First things first, I do have to make the point that, we left South Africa (happy South Africans) due to an opportunity we couldn’t turn down – a chance to live in another country and step outside of our comfort zones and try something new. We don’t know where life will take us – we’re playing it one year at a time. Perhaps Ireland becomes home, perhaps we’re back in the next 2 years or will life take us to another continent. It can feel part unsettling, but it can also feel incredibly exciting and freeing. So here are some pros & cons we/I’ve come across so far.
It Can Be Lonely (at first):
We did not know a soul when we arrived. It’s a very weird feeling – like you’ve been put on a blank canvas or in no-mans-land. It takes time to make those solid friendships again. You’ll miss those little Friday-get-together routines while you stalk other mothers in the playground (Is she the one for me?). Hang in there!
Here’s where you need to put yourself out there / research like minded social groups / join clubs etc – having kids can help as you meet other parents. This was a good one for me, as I work from home and it can be quite isolating.
At first I felt very frustrated. My husband would return from work, stimulated by work, talking to people all day and would want to just unwind. I would want to talk his head off as I’d been alone all day – but eventually, you strike the balance and begin to meet people for weekly coffee dates etc . . .
You’ll Wonder If You Did The Right Thing:
There will be days when you wonder if you’ve done the right thing. You’ll miss out on special birthdays and events. You’ll have a pang of homesickness and panic that you’re missing out back home. Family members may get sick – that’s a toughie! I think the thing that got to me the most, was that Harry didn’t have his grandparents around and that both he and them were missing out. You will begin to question your decisions. And there will be tough days.
Things Work Differently:
Although Ireland is a first world, english speaking country and easy enough to settle into – things just work differently and you have to get your head around new systems etc – i.e. you can’t just run to your closest hospital ( like when Harry has a bout of croup at 2am) you have to go to a dedicated Children’s hospital. Even just setting up gas & electricity is different. All these things you have to figure out by trial and error. Currently we’re looking at schools for Harry. It’s hard when back home you knew so much about the schools. My brother, husband, nephews etc all went/go to different boys schools in CT and so one has a pretty good gauge. Here you’re kind of clueless and have to rely on the opinions of well, “strangers”.
Same goes for trying to find an area to live etc. It’s also quite difficult to find an unfurnished rental.
Admin & Paper Work:
There will be piles of paper work. Relocating our household goods came with loads of paper work. Proof, proof and more proof is always needed. To rent a house, get your ID/social security card, GNIB card, register with a Dr or if you’re on a South African passport for travel, you’ll always need piles of proof. (Banks statements, proof of address, birth & marriage certificates etc) (Lots of photocopy time!)
*If one family member has an EU passport you can apply for EU treaty. An Eufam4 stamp that allows you to work & travel around Europe with your EU family member.
No Yoli: (I miss our mamma Yoli)
You’re going to start doing a lot more cleaning yourself 🙂 Childcare & house help come at a price! To have a carer in for 3 hours/morning, Mon-Friday, cost us 600eu/month. That’s the same as school fees/month at a private school, from 8am-15:20. We have a cleaner in every 2nd wk for 3 hours (36Eu/3 hrs). We do a lot with Harry, which is not a bad thing, but when you don’t have close friends (yet) or family around – one tends to stick together as a unit. You may very well miss that family support.
I think the weather is what South Africans fear the most! Look, you either hate it or get on with it. In Ireland they always say; there’s no such things as bad weather, just bad gear/clothing! The weather is pretty unpredictable, 4 seasons in one day most days, but you do see more blue sky than I expected. The rainfall in CT is in fact higher than in Dublin, but here I think it rains more frequently. It does however give you a tremendous amount of gratitude for those warmer days and dotting sunnier-destination trips throughout your year can really help!
It’s A Constant Adventure:
2 years down the line, it feels more like home – but we still feel like we’re on one big adventure. Even the simplest things are exciting, like the grocery stores with interesting new products, finding new coffee shops etc
Europe on your doorstep is a serious treat! In under 2 years we’ve been to Greece, Sicily, Portugal and are currently on our way to France with a long weekend booked in Amsterdam. You can hop over for the weekend which is great and even exploring Ireland has been great fun. Every county is pretty much 4 hours or less to get to, so seeing Ireland is easy by car / train / bus or air! Plus when you’re earning Euro’s – there’s no converting every time you sip your beer!
You’ll make amazing new friendships from all over the world!
It works wonders on one’s personal growth factor – putting you in situations you would not be exposed to previously.
Well that’s pretty much the reason why we’re here. Dublin is home to a melting pot of cultures due to the influx of tech companies from Facebook to Google, pinterest, airbnb, LinkedIn and loads more!
Sleep Sound At Night:
We do sleep sound at night – not worrying about noises on the roof like we did back home. Without being negative about crime back home – I leave my front door in the morning for a run, cellphone in hand, and don’t think twice about my safety.
Government Gives Back:
Something I never knew before moving to Ireland. While the Irish may beg to differ, the government actually gives back. As a mother I get 140Eu childcare allowance per month / Children under 6 & over 65’s get free GP visits / government schooling is free /there’s a working transport system / You get 2 free pre-school years up to 3 hrs/day.
No snakes or sharks!
IKEA! & Avoca (It’s like Melissa’s on steroids!)
All in all, we’re very happy in Ireland. In fact, I don’t miss home (besides my friends and family) At first I took any opportunity to visit, now I am less inclined to want to travel home (possibly because I hate flying!) –
All the above cons, are in fact really just hurdles one has to get over.
For now, this is home, and we say to ourselves every day how glad we are that we took that leap! South Africa is always in our hearts, we are South Africans, South Africans are tough – and I believe our resilience gets us through the tough times whether it be at home, or traveling abroad!
* Disclaimer: These are my personal thoughts and tips etc – we happened to find a great area to live in, my husband found a fantastic job with LinkedIn and as I said, we are very happy here. Every person or families experience is different – this is ours in a nutshell. I’m sure I will come back to this post in a few years and update/adapt it.
You may want to read fellow South African, Meg’s Blog, on their experience moving to Ireland.