South Africa: Stay or Go?

Home sweet home.

Home sweet home.

I didn’t want to write this blog.

Because it seems like whenever South Africans get into the discussion of whether to stay or whether to go it only creates armies on two sides. The “leavers” and the “stayers” – both defensive, both trying to justify their case.

And that is not my intention at all.

There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s a completely personal choice and I understand why many have left.

What worries me, however, is often the motivation behind all the debate: to find a “better” place or a “better” future. And again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a better future for yourself and your family (we all want that!) – but what exactly is better?

Is it merely got to do with safety, comfort and convenience? “Everything just works”, “We can leave our doors open”, “Better job oppourtunities”. Of course these things are great but surely there is more to it than that?

We live in a culture that continually tells us to pursue a higher standard of living in order to improve our quality of life. But “standard of living” and “quality of life” are not the same thing.

In fact, studies reveal that many of the countries with the highest standards of living have the most unhappiest people. Why? Because the one does not necessarily equal the other.

I myself have lived in the UK for two years, Canada for a year, and the US for four years, and I absolutely loved it! Great people, incredible geography, and of course first-world efficiency. But whilst I had a great time, I missed the sunshine, the smiles and the generous spirit of our people. I missed biltong, “howzit”, “just now”, and the simple freedom of space. I missed hanging round the braai and early morning surfs with mates. I missed the vibrancy and diversity of our streets. Most importantly though, I missed the oppourtunity to be an active part of a country that needs me.

Yes, life in South Africa is hard. Yes, it’s risky. Yes, its messy and complicated. And yes, there are HUGE challenges before us. But that, in many ways, is why I love it!

Because “comfortable” and “safe” and “easy” are not the goal.

Because no matter who you are, if you want to, you can make a real difference here.

“All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” We still have good people in South Africa who are willing to stand up and fight, and as long as I’m alive I want to be part of the solution.

Maybe South Africa will go to the dogs, but I would rather be actively involved in our future then criticise from a distance. I am choosing to take my chances in this incredible country and whilst there are other positive people like you living here, making a difference, then I believe our future will be very bright.

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274 Comments on “South Africa: Stay or Go?

    • Thanks for all the comments everyone! I have been hesitant to respond because my heart is really not to polarise people around this debate. As I said, there is no right or wrong answer here.

      For more of my thoughts read my last comment down below… 🙂

      • You are wise!
        I share your sentiments by the way. We each make choices that are “right” for us and they aren’t always easy. We returned to SA recently after 12 years abroad for reasons similar to those you eluded to in your brave post.
        Thank you for your courage 😀

      • Tom. Excellent article. I am South African and lived in the UK for 20 years. Back now in SA living a fantastic life on the Garden Route. We all need a challenge and returning to SA has certainly been that, but now I appreciate the amazing energy this place has, including the frustrations of load shedding and politcal hokery pockery!!

      • I was at an event last night where Mmusi Maimane was expressing the value of people choosing to stay because we can all make a difference even if its hard and he put it really well saying that whilst he understands why people leave, the dream is not to be “skype grannies and grandpas”. 🙂

      • But safety IS the essential thing! After my husband was murdered in a car hi-jacking, I had to get our children to a safer place. Now I hope that they were young enough, when we left, that they don’t go through the rest of their lives with this deep pain and yearning for home that I carry with me.

      • , go wellYou have said all like it is, BUT I am retired and do not see myself leaving this wonderful country, just moved to Port Owen from CT, MUCH better, go well my friend.

      • Dear Tom, I am the CEO of a SA Hotel Group and blogged this (below) a few days ago. The similarities in our sentiments is there for all to see, although I think you articulated your thoughts better than I did!
        This blog went out last week and the reaction from certain government sectors was unfortunate – defensive and offensive – to say the least.

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        I simply cannot avoid a topic that’s been weighing heavily on all of us these past few weeks. I’ve noticed a profound change in our demeanor: we as a nation are down, depressed, and dragging our heels and our hearts through this very tough time. In fact, such negativity on all media channels available to us has made many countrymen reconsider their options here. No one can be surprised or cast blame.

        As a country, we seem to have hit rock bottom: high level corruption, parastatal failures, escalating crime, vicious murder, rampant AIDS, lack of border control, government meddling, load shedding and horrendous xenophobic attacks on immigrants and refugees. Can it possibly get any worse?

        Government is compromising our new democracy in a big way. As an example in the hotel industry, the tourism sector stands dumbfounded as we see tourism teeter on dangerous ground. Recent visa controls placed on our inbound market, followed by reluctance to reconsider or remedy legislation, has resulted in our Chinese and Indian markets slashed by more than 50% over the last quarter according to reports. Throughout boardrooms, corridors, coffee shops and Facebook feeds, an increasing dissatisfaction from businesses, friends and colleagues is evident. The big question: where to from here?

        I’m reminded of a beautiful line from poet (musician) Sting; ‘then let me build a bridge for I cannot fill the chasm,’ countered by the famous words of John F Kennedy, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” What can we as South African citizens do to effect the change we so desperately need?

        It’s easy to retreat into our laagers, try and live in ignorant bliss and believe a knight in shining armour is on his way. But hey, how long do we wait? Our country is on its knees; we are in a crisis which is soon going to have an ever more profound effect on our economy, our direct incomes and our happiness. It’s easy to talk in platitudes, but where are the real solutions?

        I’ve toiled with these questions for days. I know in my own personal experience, that ‘rock bottom’ is sometimes the necessary place to start; acknowledging that we are at the bottom provides the foundation for the next step, which can only be upward, or at least forward.

        I don’t have the solutions, BUT I do have the belief that provided there are enough brave people standing up, speaking out and refusing to accept vitriol from our leadership, using public forums to disagree, debate and contest, there will always be hope. And hope is real. Hope can be transformed into much needed respect and ultimately…change…

        It starts with me and you.

      • We left SA for the 3rd time in 1996 to give my three kids a future here in the States and it’s the best move we have ever made.
        My parents and brother still live in SA, Oudsthoorn and Cape Town and I return to visit them every 18 – 24 months. We thoroughly enjoy our visits to SA but after 2-3 weeks, we realize why we left.
        My kids have flourished, all in the U.S. Military and with great futures ahead of them, something I very much doubt would have been available in SA.
        We live in Florida so have plenty of sunshine and I Make my own biltong.
        One cannot live on sentiments alone and eventually reality kicks in.
        We have completely adapted to our host country and are proud to be U.S. citizens. I don’t feel like I’m a 2nd class citizen just because I wasn’t born here but unfortunately that’s not the same in SA. The minorities are very much 2nd class citizens and it’s only a matter of time before the xenophobia starts to ‘Segway’ into other parts of the population.
        When Zimbabwe collapsed, South Africans said it will never happen here, we are too big and sophisticated, trouble is, it’s happened even faster.
        The ostrich mentality runs deep in South Africa

      • Mark –

        Your decision to move and become a contributing citizen in another country sounds like a great choice for you and your family. I wish you and your family well.

        Labeling persons who are in SA “ostriches” is offside. It is arrogant to assume you have the only relevant view. Your reasons for leaving are appropriate to you, no one can challenge that. But for those of us who have returned, have stayed, have no choice, don’t see the need to even consider moving, differ in values, differ in perspective it is demeaning to say we are somehow blinded by the realities of this country.

        I get that people move for their children. I get that people move because they have experienced a traumatic event. I get that people feel weighed down by the reports of violence, corruption, service delivery failure etc. If you have the means, find a place that makes you happy. Find a place that you can make a meaningful contribution. Go and be happy.

        Please stop dissing those who have made different choices, just to justify your own.

      • Hi Tom, I completely agree that there is no place like South Africa, it is truly unique and wonderful in many aspects.

        However, the way you talk about the concept of ‘safety’ makes it sound like an added bonus to living a high quality lifestyle and being happy, but surely it should be at the very heart of everything we do? There is no denying the beauty of braai’s, vibrant people and especially big houses and gardens, but would any of these aspects be high in quality if there was no safety involved? If there were no electric fences surrounding these houses and gardens would people every be truly happy, knowing there lives were at risk more so than they are now? The street I used to live on In Joburg had such high rates of crime that the whole neighbourhood created a system where each household received walkie-talkies that would be (and were) used in case of an intruder. And while the false perception of “increased security” temporarily increased our quality of living, it was never a permanent solution as we realised that we were only a fraction less endangered. Not enough.

        I guess my point is that safety is everything. Safety provides the framework for high quality lifestyle and safety is something that, at the moment, South Africa has not ensured.

        I love south Africa and will always fight for a better future for my relatives and friends who still live there, but I will just be fighting from a place where I, myself, feel completely safe and secure.. and happy. And I believe there is no shame in that.

        Also just an opinion, I admire your South African spirit – us outsiders need more people like you to keep the country going from the inside! Keep it up!

      • I find your post to be a little idealistic. No offence, but how do you plan on making SA a better place? Where were you an active part in the community that needed you? I love the post, but I want to hear your examples, because right now I don’t see how you can make SA better place; sure doing charity work and helping the needy is a great cause, but you’re fighting a tide of corruption, racism , load shedding and just general unfairness, how do you plan to fight something that looks like a losing battle?

      • Thanks for your thoughts. Perhaps I am idealistic, but I’d rather be that way inclined than simply give in to the status quo and throw in the towel. Imagine if people like Martin Luther or Mother Teresa gave up because they were “fighting a losing battle”. Of course I am in no way comparing myself to these great pioneers, but I’d like to think that my life will leave some mark behind it that extends beyond simply caring for my own family and self.

        If you want examples, I could site many. The organisation which I lead currently serves more than 900 000 people every month in a variety of ways. We have feeding schemes, HIV/AIDS programs, education programs etc. We support more than 150 other organisations that are doing grassroots work at the face of poverty. We have moved away from simple “aid” towards more “development” orientated approaches – in fact just last week we had more than 40 unemployed women complete a sewing course, in which they were educated, received care and counseling from social workers, got their IDs, learnt how to write CVs etc etc – and they are all now employed and supporting their families through our intervention. I could continue, but it is these stories and many many like it – although not enough to make headlines or end poverty – that give me hope, and expose me to people in South Africa who are different from me, but who are committed to making a tangible difference!

        I hope this helps you understand where I’m coming from.

    • Hi everyone. I left Cape Town 6 months ago to persue my studies in Oxford. Before I left SA I could not wait to begin my new endeavour in the UK as I had become disillusioned with life in SA and was ready to leave. All my fiends and family would tell me that i would miss the sun, beaches, Table Mountain, biltong and all the good stuff back home. I responded by saying that I would find other things to entertain me while abroad. During my first couple of weeks in Oxford I loved everything about it, made so many fake friends that I though I was in heaven. As the months rolled by I started to experience what life really is like in the UK and especially a British winter. After about 3 months in the UK I started feeling really home sick as I missed the sun, my friends and family. Winter in the UK can be tough on an individual who comes from a warmer climate and is use to reciving regular doses of vitamin D even during winter. Life is much much different in the UK compare to SA. People tend to stick to themselves and even in a city with so many people you can feel so alone which is what I experienced. I have now managed to make some really good friends who support me and help me make the best of my time in the UK. Not saying that the UK is a bad country or anything like that but the food is not that great as they have to import all their fruits and veg, although it does not rain all the time it is always grey and this will affect your mood. I love the British country side, however living in the cities is a different propersition all together. The SA is about 3 times the size of the UK while the UK has roughly about the same population as SA, this means that the cities are densly populated compared to SA. This means less space and the houses are much smaller than back home. 6 months has passed and I am finally coming to terms with my new culture and life in Oxford, however every single minute of every single day I miss home. Every fibre of my being missed Cape Town and it’s natural beauty. Traveling and living in other countries is a great experience as it will broaden your knowledge and open your mind to what is out there, but beware life in other countries can be tough and you will miss everything about South Africa because despite what troubles our countries goes through it will always be home.

      • Beautiful put, I have a son in the UK and he feels much the same, has been there for 4 years now and I am waiting for the day he says I have had enough!!

      • Totally agree …. I work as a carer in the U.K., get to meet some lovely people & see lots of beautiful places while there…. BUT…………….. I miss my adopted home, South Africa, every moment I’m away

    • I do not judge anyone wanting to make a new life elsewhere, but home will always be missed and this is still a beautiful country!!! This is something that comes from the book ‘Emissary of Light’ “When you seek peace where it is not, or outside, then it is nowhere to be found. When you find peace within, you are able to see the truth. Conflict may still seem to exist, but you now see past it. By experiencing peace as the only true reality, we see it present everywhere, even where conflict and war seem to rule. You can choose to see peace, or you can choose to see violence, Find the peace and love within and it will automatically project itself outward into the world. When you seek peace where it is, within, then you find it everywhere, even in the world.” That is what I believe and if we leave it does not mean we will find the paradise we are looking for unless we find that inner peace first.

      • Hello,

        The sentiment of your quotation is no doubt inspiring – we might all benefit from employing its essence in our day-to-day lives.

        Easier said than done though in this country, dear idealist. My husband and I returned to SA after 15 years spent living in Northern Europe. The driver for our return was a perceived ‘better way of life’, i.e. Less frenetic, more space, sprawling gardens, swimming pool, and the warm and sunny climate.

        That was 3 months ago and a month in, my parents home was burgled twice, my brother was hijacked in my parents driveway, and to top it all off nicely, my elderly parents were woken on New years eve by 5 armed men in their home who perceived them to be a significant enough threat to hold guns to their heads for the duration of their rampage there. They were in the midst of trauma counselling for the previous incidents when they were given a more compelling incentive to continue with this counselling – apparently indefinitely.

        They reside in one of the provinces covetable ‘leafier’ suburbs – and the entire neighbourhood has been under siege (this is not an embellishment) since the beginning of December. The local police and armed response security companies are a daily presence there as there is a minimum of one violent incident per day, on average. Strangely though, said police have not deemed this unrelenting crime wave to be significant enough to warrant regular policing. They tend to prefer a more ‘after-the-fact’ approach to rendering their services.

        These people are living in fear – day and night. I’m having difficulty imagining myself (or them) muttering your ‘peace’ affirmations whilst looking at a door that is being smashed in despite the security alarm shrieking in the background. Indeed I muse upon the relevance or value of a peace mantra at the point when one finds themself staring down the barrel of a semi- automatic weapon.

        So husband and I revisited our original reason to return to SA – that old chestnut of seeking a ‘better way of life’ and we came up with this. Cold, grey weather vs sunshine with a healthy dose of perpetual fear for our lives thrown in; a smaller garden vs. parklike grounds that we could gaze upon from behind our burglar bars, wondering what that movement was in the hedge near the pool, and pondering a better system of flooding the entire property in the harsh blue haze of LED lights – to ensure that we will be able to spot the inevitable intruders that advanced towards us; leaving our vehicles unlocked in our driveway vs driving PAST our SA driveway first, to ensure no undesirables were lurking near those shrubs, awaiting our return so they could frogmarch us into our home at gunpoint. Nevermind the fact that the comparative lower living costs actually translated into extortionate ‘home security solutions’ – utilities might be cheaper, but not so much when you now need to factor in the monthly costs of security plus the capital outlay to install the electric fences, beams, burglar bars, gates etc. Whislt struggling to identify the perceived benefits of returning, we often reflect upon the fact that we scored our very own armed security guard into the bargain.

        Perhaps the patriots who never left this beautiful country have the advantage of having been slowly desensitised to the pervasive element of fear of violent crime, sufficiently so to enable them to continue with their lives as normal. Us, not so much – we are struggling to embrace a culture that greets armed home invasions and the like with the sage response, “at least nobody was killed…”. No, dear sir, some of us lesser beings have not quite reconciled ourselves with the notion that there is anything normal about heaving a sigh of relief each evening that we made it through the day without having to trade our television set for our lives. But the night is still young, so best not count our victories just yet.

        Being the holders of European passports, we pondered our reluctance to return to a life that included 2 hour daily walks with our dogs in beautiful parks, woods and forests, with our only fear being that it might rain heavily and we’d have to deal with mud!

        We have yet to achieve that enviable state of enlightenment that you clearly have done, though we suspect it might be slightly easier to accomplish in the absence of a constant and competing need to, at a minimum, avoid getting killed in our home.

