Friday, January 4, 2019

A Letter to my dad from New Zealand

A Letter to my Dad from New Zealand

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Hi Dad

Our birthday photo
Today marks 27 years since I heard your laugh, saw your face or felt your arms around me. 27 years, that’s a long time. It means that I’ve lived more years without you than with you, a lot more. It still feels surreal.
I was going to write your story today, but I’m not ready yet. I thought I was, but I’m not. One day I will pluck up the courage to go back and immerse myself fully in that day, but today is not that day. Instead of going back there, I’m remembering you as the kind, gentle soul that you were, always putting your family’s wants and needs before your own.
I don’t know why today has been harder than other years. Maybe it’s because I’m in a new country experiencing new things, things we will never share. In South Africa I could go to places to feel closer to you and leave you flowers. I drove on the same roads that you taught me to drive on and I often passed my childhood homes during my day, with all the happy memories that they held. Right up until I left South Africa, I frequented the same shops we shopped at together, all those years ago. I can’t do that here in New Zealand. I know you should be here, but it feels like you’re there.
Here I’m making new memories with my family who you never met. Maybe that’s what’s making me sadder than usual. I’ve broken the only link between you and my BLT, I’ve taken them away from where you were. You would have loved them Dad. I see you in them daily, your mischievous ways, your great sense of humor, your sweet tooth…..
I remember when we used to go on holiday to Amanzimtoti, you used to get up at the crack of dawn and walk along the shore for miles, sometimes as far as Warner beach to bring us a cheesecake, which mom stated was the best she’d ever tasted. You loved the sea and that’s why I know that you would love it here, it’s so beautiful. I think I inherited your love of the ocean because I could walk along the beach all day long, just watching the waves crash, then crawl onto the sand and recede, it’s mesmerizing.

New Zealand Christmas Tree
I’ve started to take more of an interest in the beauty of nature, particularly beautiful flowers. I haven’t quite got to the gardening part, but I’m gaining appreciation of how hard you worked to get your dahlias and sweet peas to flower so beautifully and prolifically. There are trees here called Pohutukawa trees (I know, it’s a mouthful to say) but they are spectacular! The flowers are like bottle brush flowers but the trees are bigger. They are referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree, because they flower over Christmas. You would love them!
I’ve got so many happy memories flowing through my mind right now. I guess what my friend told me years ago is true. You don’t get over the death of a loved one, you just get used to it. I may be used to you not being here, but I’m certainly not over it.
I’m signing off now dad, sorry it’s taken me 27 years to write. Please don’t worry about us, we’re doing well. We love our new country but miss you, mom and our family and friends terribly, but you knew that already. My biggest regret is not knowing you as an adult. There is so much I need to ask you. One day, when we meet again…
Love you Pop
Li


Monday, April 16, 2018

Our Incredible Journey to New Zealand - #4 The Preparation



Our Incredible Journey to NZ – #4 The Preparation

To be honest, I was a bit slack writing this post because preparing is just not that interesting haha. I put hours of work into doing the first three long blog posts with proper detail but I think that I’m going to start doing MUCH shorter ones where possible. That way I can document our lives, as and when things happen. Right now I’m more focused on being here in New Zealand than writing about how we got here. 
My idea is to write these New Zealand blog posts to have a really good record of our journey. One day my BLT may want to know the story and already I’m finding my memory blocking out the really tough times. So the next few posts are going to be short and sweet and to the point (well as short as I can make them.)

Job Opportunities

It goes without saying that finding a job was important. Fortunately hubby’s IT skills were hot in demand and he was on the skills shortage list. I was not as fortunate.

CV

Everywhere we looked we were told Hubby should have his CV in the New Zealand format. We researched and spent our time, making sure it was perfect for the market he was trying to enter. Then he set to work applying for positions from South Africa and waited impatiently for a positive response. Each time his CV was sent, it had to be reworded with a covering letter specific to that particular position.

