Whether you’re an adult or a child, chances are you’ve imagined yourself on foreign shores – starting a new life, learning a new language and sampling foreign cuisine. But as we grow older, the practicalities of uprooting and moving abroad and starting a new life can become somewhat of an issue.
If you’re looking to emigrate, there are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine whether you’re really ready to emigrate from South Africa.
The Emigration readiness questionnaire
We’ve listed the most important questions you can ask yourself to establish your readiness for emigration.
1. How long have you been considering emigration?
Of course, one needn’t mull all decision over for years before they are made, but it’s important you give enough consideration for your move before embarking on your journey all willy-nilly. Oftentimes, people are prompted to make life-changing decisions after traumatising events – but decisions made under emotional duress are rarely logical. So take your time and carefully consider all your options.
2. Have you chosen a destination?
If you’re not sure where to immigrate to, you’ve probably not been doing your homework. Moving abroad is a taxing affair, and it’s necessary to do thorough research about the destination you’re planning on starting a new life in. The place needs to appeal to you on different levels – from climate and geography to its social and political climate, culture, infrastructure, population and economy.
3. Have you discussed emigration with your friends and family?
It goes without saying, but it’s a good idea to discuss your thoughts with your friends and family. Quite often we believe others will follow us into the great unknown, or be accepting of our decision, when this is not the case. Discussing your thoughts and getting the help of a counselor for those hard conversations could be necessary. It will also give you time to consider everyone’s point of view and assess which friends have got your back.
4. Have you checked the visa requirements?
Oh dear! You’ve already told everyone you’re going but you don’t qualify! It happens every day, and yet this doesn’t seem to be top-of-mind for many emigrants. As soon as you’ve chosen a destination, it’s imperative that enquire as to the different visa requirements and assess whether you qualify. If you don’t qualify, there may be a test or course which will give you the necessary accreditation to become a citizen.
5. Do you have a job in your new country?
As part of your visa enquiries, you’ll undoubtedly have to tackle the matter of employment. This, of course, is crucial to determining whether immigration is, in fact, on the cards. Though you’ve got a cushy job over here – you’ll have to prepare yourself for a different job, different industry, lower wages or new skills training. Of course, change is the name of the game in emigration, but you need to ask yourself whether you really have it in you to adapt your professional role.
6. Is your family open to new cultures, religions and languages?
Many South Africans move abroad out of an urge to escape. They want to get away from it all. But it’s also often these people who are disillusioned about the new life they find abroad. It is often these people who struggle to fit in. If your family has strong cultural, linguistic, religious and other moral stipulations whereby their lives are guided, you need to assess whether they’d assimilate into the new culture. Of course, having strong convictions is not a bad thing – but it may be necessary to consider where your family would most readily fit in.
7. Is the relationship between you and the rest of the emigration-party solid?
Do not attempt moving abroad to save your marriage or strengthen your family unit. In rare occasions it does work, but in most cases you’ll find the additional stress only compounds your problems. Make sure you’re all on the same page and that each of you understand each other’s fears, reservations and hopes for your new life abroad.
8. Do you have enough money and resources?
Moving abroad costs a lot of money. You will need finances for all the administration, for insurance, travel, accommodation, shipping your belongings, rental deposits, registrations and all sorts of other things. And this doesn’t end once you’re abroad – you’ll find that the possessions, resources and people you’d gathered back home and taken for granted all saved you time and money. Now you’ll have to fork out! Make sure you’ve got a financial backup for the first few months. If you need help with your financial migration, feel free to talk to finglobal.com about your needs.
9. Will you cope with the loneliness?
There’s no two ways about it – you will miss your home. And when that happens you need to understand yourself well enough to be able to cope with your loss. Ask yourself what therapies, hobbies or other tools you have to comfort you during dark times – and also assess your coping mechanisms in relation to your family’s. It often happens that our different ways of coping place undue pressure on each other.
10. Are you willing to move out of your comfort zone to try new things?
Okay, so once you’ve gone through all the other questions, the last thing you should ask yourself is whether you’re willing to try out all the new things your life will throw at you. The more you are willing to move out of your comfort zone, the faster you’ll adapt to your new life and the sooner you’ll make friends.
We hope these questions and their answers will help you make the right decision for your future. If you do decide to become an expat, here are some of our tips for expatriates.