        Sincerely,

        Emissary of Flight

    • While traveling in Australia I came across many South Africans. There seemed to be three reasons why people have left our shores.
      1. Better life and opportunities for children,,, this is rubbish. There is a place in the sun for all of us in SA.
      2. They are scared we are going the same way as Zimbabwe. Also nonsense in my view.
      3. Victims of crime. To these I say may God bless you and I hope you find happiness, healing and peace in your country of choice.

      Crime is killing this country.

      • I have encouraged both my children to move abroad. It is heartbreaking but I don’t lie awake at night wondering if they arrived home safe and alive. I want them to earn what they deserve, not suffer discrimination in the workplace, be rewarded for hard work and ethics. I hope they both return home, someday, and that this beautiful country of ours makes it possible. I won’t leave, this is my home, my country and my birthright. I have empathy with all the parents who ‘visit’ via skype in place of a Sunday braai. Who ship biltong and beskuit at high cost that only reaches it’s destination 3 months later. I pray and vote for a new government that will create opportunities for the millions of unemployed school and varsity graduates. For better healthcare for the poor, for communities to support child managed homes. This is our right.

      • Sweeping statements from you, predicting our lives,had we stayed. I can assure you, though I miss SA, we (current generation) will never be part of the solution so many wish for.
        Been away 21 years. Only go back for family. australia has sun, sand, sea, freedom and economic growth. We are safer than we coukd ever have been in SA.
        Over the years we have been hammered for leaving. Funny how as the tide has turned, many who condemned us, now envy us. I would not change our decison, given everything over again.

    • I agree. I recommend staying . It is an emerging nation eith a plethora of opportunites but for peace of mind …have a contingency which you may or maynot use.

  1. Tom,
    I see this in context of Shaw’s STICKING POINTS, where Shaw argues the importance of the “why” instead of the “what”. If the arguments are couched mainly in leave vs stay then the motivations are unappreciated.

    Thanks for sharing your personal trial about your home.

  2. It is amazing to think that the Khoisan people were here before the other nations and the whites, has anybody asked them who should leave? They might say to both black and white to leave the country. The black tribes all came from up north, Congo, Zambia etc. that makes the Khoisan people the rightful owners of SA, and not the blacks nor the whites. But since I was born here, I consider myself South African. Who should lead SA really?

    • The British settlers spent 100 years of war against the Khoza people to drive them behind the Kei River and take their land. Don’t distort history. Likewise the Zulu Wars. Just saying

      • And before that the Xhosa people spent many years killing other tribes on their way down to Southern Africa. Don’t distort history. Just saying.

  3. I Left 11 years ago to give my children a better, safer future and to ( hopefully) create a new life where my money was worth something when it gets to the exchange rate. I was happy in South Africa and my whole family was still there, but I could no longer sleep peacefully at night. I think if you reach that point and feel unsafe despite the burglar alarms and sleep with a gun under the pillow and dogs in the bed and infra red in the garden at night as wells trelly doors, the time is ripe to move on. Yes, it is scary and yes, it takes lotsa guts, but I will never be sorry I went and now live happily in Australia with my family. We have been to Europe, New Zealand, back to South Africa 3 times, Uluru, Great Barrier Reef and Tasmania all in the last 11 years. I could never have dreamed of this had I stayed in South Africa. A teacher’s salary is just not good enough. Here my kids are studying in Melbourne, and have met some wonderful friends & partners. The best most difficult step we have ever made!! No regrets!

    • Hi Erica, I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is a better life all round and the feeling of being safe, being in a law abiding country, and being in a country where your children have a real future is amazing. Well done to you for doing that for them and yourself!! I am soon to follow.

      • I agree, having been in Queensland for three years now, I can only say its wonderful, true people can stay , I was the last t leave out of my family , who all returned to the UK, although all born in Africa, I just don’t think when you go to the UK, you wont need a readjustment, smaller country smaller homes, etc., but Aus, is huge and homes are still smaller and so are gardens , so that argument doesn’t fly with me, a few people have written blogs about the return to SA , me I never thought I would leave SA, but now there is no way of returning,

    • It takes brave people to leave all they know and go into unknown .. We in Sydney and I know it was the right thing. The argument is moot anyway because most of those who stay have no choice or have to much money that out doesn’t matter as they safe in their security village.

      • That’s definitely a matter of opinion Erica…and an incredibly bias, judgmental one at that. I lived in the UK for 12 years and chose to come back home, despite all the horror stories. ( I don’t know, I consider that kind of brave!) I love South Africa. I have never regretted moving home and I would never consider relocating anywhere else again. This is my home. Please don’t presume that the only reason the rest of us stay is because we have no choice…give us a little credit for also having the ability to choose the life we want….just as you have.

        Great Article Tom, thanks.

      • That really is broad generalisation, there are many many people who stay purely because they WANT to and for the very reason of contributing and making a difference.

      • You said it exactly as it is , those retuning are on expired 457 visa, and only wish to stay , there will always be a few that return, but as was said earlier the numbers speak for them selves

      • agreed, this is a good article but Erica you have basically summed up 90 % of the people around me, we are all desperate to leave and get our kids out of her to a safer existence but yes lack funds, sad but true.

      • The British settlers spent 100 years of war against the Khoza people to drive them behind the Kei River and take their land. Don’t distort history. Likewise the Zulu Wars. Just saying

    • Here. Here. We did the same. Left South Africa in 2000. Lived in the Uk for 1.5 yrs. Germany for 4.5 yrs and in Sydney since 2006. Absolutely love Australia !! Would never go back to RSA. Would rather go back and live in Germany if we couldn’t live in Australia. Oi, oi, oi !!!!

      • I assume in English-speaking countries like the UK and Australia you can get away with not knowing how to spell ‘hear’, because you are a foreigner. In South Africa you need to do better if you want to get somewhere.

    • We have also made the move to Australia and enjoy an AMAZING lifestyle here, including oodles of sunshine and friendly people (they do exist outside of South Africa too)! I appreciate your making the point that emigrating is a challenging and scary choice. People who claim that staying in SA is difficult seem to imply that leaving is the easy option, but it also takes courage, staying power and a lot of effort.

      • Well said by those both in favor of staying or leaving….These are both difficult decisions, depending on your own choices. It took me 20 years to finally leave SA as I could not comprehend life outside of SA. Both my wife’s family and mine are still in SA but a decision had to be made for the future of our children. SA has so much complicated issues to resolve that I can not see this resolving in my children’s lifetime and needed to give them the best possible opportunity to be the best that they can be. If they choose to return to SA at a later stage that would be their choice. I believe that I have paid my dues to SA and deserve to exercise the final and difficult choice of leaving the shores of SA.

        SA will always be my place of birth and it pains me to read about its constant struggles. I wish those who have chosen to remain all the best and God’s riches blessings. I will continue to pray for the SA revival and rejoice with you when it happens.

    • Thank you for that….. It is refreshing that at last someone mentioned the future of their children as a reason to immigrate in one of these posts. I always read posts about this type of thing to get other peoples opinions, as it often helps to stand back and look at things from a different perspective now and again. It troubles me somewhat that too many people refer to themselves when making the decision to stay or go…. For me, it is very much about my children… When we decided to have children we accepted the responsibility of raising them to become successful contributing members of society and I honestly feel that their safety and security is of the utmost importance in the molding process. How are you supposed to ensure them that if they work hard and get a good education that they will reap the rewards, when so many others with degrees and diploma’s and even experience are turned away because of BBBEE.

      Being victims of serious and violent crime on more than one occasion has also instilled a fear in my children to the point where they feel that although we try our best, how effectively are we as parents, able to protect them and keep them from harm in a country with one of the highest murder and rape rates in the world? I love SA and the bushveld and braaivleis runs in my veins but my life is far less important than the lives of my children. Given the opportunity I would immigrate in a minute.

      • And that is exactly right, many of us have left to give our children an opportunity at being successful. Secondary reasons include escaping from the high violent crime rate that every South African is directly affected by, Each of us has either had friends or family murdered or have friends who have family or friends murdered.

        Do we miss the culture, the humour, our family, our friends, the food and the beauty of country that is unique to South Africa? You bet we do, more than you can ever imagine! It is however the future and safety of my children that compelled me to leave behind my selfish aspirations, to let go of my needs and wants so that they may succeed in relative safety here in the USA.

        I will always be proudly South African, just not a resident of my beloved country for my children’s sake.

      • Agreed, family safety first, ideology second. I love this country, the diversity and the potential for great development. However the dim reality of my families day to day safety, the commonality of firearms (licensed or not) and the unfortunate brutal nature of crimes showing a lack of respect for another humans life, makes it difficult as a parent to accept this for my children. Stay or Go, I have the same respect for both choices, as both are equally difficult .

  4. I really want to leave sooo bad i’m 21 now and want to move to Canada for a better life and oppertunities , my dream is to go work on one of those Farms

    • Neill, I am 20 and have been living in Canada for 8 years now, and I still want to move back to South Africa. Please don’t just move because you want to escape the bad things happening in South Africa. It’s difficult to fit in here, these people are just different from us, and I don’t mean that we’re better, but we just think differently than they do. Every country has its own struggles.

      • I totally agree… I left SA 8’years ago and still miss it… The people are really very different to South Africans… We are a special and unique nation

      • Those that have a burning desire to go to another country or think that the grass is greener, should go, that way they can experience it themselves, some like it, some don’t. I have 2 children both with European passports, one wants to live in Europe & the other wants to stay in SA, its their choice & we encourage them to do what they feel is best. If you want to emigrate from your country of birth, by far the best time is when you are young no kids. Emigrating with kids is a huge challenge, so to those that have done so, I respect your bravery & commitment, fortunately my kids have dual passports which gives us more options & we don’t have to move to ensure that they have a future. It seems that most people that have emigrated to Aus are generally happy, but those emigrating to the UK, Canada & the States seems to miss SA (for varying reasons), I can definitely see why the UK (& maybe Canada) makes people miss home & thats why the majority of returning people come are from the UK. To those returning, we welcome you back & together we can work to make out home a better place, its easy to become jaded, but SA is a stunning place despite all its problems & I believe (call me naive) that we are about to enter a phase of improvement & progress & contributing to this process of change will be a good experience.

  5. We are all feeling ashamed of & let down by the current political situation, but those of us who are the softest targets (60+) have no alternative. We have to vasbuyt & put more beams & cameras up, sleep with our guns under the bed & dare not go outside after dark for fear of being attacked. But we have have hope ……..

  6. We live in country that is beautiful. It saddens me however, that over the last few years my optimisim has turned into bitterness. I can only prayer that we have a good future ahead of us…that and for a softened heart for this country which has gone very hard.

  7. I think that having children gives one a slightly different view on this debate. If I never had children I would not dream of leaving this beautiful country that I call home. However as a parent I am required to assess the situation from the point of view of my children’s safety and future. I have not yet made any move to emigrate but I do have a sister who loves South Africa and has left only for the above reason

    • We left for that reason too. Children are the game-changer. We live in a small town in the North-West of England and we are very happy. Yes I miss home and yes I will always, but there is need and desperation all over the world. I manage a foodbank here and deal with broken people who need hope and love. If you are the sort of person who wants to make a difference in the word, geography is not the issue. It’s all about attitude.

      • Hi Debi. I agree. Reading through Tom’s blog left me wondering whether he has children. It’s a tough choice. Securing a future for your offspring or contributing to the development of a very slow tanker which shows no signs of turning.

        Head or heart decision.

        I’m an ex Durbanite living in Warrington. Are you close buy?

      • Dear Debi
        I agree to your comment. I left SA 25years ago with three young children and remember being burgled badly on two occasions and the anxiety regards the polarisation between groups with very little voting potential to change the status quo.
        I had English ancestry and always felt a link so although the vastness and beauty of Africa cannot be duplicated I have been privileged to visit Europe and Asia, and other locations and seen beauty in other countries.
        Born in South Africa as a young woman I always felt you had to be good at sport or look a certain way and difference is not accepted in disability, sexuality, or race.
        I am sure things are changing and feel really positive regards Mr Maimane. In enjoy visiting South Africa but England is my home and I am thankful for the opportunities it has given me, my husband and my children regards training and seeing the world through a larger landscape.

      • I have two children, and it didn’t change the game. I would still rather give them the joy of being with their grandparents as often as possible. If they want to leave later in life they are welcome to, I might even follow them then.

        The whole world is a mess and everywhere needs help, so yes if that is your main aim in life you can do it anywhere.

      • yes I agree, we will be taking their grandparents with us as the state pensions are unable to look after their needs. Another reason we must leave as we cannot afford to look after our parents, they already live with us. and unfortunately once you are too old some countries do not accept you so this is why we cannot plan to leave once they do as we are experiencing with our parents.Alot to consider I have being doing this research for a year already and the only people ever asking if its a good idea to come back to sa are living in the UK and its almost always the weather.

  8. I too like many people have looked at the possibilities of finding a new place to ca. home – mostly for the sake of my children. My heart leans towards my home – although travel is tempting (for adventures sake).

    All this said, however, I have no clue what others on this thread are talking about . Yes we corrupt government ( like most countries) , yes things seem a little bleak , but what you people seem to be referring to is a war zone!

    I have lived in Jozi all my life and have never felt scared, I do not have or need a gun. And I’m not afraid to walk in the street. How much of what people run from is irrational fear?

    Truth is the world is becoming a global village anyway. 10-20 years from now where you live won’t matter anyway – we are citizens of earth.

    No dis to the leavers, but we at least have to be honest about what’s really happening, no one has to sleep with guns under their pillows. Instead of trash talking your home love it with hope, it is still the home of your brothers!

    • Agreed Peter. I’ve lived in the USA, Australia and Europe I am far happier now having settled in South Africa permanently. The war zone story is just weird to me and I feel safer where I live now than I did living in several parts of the US and the UK.

      • People do tend to exaggerate the state of SA crime a bit. Some US cities actually rank higher than some SA cities for murders per capita. The USA is very big and has many parts with very low crime rates, and many parts with extremely high crime rates.

        If you ever felt afraid living anywhere in the UK, however, that was certainly an irrational fear. In 2013/2014 there were 537 murders in England and Wales, with a total population of 56.1 million people. That’s one of the lowest murder rates in the world.

      • we live behind high walls, pay expensive levis/security fees, Have alarm systems and electric fencing, carry guns and security booms and cameras in local areas etc. it is a battle field and that is not a normal way to live, the concept of jail like security on ur home is absurd but is normal here. it never used to be like this, not when i was growing up in the 90s. i know many people who have been directly and indirectly effected by serious crime. its not normal and we become numb to the state which we live in. its not all SA mostly joburg in my opinion. here a good example i live in broadacres, on the intersection of cedar and witkoppen last week, a biker was shot for a lap top and died. 4 armed men highjacked a car at the intersection and the very next day the same thing happened.i was smash and grabbed on the bridge in traffic on wiliam nicol by a guy who sells stuff at the robots, down the road in Olivedale a person with hands and legs bound was beaten and dumped off the back of a moving car. In my friends complex by sharonlea a guy was shot on his balcony having a smoke and the same week a person was robbed in that complex.this was all over the last two weeks around a small part that i am aware of but there is countless more. Crime is a real thing and most of it is not reported. the crime in the Townships is even worse then more affluent areas but its not reported at all really. So it is that bad, living in a security complex with armed gaurds prison in reverse. , the innocent are locked up and criminals run free!

    • That said Peter, when people within your social circles are murdered (I know of at least 6), then you can’t make that argument. The crime numbers tell you a very different story. I have been away from SA for 6 years now, and can honestly say that I have not felt one day of fear, whereas in SA I was on guard every day, barricaded in. It’s fantastic that you don’t feel afraid, but I don’t advocate that everyone in SA lives like there is nothing to fear. I made my choice for my family, and whilst I respect those that stay, I also fear for them, because it’s only a matter of time before SA’s crime affects you, one way or another. The acid test is this – ask any group of South Africans how many of them know someone who has been murdered – I guarantee you all hands will go up. Ask the same question of an equivalent group in UK, USA, Canada, Aus, NZ etc, and you’ll not find anyone who does…

      • Agreed. I know of several friends (7+) and family raped, killed and hijacked in South Africa. I have lived also in the UK for 1.5 yrs, Germany for 4.5 yrs and Australia for 7 yrs…. I know no one who has met the same fate in any of these countries… you do the math !

