As much as I’ve been enjoying reading the stories of South African expats who’ve made the leap to move abroad in The Honest Expat… I must be honest and say that I’m probably more partial to my newer series: Expat in SA
This series is all about foreign nationals who’ve chosen to make South Africa their home!
Today I’m interviewing Expat in South Africa, Nath (43), from Belgium, who is married to Vincent (44). They are the happy parents of Elliot (7) and moved to SA 18 months ago! Nath blogs about their adventures over at www.foinetescarpins.com
Where are you originally from? and where did you move from?
We are from the south of Belgium (close to France and Luxembourg). Vincent grow up in Switzerland and move to Belgium when he was 31.
Where did you immigrate to in South Africa?
We are living in Riebeek West, in the Western Cape.
When did you immigrate (year) to SA?
What was the catalyst/s for your immigration decision to move to SA?
We got married in SA 11 years ago, we adopted our son in SA 5 years ago and we used to come to SA for holidays…
Over the years we have fallen in love with the country, the people, the food, the wine, the countryside!
So 4 years ago we decided to sell our farm in Belgium and come in SA to open a guesthouse. It took a while to find a good place to settle, to find a suitable house and to sell our property in Belgium.
How long had you thought through the immigration process?
In less than a year we had our business permit.
How easy/ complicated was the application process to immigrate and how long did it take? Did it require certain qualifications/ documentation/ finances etc?
Honestly the process is difficult, long and expensive. You need to be very patient ! We hired a consultancy company to help us with the paperwork and all administrative requests. We are currently waiting for our permanent permit. We hope we will receive it next year as we cannot adopt a second child without. So crossed fingers!
What was your first year like after immigrating to South Africa?
It was a mix of discovery, meeting new people, paperwork, lots of hard work to open the guesthouse…
For Elliot the first months at school have been hard, but he was well-oriented in his Montessori school and we hired a tutor to help him the first year.
What have you loved about your new home – for you and your children? (the positives of immigrating to SA)
We love our new place. It is beautiful. And the weather is great compared with rainy Belgium. The three of us like outdoor activities and being in shorts.
What have you found hard about your new home – for you and your children? (the negatives of immigrating to SA)
We are missing our friends and family back in Europe. We wish they could be here too! Some have come to visit us already, and some are planning to come next year. We will see them later on this year when we will go visit them in Belgium.
We had also lots of issues with our builder…and this is not finished!
What have you NOT missed about your previous home country – for you and your children? (the positives of emigrating)
The bad weather, complaints about the weather or something else, bad news, traffic jam, bad roads, politics,…
What have you missed about your home country – for you and your children? (the negatives of emigrating)
Friends, family, food and fashion!
Knowing what you know now – would you immigrate to South Africa again? Or would you immigrate again but to a different place?
I would do exactly the same. Even during the hard times, I never regretted our decision.
What makes you consider South Africa your permanent home now?
It is where we live as a family, where we have our friends, our business and where we want to see our kids grow up!
What makes it hard to call South Africa home – for you and your children?
What were the unexpected (good and bad) aspects of immigrating to South Africa that you’d wished you’d known about before doing so. Do you have any advice for those contemplating making this huge move for their families?
Life is not cheap. Prices are much higher than 10 years ago and sometimes the same as in Europe but our salary is not the same. I think you can have a great life here. People are friendly. Weather in Western Cape is great and the countryside is beautiful. I am glad we used a company to help us with all the immigration paperwork. There are things we can not find here or they are expensive so I recommend that before moving here you take stock of all your favourite foods, products & clothes etc to send in your container.
Thanks so much for sharing your story Nath. I love meeting people who love South Africa and have chosen to live here! You make me believe in the future of our beloved country!