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Making the move


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Hi all


We have gotten our visas and now starting to plan for the move.

1. Any tips or advice for us?

2. We have to small children aged 4 and 15 months, I have heard that child care is very expensive in Australia, what do most families do re work and looking after kids? Is it more viable to plan to stay home with the kids until they can start school and if so is there a developmental programme to make sure they are getting enough stimulation to prepare them for school. My oldest child has been in nursery school since she was 18 months old so am sure would be a big adjustment for her not being at school and with friends her age everyday. 

3. We also have not decided yet if we should sell our house or rent and if we should cancel our policies in South Africa or keep paying them so we don`t get the penalties, any of you have advice about this.

4. My husband will be coming to Sydney first to find a job and then bring us over we will be basically be starting form scratch, what would you say the average outlay is for basic furniture and kitchen equipment in a house. 

5. I am also super nervous as in SA i have my entire family for support and my amazing domestic worker who is like a second mother to my children and now when we come over we are going to be completely on our own, how is the adjustment to cleaning, looking after kids and being on your own, how do you cope and what impact does this have on a marriage? 

6.Does Australia ever feel like home?


Sorry lots to ask a lot on my mind and very nervous about this huge life change. 

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I'll try my best to help with the questions so here goes:

1) Be reserved with the buying when you get over there. Don't buy big cars or houses etc until you've become streetwise. I've seen many Saffas that for whatever reason (Maybe to justify how life is better or just help with the settling in process) get themselves into debt early on. Feel the ground first, get to know the suburbs etc. Take it easy, there is no rush.

2) Child care is expensive yes. Like most first world countries you're going to feel the hurt. There might be some groups of Saffas that in some suburbs help one another out regarding looking after kids, friends of ours have this arrangement in Sydney and it helped when a group of friends can get involved.

My advice is, if you can, don't sacrifice the opportunity to work and gain experience in order to take care of the kids. Even if child care can take up an entire salary of one of the parents. This is still better as you gain work experience.

3)This one is tough, I am back in South Africa building a business but also looking again towards greener pastures as soon as the business goes in the direction we want it to. It somehow makes me feel like I have always got something holding me here but you have to decide for yourself. Word of advice...DONT burn bridges. There is no shame in returning if things don't work out for any reason.

4) Start simple, get the basics, When your husband gets you over, you will most likely have the necessities to start off with. Its like when you started out for the first time again except you have progressed in your $$ making ability

5) I went over before being married. It was hard when I was alone but luckily I met a great friend from Port Elizabeth and we became house-mates. That helped so at least you have your direct family there. I am not going to lie to you, the support structure is going to be missed like crazy. There is not 'mom help us out with the kids' etc and you are going to miss just having a cup of tea with them. That never got better for me until I started building a few friendships and expanded my circle of people.

6) I don't know how to answer that and the following is entirely just my humble opinion. I've met people there that have stayed for 12 years and said it felt like a mistake moving over and others that love it. My take on it is: Australia, as with many first world countries is a different rat-race. Over there you are dealing with a different class of person so the struggle was for me a lot more about finances and competing with a more educated populace. I actually liked that part but things were quite expensive and you will not have the luxuries that we still enjoy in SA such as maids etc. SA has a skill shortage in professional skilled jobs and will therefore have a different supply-demand salary marked. If you can do well for yourself there, I think that will help a lot in making it feel more like home. You will save on other things such as not having to pay for security etc etc but there are costs over there that will make your skin crawl..such as housing



Edited by MichaelvdBerg
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HI, below a couple of thoughts, and by no means an exhaustive list:


1) Be open to a different way of life, if you want to recreate your SA life here, it wont work. We have a lot of friends still in SA, they really want to come and they complain about everything in SA, but I know they will not like it here. They want  3rd world perks (cheap labour, nanny, maids etc) but in a 1st world set - up. It does not work like that.


2) see 1 above - it is expensive , if you come on 189 there are rebates available. 

3) that is a personal choice we sold  everything and all our cash is here (except for small RAF that we are busy getting out now)

4) its affordable if he shops wisely , look at IKEA, fantastic furniture etc.

5) not going to lie, this is a big adjustment that most of us had to/is going through - always be clear why you are making this move and remember the SA you "romanticize" in your mind when you miss home it not always the real picture...

6) For me it quickly did, for my wife it has taken longer (for our daughters it is 100% home) - you will never know until you put yourself in this position.