Match Key Words to Advert

We discovered through loads of research that your CV goes into an electronic search which pulls out CVs from the heaps that get sent in. Basically CVs are vetted by a computer, based on key words expressed in the original advert. This means that words in the CV needed to match up exactly with the advertised position or the CV is binned.

Curve Ball

After hitting a brick wall for a couple of months, hubby’s work situation changed suddenly, and not in a good way. One day the company was fine and profitable and the next, non-existent. This put us in the awkward position of hubby needing to look for a new job in South Africa or bite the bullet and focus on our new goal – New Zealand. Yes, you guessed it, we chose New Zealand. Things were happening a lot quicker than we had planned and we were getting nervous.

Flying to New Zealand costs a small fortune, so instead of us all going on an LSD visit (Look See Decide) we agreed that hubby would go alone. He could, have a bit of a sabbatical and put feelers out. We looked at dates and times and prices of airline tickets. After tweaking and looking we were eventually happy with a route, date and time. The credit card details were checked and double checked, then Hubby looked at me and said “are we going to do this? Must I press conclude transaction?”
The mix of excitement, terror and nerves was palpable. This was it. He hit the button and we knew there was no turning back. Eeeeeeek!! His ticket was booked for 2 May to go and see if this country that everyone raved about. Was really as good as people said it was? Would New Zealand be the best place to raise our BLT and start the next chapter of our lives?

The Kids

Our BLT knew nothing about our plans apart from us indoctrinating them at short intervals about the wonderful things New Zealand had to offer. We took them to their favourite chocolate shop, let them order a milkshake and told them that daddy would be leaving in May. According to the Facebook groups we had been following, he would love it, he would make lots of connections and we would make plans to meet up with daddy by September.

Their Reactions

Tomato (aged 9) was very unhappy as she realised that she wasn’t going to see her daddy for four months. Bacon (7) was sad that she wasn’t going to see daddy for a long time and Lettuce (4) was just staring at his sisters’ reactions and enjoying his milkshake. We made it out to be an adventure. We’d heard that the schools in New Zealand gave very little homework, so that made Tomato much happier because 15 minutes of homework for her, took 90 minutes to complete. This was a potential positive for all of us!

Count Down to Departure

We had just over a month to prepare. Hubby is not a great organiser and wasn’t thrilled with my Excel spreadsheet list of items to do before he left. Just the goodbyes took a few weekends. Then we began the power of attorney on bank accounts and the signing of document after document. This would allow me to do everything and anything on his and our BLT’s behalf. This admin took another few weeks. In the blink of an eye, we were waving him goodbye at the airport, just our little family and his best friend. We agreed not to make a scene in front of the kids and we tried to make it a happy goodbye.

Getting our Ducks in a Row

Our master plan was, to move to New Zealand if possible, but if not, move closer to the school. The school run took an hour each morning to get to the school and a further 30 minutes home. This was killing me. Plan B was move to Cape Town. In all those scenarios, we needed to sell our house, so I hopped onto it and got an estate agent on board. That was a disaster but I won’t go into that.

Where to Stay

Hubby found a fantastic place to stay, that wasn’t cheap but everything he needed. His hosts (expats from the UK and SA) met him at the airport, helped him find his feet with bank accounts etc and were there to help with whatever was necessary. Little did they know then, how much they would need to help! Hubby was made to feel at home right away. He had a place to cook, wash his clothes, sleep and shower. Hubby spent a lot of time driving around and taking in the sights of New Zealand. He bought an old Saab for $1,000 and put that workhorse through its paces.

Jobs

Before long he had fallen in love with New Zealand and told me how he would start putting feelers out to see if there were any opportunities. There seemed to be hundreds of opportunities but you needed to get a working visa or have residency to get a job. Because New Zealand is so attractive, the advertised jobs actually ask whether you may legally work in New Zealand to weed out those that didn’t have a visa. This is why many people struggle to find jobs from SA. Also, there are many people who get jobs and change their minds, so some employers don’t want the hassle and red tape of someone who still needs to become ‘legal.’

