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The challenges of relocation and emigration

Feb 4, 2021

Apart from the emotional impact of moving and emigration, several practical factors are extremely challenging. This change can suddenly make obvious decisions very difficult. Whether your new home is abroad or just in another city, many aspects of your life are suddenly overturned. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Buy or rent?

In general, it is better to rent a home first before making the big financial decision to buy. No matter how much research you do about the town or city where you are going to live, it is always better to first get a feel for the place itself. Maybe you will find that there are better schools in another area, or maybe the facilities in another residential area suit your needs better. Live in an area for a while before you make a big decision.

Learn to integrate

Whether you are emigrating or just moving to another city, the culture will differ drastically and it is sometimes difficult to become part of the new community. You might feel like you don’t quite fit in in the new environment. Make sure you learn how to integrate into the community by attending local events, or get to know your neighbours by inviting them over for coffee. This does not mean that you get out of touch with your own culture, but rather that you are starting to become part of a new network in a new country or city.

Culture shock

Depending on where you move to, the culture may require drastic adaptation. This is especially true when you emigrate. People do things differently in different countries. The systems in another country will not always be the same as what you are used to. Learn to adapt – it will save you a lot of worries.

However, we all know that even Pretorians and Capetonians differ from each other and that you have to adapt to people’s way of doing things. Decide beforehand that you will be open to another way of doing things!

Family and relationships

It’s emotionally exhausting to move – for all the members of your family. Consider ahead of time how drastic the change is going to be for all your loved ones. Not everyone easily adapts to a new environment, which can put pressure on your relationship with your family or spouse. It is imperative to have good communication. Give all the members of the family a chance to really tell how they are doing.

Work in a new country

Although it sounds like one of the simplest adjustments, a new job in a new environment is extremely challenging. Some people are used to changing jobs; however, the environment usually is some-what familiar. With emigration, however, everything changes. Everyday cultural differences also occur in the workplace and it can be challenging to learn how to do things in a new way.


It is essential to familiarise yourself with the healthcare system in a new country or area as soon as possible. In some countries, it may be better to become a private medical scheme member, while in other countries, public health care is excellent. Do your research before you move and make sure you have good coverage. Even if you move from a city to a rural area, it can make a big difference. You will have more peace of mind if you know where to go in an emergency.

To meet the challenges of emigration and relocation, it is important to become part of a network. If you are moving, join local networks, business chambers, AfriForum branches or charities. If you are emigrating, join networks such as Worldwide and keep in touch with other South Africans experiencing similar challenges.

ALSO READ: Emigration and relocation: Make it easy for your children

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