Proudly South African in Australia – Down Under, Now What?

November 1, 2017

Moving countries is one of the toughest hardest decisions you will ever make. Leaving behind family, friends and everything that is familiar – I remember feeling so totally overwhelmed on my first grocery shopping experience.

I was feeling quite chuffed that I found the shopping centre, and then the local Coles within the centre, and man oh man,I even managed to find the cereal aisle. No rice krispies! No pronutro. Seriously!!! What were my kids going to eat?! On theassumption that rice bubbles would do, I threw them in the trolley (at the same time desperately trying not to convert how much a box of unknown was costing), and headed off to find the Elizabeth Anne’s (I had a two year old (now 6) who’s hair is so curly she makes a poodle with its tail stuck in an electrical socket look straight, and leaving in Elizabeth Annes allowed me to brush her hair without decapitating her. Horror. No Elizabeth Annes. Right, move on – next. Tomato sauce (of course, tomato sauce is a vegetable in our house and my two will not touch anything unless smothered) and hey, guess what? No All Gold. I remember wanting to sit down right in middle of the aisle and sob.

It was a moment of clarity for me. It was the realisation at how high the mountain was that we needed to climb, and how unfamiliar everything was. I had under estimated the impact of overcoming the simple things of everyday life that you never think of, take so for granted and just expect.

And don’t get me started on how it felt to feel like I was on a first date every time when I went (ok, invited myself) to a playdate. It felt like I was always on my best behaviour and could never just relax and truly be me.

Moving over was a humbling experience career wise – from having a successful tax practice in South Africa for over 10 years, to coming over and not even being considered for a debtors or creditors position (“you are over-qualified, but don’t have Aussie experience, Mate!”), to having to be supervised for over 2000 work hours, and having to complete 5 post graduate subjects (which cost me more than my entire under and post graduate degrees in South Africa and my first car combined!).

I remember celebrating the (small) wins of being able to drive somewhere without using my GPS, and finally being able to turn off the main road, and take back routes to avoid traffic. I’ll also never forget putting the kettle on in a friend’s place (without asking, and feeling totally natural) and the feeling of total euphoria of finally getting my own Tax Agent and my Certificate in Public Practice from the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Four years down the line, my first shopping experience and first dates with friends feel like very distant memories and I have total respect for the entry requirements into the Tax Practitioners Board.

Moral of this long sob story – I get your overwhelm. I am sure part of the overwhelm you are experiencing also consists of things like getting a Tax File Number, lodging a Tax Return in Australia and perhaps still needing to do a tax return in South Africa (your move may have crossed over tax years) or you may still have some assets in South Africa (property / money earning interest) and will need to do a tax return for future years in South Africa.

Let me take away some of that overwhelm for you … Get in touch. For your taxes, for a coffee and a moan about how much you miss your help (sometimes more than my mother – kidding!)… I would love to help!

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