      • You are right Rob, most of us know of a friend or acquaintance who was murdered but many older folk have no alternative but to stay for Many reasons

        Granny

    • You are very lucky. I left SA when I was 22 and in that time I was burgled 3 times, high-jacked at gunpoint, my grandfather was badly beaten and robbed and two of my cousins were murdered.

      I have always been an advocate for SA. It is a beautiful and unique country, but I don’t regret for one second my move to Australia. Especially now that I have my own children. They can run around in public parks, we walk around the city at night, and I drive around with unlocked doors and my handbag on the front seat without fear of smash and grab.

      I truly hope that SA’s future is a bright and prosperous one. We all make our own choices in life so let’s not judge each other.

      • Thanks for sharing your story Tasha. As i said, my heart is in no way to judge and I totally understand why someone would want to leave. I too have been victim to many incidents of crime…

      • We left 15 ago for Australia, never went back for a holiday, the best investment we ever made. The safety and opportunities children have override everything. I have a child that have the capability to be a professional sportsman and have tge opportunity which to start an apprenticeship as part of hus HSC he never would have back home. My other children are doing so well at university they all work since they became 14 years and 9 months, don’t think they would ever had a job back home at that age or a job at all. Australia/Sydney all the way.

    • It is not irrational to be scared once you really experience crime first hand. when you are held up with your family by 5 armed men for 3 hours, when your daughter is threatened and brutalised by the very police force that is supposed to keep you safe, when your daughters drink is spiked and her cellphone stolen in a separate incident – all this inside of 18 months – it is NOT irrational. Crime is not over stated. To be safe MUST be a priority. We all still don’t sleep at night without taking meds…

    • I’m sorry to add my 2 cents worth here… But I lived in jozi too for my whole life until I turned 26 when I had my first child. We then moved away. I opposite to you felt very scared for very long, wouldn’t dare of walking in the streets especially not by myself. We had our cars stolen, broken into, our washing stolen off our line in the privacy of our own garden behind our fences and walls and then while we slept someone decided it would be a good idea to poisen And kill our dogs through the lounge window break into our house, steal from us and attempt to rape 2 of my sisters and nothing can explain that sense of chill that runs through your body when you wake up to those bloodcurdling screams….this is not trash talking my ‘home’ but I thank God everyday for the fact that I was able to get my family out of there when I did and have not once looked back!
      I have since had another child and have settled wonderfully in the UK. Yes it was my choice to leave and yes I am thrilled that I did it…but I can’t understand why people dis those that choose to leave(not that I’m suggesting that you were)-I’ll never look back. Good luck to us all in each ones endeavours and paths.

    • If you have no clue what people are so scared of then you clearly never speak to other people outside your own barricaded house..? I am not a very social person, so don’t strike up random conversations with people as a way to pass the time, but have heard countless people tell me their first-hand experience of assault, robberies, attempted murder etc. My parents’ neighbours have been broken into, several friends have had trespassers steal items from their house while they were sleeping, old folks are murdered in small towns every once in a while, the rest we don’t ever hear about in the news, but our gardeners and housekeepers tell us about incidents where they get robbed/stabbed etc. If you don’t consider that a “war zone” I don’t know how much more violent crime you’d like before you feel the need to secure your home. Walking into a mall or a friend’s home where you know they were robbed a few months before immediately pushes your adrenalin up and you jump at every noise and shadow going across the window, that’s not a way to live!? I even heard a man tell an animated story of how his wife was saved by their Jack Russell who attacked a burglar who tried to climb through the dog door in the kitchen! WTF man?! How well do we need to secure our homes to be and feel truly safe??

    • actually my husband did sleep with the gun under his pillow. I kindly just asked him to point it the other way. this still did not prevent 4 home invasions. a car theft, a dog killed and death threats because we had the guts to go to the police. I was luckily to be drugged only in my bed and not raped, lucky my 3 yr old was put next to me in bed and told to stop crying and not hurt any further, my 11 yr old had a sleep over thank God my husband did not wake from the drugs either and they did not find the gun under his pillow. I miss my family and my friends, never liked the beach love winter so the rain does not bother me, I get lonely and depressed here sometimes, same as I did in SA.I work with good people and idiots same as in SA, and I am still in a minority group same as in SA and sometimes I think if I move back at least I would have my crazy family around me, but my life has changed and I have changed and my children cannot really remember SA anymore, my youngest was born here and is not even a SA citizen. I left for my boys. SO they could study when they finish school (everybody is entitled to go to university regardless if you finished high school or not and study link provides interest free loans to student). I lived my life, had my opportunities. My sole motivation was a future for my children.

    • If you write that you never have been scared in Joburg, I am sorry, I just can’t believe it… Lived in Cape Town for 3 years and experienced so many brutal crime around us: direct neighbors, friends and coworkers. Let’s be realistic: the crime rates in SA are horribly high and you have to watch your back every single minute. That’s why we left to have: safety first!

    • Have you been called to your parents store to be confronted by one of them lying dead in a pool of blood, with a bullet wound to their head? Did you receive a call from you 73 year old dad at 2am , hysterical with fear, saying ‘there are 5 men with guns in the house – they’re going to kill us…’. Did a bunch of armed thugs enter your home during dinner and point a firearm at your 5 year old’s head? Did you have occassion to have armed robbers smash in the bedroom window whilst you were asleep and train a gun at you through the burglar bars, instructing your husband to deactivate the alarm and open the front door?

      This was and continues to be a reality for people whom I love. Get your head out from under the pillow you are fortunate enought to not have to share with a gun.

  9. Leave or stay? It doesn’t matter, as long as you are happy with the decision made 🙂
    I understand there are those who would leave, but cannot – that must suck, being somewhere you don’t want to be.

    • As you say MaryAnn, when one does leave, it’s because you’ve made that decision that you will be happier somewhere else, because you cannot tolerate your circumstances in SA. It’s a matter of principles and values (and what order and priority that are in). If your principles guide you, moving somewhere else will be better for you. You shouldn’t leave if you don’t want to.

  10. I am Canadian and my husband South African, we met, married and had our first child in SA – he always told me we would never leave. But in the end his industry was contracting, the business (like so many others in his industry) failed and he had to start new in a new industry – with a family and a mortgage. Not impossible perhaps, but for us we were sliding inexorably backward and we only arrested that descent when we could sell our house to settle up debts and leave, of course we had the advantage of my citizenship. Hard decision, but better in rainy Vancouver and solvent than in RSA and not. Sometimes the choice isn’t based on “what might be” but what you are faced with right now – and it’s hardly a choice, but almost a necessity. One thing I have learned however, is that you never know what the future holds… I don’t rule anything out.

    • I agree for many the decision to leave, stay or come back, is largely influenced by their particular set of circumstances.

  11. If you leave, you should not criticise from a distance. If you stay you should not criticise those who have left or are planning to leave. My personal advice, stay with your eyes open to the possibility of chaos. Plan for chaos, this is Africa after all. But always have an exit strategy.

  12. Thank you for sharing this. We desperately need people who will put their shoulder to the grindstone and work, with a positive attitude, toward a solution. I have family who have left, and understand why they went and we don’t judge them but we miss them terribly. We who have stayed need to start working together for a solution, not denying the injustices, or wrongs, but finding the positives and moving forward together.

  13. The point of Tom’s article isn’t about is which country safer or better for your family or business.

    The point of the article is that WHEREVER you live, your own quality of life will be improved when you make improving the lives of others a priority – not just yourself. There are plenty of people living in South Africa who are doing NOTHING with regards to poverty, justice, development. There are plenty of people living in Australia who give time and effort to combatting racism, social injustices, caring for the poor and elderly.

    Every place has issues. Every place has problems. And the solutions are found by the combined efforts of people who care.

    It doesn’t matter WHERE you live, make sure WHY you live there isn’t just about your own comfort and security, and get involved in building a better life for the good of all.

  14. Like many of the people who have left SA, our main reason for leaving was for a brighter future for our children. We were lucky enough to be able to settle in the UK and after 6 years we finally feel like this place is home. I will always love the South Africa I grew up in and I hope those that stay can restore some sense of equality, peace and prosperity that encourages growth and investment from the international community.

  15. Thank you for all of your comments. I have ben hesitant to respond because my heart is really not to polarise people around this debate. As I said, there is no right or wrong answer here. For those who have left – I wish you all the best, for those who choose to stay (and for the majority of the population who have no choice) – I say lets stand together.

    I too have children and I too want to provide the best opportunities for them, but my main reason for writing the post was rather to challenge the idea of “standard of living” being the same as “quality of life.” And this is where I have to agree with Jess’ comment above – the thing I think adds more to “quality of life” than oppourtunities to travel or education or safety is when we start to live our lives not solely for our own benefit or security, but rather for the sake of others. This of course, can happen in any country in the world.

    I just choose South Africa.

    • Thanks Tom,
      I found your point of view very refreshing and I agree with you. Happiness is based on all kinds of things, not just standard of living etc. My personal experience is that having left as a 14 year old, I was able to return after 29 years a few weeks ago, to visit family for the first time. As soon as I walked out of the airport, I felt at home and my extended family there made me feel more welcome than I could have ever imagined.
      From an outsiders point of view I found a beautiful country with so much to offer and I am grateful to be able to say I come from South Africa. In the 80,s and 90,s that was not so easy as it always sparked a debate, mostly ill informed. That, thankfully, has changed in a big way!
      I see there are issues and everyone in South Africa deserves more in terms of security, both economic and social as well as deserving a government who works to improve relations between people rather than blaming the past for current issues…Escom etc. Corruption is obviously out of hand and causing great hardship. If that can be fixed, I believe the rest will follow.
      I do think that opening the debate like you have is inspirational and that the way to a better future for the country is to be involved.
      I have now to seriously consider coming home to be a part of that!
      Thanks again
      Dougal

    • I applaud your attitude. I feel vey much the same way. And so many of those who have responded have missed the point entirely.

    • It’s important to be able to make a positive contribution towards society and this you can do anywhere around the world . If I had a choice I would rather make that contribution elsewhere where my family life is not at risk or where I am severely disadvantaged because I am not the right colour. Your family well being should come before your contribution towards others in society.

  16. I have been watching similar posts popping up on social media and whereas some of the sentiments in this article and the responses ring true, my feelings are if you want to leave SA do it for the right reasons, not just to run away from what ever is “driving” you. If you leave for the wrong reasons you will be unhappy. Yes, we will miss SA – family, friends, the culture, sunshine, biltong and boerewors – that is who we are, but that does not mean we can move on and be happy with a new life for what ever reasons we chose to leave.

  17. Thank you Tom, awesome reply. There are two couples from the UK who have bought property or in the process and chosen to settle in Mannenberg, Cape Town. This area in the Cape flats is also known as a gang war zone with gang shootings constantly.

    Speaking to them, they know this is where there Father God wants them to settle and they are actively involved in making a difference in this community. They have faith and know there God will meet all their needs and keep them safe which has been happening!! This is a huge challenge and wake up call for me as they are not even South African citizens and yet have actively chosen to be a part of the solution in this area and ultimately be a catalyst for change in our beautiful country. Their unselfishness inspires me immensely.

  18. I applaud your balanced and tempered approach to this often incindiary topic. I do, however think you have fallen into the same trap that almost every South African falls into when looking for reasons to stay in SA, by incorrectly identifying “unique” benefits to living in South Africa. E.G.

    – “the simple freedom of space”.
    There are exactly 74 countries, which have lower population densities than SA, therefore more freedom of space. SA has 43 people/km^2 , Australia only has 3.09!

    – “I missed hanging round the braai and early morning surfs with mates.”
    Barbecues are big in many countries all around the world, especially the USA, and Australia, and surfing was invented in Hawaii and popularised in California. These points are certainly not a uniquely South African.

    – “I missed the vibrancy and diversity of our streets.”
    Contrary to popular belief in SA, SA is not the most culturally diverse nation around. According to a study by Fearon and Alesina et al. in 2003, South Africa ranks only 32 in the world in terms of cultural diversity. “Vibrancy” is a subjective term, and many would argue that there are far more vibrant places.

    These kinds of unintentionally biased and dishonest arguments, I find, are rather disrespectful to the diversity and beauty of our planet as a whole. People from almost any other nation will often have similarly prejudiced reasons for wanting to stay in their places of birth.

    Here is the real reason you want to stay:

    You are a South African. Your culture is South African. Most of your memories are South African. Most of your friends and family are South African.

    Your decision to stay is heavily swayed by nostalgia, home-sickness and a desire for familiarity. I totally understand and respect that position and decision. It is a totally valid reason to wanting to stay. I just wish more people would be honest about it.

    • Thanks for your comment Jason. I 100% agree with you. I don’t see “diversity” and “braai’s” as unique to South Africa – neither do I think our country is any more beautiful then the next… absolutely it is about my past and my memories and my connection to my birthplace. The point of my blog was not really to debate these things – which place is “better” because “better” is a relative term. It had more to do with challenging the idea that standard of living and quality of life are the same thing… which I don’t believe they are.

      • Thanks Tom. I totally agree with that point. “Quality of life” is entirely different to “Standard of living”. It sometimes seems as if people feel its not a valid argument to simply say “my heart is in SA” and leave it at that, and instead they try to justify it with what are essentially baseless, or subjective, or even sometimes, entirely inaccurate points.
        What better reason could possibly exist for living there, than simply because it is where you are happiest? There is no counter argument to that.

    • Here’s the reason you want to go.

      Moving is in our blood.

      Is there an ethnic bloodline in this country that doesn’t have nomads hanging from some branch? Even if your blood is Khoisan, even then you’re a wanderer deep down under (perhaps thus the appeal of OZ?)

      The irony is that SA is essentially a country of descendants of folks looking for a better plek to pitch their tent. So we keep moving to honor their restlessness. We use all kinds of reasons to justify it, like them, better job opportunities, famine back home, religious persecution back home, adventure, opportunities for the kids, better grazing, sunshine, the Company made me do it, some oke with a bigger spear wanted to kill me…

      What did our ancestors do, they survived, they thrived, they occasionally bliksemed each other, they made friends, they made wine and they told tall stories under the stars whilst braaing a stukkie vleis. Errr… and then they, moved, again…

      So if your current plek isn’t doing it for you, move. Your ancestors will remind you of the way.

      PS. now that we’re being really honest, the only reason I came back to SA was for the boerewors…

  19. Thanks for the article Tom I like it very much. We left SA to live in the UK and came back after 2 years. We are outdoor people and the weather did not suit us. The only thing I wish is the most of the expats stop running our country down. People seem to scour the internet for whatever rubbish they can find just to criticise. You left now live in your new country and worry about the problems there and leave us to our lot.

    • Your words are so true Charles. The people that left and still criticise South-Africa are mainly unsure of their own decision, and need to justify all the effort, money and discomfort they caused themselves and their families by constantly berating this beautiful country. I say: If you leave, do so with your dignity in tact. This simultaneously applies to those still living in South Africa. If you do not like it here, just leave. We need people with a love for this country to pull together and share in Tom’s passion.

    • My wife is Dutch & she emigrated to SA when she was 24 because she wanted more than what the Netherlands offered her & although she would not think of moving back, she doesn’t dis her country, she is still proudly Dutch, same cannot be said about many South Africans that have emigrated, who seem to make it their business to run the country down . You are South African, no matter where you live, & just as we should not be in denial about the reality of living in South Africa, we should not be in denial of where we come from & who we are.

  20. Spot on, Tom! I travelled the world in a corporate job for 11 years, lived in first world countries and experienced the highest standards these countries have to offer. But, I returned to humble Port Elizabeth. Why? For the quality of life! And, the opportunity to leave a legacy for my children. Standard of living and quality of life are indeed not related. And it is the latter, that we all need in order to live a happy and balanced life.

