If you are reading this then perhaps you’ve decided that my last piece was not a load of hogwash (or if it was, it was interesting enough to have you come back to see what else I may come up with).
So, while you are working on your “why”, here’s a bit about ours.
We immigrated to New Zealand three years ago. By we, I mean my husband and I and our two small children (and our two furry feline children). When it came to moving, emigration was one of our options. We considered small-town South Africa as well, as we wanted to find a place with oodles of space for the children to roam and a close-knit community where we could feel a part of something bigger, play a role in other people’s lives and have them play some sort of role in ours. We wanted an adventure. Something different. The big, bold letters on the back of our Land Rover Discovery TD5 looked me in the eye every time I used the rearview mirror or turned around in my seat to reverse – “One Life Live It”. Somehow it didn’t feel like we were really living those words. We believed them. But there was a rift between those words and our reality – living in a little ordinary house, in a little ordinary suburb of the sprawling, unforgiving concrete jungle of Johannesburg. I think that when there is a disconnect between what you believe or dream and how you live it can lead to a gnawing sense of frustration.
So, we considered our options and then went for the one that said husband fell in love with on his look-see-decide visit. The one that ticked all the boxes for us, and then some. In all fairness, we didn’t even get to have a look-see at the other option, Canada. We prayed about it extensively and then had one of those enviable experiences where everything just miraculously fell into place. We ticked boxes, prayed, did admin, prayed, jumped through hoops, prayed and did some crazy things like buying husband’s ticket before our passports had been safely returned with precious new visas safely ensconced (yes, we prayed) because he needed to start work in the new office on a set date.
Just when we got to the finish line – or perhaps the starting line – we were thrown a curve ball. Husband had to go alone for the first six months. At the time we thought this was terrible. But I have since heard of other South African families that have had to spend months apart as one spouse does the move, settles in and then brings their family over. In the end, it worked out well for us. The pressure of new country, new job, new systems, new ways of doing things got worked through before the additional pressure of family arrived.
So, our cats and container arrived just before the children and I, (separately, they arrived separately, of course, cats and container – we did not ship the cats with the furniture!) and we had a lovely, warm four-bedroom home to move straight into and beds to sleep in – bliss. Thank you, husband.
I remember being woken around midday (I think, maybe, can’t be sure) by one very enthusiastic husband who just couldn’t bear us all sleeping the day away on our first day in New Zealand – we had to get up and drink smoothies, go out for a New Zealand pie (the best pie in my known world) and go to the beach. In my jet-lagged, sleep deprived state I forgot my handbag at the cafe but had it safely returned to me.
The tired haze in my head was mirrored, that first day, by the eerie fog that clung to the mysterious black beaches of Karioitahi. We were actually here. A reunited family warmly welcomed into a beautiful new country. Here our story continues. Here new adventures await.
Useful bits and bobs:
Flight time to NZ via Sydney – there are currently no direct flights between New Zealand and South Africa. The most direct route, and do check me on this, seems to be on Qantas via Sydney (about 11h45m), then connecting flight from Sydney to Auckland – different airlines to choose from (if that’s where you are headed – about 3h5m)
We packed up and stored our furniture and set it onwards with Pickfords . Who then shipped it, delivered it and unpacked some of it in our new home. No breakages, no hassles.
Pets en Transit – emigrating with pets needs to be well thought out and planned. It is doable but allow plenty of time for the vaccinations, blood tests and other veterinary requirements – it’s admin intensive, for you and your vet so don’t leave it til the last minute. I also used Feliway spray to try make the experience less traumatic for our two girls before they left and when they arrived – ask your vet what you can do to help reduce your pet’s anxiety when moving. Too bad Feliway doesn’t work on pet owners…
Oh, one last thing, the whole process takes longer for dogs, I think – and, at the time we immigrated, NZ would not allow certain dog breeds into the country. I think that still stands.