In this article we outline the issues you need to consider before you decide whether to emigrate or not as the reasons to emigrate can vary dramatically.
Deciding if you really want to immigrate is not a decision you make over a few beers one Saturday afternoon. Your heart and mind and everything else for that matter must know that you want to immigrate. Above all your immediate family must also want to immigrate with you. If your husband or wife is not just as enthusiastic as you about immigrating, then you are headed for a very troubled time ahead. Immigration is a well known marriage breaker. Even if you have a strong marriage now, work harder on it to sort out any little irritations you still have before you leave.
Know why you want to immigrate. To immigrate to a country far away so that your kids can have a better future is the main reason why folks leave South Africa, followed by crime, then other reasons like BEE, Affirmative Action, adventure, etc. All are good and valid reasons, but immigrating to a country just for the kids is not a good idea. What about you and your partner? It is pointless if the kids are happy and have a wonderful future and you are unhappy. Remember that life is too short to be miserable.
Make a list today of what you like about South Africa and will miss. Then make a list of the things you don’t like about South Africa and want to get away from. Next make a list of what you are looking forward to in New Zealand, and another of what you feel you would not like about New Zealand. From these lists you will soon see if your reasons for leaving are substantial or superficial. Keep these lists as you will use them to remind yourself later why you left. After you have been away for a few years you tend to forget the bad about South Africa and remember only the good times / things.
Also consider your age before deciding to immigrate. If you move to a country where the exchange rate is not favourable, which is pretty much everywhere, then you financial position is going to take a knock. Do you have enough working years left to replace or make up for that loss, or will you have enough to carry you for the rest of your life? In New Zealand you will need to work for 10 years before the age of 50 before you are entitled to a state pension, so if you are over 50, you need to keep that in mind.
Where To ?
Decide where you want to immigrate to. Look at as many countries as possible, even the ones you wouldn’t normally think of. Because your friends or family have moved to New Zealand or Australia, etc., doesn’t mean it is the right country for you. There are many things you need to consider about your potential host country, some of these are :
- Climate – if you hate the cold, don’t move to Alaska. If you like wide open spaces, don’t move to the UK, etc.
- Culture – Each country has it’s own unique culture, will you be able to assimilate into that culture, do you agree with that culture? It doesn’t matter how nice the scenery looks in France, if you are not prepared to learn French and adopt customs that the French have, then France is not going to work for you. You have to be prepared to fit into your host country, they sure are not going to change because you have moved into town.
- Job Opportunities and Salary – Will you be able to work in your host country? Do they have a shortage of locals with your qualifications / experience? Let’s be honest, would you rather employ a South African here in South Africa, or an immigrant? As an immigrant you need to be better than the local to get the job that the local person can do, i.e., chances are you will be taking a step back on the corporate ladder when you immigrate until you have proven yourself. What is the average salary you will be earning. Will it be enough?
- Education – Is the education standard really where you want it to be in your potential host country? Does the education system mirror your ethical and moral standards, eg., do they promote your chosen religion in the schools?
- Population – Do you like living among huge crowds, are there large cities like London or New York for you to choose from? Do you need large amounts of potential customers for your business when you immigrate, then living in a country like New Zealand may not be for you as the population is only around 4 million.
- Crime – Does the country have acceptable levels of crime?
- Cost of Living – Will you be able to live to your required standard in your potential host country? Some things will be more expensive than you are used to and others will be cheaper relative to your earnings in that country. Eg., Compare New Zealand prices to New Zealand earnings and not to what you are earning now in Rands, it may differ considerably.
- Health Care – What health care provisions are available in your potential host country, is it State funded or will you require Private Medical Aid. What does it cost relative to earnings?
- Capital – How much will your Rands be worth in the host country? Will you be able to use the proceeds from the sale of your house to buy another one or will it not even be enough for a deposit?
Are you Eligible?
Will your chosen country allow you in?
Each country has their own admission criteria and it differs considerably. You will need to look up on their immigration site to see if you earn enough points to apply for immigration to their country.
Selection criteria are usually based on the following :
- Age – the older you are the less productive years you have left, the less attractive you are as a potential immigrant.
- Qualifications – You don’t always have to be a doctor to immigrate, but some form of qualification post matric will certainly help a lot. Sometimes many years of experience can be considered as a qualification.
- Work Experience – The better you can do the job, the more desirable an immigrant you are.
- Ability to Settle – Family in the country / enough money to settle / job offer, etc. all count in your favour as it increases your chances of integrating into your host country successfully.
- Skills Shortages – Most countries have some form of a skills shortage list which your qualifications and experience needs to be on in order to qualify. Remember they are trying to attract immigrants to benefit their country and not take away the employment of the locals.
- Health – They need to be sure that you are not just coming to their country to use up their citizen’s health care benefits.
- Character – If you have a criminal record, you may or may not be able to apply for immigration, it all depends on how long ago the offense was committed and the severity of the offense.