  21. When I was a teenager my words was: I’ll never leave, I was born here I will stay here. Even after I got married I was in the staying camp and despised the leavers.
    HOWEVER
    my wife is expecting my second son and children WILL effect your whole point of view.
    I looked into my 14 month old boys eyes and was taken in my mind to the future where he is 18 and asks me: dad what now? I can’t find a job, I can’t go and study, why have you not done more for me?
    What will I answer?
    No, I choose to go to a place where I am not in the back of the line because I am not the correct shade of colour. I choose to go where my sons will have equal opportunities.
    One might say I am selfish and should stay to be part of the salution.
    In actual fact I feel it is selfless because I am taking my comfort away, I am taking my wife away from our beloved land, and for what. SO THAT MY CHILDREN CAN LIVE there lives.

    I cuoose life.

  22. This was a great read (despite all the spelling and grammar mistakes 🙂 ) and I agree on so many points. I too left SA almost 4 years ago. Why? For my daughter (and now her Vancouverite sister!) to have a great, worry free future, and so I would not have to watch and encourage her to leave one day anyway. I have been mugged, carjacked, broken into while asleep etc and enough was enough. While Vancouver is amazing, safe, beautiful and the lifestyle great overall, SA has by far the most genuine, friendly, and hospitable people, and I miss them all; and often the weather! But overall, I know I could never move back. I visited after 3 years and realized it would be impossible to readjust after 1st world life. Such a pity. If SA miraculously sorted out its politics and crime though, many would flood back I am sure.

  23. As a South African living in the USA I fully agree with your viewpoint. I have a great standard of living but not a great quality of life. Materialistically I have everything I need but miss the slower pace of life and the fact that South Africans have more time for each other. South Africa will always be in my blood and I’ll always go back to visit family. There are many expats who will go back in a heartbeat if the DA would get into power. Irrespective I would still like to start a non profit to make a difference down there.

    • Reinhard – why wait until the DA is back in power? do you just want an easy life? Come back and help the DA get in to power if that is what you want. Although it’ll still be just as hard. The Afrikaaner term “soutpiel” comes to mind … One foot in Africa, one foot in Europe so their d**’s hang in the water!

      Why start a non-profit to make a difference? There are any number of non-profits and people IN SOUTH AFRICA that are already making a difference. Don’t waste the money on administration and duplication. Do you research and support one that is already doing good work as they all need funding (or do you know how to do the job better than those people on the ground)

    • Lived in the US for 5 years and moved back with my family 3 years ago.

      My american wife loves being back even more than me it seems.

      But i must also say. The crime, load shedding, telkom etc is testing our patience.

  24. It is great to read from people who have made the move (interesting to note that they continue to watch what is happening – if I moved I would have to close the door and move on) and to see that the argument for “stay” and indeed “come” is there. I think that “go” could be over rated since there are still a lot of places where one can live freely, yes with a degree of security measures.
    I have lived in the UK for 2 years, US for 6 months and travelled all around Europe in my early 20’s for adventures sake and it was great but I always felt like an outsider.
    I feel strongly that people should explore more options in SA before jumping ship as one can relieve the fear and still be economically stable, even well off. One thing that hit me while traveling is that growing up in a foreign country (means your kids become of that country with accents and habits) means they will never know what it means to be South African. Saffers have forgotten or perhaps need reminding that if you see South Africa still as a pioneering village that needs to be moulded then everything, all the issues, life here starts to make sense.
    Finally, do not underestimate what “people” are doing for those that have not. I think “they” need more credit and need to be protected and rewarded for helping others climb out of poverty and make something of themselves. Hopefully those that have been helped don’t bugger off and stay to help aswell :-).

  25. We are immigrating at the end of the year. Our reason : we want freedom : the freedom to walk safely in the streets, the freedom to go out at night without the threat of being hijacked, the freedom to know the police force are responsive, active, involved and functional, the freedom to know you are not going to be stopped around every corner with a cop wanting a bribe, the freedom to know your government looks after the interest of all the people in the country, the freedom to know your children can play in the streets and ride their bikes, the freedom to know your hard earned taxes are being spent to improve the lives of all citizens …. the list is endless. Do I see that in S.A.? Absolutely not and it will never be back. History in Africa speaks a thousand words. But yes it’s a personal choice. We all have to decide on how we live. Will we have a braai? Absolutely “yes’ except it will be called a “barbeque”, is there sunshine? Absolutely “yes”, are their smiles and happy people? Absolutely “yes”. Will there be talk about “crime” “hijackings” corruption” etc etc around the dinner table? Absolutely “no”. It is not the house, the maid, the car, the job … in fact this does not even come into the equation. It’s called FREEDOM.

  26. Ermmm, just wondering if you have young children?? My child’s future is more important than biltong and ‘howzits’, and THAT is my reason for not choosing South Africa… I have the opportunity to provide my child with a better education, safer living and, I believe a better future… Moving back to South Africa due to missing the culture, sunshine, our families and friends would be selfish… My child’s future is more important to me.
    So again, I was just wondering if you have children(?), as I cannot imagine why, if given the opportunity, one would not want to give them the best chance at a normal, safe(r) life and better quality education and future than one could currently in South Africa?
    PS: we have fab biltong in the UK (and sure in other countries) too!

    • Thanks for your comments. I have two small children – both boys – aged 2 and 4. And like any parent I want the best for them. The only difference is my definition of “best”. To me “best” does not only mean better education and job oppourtunities. I worked with youth in the US and the UK, and most of the kids had all the oppourtunities in the world & yet they were longing for something else. Something bigger and beyond themselves. I think providing your children oppourtunities to see poverty face to face, and then go out and make a difference is just as important as giving them a good education. In fact it is education! Again, the whole point is that it is about more than your own self and future. Mother Teresa, Martin Luther, Ghandi – these people were not great because they sought out their own “future” – they were great because they sought to make a better future for others as well! I want my kids to learn that!

    • I have three young children and could live anywhere in the world. We travel extensively but are only truly happy at home. The opportunities at home are massive to anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. I would rather live a middle class lifestyle in Aus than SA but we don’t choose a mediocre existence. The best thing you can do for your kids is be happy and make a lot of money. Money will give your kids choices. The gaps left in the market by those that have left are huge and anyone with a bit of work and a half a brain can make a fortune in SA unlike any place I have seen. This in turn gives you the best quality of life and standard of living oh and allows you to travel the world only to return home and realize how fortunate you really are.

    • As Tom said everyone must make their own choices because everyone has their own priorities. The only thing I would suggest is to not believe everything you read in the papers and hear around the braai. Truthfully most middle and upper class South Africans have access to a top quality education. This is true both in private schools and the top government schools. It is also true for most universities. This is why countries around the world accept South Africans because they research it and know our schools provide an excellent quality of education.

      Also in terms of job opportunities the facts don’t tie up to the perceptions. If you look at young white people their unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world. Although I have never seen the figures I suspect the same is ture for all race groups where the people have experienced a good quality education. Despite what people believe their are plenty of jobs available for well educated people. Yes it is hard getting into the first job and maybe it will not be at the level you would like, but talk to anyone around the world and you will find this is as true around the world as it is here. I unfortunately know many South Africans who have emigrated and ended up not getting the sorts of opportunities they hoped for. Equally I know many who have found them. There are no guarantees anywhere.

      Everyone must make their own choice the only thing I would encourage everyone to do is do it on not only on what you think you know but also on the real facts.

    • Freedom, job opportunities, kid’s best interests, crime free environments, all very valid reasons for leaving a place (and choosing a new one). Everyone has the duty to themselves and their family to find a place they fit. Choices will be shaped by the resources and opportunities available. Prior research, attitude and stamina are key to making any move a success.

      However, a move from Jozi to Knysna, or Durbs to Graaf Reinett could equally have the same effect. Don’t like the City move to a Dorp. Don’t like mine dumps in your back yard, go put your feet in the sea.

      Kids in SA will experience a diversity of cultures and challenges, in doing so they can (not always) become adaptable and resourceful, confident in their ability to find a way. If you believe the world is becoming a village, those skills become essential and sought after.

      SA has plenty to offer, both people wise and environment. The UK, Oz, States, even Timbuktu have their own uniqueness.

      I find the, “1st world my only world now, if the DA comes marching in we’re back in a flash, if you don’t have kids you won’t understand, OZ (insert appropriate destination) is better than Black Cat peanut butter, get out before the whole bangshoot collapses…” all very self serving arguments.

      The experience of one is the experience of one, find your plek and be happy. Allow others to do the same.

    • All these comments about “you’ll look at it differently if you have kids”.

      You want a normal life for your kids? What exactly is normal, and will your kids have the same idea of normal as you do?

      This is Africa, opportunities are everywhere if you’re willing to put some sweat into it and get your hands dirty, and anyone who tells you different is just not willing to work for it. People automatically assume their kids will want comfortable corporate jobs, but the reality is much different with the younger generations.

      Your kids will be fine wherever they grow up, but don’t come tell me that your kids will be better off than mine because you moved or that I’m not doing the best for my kid. SA is producing world class entrepreneurs, and they’re perfectly positioned to take on the emerging markets in the rest of Africa.

      • Good comment. One of the reasons i moved back was for my kids.

        In my opinion us south africans grow up with a very unique mindsets and as a result we make a plan and flourish wherever we are.

        I want my kids to grow up as a south africans and to help build this rainbow nation.

  27. Tom and all writers, I must commend you on this blog, it was really good reading.

    Wow, where to start. When family members 6 – 10 years ago were running for meetings regarding leaving SA, and paying rather large deposits, to mainly Australian emigration companies, I was the one refusing to go! For all the good reasons, I was staying in the sunny, diverse, promising future, smiley SA. And now, all of them are still in SA and I have been out for 4 years now, living in Singapore for 3 years and the Netherlands for 1 year.

    As stated many times and especially for me, “a better life”, standard of living and also quality of life” belongs to the individual. It can mean “surfing with mates, braais, great weather, safety”. For me it meant only one thing really “future”. When I started doubting the long term future, for me, my wife and my kids, it was at this stage, we decided to leave SA. It’s probably the same type of decision you may make, when changing companies??

    You are all right, it is a bloody tough decision and then the leaving, is just as bad. But it is quite an adventure, kids saw snow in their garden for the first time this year, and it included a family snow fight. But Jason is also very right, there are Saffers everywhere, therefore there is always a place to find somebody making droewors and biltong, braais are happening all over the world etc.

    For me the biggest thing is make the decision, stay or go, both could be right. For us, to leave for now, was the right decision. Also leaving doesn’t mean you can never go back. Most importantly, stop the moaning and whining! And make your decisions soon, the rest of the world is becoming expensive, raising the barriers to leaving.

    Good luck SA, we will see you in December. I hope for better leadership going forward.

  28. Dream on Tom.
    As the Eagles music album states: “Hell will freeze over” before a “solution” will have any affect. It’s just an unrealistic fantasy. There have been 20 years to put shoulder to the wheel and make a difference. Tell me: what difference has this solution achieved? And now it’s too late.
    I too am saddened at the state of beautiful SA. It’s a tragedy, but one that will not be turned around. The writing has been on the wall for years. I commend you for your postive spirit, but I have doubts whether it will achieve much, if anything. The odds (crime, corruption etc.) are simply stacked against you. Which of course is a great pity.
    My wife and I with our two sons made the deliberate decision to leave 12 years ago. We are extremely happy in rural New Zealand with their hospitable and down-to-earth people. I would rather sleep with my windows and doors open, which we often do, than with a gun under my pillow, which I did. That to me is “quality of life”.
    (By the way, New Zealand is regularly rated as one of the top and happiest countries to live in, and also that it has the least corrupt government in the world. Not to mention its incredible natural beauty. And the place is crawling with South Africans.)
    My one son now lives in Sydney, but unfortunately my other one returned to SA to marry his sweetheart for which I don’t blame him. And to be fair, to get them to leave Knysna will be difficult.
    My recommendation to anyone in SA – get out while you can. The exchange rate only gets worse. Do it, and do it now. The real brave ones are those who have exchanged the land of their birth for life elsewhere. It takes a truck load of guts, major adjustments and adaptations, and with today’s exchange rates – major loss of assets. And because it’s tough for some, they go back to SA. That is their choice.
    One thing is absolute: the overwhelming majority of people who have left SA, left for safety reasons, and have been able to settle into new exciting worlds.

    • Interesting debate. I have to respond to this one! Ok my cred’s: I have a child, I have lived in over 7 different countries travelled to so interesting places, and out of SA for 13 years. I came back! I love SA’s vibrancy, but I also loved Tanzania’s. I despair at SA’s institutional collapse, but would take it any day over Iran’s very efficient state institutions. Ja I think our current President sucks, but I’d take him any day over a guy like Bush who caused mayhem globally, at least Zuma doesn’t have that reach. Switzerland works, it’s a national disaster if the train is late by 3 minutes, hey I count on the train being late so I can make it and when your neighbours report to the cops because you flushed the loo late at night, maybe err just maybe the grass ain’t so green. The UK commons are wonderful, but crossing the road requires being warned by 20 different signs of the danger!! As to the exchange rate, well SA’s has done everything: stable, yo-yo, best performing, now in a dip. Tom isn’t dreaming, Tom has made a choice, he’s weighed up his options and found a place he make a contribution. I did the same. You left. Cool. Enjoy it there. I hope you’re making the contribution you want where you’re at! Now for those okes trapped in Jozi, hey bhura’s, head to the coast it’s a lot closer than Oz and much prettier and filled with lekka chaps (with kids)…

  29. We do not need to give any excuses for staying or leaving. We are who we are and we are where we want to be. Is that not enough?

  30. Hi and thank you for the article. I live in London, I love Africa. Many cannot leave and many want to return. Miss the red dust, the setting sun, the high veld storms, the beaches and the coffee at Woollies. Oh, how we elevate memories when ‘verlange’ sets in. Nostalgia is a constant mistress but life happened and London is a tough, though interesting place to live in. Each one has a story, children to consider, parents to leave behind. To romanticise or criticise is natural; to consider those who are trying to make a difference, who are not even able to think about ‘going’ or ‘staying’ is imperative. Whichever route you choose, it is your chapter.

  31. Thanks Tom! You literally took the words right out of my mouth! We need to be pro-active in our countries future. This is after all our country! We can never fix a problem by running away! I have lived abroad for 10 years and have just moved back. Every place had its problems the only difference was that people got up and stood up for their countries and for what they believe in.. At the end of the day, SA rocks! There is no place like home!!

  32. ““Everything just works”, “We can leave our doors open”, “Better job oppourtunities”. Of course these things are great but surely there is more to it than that?”

    No, there isn’t. At least not as a father. (I don’t know if you have kids). I’m not here to make a difference to a society that would as soon smile at me as slit my throat. I want to make a difference where human lives matter, where civil responsibility is taken seriously and people understand that society has rules, where the leader of the nation doesn’t sit and chuckle as the festering underbelly of his corrupt regime is exposed, where the police responsible for public protection aren’t treating their uniforms and vehicles as magical revenue generators…

    “Make a difference?” I can’t fix this alone, and I’m not interested in dying trying.

    I’m sick of the apologists for this broken shadow of a once-great nation.

  33. Yes SA is not in a good space but THERE ARE good people doing good things. It’s important to look for the sun through the clouds. Every country has it’s issues. The world itself isn’t a good space but it’s far more important to stay positive and focus on all the good things and not the negative! Call me naive but I choose not to read / listen to / hear all the crap that us humans are dishing out on each other. Not only in SA but across the world. Life is short. Focus on the now, on what we have, for what will be will be, regardless of the country you’re living in.

  34. im originally from then US but I lived in SA for almost four years. I love that country, and when I see it on the news or tv I think “home sweet home.” I promise all of you that every country has its problems, but like another commentor said, the world is turning into a global village and right now, SA is a beacon of hope and inspiration to the entire world. I know you all feel it, and if you’re having trouble remembering, think of the World Cup. That was a time of great togetherness, and my heart got buried deeper in SA soil than ever before. I would move back in a heart beat, my field (special education) is ripe for change there, and I would love to be a part of it, but my family is here. I often tell people “go there and spend lots of money, the people alone are worth it!” South Africans are the best. On another note, I understand a lot of people left SA for Australia and the UK years ago for their children. I often have trouble with their opinion because moving to those countries right now is incredibly difficult, not like it was before. Na of course they are going to stay strong to their decision, however they don’t know what their life would have been like if they stayed, they can only measure a guess. Stay in SA. The country created Nelson Mandela during its darkest period- imagine what can be done there during the brightest? Which I know is right around the corner! Oh, I miss the biltong and the beauty, but I miss all of the people the most.

