Emigration – Tips to make the move less stressful
Insights Team, December 7, 2018

As the New Year approaches, some South Africans may be taking a giant leap and relocating to other countries. It’s a daunting decision and lots of boxes need to be ticked to make a big move successful.

One thing is certain: deciding to leave the country is not an easy decision to make. Whatever the reason for emigrating, there are myriad factors that come into play. Apart from the emotional side of things, being really organised about your big move will ease the way. Here are some of our tips:

Do the research

You have made the decision, now you need to do the research – dig deep and find out what is viable and what issues may hold you back in any way. Paperwork and official documentation (like passports, birth certificates) are vital and it may be best to consult a reputable immigration specialist who can assist you every step of the way. You need to know the requirements of the chosen country and to ask questions like: Are you eligible for a work visa? Are your skills needed? (Some countries list their skills shortages, which might make your application easier.) Some may require proof that you’ve been looking for employment – that may mean setting up meetings with recruitment agencies or applying for jobs before getting there.

Get your affairs in order

Formal emigration is a complex financial process that can take as long as six months. It’s best to seek professional advice about things like tax clearance certificates, declaring your income to SARS and any legal issues that need to be sorted out with the South African Reserve Bank before you leave. There are limits to how much foreign capital you can take out of the country, so make sure you do your homework.

Make sure you have all the relevant identity documents, passports, vaccination records (for the kids) all in one file – and back up your important documents by placing scanned versions in the cloud.

Know the costs involved

You need to establish if you can afford to emigrate as the relocation costs can be prohibitive. In the months leading up to your move, you need to save up enough funds to supplement your living costs, especially while you are finding work, settling into new schools, etc. Some experts advise that you sell your household contents and cars to create an emergency fund for any unexpected costs.

It’s important to visit the country you’ll be moving to assess what area you’d like to live in, what rentals cost (rent first, buy later) as well as healthcare and schooling (some national health schemes require an upfront payment in order to join). Another big expense is transport – if you won’t be buying a car immediately, you’ll need to budget for the monthly train or underground passes.

Pet protection

If you’re moving with your pets, there may be quarantine requirements. In some cases, vet certificates, microchipping or vaccinations are all that is required but there are costs involved. If you’re not able to take pets along, you need to find a home for your animals – try friends and family first. Rescue organisations may also be able to help with rehoming.

When to sell your home?

FNB’s Property Barometer cites an increase in emigration as a reason for selling residential homes – from 4.6% (of sellers) in 2016 to 7.4% in 2018. Your home may be your biggest asset and it’s advisable to sell first and wait for the transfer to take place before you leave the country. This also allows enough time to pack up your home and select what will go with you. Once you have made the decision to sell your home, get hold of your Leadhome property expert to make the move as seamless as possible. Your local property expert will give you all the advice and support you need to sell your home efficiently.

And . . . be prepared for mixed emotions

If you’re relocating with your family, tempers will flare and there will be frustrations along the way. Aside from your own family’s fears and sense of loss, there may even be hostility from friends who will be left behind. “Even when only one person leaves his or her country, emigration is never just an individual event. Both those leaving and those staying behind are deeply impacted by the act of migration,” writes Wits professor of psychology Maria Marchetti-Mercer on the Homecoming Revolution website. Those you’re leaving behind may have a sense of being abandoned. Remind them that instant technology allows us to keep in touch more than ever before.

Insights Team
We're the "thinking arm" of Leadhome, combining expertise in data analysis, modelling, sociology, geography, and philosophy to interrogate current trends in the South African residential property market. Proudly contemplative since 2015.

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