As SA migration accelerates both ways, guard against envy and schadenfreude

As in any close community like Saffers in the UK, news spreads fast. Especially when it involves high profile personalities from the “old country” who have decided to follow the now well trodden path to Blighty.

This week I heard a member of the 1995 RWC winning Springbok team has decided to make a new life coaching rugby at a private school in the Midlands. Some Saffers take heart from news like this, using it to reaffirm their own decision to migrate. There’s some sense to such affirmations. But it’s also illogical to pay it too much mind.

Doing so risks today’s elevated emotion flowing from another Saffer UK recruit turning into tomorrow’s depression when you hear of someone who has happily returned home – as many are now doing with Cape Town having become a well governed city.

No matter where those of us who can decide to roam, South Africa will always be “home” for everyone who grew up there. But as a young democracy, the homeland has unique challenges. It offers massive business opportunity, but unless your skin has an abundance of melanin, you need to be self-employed.

And then the high unemployment which flows from a place where ideology trumps good economic sense, unskilled labour is plentiful and cheap. So the cost of living in SA is a fraction of that in the First World – but with the side effect of an awfully high crime rate.

It’s always best to suspend judgement on anything that is based on perception rather than hard facts. So next time you hear of someone relocating, best believe theirs was a conscious choice between opportunity and risk that suits their own personality and circumstances. It is also the only way guaranteed to prevent your own peace of mind getting contaminated by the twin monsters of envy and schadenfreude.

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