Social Media Groups

There are many social media groups set up to help ex-pats and people wanting to leave South Africa. Facebook has hundreds of different groups set up for immigrants wanting to move to other countries. These groups are an invaluable source of information and I found them really helpful because I like hearing other people’s opinions BUT it is important to understand that these views and opinions are just that. Everyone sees the world through their own lens and while some people are trying to help, others give information that is less than accurate. 

Advice about Social Media Groups

We almost got burned by blindly following some advice, but my gut made me keep searching for more information and we were fortunate not to lose a whack of money due to false information gleaned from a group. If I could give anyone wanting to start this process some advice, do your own homework, watch the answers on the groups and see the people who are well-informed. There were about 5 people who I followed avidly, who really helped me out. These people are no-nonsense South Africans who have done the hard work and made it to New Zealand and have been here for quite a while. Find those people, seek their advice and then go with your gut.

INZ (Immigration New Zealand)

INZ is fantastic. They want to help immigrants and are available pretty much 24/7. We found out what we wanted to know on the group, but when we were serious and started completing documents, we spoke directly to INZ who helped us tremendously.
Life has a wonderful way of throwing curve balls at the Walkers and trying to make a new life was going to send balls in all directions! With hubby on the other side of the world, in a different time zone, life became a little bit complicated.
Beautiful New Zealand

Legend

Bacon – Middle daughter (9 yrs old)
Lettuce – Youngest son (6 yrs old)
Tomato – Eldest daughter (11 yrs old)

Disclaimer: This is our journey and the way we came to our own conclusions about what was best for us. This will obviously be different for each individual and family. We love the country we were born into. South Africa will always be in our hearts and we have family and many friends there. We wish only the best for those who are living in South Africa. This is not a post to make our decision seem better or worse than your own, please don’t compare and try to feel better or worse. You may disagree with our process or our decisions, but please wish us well anyway. We all need to live our own lives to the fullest and hopefully that is what we are doing with ours and what you are doing with yours.

If you’ve just started reading and would like to begin at the beginning, go to the first post about our journey. Otherwise you could skip ahead to the parts that interest you. Here are the links to my New Zealand blog posts so far:

1. The Seed

#NewZealand
#SouthAfrica
#emigrate

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Our Incredible Journey to NZ - #3 The Decision

Disclaimer: This is our journey and the way we came to our own conclusions about what was best for us. This will obviously be different for each individual and family. We love the country we were born into. South Africa will always be in our hearts and we have family and many friends there. We wish only the best for those who are living in South Africa. This is not a post to make our decision seem better or worse than your own, please don't compare and try to feel better or worse. You may disagree with our process or our decisions, but please wish us well anyway. We all need to live our own lives to the fullest and hopefully that is what we are doing with ours and what you are doing with yours. 

If you've just started reading and would like to begin at the beginning, go to the first post about our journey or if you would like to skip ahead to the part that interests you, here are the links the my New Zealand blog posts so far:

1. The Seed

2. The Analysis

Crunch Time

We had talked it over and over and over some more. What should we do? The decision in front of us was monumental, the biggest, most serious decision we had made to date. So in true analytical style I turned back to my exam pad - pros and cons. Over the years, Hubby has joked about my constant need for an exam pad to make decisions. He has tried many apps that emulate my pros and cons ritual, trying valiantly to move me to a more high-tech method, but none has come close to my pen and paper yet. 


Stress

As I mentioned in my previous post, our stress levels were high but realistically, how would they be after we uprooted our whole family and moved 12 000 kilometres away to a country where we didn't know a soul?  Let's be honest, stress is not only in South Africa. Yes there are additional stressors to work and money, without doubt, but stress is extremely personal. It is different for everyone. 

My mom didn't believe in stress, she thought it was a made up word for modern problems. But at Christmas, at the end of the meal, when she had to put the final touches on her magnificent trifle and I couldn't find the nuts and cherries that she had handed to me for safe-keeping, her stress levels soared off the charts, although she never saw it that way. While she was frantic, I was moseying around the kitchen chatting and picking up the odd tea towel to help look, which apparently meant I wasn't helping at all, but I mean really, the packet didn't walk out of the kitchen, we were going to find it, Christmas would not die and burn due to undressed trifle. Our stressors were and are completely different. Every year after that, Hubby would make a space just for her at our kitchen counter and it was deemed the "Trifle Area" equipped with a board, knife, cherries and nuts, so that she never needed to stress again. She was relieved and grateful but never believed that he had relieved her of stress. Stress is silent and personal. Maybe our stress is as simple as dressing a trifle? Hmmm food (pun intended) for thought. But I digress....  

