I found a recent article on the internet about this subject quite negative and offensive with an injection of insulting humour. So I decided to write my opinion on the topic.
Yes, packing our lives up in South Africa to go live in another country is what many of us have done and will be doing. While packing up your life, selling cars, house etc, we all wonder what it will be like, we all think and maybe even hope that we will like it, that we will be happy, but for most of us, we just do not know what to expect. Sometimes, the reality of how life is in London/UK might not be what you expected, but I am sure, you did not expect it to be just like South Africa… if you did, then Yes, you would be hugely disappointed. The first thing you must remember about moving to the UK or London is that it is a first world country. Everything is different.
Expectation: You insist you will not be like other Saffas and live in Wimbledon or "little South Africa" as it's become known.
Nothing wrong with living in Wimbledon, moving to another country is stressful, so being with your own kind helps with the process. A lot of Saffas love living with other Saffas, yes, it is expensive to live in London, but if it is where you want to live, then why not? If you are single and have a job, living in London is awesome, how awesome is it to be able to say you live in one of the world's most famous cities? If you do not want to live in London but be close to London, well, Wimbledon is not the only "little South Africa" community in the UK, soooo many Saffas have moved to different areas around London and beyond, In Fleet you will find a huge community of Saffas, Basingstoke as well. London is not the be all and end all for Saffas. This is entirely up to each individual and assuming you are earning a good salary you can choose to live where you would like to in London. Economics plays the biggest part here and Wimbledon is not cheaper than other parts of London.
Expectation: You cannot contain your excitement about a reliable and functional public transport system.
Yes, the underground tube is expensive, but it works, it gets you to work, you can afford it, otherwise you would not be living in London. Using your car is more expensive, especially if you go into the Congestion areas, then you have to pay. Rush hour in the tube is not half as bad as sitting in the rush hour traffic in Rivonia, or Sandton, stressing about the possibility of getting hijacked, or your window smashed for your wallet or phone. You might feel like a sardine, but it gets you to your next stop quickly and you will not be a sardine for long, you also have the choice of waiting for the next train, it will be about 5 minutes. The underground is electric, pollution is from the streets, not the tube. You can cycle all over London, much cheaper than a car nogal! Strikes, the media will tell you months in advance when the next strike is, so you can make other arrangements, when the strike is on, not all trains are affected, the country does not come to a complete standstill like in SA, nee wat!! It is organised, most are limited to 24hrs and in 2014 around 52 per cent of Tube services operated despite the action. The busses still work, the Taxi's still work. The UK has an excellent public transport system, again, if the commute really bug you, move to the outskirts of London.
Expectation: You'll braai all the time.
Yes, you can braai as often as you like, you can ask Google to find parks that allow fires or gas braai's, you can phone your local council and ask them, they are always willing to assist – if you in a house share, you will have a garden, albeit it be small, but small enough to have a braai. It definitely does not rain ALL the time, I have met and seen Saffas braai in the snow, if you want it bad enough you will maak 'n plan, coz when a man has a craving for a braai, he sure as hell aint gonna worry about what the English or the Polish think about it, he is going to find a way of having his braai, even if it is an indoor braai.. but braai will a saffa braai in the UK. I have seen Saffas stand in the rain with HUGE brollies and braai…. It is and will always be a Saffa lifestyle, no matter where you live.
Expectation: You won't miss South Africa's cheap booze.
Plenty of cheap booze here, London is the booze capital of the world. You can buy cheap wine here, you will also find a huge variety of booze here, much bigger than in SA.
Ale, Larger, Draught, Cider, imported wines from all over (including SA) as well as good local wines, and plenty of spirits. Sure SA tourists will find a good pint pricy at £1.80 - £5, if you have a job these prices are relative to a salary: Around £26,000/year Avg.
You are earning pounds now, why on earth would you want to convert, you will make yourself sick if you going to keep doing that, get use to using Pounds. You paying in Pounds. What you paid for things in SA will def not be the same price here, if you want good wine, then pay for it, only a good wine connoisseur will not mind paying for a good bottle of wine, I have a friend that gets his wine shipped in from SA all the time, he pays through his nose, but for him it is better to have the good stuff.
