Where are we going?

The scent of emigration is in the air.

Not for us. We have no such plans.

But if you’re driving around the Southern Suburbs while going about your business on any given day, you will – without exaggeration – likely see at least one family upping and leaving the country; their belongings being loaded into a shipping container, probably headed for… well… where exactly?

I do get it. It’s not like SA doesn’t have its problems: crime, loadshedding, corruption, economic issues, BEE, poor governance, more loadshedding, some more crime and just an overall feeling of despair on many days.

But there are two points that I’d like to make here. Firstly, that SA isn’t particularly exceptional in this emigration thing. Maybe the reasons are different in each place, but no-one seems particularly happy at the moment:

70% is a lot of your young people. And it’s worth noting that Ireland is one of the destinations of choice for emigrating Saffas, too. (Aside: maybe that’s why the Irish want out?) But there are many less developed countries with high emigration rates: India, Iran, Albania, Bangladesh, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and… er, yes… Ireland.

SA is far from alone in people wanting to be elsewhere.

But then that brings me to my second point: where do these people want to go? Because, as Cape Talk’s Refilwe Moloto remarked this week:

Considering emigration? Where? ‘Cause the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
I understand why you want to emigrate, but the world is not what it used to be… It’s angry, selfish, and inward-looking. There’s this terrible psyche in the world now that goes, ‘Us first’… xenophobia… Brexit… right wing politicians across Europe…

I think she’s being a bit dramatic with some of that (although), but the sentiment is right. The grass is not always greener on the other side*, and even if it is a little bit greener, it’s clearly often not as green as many emigrants thought or hoped it might be. How much of that lack of verdancy are you willing to put up with, given the cost, the logistics, the emotional wrenching and just the sheer upheaval of everything in moving halfway around the world?

And how long do you have to be in your new country before you’re allowed to bitch and moan about it all the time on social media? Well, not very long at all, it seems. (Obviously, I’m not going to give examples here.)

What happened? Did you not do your due diligence? Were you ridiculously expecting utopia*? If you don’t like it, you can always come home. But here’s a tip: as I found out when moving to SA, the sooner you stop trying to make the country fit in with you, and rather just choose to fit in with the country, the better and easier is is to live your daily life without the constant stress of feeling like an outsider.
And any other approach is actually a little narcissistic, don’t you think?

But enough of my advice.

Because a lot of people leaving will obviously take the view that things will have to be really bad elsewhere before it’s as crappy as they feel it is here. But looking around (and even with my rose-tinted, glass-half-full mindset fully engaged), I don’t see anywhere that’s particularly attractive right now*.

The world is a bit of a mess at the moment.

* We’re not including Norway here, obviously.