We know that stress boils down to how an individual relates to their specific situation. Hubby and I did both feel the increasing aggression in South Africa doing everyday activities, such as driving - road-rage caused by taxi drivers creating a second lane and driving head on towards oncoming traffic to get ahead in the queue, grinding the law abiding traffic to a halt as up to ten taxis would roar past us in the mornings.  And I won't go into the stress caused by government departments and the frustration of dealing with banking institutions. But aside from what my old boss used to call "the gentle inefficiency of Africa", we were under no illusions, that most of our stress was self-inflicted and could be changed, like jobs and houses etc. 

Our research showed that New Zealand was a calmer country, everything happens slower and there is less aggression, especially on the roads. That sounded good. Hmm so the choice was, should we change how we relate to our situation or just change the situation. We couldn't base a life-decision on stress alone, although calmer, kinder, accepting people sounded really good to us.

Family

Gordon's Bay
We decided, for this major life decision, to remove our family from the equation and only focus on our nuclear family, otherwise it would become an emotional decision and we'd never budge. Who in their right mind leaves parents, brothers, sisters, granny, grandpa, aunts, uncle and cousins? No no no. We needed a clear head.

I love beautiful places, like the Maluti mountains and rock formations in the Free State, the majestic Drakensberg, the beautiful Mac Mac Falls and Bourkes Luck Potholes in Mpumalanga, Table Mountain has so many special memories for me and I would sell my soul for the South Coast ocean, the view from Gordon's Bay and Chapman's Peak, Cape Point, the list goes on and on. All of these South African places are amazing, but far from home. We had to plan a trip to go to these places. We had done all of the beautiful day trips to the Magaliesberg, Hartebeespoort and numerous other scenic spots, but nothing breathtaking was close to Johannesburg (in my opinion) and the heat was getting to me. But did I want cold? Nooo! 
Mac Mac Falls
The Drakensberg

The reason for my family being in Johannesburg in the first place, was because almost 100 years ago my Scottish grandfather left his motherland due to lack of work, in search of new opportunities. My grandfather was lured by the promise of gold in a new Johannesburg. We are being lured by the calm of the land of the long white cloud. Isn't it ironic that he was excited about opportunities in the Gold Rush, while we are excited about opportunities away from the mad rush? 

Without the discovery of gold and the interest it generated, Johannesburg would never have become the epicentre of South Africa's business world and I was beginning to see it as a bit of a dust bowl (admittedly we were going through a bit of a drought which did cloud my vision.) I wanted to be surrounded by more beauty than I had had for the first half of my life (note, I'm living to over 92!) But we knew that we didn't have to leave South Africa to find beauty and scenery, we could move province. It would be challenging but definitely do-able. 

So although New Zealand is beautiful and calm, that couldn't be the deciding factor.


Crime

I saw these signs often
This may come as a bit of a shock but the actual crime didn't sway us to leave. Yes you read that right, we were used to living in ignorant bliss. For many families this is sadly not the case. I have heard of many people emigrating after horrific home invasions, hijackings and murders. We were so fortunate that we never had to deal with any of that type of violent crime, otherwise this would be a very different story. When I read about those families it hits home. South Africa is a violent place, but unless it has affected you badly, you're aware of it, but it isn't on your radar. BUT having to make our children aware of it and teaching them to protect themselves, as I have mentioned, wasn't sitting well with me. AND worse yet, what would happen if they wanted to follow their dreams (currently those dreams are being an artist, a baker and a pilot, they change weekly) but what if they entered a career which they were passionate about and it didn't pay enough to keep them in a safe environment? Security isn't cheap. What if they became those people who were afraid for their lives but couldn't afford to live inside the bubble? Ok the pilot probably wouldn't have to worry but the artist and baker......? I rest my case.