Expectation: You'll Skype with people back home all time.
Yes, sometimes it is hard to speak to your family members in SA on skype, we have excellent broadband packages in the UK, the SA does not, but you have Whatsapp, Viber, so many other communication apps, and social media is a brilliant way of staying in touch with family back home.
Expectation: Pints at the pub in the summer sun
We do have sun in the UK, lots of it nogal as well. No, seriously!! Today, 8/8/15 we have temperatures of 27 degrees. We do not have it 24/7 365 – like back home (apparently), but you not back home, winter is winter here and summer is not as cold as winter, but it is not as hot as back home. The nice thing about living in the UK/London you can buy your sun, you can take a holiday in Europe, using the Euro tunnel, loads of travel deals available all the time. If the UK did not have sun, nobody would live here. Again, you do not have to live in London, you can live anywhere else in the UK, the South of England is warmer, and loads of places that are much cheaper, anything is possible if you want it badly enough. Even having a pint. You will definitely be earning more money living in the UK, so you will be able to afford that pint. Often colleagues and friends are buying rounds or it's your turn, people do not have an issue affording a drink, if you can't you clearly don't have a job. Though even the poor here drink!
Expectation: Stunning long summer days.
Oh yes, we do have nice long summer days, the sun only goes down after 10. Its sooo lekker. You got to be a peopol if you try to go to bed with the sun blaring into your room. Invest in some black out blinds or dark curtains like the rest of the nation. Winter are so long here, when Spring comes round, people love it, we all wake up, we all enjoy the sun, the summer, the green landscape, the flowers, cycling in the park. Summers are different here, but again, you not living in SA, you in London baby!!! Woo hooo
Expectation: Loads of travel to interesting places, across England and Europe.
Well, firstly, we all know travelling anywhere is pricey, that is why we all save for our holidays, but on holiday we all go, to Europe we all go, why not?? It is sooo close and so awesome. It is something we all do. Coz it is fun and we can. Eurostar is cheaper than flying, Europe is cheaper than the UK. A Schengen Visa (if needed) you can go all around very easily. Google translate can help with the lingo issue.
Expectation: You'll get your friends and family back in South Africa to send you biltong.
Yes, bringing Biltong in from in SA is not a good idea, no need really, so many people sell biltong in the UK, and you can get most SA products online now. You can even make your own biltong, people make biltong boxes and sell them, you can find a SA shop at all the major train stations, you do not have to look for long to find a SA shop that will sell Biltong, and again, if you want it, you will find the money for it. It can be expensive but if you know where to look you can find it at a good price. I can tell you for free, some places make kak biltong, some places make amazing biltong, and it does taste like back home, in fact I have had biltong in the UK that tasted better than what I had back home.
Expectation: You'll remember to stand on the right side of the escalator
I cannot see how anybody would forget to stand on the right side of the escalator, anybody and everybody that use's the escalator will remind you, including the fact that its plastered everywhere on the underground. If you travel regularly on the tube, its becomes second nature.
Expectation: You'll make loads of friends from different countries.
You will land in the UK and probably not know a lot of Saffas, you will start your job and get to meet loads of people from different countries, how awesome is that? Yes, they might ask you to go out with them, they might not, but it is what you make of it, will you embrace it all or will you be grumpy? You will get to meet people, even if they are from SA, they will still be your friends. You will need them, coz London can get lonely. Learning about people's cultures and way of life and countries is absolutely fabulous. I find that other people love asking about my country, talking about it.
Expectation: You won't miss South Africa
Oh you will… it will be lekker to hear a Saffa accent, you will cling on to anything South African, as soon as you hear the accent you will probably say hello, just because it is nice to talk your lingo and meet somebody that comes from where you come from. You will miss everything South African, but you need to remember why you came here in the first place.
Living in another country is not easy, it is not always plain sailing, you learn so much. It is what you make of it, your attitude will be the deciding factor of your happiness.
Written by: Adele Walker