  35. What is clear from this blog is; its a personal choice. For me I got SO uptight with the damage being inflicted on my country with me being powerless to influence it, that i packed up and left.
    I have now lived in the UK for 6 years and hell, it was hard but we have just acquired UK citizenship and my child has a brilliant future, which was my biggest motivation anyway.
    With my feelings bout the situation in SA, me leaving was both good for me and good for South Africa. I am unwilling to accept what is happening there and could not live with it.
    My only regret in moving was that I waited so long.

  36. My personal opinion, based on personal experience: if I was a South African I would be looking very closely at a certain country to the North, where no-one believed what happened there (and is still happening as we speak) could ever happen, and I would be making contingency plans. Tick tock…

    • Reason I left SA Zimzamzim, I looked North and Zim is just one of many that walked the same path SA is walking. First signs is the infrastructure collapsing which end up destroying the economy.. History repeating itself.

  37. Is the courage in leaving… Or in staying? Who knows. I certainly don’t. We make our life choices given circumstances at the time and hope they’re the right ones… Our choices are our own… Should have no need to justify them.

  38. Anyone who says leaving your family and friends behind is ‘comfortable’ and ‘easy’ has got to be kidding!! ‘Safe’ yes, if you work damn hard to live in a decent area in your new chosen country.

    My husband and I moved to the UK in our early twenties and we have both worked incredibly hard to have our happy home, good careers and wonderful little family here. It has NOT been easy, especially while raising our children without any grandparents or family to help.

    But I am damned proud of what we have achieved and that our children now have the world at their feet – every opportunity to succeed and no evil politicians constantly plotting to discriminate against them.

    And we still have close and loving relationships with our families who are very happy that our children are growing up in an equal and fair society.

    I cannot be loyal to a country that has always had rotten leadership and flawed values. Most of the people are lovely – but god help them…

  39. While I appreciate the sentiment of staying and fighting the good fight, I also firmly believe it is irresponsible to bring children into the world in a country with such a despicable crime rate and an economy that has demonstrated that it will continue to plunge, and political structure that continues to alienate itself from the first world.

  40. My poor ugly potato plucking Irish ancestors would be pissed off to see me leave such a beautiful place and throw away the lifestyle you can still have in SA. Granted, with care and caution, but I’m certain it was better than that potato famine back in Ireland. I have yet to dig up a Potato from the ground or be subject to some pompous British bastard for being Irish. Also, consider how literally insane old Patty O’Brien McMally O’Donohue must have been to hop on a ship bound for Africa?!?!?! It takes some balls and thats definitely where us European South Africans (and those of Dutch / German decent) attribute our pioneering spirit. We are NOT like those we left behind all those many years ago. We will never be.

    I think of it this way (blatant opinion). The europeans that have not left Europe are stuck in a near socialistic death spiral of indecision and boredom. They’ve educated themselves to the point of stupidity and cultured themselves to the point of confusion. They lack entrepreneurship, unity, creativity and the general gusto for life. Except all the southern regions of the Med (long live Spain, France, Italy, Portugal), they have it figured out (food, friends & family) . Northern European culture? pathetic. Bunch of hopeless pessimists waiting for the government to feed them, educate them etc. They are order takers and not order makers. They either listen to their Queen, David Beckham (Posh with some consulting on the side) and now Obama.

    Of the Europeans who left northern Europe, we South Africans were the most badass of all emigrants. It is actually matter of FACT. Let’s dive in.

    Australians – Descendants of convicts. Nation lacking morality, deeply vain and ignorant of other cultures…killed off the original aborigine population as a sport. A nation that pretends to be its own but still gets it’s udders milked by her British royal majesty.

    Americans – Great chaps. All walks of life with plenty of opportunity. You’ll never be one of them but they’ll except you and think that you’re interesting. You will still feel like an alien however after many years. Note that they too, for the most part, killed off the local native american population.

    Canadians – …

    New Zealanders – Aside from Rugby and being Australia’s bitch boy brother, NZ is culturally more like a Norway than anything else. Deeply Regulated society with limited global influence appeal or purpose. It’s beautiful, but its just “there”.

    South Africans – Throw some irish potato famine runaway O’Mally with a beautiful French winemaking, religiously persecuted Le Roux and a Dutch reformed hard-lining, foortrekking Van Zyl and you end up with Charlize Theron! Creme de la Creme I tell you. Throw in our beautiful Cape malay, Indian, Zulu and Xhosa brethren and we’re more interesting and noteworthy than my heritage site of Kilkenny, Ireland thats for certain. We are the only nation of northern European immigrants to retain their local population. Sure, we created Apartheid, which was horrible by all accounts but we didn’t stoop down to levels of the americans or australians. Therefore we are the only nation of those highlighted above that is working toward a future with our co-inhabitants and fellow South Africans.

    On this basis, we are the most successful inclusive nation that was spawned out of colonialism. We are forging a path that few have trodden.

    I’m here to stay.

  41. I love South Africa. All the things you mentioned. Nothing makes one feel more patriotic than listening to our anthem when overseas, or watching our national sports teams, hearing a Johnny Clegg song and finding Mrs. Balls. However, I once did an employment equity course with the company that helped the government formulate affirmative action policy and I asked how long affirmative action would be in place? Indefinitely. How can I give my 2 boys every opportunity in a country that limits their career opportunities based on the colour of their skin? That might prevent them getting a spot in a degree of their choice or the ability to obtain funding for their studies? So despite how much I love SA, I need to consider their futures.

  42. I’ve lived all over the globe and chose to settle in South Africa, although I was born here and have lost all connection with where my ancestors hailed from. I think that makes me a 5th generation Saffy? I consider myself an Earthling, a citizen of the world. What I learned from living in other countries is that after a short time you realise they have as many problems as any governed country. It’s all relative eventually. I just decided one day to pick a spot and make it home. I live by the creed of ” do your best, live in hope , prepare for the worst”. That means always having a Plan B. It’s never prudent to put all your eggs in one basket. So I live here, quite happily, while keeping my eye on the bigger picture ( those pesky politicians ) and making sure I have options if things go truly belly up. So saying, I’m not an observer. I get involved where necessary. 🙂

  43. firstly. i have traveled to quite a few places and yes there are countries that’s worse than South Africa. when i was away i did miss the biltong, cream soda, aromat, chutney, etc.
    that being said you most of the places i visited had some sort of “South African” shop where you could get most of the SA goodies. the reason i want to leave this country is due to the following.

    economy – our rand value is going down and down. meaning that unless you make quite a decent amount of money you will never be able to travel outside of South Africa as you will not be able to afford it.

    Safety – I can remember as a kid playing hide and seek, “tok toki” in the streets until 9pm at night with no worries of being killed. having the freedom to go to parks play safely. sadly that is not the case anymore. kids grow up in homes in front of the computers/tv and even inside its not safe. you need a lot of money to buy a property in a security estate just to feel kind of safe. even in these rich estates crime still happens. Farmers being murdered. reading articles of young girls stopping next to the highway to call and find directions just to be ambushed. then they give their phones as the thieves requested and being shot straight after just for fun. Kids being stolen from Restaurant playing grounds, babies being rented out by their teachers in baby schools. We have a corrupt government, police and so on and so on. this country could possibly become a better place one day. but not in the next 20 years. we have to many insanely rich people and then extremely poor people. Farmers being murdered.

    incompetence – Like i mentioned. i have traveled to a few places. even third world countries. South Africa has by far got the most incompetent people. the reason for this is everybody feels they are underpaid. this is the case in 90% of the jobs out there. people are underpaid. because the rich want to get richer and not pay people what they are worth or what the mean to the company. company policies in this country is… that is what you will be paid. if you don’t like it leave. we will just employ someone else. and that is why 90% of the companies in this country end up with incompetent people. every service i have received in this country has been bad. every single one. people not doing their jobs and in the end you lose money.

    living expenses – taxes now going up again. more taxes added to fuel, alcohol and tobacco. just so that your president can do upgrades to his house worth 240 million. while we have millions of people who can barely survive. who live in shacks. who don’t have jobs. forced to rob and steal to survive.

    Eskom – No management. and yet another example of incompetence. businesses losing money. more crime. as a lot of residences can be targeted due to load shedding. they charge so much for the little service they deliver

    Education system – our educations system has gone to shit. and finishing matric these days means close to nothing in South Africa and absolutely nothing everywhere else in the world as every apple can get it if they can count to 10. Not just schools but higher education facilities as well. this means more and more incompetent people enter our working environment on a yearly basis. meaning poor service.

    I don’t want to raise kids in this place. i want my kids to be able to go play with their friends in the park. I don’t want to drive around worried when i see a person walking towards me at a red robot that ill be hijacked. I don’t want to sit without power for 4 – 6 hours every day when we pay very high rates on electricity.

    I will always support South African support. but the government. no. I can have a braai in any country. 😀

    As soon as the EFF takes over the country (and believe me they will) this country will fall. even with all the foreign investment.

    the first opportunity I get im out of here.

  44. This is a great article with great responses and everyone has their own ways and wants. I have kids and chose to stay. I have a few friends who sold everything and hated it and came back with nothing so for those of you who want to leave please do your home work don’t just leave. I have a few friends who left and it saddened me cause they are so good at what they do that they could make such a huge difference in this country. At the end of the day be happy with your decision and don’t sit in your new country bad mouthing SA. It’s easier sitting on the sideline saying what’s wrong than being in the game making a difference.

  45. Anybody who is economically active should consider another path for their lives. Retirees should find a safe place to live and take full advantage of the interest rates and live out their lives in the sunshine – you won’t find that anywhere else, I don’t think.

    However, I do find it amazing that fundamentals such as security, safety, corruption, politics are the things that drive people away, then they return because they want domestic servants and sunshine. I simply don’t get it – either those things are important to you or not: and they clearly cannot be that important if other trivial things bring you back.

    Each one to their own, but enough with the hypocrisy, the kumbaya, the group hugs and the self-delusion. Only certain sections of the nation are sacred, the civil service serves the ruling party and not the citizenry, and just like Brazil, the corrupt feather their nests and stay in power because it’s in their interests to, business carries on regardless because the corruptos understand the need for successful commerce, the uneducated masses vote for the corruptos based on corrupt and empty politics, and the rest of us are in the minority and don’t have a voice.

    Therefore…. nothing changes because almost everybody is happy.

  46. I really enjoyed reading your article as I am in the “stayers” club, I really resonate with the ideal of making a difference in a country that needs us. I also believe that there are many challenges which we are not oblivious to but if they are viewed as opportunities and we can come together once again as a nation and do something, we can overcome them. Thanks again for your patriotism and optimism. We need more people with this perception to speak up because the majority feel defeated by the situation but, together, we can make a difference by doing something…

  47. South Africa is a truly great county bit boundless potential, its just sad that the ruling majority has not made any true improvements in the last 20 years and is steadily running the country into the ground, not just in an economic sense but social as well, racial hatred is higher than ever.

  48. Like Magnis Heystek said…. there are two kinds of EX-Zimbabweans…. those who took their money out in time….. and those who wish they took their money out 😉 ….. same will happen in SA….sad but true.

  49. South Africa is my home and always will be, partly because I grew up here. Born in the ” apartheid era” and not being any the wiser that way of living at the time seemed to be the norm. However since then things have changed in so far as humans being treated like humans and not being down-trodden by another ethnic group. This was the plan however it has not worked out that way and me being brave and staying here is probably the only thing I can do.

    However when it comes to my kids that were not born in the apartheid era and have nothing to do with apartheid and yer still get challenged on that aspect everyday of their lives is not fair, unfortunately it will never end. Black and white can not live together this has been the case for 100’s of years and it will be the case for another 100 years….The USA is living proof of this they have black and white issues even worse that what we have here. My family comes before pride and I encourage my kids everyday to leave and go work elsewhere. This country is on the down-slide of that there is no doubt…for growing up in the apartheid era I will take some of that responsibility but my kids definitely not…..

  50. Reading all the posts in this forum is really inspiring seeing how many people are patriotic. Evey situation however has a reality to it and the reality in this country is plain for everyone to see…..the people of this country ( regardless of color ) have been let down by the very Government by whom they voted in. This situation is not going to change anytime soon….do you really think that even in the small chance another party wins the election that the existing government will give up their right to power…NOT GOING TO HAPPEN….you will have a civil war on your hands. As much as I hate to say it the day the new Government was voted in is the day this country started dying…

    • Clayton, the only thing we can predict is, that the future is completely unpredictable, things can change for the better or worse quickly, granted it is easier to destroy something than it is to create, so the odds of things changing for the worse are higher than those for the better, but never underestimate humans ability to survive, if for example South Africas Obama (Mmusi Maimane) can get through to Black voters, we could see a significant change from what we have today in a relatively short time, SA has huge potential & is currently grossly under performing, imagine what can happen if\when the current leadership is kicked out, like a desert after the rain, SA will change, the question is when & how.

  51. I’m afraid we are leaving SA. Lived my whole life here and my heart is in pieces….but we have options to go and children and therefore we need to be brave and do it for them. They are not going to get jobs here. I don’t want to wait to be a statistic of violence either. And even in the sleepy DA run Western province…violence has just stepped up in the suburbs big time! After a letter from our financial advisor and some very informative financial and political research from some very high powered people in the know… after the budget and SONA… my gut says for those who can leave, they should do so. Sadly the writing is on the wall. I think we have enjoyed this beautiful land and we are now overstaying our welcome here. We as a family have pushed it out…but the end for us is in sight! 😦 Yes its my home but we are being forced out. Our government doesn’t want our kind and neither do the poorer disillusioned masses. It is not a racist comment it is just the harsh reality! Our Government has failed its people and Mandela, the gracious leader, must be turning in his grave with embarrassment and disappointment. There was so much potential 20 years ago…but its time to get real and make a new path if you can. I wish it were different with all my heart but i can t lie to myself any more and just accept the violence, crumbling structures, an untrustworthy police force and a lot of very hungry poor people who naturally want what I have and will stop at nothing to take it… and at the top, sits a very corrupt fat cat government…. ikona… no more… Good luck whatever you choose…..

  52. Every morning I thank my lucky stars that my kids are growing up in a safe and decent society. Yes I miss my family and friends back home but I don’t miss anything about SA in general…good luck to whatever you choose

  53. An optimist will say ‘The grass is greener on the other side’. A pessimist will argue and reply ‘ That’s only because the manure is a lot deeper’. No matter where you go in the world or what you do, the one common denominator that is always present, is you. If you are an unhappy person, you will be unhappy no matter where you go. Live each day as if it were you last, enjoy the moment. Jump out of your comfort zone and push your boundaries. You have one life, so live it.

  54. SA is a beautiful country and most of the people are great . but has a lot of vicious and cruel people aswell. It really is unsafe for the retired folk. We’ve been out of SA 11years now and still have property there. Yes, we too have had family members murdered. Still undecided whether to return for retirement or not?

  55. when arriving here in 1997 I found a country filled with hope.. nowadays I see a country filled with despair.. I’m returning to Europe, it’s too much about what color who has over here.. Can’t handle it anymore..

  56. What everyone fails to mention is that there is no future in South Africa for young people other than opening their own business.

    • …. only to be taxed to death, regulated, looted and forced to give half of it away to someone of a different race purely to stay in business. Its tough being in SA as a white person – so what you are saying makes sense

  57. Its not the sun or the biltong, it is summed up perfectly in SA tourism’s campaign; alive with possibility. As a south African living in UK, I feel a sense of responsibility to make a difference to the people in south Africa and that can only be done if you’re there. Like you say, we are a people that stand up and fight and we have the ability to make a difference and you will feel like you have lost than ability abroad.