Seriously, we didn't want to pass this legacy on to our children, where they were destined to be the same hamsters on the same wheel as we were on, in order to be safe in South Africa. Why should they be put through the stress of carrying that financial burden before even starting their lives? Why couldn't they back pack through their own country like they could elsewhere? We had put ourselves behind bars and electric fences, security booms with security guards, but was this really the way to live? Were we the ones in jail and the criminals roaming free? 

We would have to encourage our children to seek opportunities overseas but then what? They would be on another continent, hopefully in a safer place, but we would be stuck with Rands in the bank which were quickly weakening. I remembered many years ago, when my boss moved to New Zealand, the Rand had weakened to R3 to the NZ$ and he was horrified! More recently it has been hovering around R10 to the NZ$ and has gone as high as R11. Would we ever be able to afford to visit our children and grandchildren if we were travelling overseas on the Rand? Probably not very often.
Electric fencing around perimeter walls of
all properties in my neighbourhood. 

So the crime itself was somewhat of a decider but only in a round-a-bout kind of way. The knock-on effect of feeling safe was a bigger decider but still not the main reason. We knew that if we and our family could be guaranteed of living in the bubble until we passed away, this would be a non-event and we could stay forever, as many of our friends and family will, and they will feel safe and secure, as they should. But for us, the chance of us ever being out of the bubble, made me extremely nervous. We were born in South African with South African passports, so if the proverbial hit the fan, we were stuck. There was no Plan B and if we made a Plan B for our children, we would still be stuck back on Plan A. 

Finances

This was a no-brainer. Anybody who has had a similar job for the past 5-10 years will have felt the effects of the rampant inflation. If you haven't been steadily climbing the corporate ladder or working for yourself and ensuring salary adjustments, you know what I'm talking about. Standard company increases fall way below inflation, meaning the majority of South Africans are getting poorer year on year across all income groups. There is also an unspoken first world inflation. The necessities (again in my first world opinion) - food, toiletries, medicines, Medical Aid (with the ever increasing self-payment gap), security levies and arbitrary annual increases across all services, are eating away at disposable income. The increases on these expenses overshoot inflation year on year and my financial planner was constantly wanting me to put more money away for the future as it is impossible to predict, but that meant removing more and more from the present to save for the future.

In order to have enough money to retire on, we needed to plough money into our retirement while we were earning. Now I'm all for saving and have done so all my life, but the numbers were getting ridiculous and I was witnessing retirees, who were supposed to be comfortable in their old age, starting to struggle by living on their pensions alone. We have 20 years ahead of us to earn, do we want to do that in volatile South Africa or pretty predictable New Zealand? 

With a president who couldn't decide who should be responsible for the financial portfolio of the country and kept chopping and changing finance ministers, it was difficult for us to trust that it would all just simply get better one day. What I did know from studying economics 1.01 is that when inflation increases and disposable income decreases, crime increases. Therefore the future of our children was worrying for us. This was definitely a factor.

We had researched that not only was inflation under control in New Zealand and the economy was growing well, IT and marketing jobs were in demand and they looked after their elderly. There are many free services offered to pensioners including free medical, so it was definitely appealing.


School

For the benefit of those reading this, who are not living in South Africa, let me explain the schooling situation. The majority of affluent families send their children to private schools at enormous expense because the difference in education is vast, with the small exception of some really good Government schools (public schools). 

It is estimated however, that only approximately 5 000 schools are good, versus approximately 23 000 which are not. The reason for the good versus bad? Parents pay for the shortfall in the 5 000 schools where the funding is inadequate, while at the lower income schools operate purely on government funding. Therefore, as you can imagine, getting into a good public school in your area, becomes a bun fight. 

