Thinking about the big move? Make sure you know what you are in for!

  • Last Post 11 May 2017
hugo_nz posted this 09 April 2017

Disclaimer: if you are a ex-Saffa in NZ and having a horrible, dreadful time here the please do not read this article. 

I am active on a great many online forums and communities, and on almost all of those you are likely to find ex-Saffas who have made the move to NZ and who are very vocal about how awful it is here. Before you run screaming in the other direction, take a moment and do some research for yourself, and don't rely solely on the opinions of's all a matter of perspective.

Before my husband and I made the big move I spent countless hours reading about every aspect of New Zealand life, right down to where to find the cheapest bread and milk. When you are planning a move of this nature, it is easy to get caught up in the big picture and completely forget the little, everyday things. The day after we arrived it was very clear that we were no longer in South Africa, but because I had done a great deal of research before leaving SA it felt a little less intimidating since we knew to go to Countdown to stock up on groceries, head to Westfield Manukau to buy some essentials, open our bank account, and get our IRD numbers sorted. The weather was wet, but we were expecting it. We looked at weather patterns for the past couple of years and knew full-well what we were signing up for. Within a couple of weeks we were settling in, and within a couple of months, it felt like home.

On some of the forums, there are people complaining about being looked down on by other Saffas for not living in a flash neighbourhood or driving a fancy car. We made a conscious decision to not seek out any South African communities upon arrival since we did not want to trade the same for...the same. After all, you don't move to another country to just do the same things and mix with the same people. Part of emigrating is assimilating new cultures and experiences. Ex-Saffas are also split into two camps. We are in the camp that has the mindset of leaving SA and its troubles behind while there is another camp that simply loves to dwell on all the negativity and really make it the only topic of conversation. No thanks, we are not interested in those kinds of social networks.

As for integrating with Kiwi society, we have had no problems at all. Not once have we experienced rudeness or rejection for being South African. My husband and I have both integrated into our respective work environments and our colleagues are great. I have fantastic clients that I work with and there are even some Saffas in those companies. Yes, there are, no doubt, Kiwis who hate on Saffas, but they also hate on all other migrants. Saffas are highly valued in the workplace because of our work ethic and "can-do" attitude. The ex-PM even commented about the laziness of Kiwis. The key is not let any such negativity, should you encounter it, get to you. It has nothing to do with you or where you come from, but everything to do with societal problems well and truly beyond your control.

Emigrating is a big, difficult, expensive, and emotional process. If you are going to approach it from a neutral or negative mindset then you are going to have a tough time and most probably end up hating every moment of what is meant to be a great adventure. We made the move with a positive, and excited attitude and also made up our minds that we would make it work, no matter what. As our 1 year anniversary in Auckland approaches we have not looked back once. Yes, we miss people but we do not miss South Africa nor do we regret giving up what we had there. If you come across forums or communities where there are posts laden with negativity about NZ take those with a pinch of salt. Everyone's circumstances and experiences differ, and in the end, it is a matter of perspective.


Going on two years and still enjoying the ride.

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Shaun posted this 09 April 2017

Hey Hugo, thanks for that post. Like yourself, I spent countless hours reading about every aspect of life in NZ while we were still in SA. I would even explore residential areas with google maps street view to kind of get an idea of how the residential areas look and feel. When I got here, I knew what to expect and it didn't feel so foreign.

While still in SA, I spent a lot of time reading the NZ Herald website. I remember thinking about how much crime is happening in Auckland and then I was told that it seems like a lot because everything gets reported on. I have friends who have been victims of some horrible crimes in SA which don't make the news.

Then I also have a friend who come over to NZ years ago to have a look and he said he didn't like NZ what so ever.

The bottom line is you have to want it bad enough, you have to commit 100% because it is not easy and everyone is different because their story is different, some people have friends and family here already, some (like us) are the first of their family to move here and have other challenges (like the cost of holiday programs during school holidays when the kids would usually go to the grand parents). These differences make for really different circumstances and have a knock on effect when it comes to happiness.

We have also managed to integrate into kiwi society fairly well, however, we do also find a bit of extra comfort in spending time with South Africans who are traveling down the same path with the same challenges which is something the kiwis don't really understand all the time.

When things heat up in SA like they have over the last few weeks, we seem to get a lot of friends in SA who ask how we immigrated and whats involved. I explain to them what our process involved and try to be honest in every aspect, very few have seen it through to the end, most give up along the way.