  58. The predominantly white South Africans’ definition of ‘quality of life’ is largely constructed on the historically inherited and ubiquitous practice of cheap labour: in the homes, in the gardens, in business, doing the ‘dirty work’ that frees them to earn big salaries and buy them time for leisure living. Quality of life in SA, unfortunately is a definition that entails privilege inherited from a past that systematically abused and dehumanised that majority of South Africans. There is still much work to be done, to undo the continued excesses that create a handful of affluents living in excessive opulence, whilst the majority of South Africans struggle to eek out a semblance of survival. All white South Africans need to be fully aware of their privileges and be actively engaged in initiatives that seek to redress the iniquities of the past. No one South African can afford not to.There is a time-bomb ticking in South Africa, until the rich cease getting richer and the poor have access to basic living conditions that give life material dignity. Culturally, South Africa is of the wealthiest of nations: its assets are its people. But the land question is a trembling one. It is constructed on the cancer of colonialism. Truth and Reconciliation programmes need to be re-instated, to access all tiers of South African life, including the military. Land re-distribution with proper and sustainable support needs to be consolidated. Unemployed and poorly educated youth need to be recruited into Peace Corps, with skills training and deployment into construction, health, education and culture programmes. We need visionary leadership that dares to walk its talk: that provides impeccable moral and lifestyle leadership. For South Africa to ‘work’: it needs every single South Africa to do exactly that. Work to redress the wrongs of the past, consciously and conscientiously, in every way, every day..and take nothing for granted. It is a privilege to live in South Africa. Share it. Don’t take any aspect of it for granted. The land is soaked in blood, if you care to look closely. The wounds of the collective psyche are deep. You see it on the barbed wires, the electric fences; you hear it in the sirens the alarms, the screams and gunshots at night, you find it in the headlights of another mad road-rager, you never walk alone at night for fear of it, you lie with an axe beside your bed at night, wondering if you will be able to protect your children. And then you wake up and the sun is shining, and the ‘garden-boy’ is singing a song you can barely understand and you call Selina and ask if the breakfast is ready.

  59. I feel exactly the same and that is why I’m returning to SA next month. Yes, my standard of living is great where I am now but not my quality of life. I see what an ‘easy’ life does to a person (or a nation in this case) and I want no part of it. People have told me that I’m crazy to want to go back but I look forward to the simple pleasures as well as trying to make a difference in my community. I truly do think that our country needs us and we shouldn’t give up on it yet. Every now and then I see a glimmer of hope when someone posts an inspirational message on FB about their opinion on SA and I know that I’m not one of the only ones to feel like we have an amazing country with amazing people.

  60. I think this is a really good post, I have not as yet read all the comments as yet, as I got annoyed when I saw this: “Because “comfortable” and “safe” and “easy” are not the goal” – If anyone thinks it is easy leaving your home country, your friends and your family are out of their mind! Do you think it is easy to have to stand in a queue for 5 hours in fekkin 2 degrees outside the police station waiting to get your visa approved? Do you think it is easy when you miss your family’s milestone events? Yes it was our choice, we never intended to leave SA it just happened that way. Do you think it’s easy when your new home country goes through a recession and you can’t find a job and they won’t even employ you because you were not born in that country? Nothing is easy my friend – we all make choices and I think it is a personal choice and it has nothing to do with anyone else, but let me tell you one thing those that leave and manage to make a home in another country are “strong”, “strong” minded strong willed and just generally strong! I take my hat off to all people who have managed to leave and sacrifice the “easy” and “comfortable” life in SA for a “safe” home for their families elsewhere.
    I can now sympathise with those people who want to come to South Africa for a better life and have to go through the whole emigration process, only then to be faced with Xenophobia – because we have been there and we did not take the “easy” way out and go back!!!

  61. I type “this badly spelt letter with tears in my eyes!”

    We left SA six years ago at the age of 26 with a heavy heart to say the least…
    I never ever thought I would leave SA, never! I love the place and always will. I grew up on the coast of Cape Town @ one to the most beautiful beach in the world (Llandudno). I was so lucky to experience the beauty of the place. The older I got the more challenging it became to find a job, get ahead. We decided to leave for NZ with no expectations yet to try and find a safer, carefree life for our one day children we planned to have. We left everything and everyone behind… if this is not courage’s I don’t know what is…

    Six years later not that it’s been easy but I can honestly say we have made the best decision of our lives – we have recently had our 1st born boy and I know this move will be so good for him. He will one day ask me why my accent is so different and I will tell him all the tales around a braai not a barbeque. I look around and see so much opportunity for him and that’s all that matters to us. NZ is a wonderful little country and def not as most would describe. Find the pockets of happiness.

    I will always miss my literally entire family, friends and homeland but truly believe we have made a good call. I will always offer a room, a garage to the people I love when needed. Plus the waves are so good – shhhhhh .

    Prawn.

  62. I agree with Tom the motivations need to be examined closely when making BIG choices like leaving your home for a would be better life. As a Brit raised in South Africa, who returned to England to only come back and have now been back for nearly ten years realising it is a wonderful place to raise a family. Then sadness falls upon me. I grow tired of the lack of jobs, the restlessness of our people, the seemingly endless ridiculousness of the government, the economic situation, the rising cost of living with salaries and income not keeping up with the cost of living, it is a sad reality that you would face some of these challenges in many countries and I choose to stay, to do what I can, to create jobs, inspire hope, spread love and keep believing in this beautiful country.

  63. always said I would put the lights off on the way out , never thought I would ever leave RSA. I did in 2006, I found the grass was greener on the other side , a bright , lush green. I now , live in Brisbane and love it , this is now home.

  64. Well, I’m staying!
    Sure, there are times when I think leaving is a really good idea; the frustration of slow, laggy internet speeds, the enormous hassle of transferring my customers payments from the USA and UK to SA, the advantage of being closer to where my customers live (USA and UK), power outages, extremely expensive fuel (in relation to the average citizens income)…
    But life is not about the internet, business, electricity etc (well, not to me anyway). These things are just challenges that must be dealt with. No matter where one lives there are going to be challenges; these may be different, but there will still be challenges.
    So I’m staying. I’m staying to enjoy the good things this land has to offer; the lifestyle, plenty of space, nature at it’s best, great fishing, the beaches, surf, diverse and interesting people…
    Yeah, so the politicians suck. What’s new? Politicians suck everywhere, ours just suck with an African flavour.
    It’s up to those of us who choose to stay to hold these suckers to account, change the things we don’t like. We did it once, we can do it again!
    Opportunity… Yeah, iniquitous systems e.g. BBBEE (“affirmative action”) penalise people based on race. To me it seems this particular policy has penalised the very people it’s suppose to empower more than anyone else. Get over it. Every closed door opens another door of opportunity.
    I’d advise young people to go overseas, broaden their horizons, learn other ways of thinking, doing things. You can always come back – with experience, knowledge, maturity that will serve you well for the rest of your life, no matter where you live.
    Yeah, crime is a problem; where isn’t there crime in this world. Maybe ours is more pervasive, more violent than in many other nations.
    I happen to like living where I’m free; free to think what I want, say what I want, pretty much do what I want… I didn’t want to leave when I did not have these freedoms – and that wasn’t so long ago. I stayed in order to work towards gaining these freedoms… I’ll stay and work to retain these freedoms.
    But all that’s just me. Staying or leaving is a personal decision. For some of you it may be the better, even the only, choice that makes sense.

  65. Thanks for this post Tom. This is a dilemma facing so many South Africans currently.
    I take a deep bow of gratitude for those who have made the decision to stay in our beloved country and face the challenges and be part of solutions in whatever way they can. To those who have left, I admire your fortitude and wish you well in your journey ahead. Either way, it takes great courage to go, or, to stay…. May God bless us all. Pam

  66. My daughter wants to be a doctor – but because she is white she will never be able to because they are not letting whites in to the doctorate programs. Sadly this is why I am looking to move

  67. Tom, you can’t bail out by saying you hesitate to respond due to your opening statement. If you had ended your position on “no right or wrong answer” and not elaborated on your own position or opinion, that would have held your philosophical assertion intact and it would be able to stand on its own as it was. Unfortunately you extended your opinion and experience on the matter which is open to scrutiny or clarification in a public forum like this. If you want to facilitate and mediate a proper discussion through your blog, then do so properly and complete it rather than attempt to vale and protect your opinion through an opening statement such as the one you made. If you are looking for affirmation from other like-minded people to feel better about your choice, that sounds like a venture of self indulgence and self serving.

    While I appreciate the pull of your own and the love for our beautiful country, choosing where to live and build a future is always a throw of the dice. You are right to say convenience and an easy life should not be the only goal and where everyone chooses to invest their lives and pursue the lifestyle they want is very much everyone’s own journey to take. For me, and most Saffa’s living abroad, it comes down to a simple factor really: Where do I invest my talents and which economy do I want build wealth to secure and good future. In the first world, I have 100 times more assurance of building a wealth pot from which I can choose to retire anywhere in the world. I use the word “chance” because nothing is a certainty. At the same time I can earn a first world salary which affords me the benefit to travel to the Maldives, walk the trails of Machu Piccu and or fly-fish for tarpon in the bahama’s…all in the same year and still come to SA, climb the Drakensberg, party in Camps bay and play with lions at the Lion and Rhino and all at the very low price given the value of the Rand at the moment as it is not on par with first world economies. On a recent trip, my girlfriend and I had to flee Pietermaritzburg after spending 3 hours attempting to renew our passports, and to no avail I might add, due to the Xenophobia attacks happening in an adjacent road. The load-shedding was super fun too…and it has been around since 2006, 9 years of it…
    The fact is, investing my time and talents into an economy which presents vague idea’s of a future or progress at best and from which I can have the comfortable life I want, as I’m sure many south african’s do, is not a prudent option at the moment. It is very much a high risk/high reward gamble that could turn sour like we saw sub-prime derivatives do in 2008.
    South Africa, without a doubt, has ENORMOUS potential to be the best country to live in in the world. It could be paradise, it has everything from a lifestyle perspective: Sea, sands, mountains, wine, friendly people, sports, you name it. Awesome. it is missing some key ingredients around economic stability, trustworthy government and infrastructural pillars such as education and service delivery are key. The problem though is, potential is not enough to convince me it is the place to invest myself right now. It could be in the future if things go the right way but after hearing Zuma and the ANC’s and EFF’s support for an acceleration in land reform and the proposed ideas on jointly owned farms, it is all too familiar reminder of what happened to the Zimbabwean economy. Just because it is happening slowly, doesn’t mean it’s not happening at all or gives us food for worry and I don’t want to be 40 or 50 years old, homeless, landless, penniless and looking to seek asylum somewhere because I made a bad gamble. I can say for certainty though, you will see a massive influx of expats if the right people can right the ship.

    • Thanks Daniel. I appreciate your comments, and as i said – each to their own – there is no right or wrong answer here. My heart was not really to engage in the stay/go debate so much as to engage in the quality of life/standard of living myth that I see so many people falling trap to.

    • Dear Daniel
      Is Cadbury’s chocolate made in the UK better than that made in SA? Does a Mars Bar come anywhere close to a Bar One? Is our Black Cat peanut bars anything close to those peanut butter cups found in the UK (can’t for the life of me remember their names)
      Your answer I think will depend on a bunch of things, whether you’ve had the chance to taste both options, what your personal taste preference is, the value you attach to the brand based on your experience of it, what your friends think of it, whether your tuck shop stored it when you were young, or what some glossy magazine says of it.
      In short, each one’s experience of chocolate is unique and so at best we can say what we like and why we like it, but we cannot impose our chocolate mores on others, nor claim that their view is any less valid?
      That being said, Cadbury’s SA version is the BEST!!

  68. in my own words – everywhere has problems, but the ones in South Africa are the ones I’m involved with, the ones I want to help work on. Thanks for that

  69. The grass is not greener, it’s just different. Canada is safer, and job opportunities are definitely more prevalent. There is a lot to do with your families be it in summer or the verrrry long winters. I feel assured that Miley is safe,and that to me is the most important thing in the world. BUT…. Winter is way too long, Companies expect you to sweat blood yet only give you a starting vacation time of 2 weeks a year…. so you burn out quickly. It is best to be self employed. Everyone suffers from vitamin D deficiancy since summer is so short and there is not much sun…. but hey, we have free health care for how sick the lack of D makes us. I enjoy that I have met many celebrities while being here, as it is a hobby of mine to collect pictures with them, and there are film festivals that you can attend with them, so if that is your thing you have great opportunities. Its a big culture shock and I still feel it after 18 years. I miss Africa…. I don’t think that ever goes away. So, as the article says, it really is a personal choice, and you have to pick your poison.

  70. AMEN! I was an expat in South Africa for 3 years and started my blog, Joburg Expat, out of that experience. My main goal was to tell people about South Africa and how great it was for our family, and I’d like to think I brought some people there who without reading my blog might not have come. What you say is exactly what i’ve been saying. Safety and efficiency is but one aspect of life, and you have to balance it with so many other aspects, and South Africa has a ton of things in the plus column! And I agree with what you way about quality of life. We are back in the U.S. now and I don’t think anyone is happier. More efficient yes, so now we run the big workaholic rat race more efficiently, and safer, in that we can leave our cars open at night and then complain the next day that someone “broke into” them to steal the laptop we left in there…

  71. It’s important to be able to make a positive contribution towards society and this you can do anywhere around the world . If I had a choice I would rather make that contribution elsewhere where my family life is not at risk or where I am severely disadvantaged because I am not the right colour. Your family well being should come before your contribution towards others in society.

  72. As you say there is no right it wrong answer here but personal choice. We left 14.5 years ago and moved to New Zealand. It was the hardest thing we have ever done and at the beginning we questioned our move everyday but we hung in there. As the saying goes emigration is not for sissies. We missed SA so much but as the years went by it got easier. Make no mistake, our quantity of life was way better in SA but here it’s still pretty good too as we work hard but here we have better quality of life and always feel safe. Let’s not try and debate what the right decision is and please don’t think of the ones that left as traitors. We did what was right for our family. SA will always be my birth home and I will always miss it but New Zealand is my home now.

    • Well written and expressed, Janet. Everyone has different perceptions. Feel just the same, but SA will always have a very special place in my heart.

    • I cant see how you can say you had a better quality of life in SA,thats presuming that it remained the same, when you left , which it hasn’t , and it will continue to get worse.

  73. I have read all responses to the original post with interest and it is tricky to say who is right and who is wrong…Those who bravely choose to leave…or those who bravely choose to stay..?

    I am a young, white, BORN AND BRED South African female, just turned 30, who has a deep and unwavering love for my home and country…irrespective of where my parent’s and grandparent’s and great grandparent’s originally come from and like most other South Africans, I am extremely proud to call myself South African…but I am often very ashamed to say that too.

    I am considerably well travelled…my count is now on 60 countries and over 450 cities and by the end of next year I will be able to say that I have travelled the whole world. I am fortunate in the experiences I have had so far in my life…many due to personal travel others due to work…but throughout it all I have embraced every experience, opportunity, culture, nationality and difference that has come my way.

    I can with 100% certainty say that the “grass is most definitely not greener on the other side”
    Every country has strife, every country has problems, every country has crime, every country has corruption…These are not a phenomina coined by South Africa alone. South Africa does not even rank in the top most corrupt countries in the world…yet when you speak to most South Africans, they seem to have the belief that we are the most hard done by nation in the world at present…on every level.

    South Africa is not as bad as it gets…
    We have crime, yes…we have extreme violent crime…which has affected some of my nearest and dearest just by the way.

    There is a distinct imbalance….economically and socially in our country…There has been a breakdown of many of our systems…and it seems to many that we are only set to go from bad to worse, with a complete collapse of our entire country, which may very well happen…but I refuse to believe that all hope is lost for our beautiful country, I refuse to believe there is no coming back…It may not be this year or next year or even 10 years from now…but there will be a change.

    South Africa was once a power house, we were a completely independent and self sustaining nation when we had to be…We didn’t need the rest of the world…I can not believe that everything we once had is lost and gone forever.

    To the brave people who pack up their homes and bid farewell to their families and friend’s and most of all our country….I wish you a good life outside of SA and hope that one day you will see fit to return…I have not only travelled extensively, but I have lived overseas too…and I now often leave for months and months at a time before coming back home again….and I can say, and I am allowed to say and I know how hard it is to get on a plane and leave…It is not easy and it is not fair to call anyone who chooses to leave everything they have known a coward…If you have never had to say goodbye….you have no room to speak…because you will never know the heartbreak.