Good luck 😉

Edited by LM17
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Hi there. 


1) everything costs and arm/leg - be prepared to pay for things you take for granted in SA. In fact the only thing thats almost free is the air we breathe. Service can be robotic, filled with red tape. The letter of the Law is followed to the T. Driving is taken very seriously - even marginally speeding or running a red "robo" - attracts fines of $200+ and demerit points. Insurance and car registration- be prepared to spend about $1500 ( 15,000ZAR) per annum to keep a car resisted/insured on the road prior service/petrol costs.  Be prepared for a robotic way of life at times, smiles/courtesy/manners are some of the most expensive things here. 


Salaries are also relative. if you compare similar jobs lets say a top professional who earns $10,000 per month  in Aus after tax, compared to the same professional who earns 100,00 ZAR per month, you would be able to do more with those rands compared to dollars in each respective country - simply due to cost of labour


2) childcare is a big expense here, even with rebates. one needs to be prepared


3) personal choice


4) household items can be purchased for a good price from local department stores


5) forget about nannies/maids. you will be the best maid you ever had once you live here. Servants are for billionaires here. sacrifices have to be made. 


6) home is always home - at times there is a large line between being an immigrant calling a new country home


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  1. Please consider cities other than the obvious ones.  Sydney and Melbourne are both super expensive and the salaries (at least in the IT industry) are pretty much the same.  Come with low expectations, you are essentially starting over and there will be a ramp up period.
  2. It all depends on how much you earn, if you earn more than the daycare costs then it might be worth it.  The government will subsidise you up to $10,000 per child per year for daycare if both of you work.  You can also work part time, my wife works 4 days a week.
  3. Sell, things in South Africa will not improve suddenly.  We also did a financial emigration meaning our RA's were cashed out.  Cut your losses whilst the Rand is still semi stable - in a worst case Zimbabwe scenario your Rands might literally be worth nothing.
  4. In Sydney your rent will likely be up to $1000 a week, unless you are willing to live 40km outside of the CBD.
  5. You will make new friends.  In terms of cleaning your own house, there is a tool for every job.  Work smarter not harder.  In terms of marriage, the men have to realise that this is a 50/50 thing.  You simply cannot leave all the house work to your wife.  Everything here is 50/50.
  6. Yes, we did a trip to South Africa recently and the flight at the end of our trip was the flight home.

It all comes down to what you make of this.  Explore, discover your new country, enjoy the freedoms that you have here, make it your home.  We just don't see ourselves living in a country where we are locked up inside our homes, cars and malls anymore.

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Sorry but I didn’t number my answers as I’m typing in between as I have a moment here at work


Australia is not cheap, especially when you initially pay with ZAR.  Once you earn Aussie dollars, although still very expensive, you’ll make a decent living and have a decent life.  Don’t think in ZAR or you’ll have a heart attack!


Depending on the state of the housing market you’ll either afford to buy a 2 bedroom or a 4-bedroom unit/house, with or without water views, near or far from the city.  If you buy at the bottom of the market and sell at the top, you’ll be able to eventually buy your dream home, or something very close to it, although it may take you a few years. We rented for 2 years, bought a 4-bedroom house in suburbia at the bottom of the market which we sold 9 years later at the top of the market and made a killing.  We then moved to the city where we rented a 2-bedroom unit ($895 per week) for 3 years and we just bought our dream 5-bedroom beach house at the bottom of the market.  Moving into our “forever” home next week. Took a while (15 years for us) but 100% worth it!


We arrived in Australia in our late 30s and had to start over again like 18-year olds.  We did not have the things or the savings that Aussies our same age had as they had a 40 year head start.  The sooner you come over, the sooner you can start saving for your future as your ZAR’s are almost worthless here. (When we thought about moving, the exchange rate was 1-3, by the time we got our annuities out, it was 1-9).  No use hanging onto any money or property you have over there as it is decreasing in value while you think about it. Sell up, pack up and come!


It was hard initially to make friends, build a social circle and create a support system but we persisted, and we made it.  The sooner you expand your scope and not only stick to South Africans doing South African things and sitting around the fire talking about “back in South Africa” the sooner you’ll create a new life  that you can call your own and become part of Australia and the community. 