I had a conversation with my 11 year old son this weekend about how he is coping with life in NZ, I was so relieved when he said that he would never want to go back to South Africa, he says he finally feels he has found the place he belongs and feels like he fits in. As a parent you constantly question yourself about making this move and taking your kids away from their family, friends and roots. Then when you hear your child say that you really smile from the inside out.

Yes its hard, expensive, emotional  and more importantly its not for everyone, but for me and my family I would do it all over again if I had to, there are somethings I would do differently though.

Thanks again for your post Hugo, its good for people to read these real life experiences from individuals.



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hugo_nz posted this 09 April 2017

The bit about your son gave me goosebumps. We had friends over this weekend who are moving to Auckland towards the end of July. The told me that the main reason for their trip to Auckland was for the kids to see that it's not completely alien and to get a sense of how they felt about the move having now seen their soon-to-be new home.

Going on two years and still enjoying the ride.

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foxylady posted this 19 April 2017

Hi there

I thought I have to say it's so nice to hear some positivity and motivation. Both of you are so that each and every one of us have different challenges that we have be it emotional or financial or whatever the case may be. I know it's early days yet for me but i have not come across anyone yet being rude or nasty towards us. In fact they have said welcome and hope you enjoy New Zealand. The Kiwis have been friendly and very welcoming. In fact they always seem to know of another SA and say they are good people. Moving here is definitely a mindset change and you must want to make it work 150% and more ! In other words you have to work with the situation you have and turn that to your advantage into something positive. In every situation Im afraid you will get negative people. I myself when I told the people at my work had 1 or 2 that had their nasty comments , but you learn to overcome that and move on as you cannot argue with someone when you know you've done your research. Thanks again. Great to motivate each other. Lets keep it up.

Shaun posted this 19 April 2017

Yup, I must be honest, for the most part (and I am talking like 95%) we have been very welcomed, the Kiwi's have really accepted us and welcomed us, we have kiwi friends who love braaing by us and go with us to SA restaurants. They enjoy the culture and are very keen to try SA things.

Although, I still havent been able to get one to wear a Springbok jersey yet... yet!

You got it right when you say keeping each other motivated is really important. Its still different and its still foreign and you do get your off days. But having said that, the good days are so good


jonnybk posted this 11 May 2017

Hi folks,

Just stumbled upon and this and thought I'd add my perspective. I moved to NZ in 2013. I'd previously lived in the UK for 10 years, so the transition probably wasn't that tough as I'd been away from SA for a while. I'm also married to a Kiwi, which helps, as I had quite a few years to get to know Kiwi culture and NZ. This also means my kids are NZ citizens and I qualified for permanent residency - so I've definitely had it easier than most.

I guess the one piece of advice I'd give to Saffas is that New Zealand is not South Africa. The weather is not as great (but still good!) and, generally, your lifestyle probably won't be as good as it was in SA - eating out here is more expensive, houses are more expensive and so is food. I suppose it depends on which bits of your 'lifestyle' are most important to you.

However, there are some major plus sides. Schools are excellent and basically free. Public healthcare is fantastic. Public services work. Crime is very low. NZ is very connected to the outdoors and if you lead an active life, it is a fantastic place. It has epic scenery and diversity of landscapes.

My wife and I live in a small town, so we've managed to make friends in our community and through work. It's taken us a good two-three years though. I don't have any Saffa friends, but there are two in my wider team at work and they also love it here. It's always tough getting to know people and most people at some stage or another feel a little isolated - press on through, you'll get there in the end!

I guess what I'm saying is that NZ is no utopia (nowhere is), but if you do make the move, you have to be committed and you have to embrace NZ. You can't keep on comparing it to SA, otherwise you'll never appreciate what an awesome place it is.

I come from Cape Town and it's a fantastic city. I have many close friends there and my family still live there. But home is here now and I couldn't be happier.

Shaun posted this 11 May 2017

Hi John, thanks for that post, its nice hearing this from another perspective. Did you find any issues settling down in the UK at all?

Yup, comparing SA to NZ is the wrong thing to do, but unfortunately, it cant be helped. We tend to compare for a long time until things become the new normal for instance the price of things, currently, avos are $4 each, I wouldnt pay R40 for one avo in SA? But hey, I am earning dollars now too.

I have also spend many years living in Cape Town and Auckland reminds me a lot of Cape Town.

Its so true, NZ is no utopia, but its a great place to be and I am thankful every day for having the chance to start over with my family in this wonderful place.

Welcome to the forum!


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