    To the brave people who stay….I commend you for having the courage to continue to persevere here…and deal with the crime, load shedding, breakdown of our public systems and amenities and facing the daily corruption of an ignorant government. Your love and belief in our country, the fight to see it change, your patriotism and commitment to SA, is what will hopefully assist in an eventual change….and that goes to every South African….Black, White, Indian, Chinese, I don’t care who and what you are.

    No one should give up on SA just yet…

  74. I have lived in SA all my life and still do. I have no allegiance to any country in particular. A country is a geographical location that either serves my needs or not. Wherever I go I aim to be a positive and active part of what’s transpiring at the time, so I am not a passive bystander waiting for my environment to serve me, I do my bit. While inconveniences such as load shedding, potholes, interrupted services, are all a slightly worrying symptom of general decay, I can live with them for the familiarity of the country I grew up, the weather, the beauty, etc etc . While there are many very attractive qualities SA possesses and I have lived a good life here, being ranked 4th most dangerous country in the world, and having had 2 robberies this year both which involved contact with the perpetrators, I am feeling as though our basic rights to safety are being massively infringed upon. My one daughter is 11 and feels unsafe in the world. I am not sure the benefits are still enough to keep us here. It’s the first time I have ever seriously considered going elsewhere – it’s a tough decision, and it would take a fair amount of bravery to leave, but seems I am having to muster much bravery to stay. I would happily bump along in the hopes this country can come right politically, and take an active role in whatever way I can to see that happen – however, I am a little reticent to lose my life or sanity in the process.

    • I too have a daughter of 11, and want to give her more opportunities. We must look at the stats, unemployment and crime. Be realistic. Make a pro’s and cons list…..i am also deciding exactly what you are with no one to talk too. There is more to life than SA……But i need to find work there, Its no use packing up everything, supporting yourself for 3 months and not having work. So we are first taking a holiday to Austria in December to check the place out. Then i can decide……i think you should do the same. Lets also consult God….as we need His blessing.

  75. As I sit here reading the backwards and forwards arguments of for and against, im crying, for our country, for our people, for our torn apart families. My husband desperately wants to leave, I have 4 grown children who have their own lives who do not want to leave. Im a mother who is being asked, supposedly to make a base for my children’s future, to leave those children here. I love this country, I love the diverse people, my soul is African, im a very proud patriotic South African. But firstly im a fierce mother.

  76. I am 19 and am lucky to have completed an internationally recognized schooling diploma (IB). And yes I am young, and yes this country has been my home from the beginning, with its stunning landscapes and people. However, I’ve had to check the validity of the South African University degrees with other universities overseas. I have to be at home for when my sister arrives home because she feels completely unsafe arriving home to an empty house. My neighbours were stabbed, the attackers getting away and returning the following two nights. Just last night, the wheels on our car were almost stolen, seeing us back a couple thousand rand to replace parts.
    I, for one, cannot stand the fact that my own sister and mother are in constant fear for each other and of what’s our there. And I, as a pale male, will have added difficulty when trying to find a job. A decent job. One that can eventually lead to supporting a family and all the security required to gain a little bit more sleep at night.

    As much as I don’t want to, I have to think about my future and about the possibility of a family of my own. I’m gonna stick around for my undergraduate study and after that, if I don’t see the slightest improvement towards a safer and more opportune future, I’m out of here. And hello New Zealand.

    Nice thing about New Zealand and Australia? Climates are similar, the people are similar. Hell, there’s an Afrikaans community in New Zealand. These places are just as great as SA, if not, better.

    Cheers ✌

    • Good Luck Stuart I have some family and friends there and we plan to try their first, much better quality of life there.

    • there are too many Afrikaners in Auckland. Can we swap them for some English speaking Saffers from Durban or Cape Town please? We’ll start with your top athletes. btw, thanks for Grant Elliot and Irene van Dyk – we love them here!

      Maybe send over Chad le Clos or Jordy Smith.
      thanks in advance

  77. I have no qualms against leaving or staying, I don’t like the idea of my family being left behind, but struggling to get ahead and getting a foot in the door can sometimes cause reconsideration. Sometimes I’m just tired of the swift polarisation on just about every topic. If you want to be happy in South Africa you have to stop reading the news, because low and behold you’ll find yourself polarised sooner than you can say Zuma. You’ll know whether you made the right choice after stepping off the plane soon enough.

  78. after reading all these posts and respecting each and every one in their own light, I thought it would be ok to tell you what my opinion is.
    I am a married 34 year old mother of 2, my husband and I are middle class people which means we don’t get opportunities to travel etc.I myself have never been out of cape town..my husband has only ever done so through his current job. With this being said I find that most of the people wanting to stay are people that have travelled and have finances to leave should anything happen here. People that do not live on the “bread line” like the middle class SA’s do not understand the desperation we have to leave and get our children somewhere we can afford to live and not barricade our doors up every night. We do not have British passports or family that can sponsor us. All we have is what SA has to offer and right now which is really nothing! Most SA’s raise their children if they are lucky enough to be able to afford to educate them the do and what is the first thing after that, they all post them overseas for a better future. I do not want to be apart from my children and I might never be able to educate them here or offer them a decent future, I don’t want them to suffer like we have. it just makes more sense to leave now with them an be able to travel together and see what life and other opportunities this world has to offer. The day I decided I knew I had to do everything in my power to leave is when I was sitting explaining to my 3 year old child what we need to do when we are hijacked.

    Now don’t get me wrong I am not poor nor rich, I eat every night I have power when Eskom allows and a warm bath, I have had my fair share of crime that has affected us but who hasn’t, but the living in fear for our lives and my kids future is too much I want more for my children. We are a long line of working class people that were not afforded the opportunities to study degrees, so we do not have an easy ticket out. At the very least I just want to be able to give my children what they will never be able to have here, everything!

  79. we (my daughter) and I are planning to leave……for Austria. I know we are making the right decision. We do not feel african and I for one wont miss the sun. I love overcast and the mountains, dont care for the beach. Thank you Tom for being honest, but so am I. To each their own…..

  80. Thanks for the article Tom. It is what I have been deliberating over and again. My Wife asked what we would do over there and how we could support our two Kids as we do here. We have recently made a decision to stay and since we have it make thing clearer. . We can go to the Kruger twice a year. Go to the beach on Saturday and go trout fishing on Sunday in the mountains! We realise that we need to look over our shoulders all the time and be aware of where we travel and when. Its part of living here but we live a good life and have built up a client base that supports this so to start again at the tender age of 48 with 10 year old kids is harder than putting beams in our garden! We have roving guards at night and have had one incident in the neighbourhood in 5 years! Cheaper to buff up security than try start again elsewhere.There is great hope when you listen to Maimane. Lots of interesting things to come! God bless SA….and all who live in her! Im going to light a braai now and have a free range steak 🙂

  81. We don’t need people who focus on the negative to stay in this country. They’re better off where ever they are. I quite honestly am so tired of hearing the same old justifications and negative focus. go to Australia go to the UK, become Australians become British citizens. Rather don’t post pics on facebook twitter etc of your amazing braai you’re having, the occasional blue sky . we don’t care we’re to busy enjoying this amazing country, fishing, cycling, 4×4’ing, canoeing, running etc etc. yes there is crap going on here but true South Africans are adaptable, resourceful and have already found solutions. I have a foreign passport and an engineering degree. I lived in the UK for 7 years and traveled extensively. I owned property and had an excellent job. I had options i certainly wasn’t forced to come home. Been back 10 years got married had a child built a home. my wife and i are both self employed. Its been incredibly tough at times but wouldn’t change it for the world.

    So to the ex SAFA’s surviving abroad,the next time you pull on your Springbok Jersey have a very hard close look at your self and decide what makes you so proud to be draped in green and gold. i for one don’t want hear anymore of your winging crap about my amazing country.

  82. Pingback: The Choice | A Tale of Two Cities

  83. Should i stay or should i go.. da na na na na na na na! There is no answer. No one should have to leave their country for opportunities or safety! Yes the world is not necessarily a brighter place! Many push and many pull factors for strong south african souls, so its hard to find true happiness because we come from more and average is not good enough for us! There in mind here in body! But a safe body allows your mind to travel! The journey may be long, hard, challenging in many ways, but having a broader perspective of the world is priceless but at what cost? What is the true meaning of life. That is the question.

  84. Stay if you want, leave if you want. It’s a personal thing. I left over 20 years ago, I left as soon as I had enough scraped together for a one way ticket and it was the best decision I ever made; I was very happy to leave it behind, I have no regrets, I do not miss the place, and… I will not be returning….ever.

    Good luck (if you want to stay)

  85. I left south africa at age of 20 in 2001.lived in london for 6 years and i have met my best friends there that have helped me through alot.i rebelled i struggled i cried my heart broke for my friends in sa.i left for a better future.i have epilepsy so not being able to drive and cost of medical aid contributed as wasn’t safe anymore to walk the streets in dark from work.i miss the little things like having my own pool.silly i know but im a water baby n the pools here i gyms are warm stink of chlorine n packed with strangers who wee in it lol. It took me 6 years to fully be happy.they say it takes 6years to settle.i left london as lost my job couldn’t find another had no money lived with a friend and was brought to brink of suicide.i upped n went to the coast of portsmouth saved got my own first flat met wonderful ppl who are still my friends 7yrs later.im still friends with london ones to.met my husband 5yrs ago n have a 2year old son.great inlaws open spaces beach on doorstep.weather was a small price to pay as it costs pennies to jump on a plan for an hour to get to spain portugal turkey etc for the son.even fly to Thailand which i would never have been able to do financially from sa.it has been fun but not easy.was made easier to get here as i had a british passport.i worry everyday about remaining family.i used to go back once a year but not been since 2007 when have other beautiful coutries on my doorstep.crime is here aswell just not as bad.i left because I never had a choice and its been hard but done it n now happier than ever.to survive immigration u need good friends steady income n keep urself busy.i miss food.pool.the things we used to do.but thats it.everyone has own reasons n dont think anyone should be battered for it saying we ran away cus we never.its harder to go.good luck to all and sorry those that cant leave dont have brit passports or cant get visas or simply cant afford it . Hopefully sa will sort itself out in my lifetime.but please no one think that immigrating is easy because its not.u come over with little money no home no job no friends no familiar surrounding its very lonely til u meet ppl especially in a city like london.my brother is in singapore dad n mum in uk but mum was in germany.other brother just moved to uk n sister still in sa n she cant afford it n doesnt have uk passport n has husband n 2 kids so dont think they will be coming.dont judge the “runaways”.

  86. I left (mentally – physically a bit later) when the minister of safety and security stood up in Parliament- when questioned about the 24 thousand murders 82% unsolved – he said”i am tired of you white people complaining if you don’t like it you can leave”
    In any other country he would have been fired for comments like that …
    Facts about murder in South Africa:

    Incidents of murder increased from 16,259 murders in 2012/13 to 17,068 in 2013/14.
    This means that there were 809 more people murdered than in the previous year.
    This comes on the back of a similar increase in 2012/13 when 650 more murders were recorded compared to 2011/12.
    The average number of murders committed each day increased from 45 in 2012/13 to 47 in 2013/14.
    Using Statistics South Africa’s 2013 midyear estimates, the murder rate in 2013/14 was 32.2 per 100,000, up from 31.1 in 2012/13.
    SA’s murder rate is about five times higher than the 2013 global average of 6 murders per 100,000.

    – See more at: http://africacheck.org/factsheets/factsheet-south-africas-official-crime-statistics-for-201314/#sthash.cqucJc8A.dpuf

  87. I left South Africa 17 years ago and I have missed it every moment of every day since.

    Yes! I have an easy life in the UK but I’m not happy..

    I have since married and had 2 children and it was my children that prompted me to consider to go home to SA.

    The education in the UK is terrible and because of the weather, the kids are always stuck indoors. ‘If’ the sun comes out, we charge out to do something.. Most of the time, the kids on games or tablets and do not know what it is to climb a tree or get really muddy!

    We went to SA last year for 2 months and my kids never watched TV or had their Xbox to play and yet they had the best time ever! They were filthy every day and it was wonderful!

    Call me mad if you like, but I have bought a farm in the Eastern Cape, which we are moving to this year.. My children will be free and wild finally..

    I know SA has major problems, but I was brought up there knowing the dangers and when I had to be careful..education is key!

    The whole process of deciding where to stay has been hard, but I had to weigh up what was most important to me and my family. UK is easy, but people are different and schools are terrible (frequently children are throwing chairs in class and swearing at teachers!)

    South Africa is always home to me, not matter the problems! South Africa is beautiful! The people and the places..

    And if I can make the slightest difference in joining the struggle to turn SA around, I will try my hardest!

    ❤️South Africa❤️

  88. Has anyone considered the fact that while life was safe, comfortable and profitable for many commenting on this blog, vast majority in SA were poor and oppressed by the very system that kept others safe and comfortable. Sadly, the vast majority are still poor today. They couldn’t leave then and they can’t leave now. Thank you for your thought provoking blog, Tom. The reality is that your post unsettles what lies beneath the surface. It’s what truth does. And truth never needs to be defended. Many responses to this post are knee jerk reactions because of pain. That’s to be understood. However, it should never dilute the substance of your post.

  89. The whole world is going to the dogs. Personal expectations and past experiences will quantify the degree of positive perception. When you have reached rock bottom, the only way to go is up… the first world is in a free fall and there will be many pieces to pick up to make it fly again. South Africa is on a runway that is not finished yet and the pilot is still in ground school. It will take off one day. It will fly. When, how high and for how long is up to the nation. Nation does not mean government. So the sooner the nation realises that, the better. To stay or to go is irrelevant today, get over it… it’s so South African, like “ag shame”! The paradigm shifted the very day each one of us were born. The individual makes the difference in the community. Whether you stay, go or comeback… your efforts to survive, to overcome limits, to forge ahead and to unite to get that pilot through school and that runway finished will guarentee a brighter future no matter what your expectations may be, wherever you may be. Deep down inside everyone loves South Africa and it shows… the world over, because we are the world.

  90. Missing an “opportunity to be an active part of a country that needs me” is exactly why I don’t want to leave. I find it hard to envision myself elsewhere, leaving my South Africa behind. I often think that if I left South Africa it would be only in body – I would still live in South Africa in my head. I could leave South Africa, but South Africa would never leave me.

  91. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

  92. We moved to New Zealand 15 years ago, I miss SA everyday, but we have a good quality of life here. I would love to go back but the chances of finding and securing an executive job as a white woman are slim to none and that’s the sad part. I am treated as an equal in NZ regardless of race, gender or age; I have worked hard to get where I am and would love to be able to make a difference in SA with my skills but none of that would be even considered back in SA being white and a woman.

    • I’m not sure that’s entirely true. Our company just hired a high-level executive white woman, and I know we are not alone. Racial and gender discrimination, while still a major problem globally, is not on the rise in SA, but on the decrease…

  93. Reblogged this on odi051's Blog and commented:
    “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” We still have good people in South Africa who are willing to stand up and fight, and as long as I’m alive I want to be part of the solution.

  94. I left 18yrs ago – all my family followed. My parents will retire next year in safety & peace. My kids will receive a free first class education. My tax pays for things like roads, parks and public spaces. The politicians are held to account via functioning democracy. My power supply is uninterrupted, my currency is often too strong and the sun shines more than I’d like it too.

    Where is that country that needs me again? . . . . nah, I reckon I will happily contribute to country which told me they needed me though a immigration points system.

    A country which gave us hope. God Bless New Zealand

  95. I liked this a lot. My one thought and it’s a selfish one. God has given me but a few years… to live on this earth. I want to live it in efficiency and safety.
    I guess… we need to feel a sense of call to care and help this country that we are born in.
    I agree SA is on the mend. It’s a great place,
    But also opportunity is scarce… but hey.

    i liked what you said. mad to love to this wonderful nation.

