It’s official, I left South Africa on this day exactly 3 weeks ago and what a few weeks it’s been.
You may be sitting there thinking to yourself “What is this woman blubbering about, 3 weeks is nothing?!” but 3 weeks feels like a lifetime when you’re in a foreign country getting used to a foreign way of life without your husband and your children. In fact, 3 weeks is nothing when I’m going to be here for another 13 or so weeks without them.
In the short time I have been here, between my husband and I, we have managed to accomplish a tremendous amount of things, even though it doesn’t feel like it because when one task is completed, another two crop up. Each task costs a pretty penny and each step limited by some form of governmental ruling that we cannot get past… We just have to hang in there, do everything the correct way and hope that all goes just as we hope. In 3 weeks I have moved countries, moved in with friends, started a new job, nailed (well almost) the public transport system, gotten a bank account, made new friends, applied for my national insurance number and lastly (but not at all least) viewed and hopefully almost secured our new home – that’s right, it looks like I’ll have a place to live! This is exciting stuff…
So, I thought I’d do a short informative breakdown on what I’ve done so far, for those hoping to do the same (Move cross country) and haven’t a clue where to start… I’m not 100% there yet, I don’t even have furniture, but I’m getting close and I can feel it. My next step after securing my home will be my move and then school applications which I will cover nearer the time once I’ve verified the information I’ve gathered.
1. Moving countries.
This is up to you, you have to make the decision to get on a plane, but when you do, have a look at airlines like Qatar Airlines (via Doha) and fly at an off peak period, midweek. I paid ZAR3200 for a one way including taxes with 30kgs baggage… Almost enough to put your life into. Don’t forget about the move cube I’d mentioned in a previous blog, this is useful for sending your personals to make your new house feel a little more like home.
If you can afford to move into a house of your own when you arrive, good on you, I couldn’t. Find someone you know and love who won’t get irritated with you (that much) who can help you. Trust me when I say you’re gonna need all the help you can get.
Let’s be honest, it can be really difficult finding a job from South Africa without actually going in for an interview. I was lucky, I found a company willing to take a chance on me – they were open to telephonic and Skype interviews, suggest this! I did go through a recruiter and he was extremely understanding of my situation. Let your CV speak for itself and be completely honest, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to assist. I mentioned Reed in earlier posts, go back and have a read :)
4. Public Transport.
Google maps is amazing, if you’re not sure just google. I was lucky that my friend travelled with me on day one to show me the ropes, it’s pretty easy when you get the hang of it. You will get off at the wrong stop, sometimes you will get on the wrong train, you may have to phone a friend and that’s ok. I downloaded a myriad of bus / train apps for up to date information but when in doubt, read or ask. I have had to stop many times to find out where to and how, rather that than a nervous breakdown at the station. I do a monthly seasonal ticket, works out considerably cheaper and may be useful if you plan on a daily commute. You will, like me, realize the advantages of living close to work and try to reduce traveling times and cost.
5. Bank account
Tricky, but possible. You will have to shop around, especially without a utility bill, but Halifax helped me and I’m certain they will help you to. Once I’d applied, I received the online banking activation code one day, my card the next and my pin another… It’s frustrating having to wait but they do come, just be patient. The amazing thing, no queues!
6. National insurance
You’re going to need an appointment if you’re a British passport holder I’m afraid. It’s a quick call to the Job Centre, they will ask you for your postal code and will set up the soonest possible appointment for you nearest your area. Do your homework though, mine was made for Oxford (miles away) and I called back to change it to Woking (On a friend’s advice). They called me with a cancellation, in I went and 20 minutes later I had an application in with an up to 6 week waiting period for my number. If you were born here and your parents claimed family benefits for you, make note of that as they can find you on the system, hopefully issuing you a number sooner. Also, no queues.
7. Finding somewhere to live
I guess this is all about preference. It means a strict budget and knowing when to turn down possibilities for being outside of that budget. Remember, you’re not just paying rent, you’re paying council tax as well as the utilities… It all adds up. Get onto rightmove.co.uk which is great for available properties for which you can search by area. Once you’ve found a few you like, go and view them – investigate the area, investigate the schools etc. The council websites are extremely helpful with all the information you need, right down to the council band which you can search for by postal code. You’ll get a breakdown of what council tax you need to pay and just how it’s spent – council tax is paid over 10 months. There will be admin fees involved and the deposit is heavy, 6 weeks rent plus a month upfront – be warned. Also, your salary dictates the value of rent you qualify to pay. If you earn less than the rent you’re wanting to undertake, you’ll need a guarantor who earns the required salary to guarantee the rent payments for you, they too will be referenced and checked.
If you’re planning on moving and have any questions about anything so far, give me a shout and I’ll help as best I can :D