Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Old

Emigrating In Middle Age

Recommended Posts

At age 48 I am contemplating a move to the USA. This will be an employment sponsored green card. We actually went through this same process 5 years ago and ended up not going (that is another story). However, now that I have another opportunity and my little girl is 6 years old, we must face this decision. It seems much harder the older I get and I will likely be 50 by the time we arrive. I understand we will likely be taking a step back, but I am willing to do that for my daughter if need be.

Does anyone here have advise/words of wisdom re taking the plunge at my age and also the effect it may have on my daughter? What are your experiences with kids adapting?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The kids adapt really easily, especially smaller ones like yours. That you don't need to worry about!

 

Us and a few others we know have moved in their 40s. In some ways it's a lot more difficult but in other ways it isn't, especially if you have a bit of a financial cushion to take with, but it also depends on where you end up, social circles etc as well as what you are leaving behind in terms of family or friends networks etc. We found it surprisingly easy - much easier than we expected - but I think that has a lot to do with where we are living. I know some others have found it very difficult, and I don't think there's a general answer. A lot of people here seem to look for other SAffers, churches etc to build a social and support network, others prefer to try integrate more with locals etc. We luckily ended up somewhere very welcoming, but I know this is not true for everywhere. Business practices, conventions and even terms differ so there will also be an absorption period there, but it's a comfort for you going over with job in hand of course.

Edited by SJ27

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The opportunity that you have been given for a employment sponsored green card is amazing and I would recommend that you take this with both hands. I arrived in the USA at the age of 48 unemployed , looking back it was the best decision I ever made for my family. We all experience highs and lows in life regardless of were you live, but I can tell you from experience the lows in the USA are easier to over come than back in SA. Don't let this opportunity pass you by as you will regret it for the rest of your life. Depending what you value in life I really don't think you will be talking a step backwards, but rather it will give you the opportunity to leap and bound forward. Remember fortune favors the brave.

 

In terms of your daughter a chance of growing up in the USA is the best gift you could ever give her

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

In terms of your daughter a chance of growing up in the USA is the best gift you could ever give her

 

This is key. The combination of safety and opportunity for your children far outweighs any "steps backward" IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Old, on 26 Mar 2016 - 02:43 AM, said:

  • At age 48 I am contemplating a move to the USA.
  • My little girl is 6 years old.
  • I am willing to do that for my daughter.

 

Hallo Old, "I am willing to do that for my daughter" is exactly why you should not hesitate to move here.

 

As Durban2010 said, "In terms of your daughter a chance of growing up in the USA is the best gift you could ever give her."

 

She's only six years old and adapting should be very easy. It will be more difficult for you and your wife, in fact, many a day will come when you will doubt your decision. But, if you are willing to adapt and attune to your new environment, things will (slowly) start to fall into place.

 

Perseverance is key, because you will not only do this for your daughter, but for yourself as well.

 

One does not fully realize how conditioned we had become to combat the (daily) trouble and strife in South Africa until you set foot in the USA. This country has its fair share of problems, but there are more opportunities here, and that is why we all advise you to pack your bags and move - for your daughter's sake.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the positive messages and encouragement. Reading on these forums it seems there are those who are really happy in the US and also those who are not. I guess each person's circumstances will differ. We will be going to Washington State, probably one of the smaller towns south of Seattle where it is more affordable. Anyone living in that area and if so any comments? I have visited there twice and it was definitely cold and raining!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know a few SAffers in the Seattle area. Yes it rains a lot, but it's a beautiful part of the world. My friends are split between the IT, financial and (of course :) ) music industries. They are all pretty happy there. We also have neighbors who used to live there. They liked the city and people a lot but (from Southern California originally) could not handle the rain. Well, my thought would be that even if the rain gets to be too much for you, it's probably worth it for however long it takes to get your green card and then you can move wherever you want. But none of my SA friends seem to mind the weather too much, even the ones from Durban!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading on these forums it seems there are those who are really happy in the US and also those who are not. I guess each person's circumstances will differ.

From my observations and experience, three big indicators as to how you'll handle the massive change and your new life here in the US basically comes down to employment, cash flow and your reliance on friends/family.

 

You seem to have the employment part in the bag. Which is a big help already.

 

Next is money, if you have some savings and a healthy financial buffer, this will get you through the expense of moving, replacing certain appliances and furniture, paying a bunch of big deposits on things like rent, utilities, financing a car etc. and a litany of unexpected and incidental expenses until your credit history is properly established.