    I currently live in SA, was in the UK for 3 years…. I just miss it.
    long to go back…

  96. I left South Africa in the year 2000 to give my children a future. Their education was important to me and I wanted them to live a life as I had where they could walk free in the streets without being attacked. Their safety was my first priority. Secondly I had a Downs Syndrome child who needs special needs and I have to say that no better country had I chosen but New Zealand. My DS child has had everything of the best here, shes been treated as a normal person and attended school with one on one teacher aids and is main stream in school. She has gone from strength to strength, she would not have had this opportunity in South Africa. My other girls have successfully completed school and made their way in the world confident and in the knowledge that they do have a very good grounding. For me it was a very difficult transition in the beginning because I loved South Africa and I loved the bushveld I had given all that up and I had cried many nights and really wanted to go back, but I had to focus on the future, and ask myself why I made the decision and what was best for my family. Now that they are all adults I go back yearly to South Africa mainly to the bushveld, on returning I have looked for the positives and there is a huge lot of positiveness, a lot of people just look for the negative, South Africa is the most beautiful country in the world and I have seen a culture of people change completely and the whole country good or bad is still where I was born and still is my real home, however I will always visit but I will never return permanently my life in NZ is now comfortable and free. I am settled and live in peace.

  97. So many points of view it really is a great discussion. I must say that the “to stay or go” argument reminds me of one in that is had across similar blogs, however we find ourselves espousing the values of IOS and Android and which is better and which is worse. For me, the bottom line is its choice and it’s not up to anyone to judge the reasons for making the choice.

    If you have elected to stay in South Africa and you hear that somebody has left for better opportunities you have no right to judge. By the same token, if someone has decided to stay the folks that have left South Africa have no right to judge or question with negative sentiment the decision.

    My observation is that the debate is more often than not (the intention of this blog excluded) started off by one party or the other judging decisions of others, we all know the saying “walk a mile in my shoes” well until we have all done so how about we stop the judging and live and let live?

    Respectful and healthy discussion are hallmarks of a mature society, so lets be mature and respectful of choice, after all, choice is what fundamentally makes us unique….

  98. Just a comment repost from earlier that I think the newer readers may not have seen…

    The point of Tom’s article isn’t about is which country safer or better for your family or business.

    The point of the article is that WHEREVER you live, your own quality of life will be improved when you make improving the lives of others a priority – not just yourself. There are plenty of people living in South Africa who are doing NOTHING with regards to poverty, justice, development. There are plenty of people living in Australia who give time and effort to combatting racism, social injustices, caring for the poor and elderly.

    Every place has issues. Every place has problems. And the solutions are found by the combined efforts of people who care.

    It doesn’t matter WHERE you live, make sure WHY you live there isn’t only about your own comfort and security, and get involved in building a better life for the good of all.

    • Absolutely. Australia didn’t become a success story just because people went to the polls every few years. In every aspect of life, they have this reputation of giving people ‘a fair go’, and they fight for the underdog. If this is done collectively, then South Africa too has every chance of pulling off a spectacular victory against the odds. Yet when I go there, I see people who love their flag but not their country, their traditions but not their fellows. It is reflected in apathy, indifference, callousness and outright cruelty to the less fortunate. There is good in South Africans too…I would love to see more of that. The dramatic change that can reverse SA’s fortunes will not come from those at the top (although that would be most desirable), but from how each individual person decides that they are part of something bigger and starts acting on that. Regretfully, I am deeply pessimistic about the chances of that happening. Still, love your enthusiasm and the honesty of your blog, Jess Basson!

  99. As a former Durbanite, I miss the great weather. And that’s about it. My quality of life here in Australia relates directly to the shared values of this society, which in turn is reflected by whom we elect to office, and the functioning of our institutions, business and civil society. The daily outcomes for me and my family are clear: peace of mind, freedom, belonging, safety, opportunity and, yes, fulfilment and happiness. Comfort and convenience are merely the by-products of an efficiently run country. The development of an inner life can be pursued anywhere, but is so much easier to achieve when one is living in a place where the values of humanity and decency are shared by everyone. So I’m going say without a moment’s hesitation that it is far, far better to depart South Africa permanently if an improved quality of life is important, especially for one’s children.

  100. It’s a great blog that offers hope to a large group of South Africans that are not as fortunate and simply don’t have the means or opportunities to leave.

    Although I have lived in the UK for 13 years and I miss the South African heartbeat, I do not miss the ‘yield don’t stop here after 00:00, lock your doors, don’t leave your bag on the car seat, don’t leave your house window open, make sure you have window bars, the ambulance will be here in an hour!’

    Here, police and ambulances respond within 5 minutes. They do not ask if you are insured. They save your life first, and sort out the paperwork second.

    Here education is free, and if you live in Scotland, so is university.

    Here we can leave our windows open at night, and stop at stop signs when driving. If there is a smash and grab it would make national news, it is that rare.

    We are protected medically by the countries Health Insurance. I was booked into hospital for a night for an operation on my back. The surgery, hospital stay and pain medication were all free. Here I don’t just work to pay taxes, my taxes work to pay me back.

    This article is all very good and well, but see the bigger picture. It’s more to do with what you can live with, and what you can live without.

    I value these things far more than I value the sun, having said that, it only cost me £120 for an all inclusive holiday to the sunny beaches of Spain. Europe is my playground.

    It’s all relative.

    • Most people still miss the point of this blog. There’s no need to justify why you left or why you’ve chosen to stay. Make peace with your choice and be that change you want to see wherever you find yourself. Thanks again, Tom!

  101. I am fiercely South African and unafraid.
    I know that this is who I am, it’s in my blood, I have not considered leaving.
    Am not like the ‘others’ who have.
    I have two sons aged 14 and 11.
    We have been determined to be a part of the solution.
    A part of the rainbow.
    We live a good life.
    During load shedding we light candles and move along.
    Tonight my husband came home after a BBBEE workshop and looked haggard.
    “They are taking the economy and making it impossible for us to truly, freely thrive. It is comply or die.” were his words.
    Today the radio station he runs was off air ALL DAY.
    (That is called suicide/murder in radio)
    Eskom had no answers for us.
    Are we blind, stupid?
    Do we actually make those moves towards moving?
    Are we doing our boys an injustice?
    Faith is the belief in that which is often unseen!
    I have and have had faith, but tonight it’s rocking.
    There is no lid on BBBEE.
    Will an end be in sight 100 years from now, when the crumble is so deep and complete that we/they have to start from scratch.
    The night is warm and there is a cool breeze.
    I am home.
    Yet…a question creeps up.
    Bravado and deep seated belief are pushed aside.
    Me?
    Sing ANOTHERS anthem?
    I revolt.
    But!
    But!
    But…
    Am I being blind and stupid?
    Am I not looking reality in the face?
    48.
    White.
    SA passport.
    Sons…
    And the question creeps and sits on the sidelines.
    Do we stay?
    Or…
    Do we ?

    • I have one word for you Tania, based on your story: go. You won’t regret it. Patriotism is only a good thing if your country’s values match your own. When the gap between them widens beyond your self-defined acceptable minimum standard then you need to move to a country where the gap is smaller. We did that and because it was a move based on a sound principle, it have us the strength we needed to undergo the impact of the change. Make no mistake, emigrating is tough for three years and then everything that was ‘new’ becomes ‘normal’. Stay in South Africa only if you want to try make a difference or you are ‘happy enough’.

    • Hi Ramon. Only you can answer that question. The answer is based on your own set of circumstances, values and principles, and therefore no one else can give you the answer that is right for you.

      • Hi Rob maybe I asked the wrong question. I’m looking for feedback from people still living in South Africa about whether there is work opportunities for an MBA graduate. Any opinions or experiences from others on this blog would help give me food for thought.

  102. Interesting read. Standard of living and quality of life are not comparable barometers. One focuses on economics and the other an opinion that reflects only a minority of the populace. Everyone has a blurred affinity to their homeland, and no person is immune. Just as SA is not the most beautiful country on earth, no flee owns the dog they live on, and history teaches us lessons we refuse to learn from, but yet waste energy fighting. Should I stay or should I go, as Mick Jones acknowledges (of The Clash fame), has no real meaning. The yearning of home simply clouds the ‘science’ of ‘quality of life’, and a stubborn refusal to look the facts in the face does not fool anyone under a whimsical notion of sunshine, and friendliness, which I have found in nearly every country I have visited, or lived in, around the globe. I wish you luck, as I do for my family sill there.

  103. The point of the article has been missed by most readers. I’m in Sweden for the free education. In South Africa I couldn’t afford the university fees and I was told I was the wrong colour for scholarships and bursaries. Leaving was the right decision for me. Others may have reasons to stay. It depends on the individual.

  104. Tom, thought provoking post around quality of life vs. standard of living – prompted a stern self examination of my own charitable commitments so I thank you for that.

    I only partially agree with the implication that moving overseas (especially to a first world country) is the “comfortable / easy way out”. Insofar as it concerns living as an expat with no children, as your UK and Canada experiences did, my personal experience is I totally agree – the infrastructure, efficiency, service standards and innovation that one would expect render this an inevitable benefit. However, with kids it’s a different story entirely (unless the parents in question are utterly loaded).

    Our personal experience is we’ve found parenting a lot more intensive than it might be back home. No grandparents around for periodic breaks, nannies cost 10x (no exaggeration) as much as in SA (link below) and Tima was back at work after a year (quite a long time off in our experience of speaking to others). Household helpers in the form of cleaners and gardeners cost far more too (nevermind the houses themselves) and Max’s nursery is ~£1,500 a month full time (or 50% more than full board at Hilton, by my calculations). One builds a local network over time, but in Max’s 18 months of school one or both of us have dropped him off and fetched him all but a handful of times.

    A number of our friends have moved back since having kids – I see THAT as the easy way out and used to judge it (family around, maid, bigger house and garden, better weather than London) but, increasingly, I get it. On balance though there are myriad other factors that have us committed to London long term.

    I wouldn’t change any of this for the world (without wishing to engage in the “which country is better debate” here, we have made our choice) and enjoy being as hands on as we have been (not that I’m suggesting SA parents aren’t – but options occasionally wouldn’t go amiss). So my points are twofold:
    1. Being an expat parent is hard work without family locally (again, no regrets, but certainly not always easy) and
    2. You and Jess are doing a lot for your community for which I wholeheartedly applaud you. What I don’t have time for are the martyr whiners whose contribution extends no further than paying taxes and lamenting what they consider to be the dire state of SA. My Facebook feed has plenty of them. I don’t respect them for staying.

    One last rant while I’m at it – any opinions that SA or The UK or Aus or anywhere else is the BEST country IN THE WORLD are asinine and borne of biased ignorance unless based on having lived in or at least visited EVERY other country that exists. Even then, best is a matter of opinion!

    Keep making a difference!

    https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/comparison/johannesburg/london/breakdown

    • Thanks Rob – I really appreciate your thoughtful and honest feedback! I think, unlike many others who have commented above, you have understood the main purpose of the article – which was never to try compare which place or country is “better” (completely relative) or whether South Africans should stay or go (perhaps the title is misleading) – but rather about challenging people to make a difference wherever they might find themselves (for me thats SA, for you thats the UK). It was more about challenging this idea about going wherever life will be the “easiest or most convenient”, which is a lie in itself – as you have so well shown. Every country has it’s benefits and challenges. Our rand is depreciating at a rapid rate, but we have a lovely domestic worker 3 days a weeks… You might enjoy more economic security, but are far from family, and the cost of XYZ is high. If it were Canada or NZ there would be other challenges and other benefits. Thanks again for your comment. Love to the family. Love the pics of your boy growing up on Facebook! 🙂

      Re parenti

  105. I love SA. I love home. I love Johannesburg (I’m from PE).
    However I also know:
    3 people who were murdered (2 shot 1 stabbed to death).
    1 person who was shot 7 times (and survived!)
    About a dozen people who were hijacked.
    Was personally kidnapped during a hijacking.
    Had my car stolen twice.
    My parents house broken into 3 times
    My place broken into 3 times.

    After a while one has to ask “is this living?”. Having a gate inside your home. Burglar bars that make your house feel like a prison. Thinking twice about stopping at a red light when its dark. Panicking when you realize you forgot to lock your car. Wondering where your wife is when she’s 10 minutes late.

    In my 12 years in the USA I haven’t met anyone who knows a single person who’s been murdered. No one who’s been carjacked. One or two people have had some stuff stolen, but that was it. No muggings, no stabbings, no gangs of armed thieves holding up an entire supermarket.

    Yes we have ‘terrorists’ and mass shootings, but i’m more likely to die at the hands of a negligent doctor here than during a hijacking.

  106. I am a 36 year old female with a husband (40) and two children aged (8) & (10).
    We were all born in South Africa and we live in Johannesburg.

    I also had an idealistic view much the same of the of the author of this article. I hated when expats would post things about the downfall spiral of SA. I have strong opinions and I do not mind to share them.

    On the 28th of January 2016. I woke up to find my husband screaming, trying with all his might to keep two armed black men from getting through our slamlock door in the passage. He had been woken up by our dogs (thought they needed a wee) switched off the alarm, opened up the trellidoor, only to be charged by these 2 men who were already in our house. He didnt have enough time to take the key out the door. When I woke up i was so disorientated. I didn’t know if what i was seeing was real. My son was standing in his door way watching the struggle. I told him i would come and fetch him, but i had to hide my daughter. Why i didnt just grab him at the same time i will never know. I woke my daughter and told her to hide underneath my bed.
    I then heard two gun shots. My immediate thought was that my son and my husband had been killed. I locked my bedroom door to keep myself and my daughter safe. I had my ear to the door to listen if i heard footsteps approaching. I didn’t so I opened the door and my son called for me. He was hiding underneath his duvet. He asked where his Dad was, and we found him lying in a pool of blood in my daughters room.

    My husband had been shot through the neck and the bullet exited his back and broke his scapula (shoulder blade). Myself and the kids rushed him to hospital. His C5/C6 nerve was damaged and now has limited mobility of his left arm. He spent 6 days in ICU and then a further 5 days in High Care.
    He is a walking miracle, the bullet missed his spinal chord by mm’s and his jugular by cm’s. Doctors are amazed that he is alive, let alone walking/talking.

    In a month we have had to spend about 80K on beams, a new alarm, burglar proofing, and then we still have to raise our boundry wall (its already almost 6ft) and then add on electric fencing. We stay in a boomed off ”secure” suburb. We have had another slam lock door installed so now to get to my kitchen in my own home I have to unlock 4 locks. And that’s just to go to the kitchen. Dont ask me how many locks I have to unlock to go outside.

    I no longer believe in South Africa. We will fight till our death to live peacefully in this beautiful country. Nothing can compare to a South African braai vleis, and our sunshine, but you cannot put a price on Safety. My husband has a long way to go to until he will heal physically, but what are we teaching our children by opening up 6 locks just to get to the kitchen. This is not a life i want for my children and we are starting to enquire about emigration, because now i am fighting for the freedom my children deserve!!! to be free from Hate/aggression/violence, to be able to walk safely. And to feel safe in their home.

    Im sorry SA but I am done with you. I have to fight for my family. We will never ever forget what we have been through but if we dont leave we will never have peace of mind. And that’s just the crux of it.

    People that have never been through something so horrific will never understand. They will judge, but I do not care anymore. Once you go through what we have had to endure you have a very different outlook on your priorities and your life.

    • This is a terrible experience and the primary reason I will never move back to Johannesburg. Why do you stay in South Africa instead of immigrating to Australia, New Zealand or Canada?

  107. I miss the days of rock climbing and hiking in the mountains, the colours of the rock walls, the stars at night, waterfalls tumbling in the gorges, the bark of the baboons and the violent crack of an African thunderstorm. I miss the Cape South Easterly, the stinging of the sand, the wood smoke of the Braai, the crack of a castle beer can and an African sunset.

    That said none of the above deals with the realities governing everyday life such as – job security, paying the bills, pensions, assets and most importantly now the important issue of personal safety.

    Being “part of the solution” as the stay campaign call it on here is the idealism of youth but not realistic in your fifties. If you are 20 and it all goes wrong one packs a rucksack and moves on to the next hot spot, but in your fifties one could face a life of severe hardship especially in a country like SA.

    As the old saying goes – if your 20 and are not an idealistic you have no heart, if your 40 and still an idealist you have no head.

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