Louisa left sunny Surrey for the even sunnier South African city of Cape Town. She now runs her own social media agency inbetween moments spent with her puppy, pet rat and husband. Read about her expat experiences here.
1. Where are you from originally?
2. Where do you live now?
Cape Town, South Africa
3. What first attracted you to your new home? Did you try anywhere else on the way?
I had travelled with work for a couple of years and had the opportunity to stay for extended periods in a variety of places. Whilst I enjoyed my time in every place I stayed, Cape Town seemed the most liveable. However, I was not resigned to relocating until I met my husband who was living here.
4. What kind of property do you live in now? Will you stay here? What’s your ideal place to live in within your new country?
At the moment I live in a rented 3-bedroom apartment in a complex. It’s the third place I have stayed in here and the moving over the last years has been useful to find out where I would like to buy a place, which is the intention for the end of the year. Ideally, the place I buy will be a house with a sea or mountain view.
5. Are you speaking a new language? If so, how did you learn?
I haven’t learned any new languages yet though both myself and my husband are going to be learning Xhosa and Zulu this year.
6. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?
I work as a social media consultant/writer. I work from my own home. My clients are in the UK and South Africa.
7. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?
The internet connectivity is not very good. It can be sporadic and is almost always slow compared to what I have been accustomed to in the UK. I mainly use Skype, MSN, and screen sharing programs like Mikogo. If I had a top tip, it would be scheduling larger deadline buffers to account for any drop outs and subsequent rescheduling of meetings.
8. Are you paid in your new home currency or in pounds/dollars/euros? Do you exchange money often? If so, what service do you use?
I am paid in both Rands and Pounds. I keep the accounts completely separate and don’t find myself needing to exchange money.
9. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?
Yes and no. It can be very hard being a foreigner in a new country, even without a language barrier. There are many simple tasks that are harder now, such as buying car. Getting work in Cape Town as a foreigner was extremely difficult, took an awfully long time and became quite soul-destroying. However, by the same token, the difficulties in getting work became motivation to go for a complete change and I was able to pursue a career that I really was going to enjoy, rather than simply get a job in the same field I had always been in.
Work still has its drawbacks for me here. It seems to be a much slower pace in Cape Town when it comes to things like deadlines. I rarely see anyone working late. For a long time this was incredibly frustrating for me as I was used to a fast-paced, high-pressure work life. I have since adapted and whilst I don’t have quite the same slow pace as a lot of the locals, I do think slowing down a little has been a wise move.
Outside of work, my life is much more active. The better weather allows for a lot more time spent outside and I have taken up many more sports than I was doing in the UK. Socially, I would say my life is pretty similar to how it was in the UK.
10. What are the best things about living in your new country?
The weather (most of the time!) is brilliant. The scenery around where I live is stunning and being so close to so many beaches is a joy. I enjoy the ‘braai’ kind of lifestyle here. Cape Town is a very social place. There is so much to see both here and other places in South Africa so it’s an exciting prospect to plan trips to see more of the place.
11. What are the most challenging things about living in your new country?
I will always feel like and be seen to be a foreigner, which is fine most of the time, but can get frustrating.
It’s quite tricky to make new friends as Cape Town can be quite a clique-ish.
The lack of freedom to go anywhere I choose, especially on foot can feel very restrictive. The crime rate in Cape Town is high so the timing of journeys and routes to take must always be pre-planned.
12. Are you here for good? If so, why? If not, why not?
I don’t think I will be here for good. Not least because of the potential political instability in the country but mainly because I intend to live in and experience other countries. I would also like to spend a few years back in the UK as I do miss my friends and family there.
I was born in Spain, grew up in the UK and started travelling from 19, spending the majority of my time in India. After getting my degree in Linguistics, I worked a variety of jobs until I found one that had me travelling almost constantly which suited me just fine at the time.
Finally decided to settle in Cape Town after getting married. Now happily writing, working on my social media solutions business, surfing, climbing, wining, dining and walking with my dog.