In order to get our daughter into the only school that we are zoned for, we had to queue in the freezing cold weather, outside the school gates from 1am until 8am just to put her name down for possible acceptance. Let me repeat that, we had to queue for 7 hours in the cold and dark, on a street in South Africa, with its high crime rate, to TRY to get our child into the school that we are zoned for (the only one) and the one that her sister already attended! We were number 50 in the queue. The lady who was number 1 in the queue had started waiting from 5pm the night before. She was a single mother and couldn't take the chance of her child not getting accepted to the school close to her house, so she queued for 15 hours. Beyond ridiculous.


Click here for link to this article
Sadly, this contrast in schooling meant that the vast majority of students in South Africa were getting an inferior education due to lack of funding. The government arguably saw these 5 000 schools as unfair and there were rumblings that they were going to put a stop to this practise. Instead of increasing the standards in other areas, it seemed likely that the better schools would be brought down to the lower standard of the less privileged. While obviously the 5 000 are getting an unfair advantage (due to parents paying in,) is the best way to resolve this issue to reduce the standard of education in those schools? I don't know the answer, because to get 23 000 schools up to speed with 5 000 would take huge funding, that which the government does not have.

When our son was due to begin grade one at the same school, the registration system had become electronic, while making little difference to the mayhem behind the scenes, it did mean that parents no longer needed to queue outside the school all night. BUT it still wasn't a fair process based on zoning, purely because more children were zoned for the school than the school could accommodate. We all had to sit in front of our screens with the correct browser open so that we could hit send as soon as the site went live at exactly 8am. I misunderstood that it was again based on first come first served and we became number 358 in the queue for children "within the zone." There are approximately 150 spaces available per grade. Ludicrous.

Adequate town planning was a foreign concept and in the past 30 years there has not been a new school built in our area, but the housing has more than quadrupled with large properties being broken up into many smaller units, putting pressure on, not only the schooling system, but the entire infrastructure. Traffic congestion was increasing year on year and our tax money was nowhere to be seen. Even this didn't make our decision, although it was a factor. 

Our research showed that it would be easier for Tomato to get in-class assistance in New Zealand if necessary. The education system in New Zealand is set up for children like her. Class aides are commonplace and many children are assisted without the stigma in South Africa. Due to New Zealand being calmer and (as described by one of the school principals), "a more gentle environment," our anxious little girl may enjoy her schooling experience more, with less pressure and a reduced pace. This was a big deciding factor. Just the thought of breathtaking scenery every day and the reduced pace was appealing. School starts at 9am instead of 7:25am and there is no traffic as the schools adequately service their zoned areas. 


The Bubble

Inside the bubble, life is mostly first world. We made certain of that. We are surrounded by houses that are well-kept, excellent roads and beautifully manicured lawns. The streetlights all work  (because the trustees of our complex make it their mission to monitor the complex) and the kids are free to ride their bikes and go to the park on their own. We were guarded night and day by seven security guards with increased perimeter patrols at night. The residents paid for dedicated patrol vehicles within the estate, which became the norm, in fact the kids would smile and wave frantically at the guards passing by several times a day never questioning why they drove so slowly. The high levies we paid monthly covered the security which included state-of-the-art cameras on each corner that were monitored in the control room by a dedicated security officer. But it is all a farce and we knew it going in, we paid for all of that first world living with money that had already been taxed, supposedly to maintain roads, pavements, streetlights and security.

Because only 4% of the population pay 80% of the income generated in South Africa - yes you read that right, only 2,2 million out of 56 million people pay tax, if you want good service, you are forced to go private. We were paying tax in the highest tax bracket. This meant that 41% of our salaries were given to a government who spent the money elsewhere. We knew this. We had lived with this for years. But there's something about seeing the numbers affecting your own life, written down in black and white (on my exam pad) that made us realise how ridiculous it was.

Our non-private services, which were out of our control, were declining faster than expected - from having the cheapest electricity in the world, due to corruption, it was fast becoming the most expensive and our drinking water was the cleanest in the world but now we don't rank? Maintenance in the country was not taking place, so new roads and upgrades were rare, unless privately funded. The national broadcaster and airline were riddled with corruption and practically bankrupt and "load shedding" (re-occurring electrical black outs due to demand outstripping supply) was soon to be replaced by water-shedding. Honestly, it was all becoming very concerning. But the decline was slow, slow enough for us not to really pay attention to it all at once, until we shone a spotlight on it. Then it became quite clear how this mismanagement was impacting our lives. 


