Home is where the heart is

28 May 2014

Quoted from "Call the midwife"
A few weeks back I was sitting, staring out the window while Jack played and squealed in his cot.  I was searching for something.  I was yearning for a feeling which I have never truly found here in England.  That is a feeling of being home.  Born in the UK, my parents moved to Cape Town when I was about 6 months old.  I then spent 18 years in Cape Town, my childhood was awesome.  Sunshine, pools, sports, gardens and Table mountain could be seen outside my bedroom window with the beach only a 15 minute drive away.

But as I have told you here, when I was 18 I again was searching for something that I could not find in Cape Town so decided to make the journey back to the UK for a gap year.  That was almost 9 years ago.  Now, lets get something straight: I love the UK - it really is special.  I have made so many friends here, I have become my own person here.  I met my husband here.  We had Jack here.   I have so much to be grateful for - we have a beautiful home, fantastic friends and a comfortable lifestyle.  But having a baby, well, it really hit home that I am not near my family.  My Dad, Christine and Conor currently live in Ireland while my Mom and sister live back in Cape Town.  It really just sucks not being close to my immediate family and sometimes its very hard.

I also just really miss my friends from school.  I have fabulous friends here but nothing quite like the girls I grew up with.  The girls who really know me - who have seen me through my phases of skater girl, biker girl and save the world girl.  The girls who were there for me no matter what, saw me through heartbreak, school dances, endless movie nights and tonnes of giggles.  My heart aches as each of my friends get married and another kitchen tea and wedding is missed.  Or they move house, celebrate milestone birthdays or even when I know they are just all getting together for supper one night.  These are moments I am never going to get back.

I posed the question on facebook as I love getting people's views on things like this, I asked,
"Sitting at the window, daydreaming about moving back to South Africa - would we get jobs? Would we be able to afford a good school for Jack? Would our lifestyle be what we envisage? Saffa friends home & abroad, tell me what you think ☀️"

I got a fair few comments, which I found heartwarming and oh so inspiring.  Here are a few of my favourites:

Claire, such a loaded question. I think in the end one has to weigh up pro's and con's and make your own sober decision. If you're looking for certainty and comfort then SA is not going to fulfill that. HOWEVER faith, purpose, energy, problem solving, creativity, hard work, risk and opportunity - these are the every day realities that keep me in South Africa. It is an active involvement if one does come back, and again no guarantees, but perhaps the hope of being part of being the change that keeps one here. That's my personal opinion. x
We have been home 3 years now and it hasn't been easy and many times I asked simon if we could go back! Financially it is harder here because it is expensive but, saying that, I think you would find jobs (all our friends that have moved back have) and certainly would have access to great schools. When my kids spend hours in the pool or we have a wonderful day at boulders beach with the penguins or we head off camping (like today) it all makes sense! You will never know if you don't try and you could always go back if its not for you. Good luck x
I am very biased...when you are African, you are African...its in your blood and the pull back to African soil can be very strong. I love this place with all my heart and love, love, love living here. True that our beautiful country has lots of challenges, but its all a matter of perspective and the attitude that you have towards it all. There will be PLENTY to find wrong about this place...and you can choose to let that get you down and scare you away...or, you can delight in the many joys of this land, like taking your little boy to Kirstenbosch on a sunny winter's day...and in those moments, all the troubles of the land seem like nothing compared to all the glorious things it has to offer! Yes, the cost of living may be high...buts its not all about money. And, of course you want good schooling for your kids, but good schooling doesn't have to mean ridiculously over-priced private schools. We managed in public schools and I'd say we turned out pretty fine! I wouldn't swop my public schooling experience in SA for private schooling even if you'd paid me for it! Follow your heart...and whichever decision you make, make it with all your heart and choose to make the best of that decision.
I thought I would share my two cents here. If you wanted decent schooling for Jack then you need to live within certain areas for good government schools. This means an absolute minimum bond of 2.5mil. Schools costs anywhere up to 35k/year and if you wanted private, that would be roughly 80k/year. The cost of livin here is generally very high. Therefore, to have a decent living here, you would need a combined income of an absolute minimum of 50k/month (if you didn't want private schooling and were satisfied to live in a basic home). And this wouldn't be enough if you wanted to do things like overseas traveling etc, as you are looking at about 80k/trip for this. This is only from a financial point of view. That doesn't factor in things like crime, which is a very real thing South Africans live with every day. That said, there is no price one can put on having one's family close by, or living in this country. It has many faults, but it also allows for many opportunities and experiences. The two of you need to just decide what sort of lifestyle you want and if you could find employment that would support this.
difficult one indeed .... you cannot compare the 2 countries at all. they are both so different and offer different things. you are both still young and jack is young so i say go for it. if you don't try, you will always wonder. if you come back and it doesn't work out - the door is always open for you back in the UK. you live one life ... so live it and love it :)

And I think when it comes down to it my true feelings are hard to find, as beneath all of them are so many emotions and hormones at the moment but more than that the UK has also become a home for me.  Not forgetting the fact that this is Mani's home where his family and friends are too.  I can't ignore the fact too that I am a bit scared to move back to Cape Town - I have not lived there in nearly 10 years, surely I have not got a realistic vision in my mind of what it is going to be like.

Ideally, it would be great to move back for a 2-3 year period before Jack starts school and see what happens but that means really putting our heart and soul into a massive move which might financially make or break us.  It really is so hard, but I keep thinking - we only live once.  I really don't want to look back and regret not trying.  But on the same token we have to be realistic and wise about such a big move.

So the search for the right answer continues, we will do some research and see if it is possible.  Also, when we go over in November for our holiday (Woopppeee!) we can also look into things and find out more information.  Until then, we will enjoy what we have while we have it.  
Life is too short to live it any other way.


  1. I'm going to kidnap you if you choose to move �� xx

  2. I've never been to SA so I don't know what the quality of life is like. I've seen photos of how beautiful the countryside is though. I really wanted to be back in my home country with the baby as well - hence our move. Now that I'm back I have to say I'm slightly less connected to my family as I thought I would be (people are still spread out), but I do feel happy to be back in the kind of weather, landscape and environment I was raised in. It is nostalgic for me and makes me happy my son is experiencing it. The weather was a HUGE reason I left the UK. I get that seasonal affective disorder like crazy and all the grey skies got me down! That being said, now that I'm here I'm surprised at the ways I do miss the UK when I thought I really wouldn't. The food is so fresh and locally sourced. Such good variety in most shops; it's easy to eat well. I miss the accent. I miss the humor. I also have a bit of that wanderlust bug that's been in me since birth so I never quite feel totally settled anywhere. I'm sure someday we will move to Brazil to experience Rafael's culture/background. It is expensive to move and it does mean either shipping all of your furniture or starting over again like we did. It's not something you can do every year or two as you get older. Maybe every 5 or 10 years? :) But like you said, you can always come back if it doesn't work out. Best of luck as you wrestle with the idea. I know what it feels like and the tension it can bring in the relationship.

    1. thank you Vanessa, it is really comforting to know that there are others out there who are tackling these feelings too. It is so hard when we have that wanderlust bug as well as having the experience of living in different countries, where both have pros and cons. But I suppose we should be grateful for having that opportunity. :) it is all about perspective. xx

  3. Hey Claire. I know that feeling. My daughter was born in london. I only lasted 6 months before returning home. Missed SA so much once my daughter was born. Especially when you are close to your family, it is difficult to see your child grow up so far away from them. My husband would have liked to stay in the UK, I just wanted to come home. I'm very happy we moved back.


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