This wasn’t some overnight, half-baked scheme. Oh no. Years went into this endeavour of ours. Years.
You see, my brother in law left South Africa in the year Jan and I got married (2008). He quit his job and set out to London a month later, just following his gut. I’ve always admired him for just doing it and not looking back. It isn’t an easy thing, just packing up and leaving, but he did it and made it work.
About a year after we got married, Jan and I decided that we wanted to go too. There are various reasons for this decision now, but at the time, it was a general kind of thing. There was some political turbulence around that time and it scared us. (Africa is always in a state of political turbulence, no matter which side of the Equator you look, known fact. :P) Make no mistake, we love South Africa. We grew up there, we speak two of the 11 languages, we knew how things worked. The people are our people. The food and traditions are our food and traditions. This was our entire circle of reference.
But the other side of the coin can be found in news and statistics. We personally know so many people who have been victims of crime and, of those, many of the crimes were violent. We know too many people who struggle to find work. We know many people who have been touched by corruption. I could list a lot more here, but I won’t. Google. It knows.
The point is that neither of us had ever been out of South Africa, but we wanted to go.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. To leave South Africa (even on vacation) you need visas, and around the time my brother in law left, getting visas became increasingly more difficult. Nowadays, getting a visa almost always means that you found a job in another country and your new work is sponsoring your visa. Sure, there are other things that help. If you have a masters degree or a large amount of money to invest, for example, getting to your new country of residence will be much easier. We had neither.
Some time passed. We looked for job opportunities here and there, but there was nothing really desperate about our search. Also, said search was only contained to English speaking countries, because neither of us could speak anything but Afrikaans and English.
Vacationing in London and Europe made us look harder again. I mean, have you seen it? We were so star struck by the charm of the first world that we could barely contain our excitement. So more effort went into finding work and educating ourselves about how the visa processes worked for various countries.
There was actually an occasion where a London based company was very interested in hiring Jan, but couldn’t help with the visa-sponsoring part, because they only get a limited amount of visas to sponsor per year and had already reached their limit. After this, there were a few more ‘almosts’, but never really anything solid.
The main thing in our way was that Jan was technically on a junior level in his line of work. He’d been moved to different departments in the same company a time or two, which meant he was doing entry-level work, but his salary had grown due to years of employment. So, when companies wanted x-years of work experience, he had the number of years down, but lacked the experience when it came to the actual work and duties.
When Kayla was born, we became desperate. We didn’t want to raise her in a crime-ridden country, because you want the best for your kids, but this wasn’t the only reason.
By this time, Jan had put a lot of effort into growing in his line of work. He’d gone on courses and learned as much as possible, and he enjoyed the challenge. The specific software he works with is massive in the rest of the world, but dying in South Africa. And for this reason, his company had only one client left where this software was being used. If this client were to be lost (which isn’t so far-fetched), Jan wouldn’t have a job to return to. With a kid, that isn’t a promising prospect.
And since there is such an abundance of people doing what Jan does in the rest of the world, visa sponsorships are rare. Why would you bring in a guy from South Africa, if there are so many qualified people in your own neighbourhood?
So he started applying for jobs everywhere. If we couldn’t speak the language, we could learn. And it wasn’t without results. There were ‘almosts’ on various occasions. There was a massive ‘almost’ in Canada (in the week before we left for Germany), one in Australia and one in the Netherlands, to name a few.
In the end, we found this opportunity in Germany and we grabbed it with both hands.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to getting a visa than I mention here. This depends on the country you want to enter and how you plan to spend your time there. I could try to do a post on how to get a visa if you want to read that. This particular post is just to try and explain why we left, because a lot of people don’t really understand. So I hope it clarifies some points. 🙂
Have a good day, folks!