system which is free if you choose to use it.

 

What is the same?

The night sky reminds me of SA.

The value set is the same just more wholesomely expressed in Australia.

 

Bye for now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JandBwithR

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Edited by JandBwithR
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RedPanda

Yea, the price of houses is likely to keep going up or only to peter out slowly. That's my gut feeling. The truth is simpler: NOBODY KNOWS. So if you're looking for a house to live in, just buy it asap. And make sure you can really afford the mortgage, because it could rise. (by an astonishing 0.X %, to which most South Africans respond with outright laughter) But make sure you're safe anyway, just in case.

I love your description of the thorns. We have found the same. I have read about 'ankle biters', but those might be higher up still than where you are. Nasty plants with stinging leaves that pain you for days after contact. Anyway, if the locals didn't tell you anything, probably it doesn't grow where you go camping. :D 

If you feel somewhat overwhelmed by the whole new system of Super, medical aid, life insurance...etc Feel free to get your hands on a copy of the Barefoot Investor's new book. It's totally simple and straight forward, and tells you exactly what to look for and mostly where to get it. And it's not some obscure: Just believe everything I tell you. He tells you why certain setups work better. Anyway, it's been the easiest and most sensible financial advice I've yet come across.

We also recently bought a house. I know what you're talking about. It doesn't matter that you can see the place needs paint, or that something needs fixing, you can't negotiate the price down because the demand is just too great. I've found it helps a lot to keep tabs on the houses that you look at, keeping a record of what they were advertised at and then once they have sold comparing the actual price to the advertised price. This will give you a good idea of how much of a difference there is in your local market. Law is supposed to cap it at 10%. This is rarely the case. In our suburb it is not unusual to see houses sell for 30% more than the advertised price. Knowing the real value of the houses in your area will help you to make a good offer, without paying above market. [But even then you get weird things, like the one house we really liked, advertised for under $500,000.00 and sold to investors from Sydney for $650,000.00!!! That's just crazy. But it happens.]

I enjoyed your story, you tell it well ;) 

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1 hour ago, RedPanda said:

Feel free to get your hands on a copy of the Barefoot Investor's new book. It's totally simple and straight forward, and tells you exactly what to look for and mostly where to get it. And it's not some obscure: Just believe everything I tell you. He tells you why certain setups work better. Anyway, it's been the easiest and most sensible financial advice I've yet come across.

 

So pleased to hear that this book has been so helpful to you.  I wish every migrant was given a copy on their way in as it definitely takes the mystery out of how things work and gives the short cuts to getting finances back on track in a new country.

 

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ChrisH
On 4/27/2017 at 3:54 PM, RedPanda said:

Feel free to get your hands on a copy of the Barefoot Investor's new book

 

Thanks for this recommendation!

I've been reading this during my commute on the train. I would put this on the mandatory reading list for any Aussie especially a new immigrant. 

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JandBwithR

Its coming up for 800 days living in Australia.

 

This place is definitely feeling like home now, we are getting very familiar with our surroundings and are starting to feel like locals. We dont sound like locals but we look and behave like locals. We now have our own home, two cars and two dogs. I decided to get an old Pajero as a second car for its off road abilities since we are able to drive on the beaches here. How cool is that! We have done a lot of exploring in the past few months in the forests and mountains that surround our town. Other than getting lost or stuck I have never felt threatened in any way.

 

The home purchase was quite a big hurdle but we are happy and settled. It is quite a lot to look after since the houses and erfs (or 'blocks' as they call them) are generally quite big. We went for a slightly older property that is more established and homely. We were also lucky enough to get two rescue dogs (Daschunds) which are both similar to our previous pair of dogs when we were back in South Africa which has made my wife and son very HAPPY! 

 

I finally know the local Woolworths like the back of my hand. It took a while to get used to all the different brands. However, I still haven't quite got on top of Bunnings(Builders warehouse), there is just too much stuff in that store. Shopping for food is an interesting source of conflict. Woolworths is a straight forward fleece. However, there are scores of fascinating specials which take the form of discounts of either 20%, 40%, half price or 'better than half price'. Every food category has at least one brand item on special. The 'better than half price' special meets parity with prices in South Africa. Can you imagine something being priced on a 50% discount in a shop like Woolworths in South Africa? Word would spread like wildfire and the ensuing crush would risk life and property on a scale that would attract international news coverage. But not here in Australia. The 'better than half price' item doesn't even get cleaned out. There is a peculiar psychology which I now routinely enter into when shopping for groceries which is a mental skirmish between the horror of knowingly being ripped off and the ecstasy of leaving with a trolley full of seemingly bargain buys.

 

Social etiquette is fairly serious business here. I wouldn't dare clear the whole shelf of 'better than half price' turkish delight. I had got so used to witnessing bad behavior in the new South Africa. Now I have noticed a palpable shift in my mental concentration on making sure I do things the right way when in public. I am sure this would have been the case in any first world country. My new virtuous habits will make it harder for me to visit the third world again. At some stage, of course, we will have to visit South Africa again but I must say I still dont miss the place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've found myself playing a little game in Coles and Woollies - near the bottom of your receipt, there's a "your savings" or "you saved" $$$ on this shop. I aim for as high a percentage of the total as possible, but still buy mostly my preferred brands and products. I get very excited about this - small things amuse small minds😄

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