So, the big news on this side is that we have decided to pack up our lives in South Africa and start afresh in the UK.
We’re looking to settle somewhere in Greater London / South East England / South West England / East Anglia. It could be a big city or a small town. We’re not fussy. Wherever work opportunities present themselves first.
I handed in my letter of resignation at Meropa Communications on 1 March 2020, with my last day of work being 22 April.
By the time I resigned, I had spent around six months researching the emigration process, and was making good headway on the admin side of things – a veritable mountain of work, as anyone who has recently gone through the process will attest.
The plan was for me to fly out to Heathrow as soon as I had worked in my two-month notice period, secure a job and a place to rent, with Lee and Goran following in due course.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit!
Both SA and the UK went into national lockdown, and all the government agencies and contracted companies who process emigration documentation suspended their services. Basically, everything came to a grinding halt.
So for now we’re living in limbo. From the end of April, I will be helping Lee out at work (he liquidated his company in December/January, and is now working at his brother’s company until we leave SA). I will be building their website, creating content, designing manuals, etc.
Fortunately we managed to sell our investment property, and the profit from that came through in March, so we have a financial cushion for several months. But obviously the less we dip into that the better.
Of most concern for us right now is the Rand/Pound (ZAR/GBP) exchange rate. It’s currently an eye-watering R23.37 / £1. (Back in 1996 when Lee and I moved over to the UK on a two-year working holiday visa, it was R5.50 / £1.)
Back then, we both had South African passports. Thanks to a HUGE amount of painstaking work done by my late mom-in-law, Lee and his siblings eventually managed to get Portuguese passports. So this time round he, and Goran, will be going over on a Portuguese passport.
While I am eligible for a UK ancestry visa, I decided that the amount of red tape I had to slice through – namely getting a copy of my legal adoption papers from the Registrar of Adoptions / Department of Social Development, and a copy of my vault birth certificate from Home Affairs – simply wasn’t worth it.
So this time round, I’ll be going over on my South African passport with an EEA family permit. As the spouse of an EU citizen, I am eligible to live and work in the UK (or anywhere in the EU for that matter).
Once we are in the UK, all three of us will apply for the EU Settlement Scheme family permit, which will allow us to continue living and working in the UK post-Brexit.
The plan is still for us to get over to the UK before the new school year starts in September, for Goran to begin Year 5 (equivalent of Grade 4 in SA). But the feasibility of this is obviously all dependent on how the COVID-19 crisis plays out in the coming weeks / months and, most importantly, when the travel bans are lifted.
I hope those of you reading this are staying safe and sane in your little corner of this topsy-turvy planet. Till next time. x