The Final Straw

Finally, after we had thought and talked and researched and talked and trawled the social media groups, we had to make the decision. There was an article that I had read that I couldn't get out of my mind. I couldn't find it for a long time because I had trouble remembering the author. This was the fundamental reason that we chose to emigrate. I explained what it contained to Hubby and I don't think he really believed me but went along with it anyway. I have managed to locate it (the memory is still there, it just took a while to retrieve.) All the other reasons had their place, but this is what pushed us over the edge.

The piece was written in April 2014 and is called "Future Prospects for South African Youths." an article by a man who is known as a futurist who I really admire and respect - Mr Clem Sunter. What on earth is a futurist you say? No he is not a clairvoyant who hauls out his crystal ball to take a look into the future, a futurist studies the future taking into account current trends and predicts the outcome. Clem Sunter became a household name and he shot to fame in the US when he co-authored a book "Mind Like a Fox" wherein he wrote about security issues in the US government and the potential threat of a terrorist attack on one of the US major cities, SIX MONTHS BEFORE 911 happened. It was if he had predicted it. 

But back to the article in question, the takeout is as follows:

The South African economy needs to grow fast, starting now, if it is going to absorb another 26 million job seekers over the next 15 years. We can’t export them, we have to create jobs for them! For this reason alone the government should be actively creating an environment wherein jobs can be easily created, they should be attempting to slow the birth rate and they should be concentrating on creating capitalistic solutions for hungry mouths, rather than attempting to instil socialistic ideas in an exploding population of young hopefuls. If they are not doing so, and to all intents and purposes it seems they are not, then SA is heading for a huge problem, notwithstanding Eskom [electricity public utility] and the rest, in that there will be more young people than there will be enough food, drink, housing, education and services to cater for them. Socialism is definitely not going to feed that many mouths and grants and subsidies will eventually cripple any future government. ~ Clem Sunter

I knew that opportunities would be worse for our children who are still young, but I didn't quite understand the ramifications until I read this whole article, which opened my eyes. I encourage you to read the full article (it's really short but HUGELY impactful.) You can read the full article here. It showed a very different South Africa, one that I didn't want my children to have to live in.

Clem Sunter
Another great article of his can be found here which talks about emigration and how to avoid it. Many many people have followed his advice and done what he suggested. He always suggests that we think like a fox, looking at situations from all sides.

For us, the writing was on the wall, but one thing we have always agreed on, is that we would never run FROM something, only TOWARDS something better. This was very important to us. I've always maintained that I would never leave South Africa. It is the only home I'd ever known. If we were going to change our lives and uproot our family, it had better be for a great opportunity, not just running away from an imminent disaster, which let's face it, South Africa is not. South Africa is more of a slow puncture than a train wreck. There is still time to stop the leak!


The Plan

I'm a marketer, so I love a good plan. Once we had decided that we were serious about New Zealand, we needed a plan and we laid out our ideas as follows:

Plan A 
Seriously look into New Zealand work opportunities

Plan B 
If Plan A didn't work, look for work in Cape Town

Plan C 
If Plan A and B tanked, sell our home and move closer to the school, downscale our lives to have less stress and expenses


Now the planning questions started. Should we all go to New Zealand to check it out first? What are the opportunities really like? We were excited. 

We were going to dip our toe in the pool to test the water. Super exciting! We weren't going to rush into anything, we weren't going to tell people yet, we were slowly going to start putting feelers out and see what we could find. 

But life has a way of showing you that you're not in control. I think this could possibly be a theme throughout our lives. 

Instead of a nice slow entry into the pool, life rushed up behind us and gave us a smack! Pushing us in with an enormous SPLASH!! 

It had suddenly become sink or swim. Not what we had planned AT ALL! 

"Flexibility" is now my middle name.

Life became a triathlon!