After "How dangerous is Johannesburg" and "Which is the best school for my child," one of the most-asked questions I get when people contact me is whether I know of any support groups for expats. Until recently, this was also my most-dreaded question, because I didn't have a good answer. Thankfully, now there is the Trailing Spouses Johannesburg Facebook Group.
Recently, the idea of giving expats a top-10 list of must-read articles from my blog (and from other websites I've written for) was born. Ir's a good reading list and starting point covering every main topic from finding a school, renting a house, registering a car, finding a bank, and so on, up until the very important matter of booking a safari once the container is unpacked.
We all know that moving day can be crazy. The packers are spread out throughout your house, you're running around like crazy taking care of last-minute business, and everything takes on a life of its own. Including the potatoes in your pantry. Or, well, not a life of their own quite yet. That will come some weeks later, when you'll see (or first smell) said life while unpacking.
One of the first things you always have to learn in a new country is how much to tip. This is especially true in South Africa. You'll be setting out on your very first errand to buy milk and butter at the Woolworth's around the corner, you'll return to your car with your bags, and as you pull out of your parking space, a guy will be at your window with outstretched hand. What to do?
When you move abroad, your world is turned upside down. You know no one, you have to rebuild your life from scratch in terms of figuring out where to run your daily errands, you are in desperate need of some clothes hangers, and all of a sudden you find yourself with a lot of time, because you're not signed up for any activities yet. You need to meet some strangers!
As an expat in South Africa, your Kindle may very well be your most prized possession. Books are expensive, shipping from overseas is not very reliable, and libraries are more or less non-existent. I've told you about how your Kindle works in South Africa, but recently I got a question about Kindle chargers and adapters, and I thought my answer warrants a blog post of its own.
I was going through my old blog posts and realized I have 62 of them tagged as Expat Tips (not counting all the answers in my FAQ section). That's more than in any of the other categories on Joburg Expat, like Schools, Travel, Crime and Security, or Health. It's even more than I wrote under Bureaucracy, which is saying a lot because that one includes Eskom.
Moving is hard. Moving abroad sounds even harder. But with the right point of view it doesn't have to be quite as hard as you think. If we can't change reality, we can change our thoughts about it. Here I have summarized some of these thoughts when it comes to moving your family to distant shores, from being patient to starting a blog to process and remember your experiences.
One of the motivations for starting Joburg Expat was to help those who came behind me with the long and often complicated process of settling in. I wanted to answer all questions about being an expat in South Africa, and give my readers tips on how to avoid pitfalls about the South African bureaucracy. For this purpose I have put together this list of useful tips.
Baby steps. That’s what they always recommend in self-help books. “As long as you move in the right direction, it doesn't matter how fast you move” is one of the mantras in this field. Well, when you move abroad, things are a bit different. While baby steps are not wrong, giant leaps are much better. According to international research, the faster expats settle in, the better.