 

Then there's your reliance on friends and family. If you're used to spending every weekend visiting, entertaining or braaiing with friends and family, watching the rugby, celebrating birthdays, going to weddings and spending holidays with them, watching KykNet, or if you rely heavily on them for things like babysitting, lending a helping hand around the place or feeding the cat when you're away and such, then your sudden isolation and independence will be a huge, huge, HUGE shock to the system. This, I think, is really where so many Saffers come unstuck shortly after moving here (and elsewhere), especially if employment and cash flow are also compounding the issue! The culture shock alone is usually enough to give most people a run for their money, but throw in some extended social isolation and basically zero support structure and even the most hardened traveler would take some strain. In short, ask yourself, what of your current day-to-day life are you able to live without cold turkey and then imagine what of the rest are potential deal breakers for you and your family.

 

We were already an incredibly independent and self-reliant unit when we moved to the US, which made the whole process a lot easier to bear. We didn't care if the Sharks were playing the Chocolate Starfish, or if Piet Pompies was going to marry Fiela se Kind on 7de Laan. While we loved spending time with our friends and family back home, we were also equally happy to spend most weekends lounging on the couch with our dogs watching a Star Wars marathon on TV, or working in the garden, painting or redecorating a bedroom together, reading a book, working on a DIY project, going on short trips and generally entertaining ourselves.

This, from my experience, made all the difference in the world for us when we eventually landed in a small rural district, two hours drive from the nearest medium to big city and knowing not a single person in town other than the three people that sat in on my wife's job interview!

 

While all of these things are by no means a perfect litmus test for how you will fair emotionally when you immigrate, because, like you said, everyone's circumstances differ. However an honest assessment based on some of these should be a good indicator of how well you'll be able to adjust and adapt to your new environment here in the US.

 

Yes, we still miss our families, our friends, Kruger National Park, the East Coast beaches, Highveld thunderstorms, the occasional ODI on TV, Biltong, Flings and many other things. However, we've also discovered a whole new world of delights, news friends, new indulgences, exciting holiday destinations, strange new customs, bizarre new traditions and a sense of freedom and security (both figurative and literal) that we never knew we were lacking until after we moved here. We have now also added to our little family and put down new roots and fresh foundations for our baby daughter, so that she can grow up and flourish in this strange new and foreign land that she will almost certainly know simply as home.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Old, we live in Portland, Oregon, which sits on the Columbia River, the border between Washington State and Oregon, and it is about 2 hours and 45 minutes away from Seattle by car. (You will notice quite early on that people don't usually talk in distances here, but rather how long it takes to go from A to B. :) )

 

Yes, the Pacific North West is rainy and can be cold during winter. Some areas get lots of snow, others don't, even though they might be on the same side of the Cascade Mountains.

 

Yes, having dreary and drab weather conditions for days on end can drive one to drink, Prozac and Nirvana. BUT, one gets used to it - IF you allow yourself to adjust. And that is the important part. Allow yourself to adjust and be willing to do so. You do not have to sacrifice your identity, and you do not have to adopt everything, but you will have to make a few paradigm shifts.

 

Give yourself enough time to become "street-smart" and things will start to fall into place. By the way, there are more South Africans in the vicinity that you would think. They pop up in the strangest of places and be careful when you speak Afrikaans in stores! :D

 

It will not be the same as the South African comfort zone you have grown accustomed to. There is a different rhythm here. Age wise I was in the same boat as you, but my kids were a bit older. They were just shy of 11 when we arrived.

 

I've given South Africa 50 years of my life and I've paid my dues - including military service. When our immigration opportunity arrived, I looked at it as the start of a new adventure, new places to see, new people to meet and new things to experience. But most of all, it was an opportunity to give my two boys a better start in life. It took us 9 (very long) years to obtain Green Cards, but for us it was worth it.

 

It will be the toughest thing that you and your family will ever do, but the rewards can be very satisfying.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jason - excellent post. Detailing what I was too lazy to in mine :D

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a sense of freedom and security (both figurative and literal) that we never knew we were lacking until after we moved here. .

This is something important. We never realized until we moved that we had had this low grade constant tension from wariness about crime - the walls, alarms, armed response, bag out of sight when you're driving, etc - none of which apply now. So many examples; my latest is tonight, driving home with my daughter after a concert at midnight, not in the least worried about personal safety, stopping at traffic lights or whatever - the only thing to be on the lookout for is deer!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeh . I catch myself often thinking when leaving the house . Did I lock all doors? ( you should still do it here I think ) . In SA I was always sure . Because I was always aware about locking up . Here I cannot remember.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again today, I went into the vet to pick up something. I wouldn't do this just anywhere in town,but there I didn't bother locking my car door. I've seen my kids' friends' moms leaving their cars running outside while going into a house to pick up their kids. I'm not quite there yet!

And half the people in town actually do leave keys under the doormats for their cleaners etc...!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We never deliberately leave the house / car unlocked but have done so negligently many times since we have been here to no ill effect.

Once while living in Florida we went out for some 6 hours and had failed to close the garage door (Flat remote battery and never checked it was down)!!! Nothing happened, nothing missing!!!

Leaving the car running while in the store? .... not quite that brave even after all this time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...