'We will just hop on a plane'? No, you won't.
Emigration is not easy. Even if you have an EU passport or right to be in another country, just hopping on a plane isn't a good plan.
You need to find work, housing, adjust to a whole new society with different laws and conventions. If you are allowed to live and work somewhere, great, but often you won't be able to afford anything if not earning in the local currency. If you plan to move based on some skill or qualification, what do you need to do to get such and to have it recognised in the place you want to move to? Do you have a plan sorted out, and the details accounted for? Will you be allowed to job hunt in the country? Or will you have to do so from South Africa and then apply to go through? When will your family be able to join you, and will they at all?
How will you find work, do you have a curriculum vitae in the format preferred in the place you are going to? Do you mention things which would by law force them not to hire you due to anti-discrimination legislation there?
Do you understand the local language, or the local variation spoken there? Will the way you personally speak be clear and understood, there? Do you have clothing suitable to the local environment? Are your pets ready, and certified ready, to emigrate? What are your plans for getting any medication you may need? Have you got your medical records from your doctors? What are the rules on bringing your children and spouse? Have you budgeted and prepared for your child's schooling and care? What furniture and other effects will you be able to take with you? Which would be foolish to take with, based on local laws and customs? What are your plans for internet and cellular phone usage, and for getting your money out of the country legally? Do you need to open a bank account before leaving? Are you ready for the process of converting your driver's licence? What are your plans for getting out and making new friends (bear in mind, you take your current social support system for granted, you might need a friend quite urgently to do a favour at some point).
Do you have letters of recommendation attesting to your trustworthiness for potential employers, and in some cases, letters from former landlords to new landlords attesting you are a good tenant? Do you have police clearance, if necessary?
Will you be able to afford a car, and possible statutory insurance? Do you have the right plans in place to register to pay tax and financially emigrate? Have you started looking at a budget, and at converting your qualifications to work there? Have you spoken to someone in your field who made the move?
Will you be able to fill your own car with petroleum and keep your own place clean? Have you budgeted for things like rubbish removal fees?
If you think you might land up leaving South Africa, you can't just plan to jump on a plane. That is how you land up homeless with no support system, stranded in a foreign land.
You at least need to be on emigration footing, from having what you need to leave, to having a curriculum vitae prepared, qualifications valuable there, and a real plan.
Do you at least have unabridged computerised originals and apostilles (if needed for that country, or may be needed there in future) of each of your major certificates, e.g. birth, marriage, divorce order, death, adoption, etc? Have you checked that unabridged is enough and vault is not possibly required by the specific country? Have you applied to Home Affairs for retention of South African citizenship in case you land up naturalising in the country you want to move to? Bear in mind, if South Africa goes bankrupt, the state may not be able to print new certificates for you. Zimbabwe ran out of funds to print new passports for their citizens. Do you have your antenuptial contract ready to bring with? Do you have baptismal and other certificates which could affect whether some churches allow marriage in them, or children to attend their schools?
If you are an attorney or advocate, do you have originals and apostilles of each of your court orders admitting you to the profession you are in? Is your firm ready to shut down on short notice?
Whatever profession you are in, have you started the process to convert your qualifications to be accepted there? Whether industry tests or via organisations which validate academic achievements? Have you got your syllabus description for your degree from the university you attended?
For dual nationals, do you have your South African passport, which you need to enter or leave South Africa on? Is your foreign passport current (bear in mind it can take months to arrive)?
Do you have enough money offshore in foreign currency to afford an airline ticket and a stay in the place you are looking at going to, until you have an income? Is your LinkedIn up to date? Do you know how salaries are quoted, and how in demand your profession is?
For those staying, are you on emigration footing? For those leaving, have you thought the process through?
Essay by Marc Evan Aupiais.
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