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Doubts

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Well I hesitated to post this, because I realise that what I am going through is probably "normal", but I find this so much tougher than I expected. To explain - we are in the process of an employment sponsored green card and things are moving along, although it is a slow process. I was so certain when we started this, but the doubts have been keeping me awake at night recently (what the heck am I doing!). Perhaps my biggest concern is that I am turning 50 this year and the thought of having a mortgage again and then not having that much time to build something up for retirement is pretty scary. Then there is all the anticipated stress of trying to juggle things in SA while trying to build a new life in the USA (I do not intend to officially emigrate at this stage). Added to this is the fact that I am not unhappy in SA (at the moment) and am fortunate to live in what I consider a beautiful area. Also leaving behind my aged parents (and having to consider the implications of emigration on an inheritance). I am not blind to all the problems in SA, but I just don't know if the sacrifices to get to the USA will be worth it.

My wife remains 100% certain we should push on and that of course is causing friction. She is a SA permanent resident who came to South Africa 25 years ago, so perhaps she does not have such an emotional bond with the country and she has lived through emigration once before. But it also complicates things as she will lose her residency after 3 years out of SA and thus making it harder to return if things don't work out.

Then there is my daughter who turns 7 this year (hey, I only got married at 38). I know she will probably find it the easiest of us, but I still worry about taking her away from where she is happy now.

For all of you who have gone through this process - you have guts!

Thanks for reading through this long post - any words of encouragement?

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Hey...I think what you are going through here is what many of us have faced. For us, we were happy and lived a great lifestyle in SA... now we are happy and live a great lifestyle here, just without the fear of crime (this is area dependent too of course). Yes it was scary but for us it came down to 2 things: (1) we only had SA passports and wanted a plan B option (worst case we would stay in US till citizenship, but now we know there is no way we are going back; and (2), more importantly, the environment and opportunities for our kids. And realizing it's not normal to bring kids up behind high walls and electric fences with armed response on call.

 

Even scarier for us in the sense that we didn't have jobs waiting!

 

Your little one will adapt easiest of all, I'm sure. School is both a great structure to the day and an easy way to integrate. (I've actually heard people who moved in the summer (ahead of a new school year start) say it wasn't the best start as the kids had weeks of not knowing anyone and no structure to their days, and summer camps are often filled well before the summer, and they found the kids settled much better once school began.)

 

The parents thing is hard, really hard, we went through this too, but to be blunt about it...who do you owe more to in terms of a future, your parents or your kids?

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Old, perhaps your wife could apply for South African citizenship - just to be on the safe side. On the other hand however, a period of 3 years is quite a long time for you make up your mind about staying or not.

 

I turned 50 as well shortly after arrival and our boys were almost 11 years old. It was somewhat difficult for two predominantly Afrikaans speaking kids to adapt in the beginning, and they had their share of bullying, but they came through unscathed. They were also young enough not to have formed "deep" friendships at school in South Africa and I think the same will apply to your daughter.

 

My wife and I had a long discussion before we decided to start the process, and we asked ourselves why we would consider such a monumental step. We concluded that this would be a great opportunity to provide our kids with a better chance in life and we reminded ourselves of that fact every time when we became despondent or homesick. And we survived. We have also decided beforehand that if we really couldn't make it here, we would cut our losses and go back to Cape Town.

 

See, if you don't give this a try, you'll always wonder in future if staying in SA was the right option. Things look pretty bleak over there from what I can gather.

 

Old, it's a tough decision. There are SA's who moved here with high expectations, only to return home not long after because things didn't work out. Thousands of others made it and are now happy citizens.

 

There is no guarantee that you and your family will succeed in the US, but give it a try if you can, otherwise you will always wonder...

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