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by Annemarie de Villiers
This is the last instalment of a three-part series by Annemarie de Villiers giving practical advice on steps to take before emigrating to Australia. She was born and raised in Johannesburg, and is an expat mom of two active boys. She left South Africa nine years ago for the Netherlands, but after six years decided to go on a fabulous adventure and moved to Seoul, South Korea. A year ago she relocated to Sydney. To read the first and second parts of this series visit www.sabona.com.au/0307
Previous Tips:
1. Be Realistic in your expectations
2. Be clear on why you are leaving
3. Be specific on why you have chosen your adoptive country
4. Identify what you want your life to be like
5. Be clear on the negatives
6. Research the cost of living
7. Research work conditions
8. Get rid of your current support

This time...

9. Start building your new support structure before you leave home 10. Get different points of view (from people who have been there)
10. Keep a positive attitude
12. Prepare your children
13. Internationalise you finances as much as possible
14. Documents
Start building your new support structure before you leave home

When I left South Africa 9 years ago, we had very little in terms of support. There were no forums or online help clubs to join, nor did we know anybody living in Holland. Amazing how things can change in 9 short years!! Today there is support and help all over the internet! People planning to move to Australia often meet up in coffee groups or at purpose-specific social gatherings. They get together in a relaxed environment, discuss their plans, ask questions and just generally support one another. What a fabulous concept!! Join as many of these kinds of groups and support structures as your schedule allows. The more people you meet and befriend, the easier your transition will be.

If your schedule is not that flexible or you live outside of one of the main centres of South Africa, you can join support groups, chat rooms, etc on the internet. When doing so keep an open mind, Saffers aren't the only ex-pats here, the British are well worth consideration, as they are the largest immigrant group in Australia and have been in the exodus business for much longer. They are also a friendly bunch and many of them have a great fondness for Saffers. It is almost as if they see us as distant cousins of theirs. They too have many ex-pat groups, moms and tots groups, chat rooms, forums, coffee mornings, etc to join once you are here and fabulous online services while you are still investigating your options. Get out there, contact them, make friends, build business networks and ask questions. Get the answers you need !!

Get different points of view (from people who have been here)

Try to find as many different people as you possibly can who have been to, had holidays or lived in Australia. Listen to all of their experiences and stories. Every experience you hear will give you insight into something you may not have known or expected about life in Australia. Try to look through all of the prejudices and personal flavor of people's stories and only search for the lessons to be learnt. Your experience won't be the same as any of them, we are all different, but you'd be surprised what you can learn by just listening to all of the stories of those who have been here.

Keep a positive attitude

While you are researching, considering and reconsidering the entire emigration process you will hit some lows. We all do. You will have doubts and have days where you feel it is just not worth all the effort. Don't give up!! The best advice for days like these, fake it till you make it. I am not sure about the psychological explanation for my advice, but I know that it works for me. It is as if you can fool your body into feeling positive by sticking with positive thoughts for long enough to make the gloom fade. Motivate yourself with positive thoughts, think of all of the fun things you are going to do once you are here. Put a smile on your face (even if it hurts after a while), and keep in mind that thousands and thousands of Saffers have gone before you and they are all enjoying healthier, happier lives! It isn't always easy, but every hurdle you overcome is a step closer to your new life in Aus.

Prepare your children

There are many concrete and age appropriate things you can do to prepare your kids for their adventure... Finding loads of pictures, songs, animals and typical Australian characters to familiarize them with, will all make the transition easier. I remember the excitement our move to Australia caused amongst my youngest son's group of friends as we were moving to Wiggles Country!! (As there is a lot to be said on the subject I will deal with it as a separate matter, soon!)

Internationalize your finances as much a possible Keep in mind that you will have no credit record upon arrival in Australia. One little trick to get around this to some degree, is to apply for an international credit card (AMEX, Visa, Master card), as soon as possible and to build yourself an impeccable record with one of these. This way you will have access to some form of financing (worst case scenario) upon arrival, even when the banks don't see you as credit worthy yet. Reference letters from your current banks, lenders and insurance companies will also make a difference to build up credibility with a bank in Australia. Before moving, get a letter from your car insurance company, stating how many years you have gone claim-free as it will help to get your monthly insurance payments down.


Make a list of all of the documentation you will need to apply for a visa. There are general documents that you will need, no matter where in the world you decide to go. Keeping the immense waiting periods for documentation in SA in mind, it is never too early to start applying. Every child, even infants, will need their own passport. Keep in mind that some countries do not accept temporary passports from South Africa and will only place long term visas in proper passports. As far as I know Australia accepts temporary passports from SA, but this can of course change at any time. Apply for unabridged birth and marriage certificates. Ensure that all of your educational documentation is in English. Go to your local police station with copies of all of your documents and have all of the copies certified. Police clearance certificates are only valid for a year and many countries will only accept them for 6 months after issuance, so unless you are applying for a Permanent Resident visa you may want to hold off on going to the effort and costs of obtaining these. If you have children from a previous marriage and their father/mother has some form of access or custodial right, please see a lawyer to ensure you have the correct documentation to proceed without dire legal consequences.

Posted in migration |
Posted by Annemarie de Villiers
12 Jun 2008

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