Australia is different.  It does not have the same way of thinking, the same prejudices and the same outlook on life.  It’s a live and let live society where you can be yourself as long as you don’t harm anyone else in the process. It’s very multicultural and everyone mix together – interracial/intercultural relationships are very common (actually almost the norm).  It’s not as conservative and not as religious. Forget all your preconceived ideas about who is right and who is wrong – you get all sorts here and it makes Australia the colourful vibrant nation it is.  Open your mind and your heart and embrace the diversity even if it goes against everything you were taught in Sunday school for 12 years. Australians are good, solid people and they’ll give you the shirt off their backs.  Focus on that and you’ll make amazing friends from many backgrounds that will enrich your life.  Trust me.


I can’t comment on childcare as I never had to make use of it, but everyone complains about the cost.  For some mothers it is important to work and they’re willing to spend most of their pay on childcare costs.  Also keep in mind that if you qualify for any benefits, you may get more, or you may get less (or nothing) depending on your income so that is also something to consider.  Don’t feel bad to apply for government assistance when you need it, especially initially when you’re getting back on your feet.  There are things like rent-assist, family benefit and childcare rebates to help but they’re all income/means tested so I recommend you compare the benefits you may get if not working against what your salary and childcare costs will be and then decide what to do. Hope that makes sense?  Here’s a link to Centrelink where you can get more info regarding all these benefits.


I’ve never had a cleaner or a gardener in Australia as I can do a much better job (imho) and I refuse to pay for something I can do myself just because I’ve been spoiled having a full-time maid and gardener in South Africa. When you see what they charge per hour you’ll fall on your back! You’ve just got to toughen up and do your own housework and garden or cough up a lot of money for someone else to do a pretty mediocre job in most cases.  


Australia is home now – it’s been home from about 2 years in (so it takes a while, don’t give up and pack up after 6 months, give it a good go and stick it out, you won’t regret it). Our kids married Aussies and have Aussie babies.  We had to make the sacrifice for them to have a future and now looking at their little faces and see how carefree they are, I cannot imagine them having to live behind burglar bars and security gates or being exposed to hijackings and burglaries or worse.  Just like the Voortrekkers endured many challenges, obstacles, and heartbreak, to move North to a better life, when you move to Australia, you will be that person for your future generations – think of it that way when you long for “home”.


100% Aussie now and haven't looked back!



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another thing one needs to consider or keep in mind that the public health system in conjunction with private health insurance - is that service can be rather frustrating. Take for instance, the public health system does not cover you for dental and specialty services unless seen by a specialist in a public hospital. Private health insurance has a number of exclusions such as surgeons fees etc. Waiting lists on the public health system can be frustrating. Private health insurance used for dental purposes - you only get covered for checkup/clean/scale and 2 xrays per year with most companies.

In emergencies, if you arrive at a hospital here, one can wait many hours - even for life threatening conditions. there are many horror stories on this. If you require an ambulance , the out of pocket costs will be between $400 - $1200. Only Queensland and Tasmania do not pay for ambulance services. 

The average cost of top cover private health insurance, is about $500 per month for a couple. Lets say you've been a member for 10 years. thats about $60,000 AUD in premiums. Last year I had to see a periodontist for a gum recession that I had. The cost for a 10 minute consultation was $240. The gum graft procedure he recommended was quoted at $3500. All in all, I was only eligible to claim $80 for the consultation, and a maximum of $800 for the procedure. 

Last year my wife had to see a neurologist via referral from the GP at the outpatients clinic at a major public hopsital. The fee was $310 for a 15 minute consultation. The public health system (medicare) only refunded me $60. My private health insurance covered bugger all. Of course, if the neurologist provided the service during a stay at a public hospital - it would have been free. 

Keep these thoughts in mind, as alot of people try to sugar coat this topic. It been many years since I've left SA, but I talk from experience as I do go back quite often and have relatives working in both the private and public health sector in SA. Of course its chalk and cheese to compare the public systems of the 2 nations, but these need to be factored into your decision. 

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We have ambulance insurance for $92 a year for a family of 4. Totally worth it. However, when my husband was taken away by ambulance for a medical emergency we were not billed at all. (they didn't have the private insurance details at that stage and never asked for it either).

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On 4/26/2019 at 9:40 AM, Mel-B said:

emergency we were not billed at all.

i'd like to think its not a fair comparison for the masses, if you were not billed out of goodwill. it's not a hard and fast rule that's applicable to all.




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Yes, just sharing an experience.

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