An Expats Guide to Relocating

By Suzanne, 22 April, 2014

We moved to South Africa in January 2011, 3 months after we were asked to move by my husbands company. We took 2 of our 5 children with us, then aged 15 and 11. The older 3 had already left home and were living in Reading, Gloucester and Germany. We put our full trust in the company, apart from the removal firm and renting the house out. We arrived with 9 cases and hand luggage containing, Xboxes, sports gear, laptops and every charging cable possible. We moved into a furnished apartment for the first 6 weeks, explored the local area with a hired car and then everything went wrong. I’ll not go into details as you can read all about that on my blog. But I can tell you what I’d do differently should we move again, because this is what we didn’t do.


Visit the country you are moving to in advance, it’ll give you an idea of what to pack and an estimate of your costs.

Make appointments to visit the schools, meet with the teachers, meet the PTA, parents, find out the cost of the school uniform and any extras. Visit the local shops, gauge prices as a percentage, don’t use the exchange rate, think in local currency.


Make sure that before leaving your home country that all post is being redirected to a reliable and trustworthy correspondence address with access to scan any post and forward it to you so you can deal with it when issues arise rather than your annual trips home.

If renting out your house insure you have a reputable agent, tenants have full credit history checks and inform the inland revenue of a change in income.


Use a professional relocation company for the following:

Bank accounts, Cell phones, Car hire, House viewings, Information on local area, Advice on do’s and don’t’s, Utilities including getting the phone up and running.


Make sure your medical aid is available the minute you land and you have a list of Doctors, Dentists and address for the local hospital.

There are so many ‘do’s’ I couldn’t possibly list them all. If we’d done the things listed above life would’ve been a lot easier for us as a family, less stressful, less expensive and less time consuming and we’d have enjoyed our new lives right from the start.

Visit my blog Chicken Ruby for further information.