My Honest Expat series continues today with an interview with a South African Expat in Hong Kong.
Nadia left South Africa to travel the world and live overseas for a few years and she has never looked back.
After living in the UK for approx 9 years, she left for the idyllic island life of Grand Cayman where she married a Brit after 3 weeks of knowing each other!!
Together they moved to Hong Kong. Today they are divorced, but still best friends, and Nadia is still happily a South African Expat in Hong Kong where she works as a Montessori Pre-school teacher.
Nadia adores travelling and her travels have taken her to almost 90 countries!
Where are you originally from?
Hermanus, Western Cape
Where did you emigrate to?
I was first living in the UK for 9 years, then Cayman Islands for 2.5 years, and have now been in Hong Kong for the past almost 9 years
When did you emigrate (year)?
What was the catalyst/s for your emigration decision?
I just really wanted to see the world, and then never returned ☺
How easy/ complicated was the application process to emigrate and how long did it take?Did it require certain qualifications/ documentation/ finances etc?
I went on a working holiday visa initially, then changed to a ancestral visa (in the UK). For the Caymans I got an employment visa, and then for HK I was initially on a dependent visa (with my then husband) and I now have Permanent Residency here and will soon be receiving my HKSAR passport, having had to renounce my SA citizenship.
What was your first year like after emigrating?
It still felt like a holiday for the most part. I was really young and enjoying the anonymity and freedom of being away from home.
What have you loved about your new home?
The safety, the culture and the welcome I feel here. Being a teacher here is also very well paid, particularly in comparison to SA. As I mentioned, I love travelling, and this is an easy place to be based and travel from, whereas SA is far and very expensive to be mobile from. Also tax is only 12 % in Hong Kong!
What have you found hard about your new home?
You always feel the pang for South Africa, it’s in your blood, and its been difficult living here with cramped living conditions and high levels of pollution. It is also very expensive here, especially for rent, which is the highest on the planet!
What have you NOT missed about South Africa?
What have you missed about South Africa?
The food, the people, the love, the family circle, open spaces, Ubuntu, the feeling of belonging!
Knowing what you know now – would you emigrate again? To the same place or to a different place?
Absolutely! Home will always be there if need be.
If you could, would you return to South Africa? What would make you consider returning to South Africa?
I would, but it wouldn’t be an easy decision. The only thing that would make me consider returning would be for love – say I met a man that desperately wanted to live or stay there, then perhaps I would consider.
What makes it hard to return to South Africa?
Expenses, the thought of the dangers, the political situation which appears unstable from far, and being worried that I will get stuck there.
What were the unexpected (good and bad) aspects of emigrating that you’d wished you’d known about before going. Do you have any advice for those contemplating making this huge move for their families?
I tell people that are thinking of emigrating to always consider the differences of the place, not only the similarities to SA. There are always drawbacks, but have an open mind, and try and become part of the culture of the new country, don’t try and make a “little SA” for yourselves there, within reason of course. It’s lovely to have home comforts, but it won’t ever be the same. Go somewhere that makes your soul sing too, don’t always just go for the money. And always give the new place a chance – 1- 3 years at least – before going back on your decision.
If you enjoyed this interview with a South African expat be sure to read the other interviews with South African expats in The Honest Expat series.
If you’re a South African expat reading this and would like to share your story please send me an email: email@example.com
Images: Nadia Vincent