Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Expats realise grass greenest at home

It's hard to gauge the mood among expats. This same MD of Homecoming Revolution from whence The Times obtained this earth-shattering report (sarc) - a prime example of budget journalism if you ask me - ran another website www.whereintheworldareyou.co.za which attempted to gather information where - and why - people had migrated. The survey which was unscientific of course (aren't they all?) included a sizeable chunk of respondents - 6967 - which made the answers worth noting, at least more than the few people quoted below.

We posted about the "Where In The World Are You" website on May 1, 2008 and the results in the survey at that time (see pic - click to enlarge) are interesting. For instance, of the total number of respondents 42% lived in the UK, 16% in the US, 9,4% in Australia followed by Canada and New Zealand each taking approximately 5% each - the usual suspects. But here's where it gets fascinating; 80% were in the 25-49 age group and a massive 72% had post-matric qualifications. Nearly everyone gave the main reason for leaving as crime followed by job prospects. Of the total number, 74% indicated a willingness to return with the least willing to return being people in Australia (only 47%) and the most willing to return were expats in the UK, 81%. Must be the weather huh?

The article below deals only with expats in the UK which, with some 81% wanting to return, the chances of finding people to interview extolling the virtues of returning is akin to a blind man throwing a dart at the side of a barn, he is bound to hit something. Another noteworthy point is that the website has been taken down so in effect, the only record of this survey or that the website ever existed is that contained on the pic alongside and this blog.

Related: Where in the world are you?

From The Times

As the economic crisis bites in Britain, an increasing number of South African-born entrepreneurs want to move back home.

The managing director of Homecoming Revolution, Martine Schaffer, says her organisation, which helps expats return, has been taking eight to 10 phone calls a day from people wanting to leave the UK.

“We’ve had a lot more inquiries since the new government came in. There’s almost a new stability around South Africa,” she said.

Hours after Jacob Zuma was inaugurated as president earlier this month, 200 South Africans living in London met Schaffer and members of her organisation at a panel discussion of business opportunities in South Africa.

Schaffer said the peaceful election and inauguration had created greater interest in returning home.

“It has almost surprised expats living abroad how we’ve managed to do things,” she said.

John Battersby, UK manager of South Africa’s International Marketing Council, said those who feared the worst about the safety of the country, as an environment for business and politics, had been proved wrong by the elections and, more recently, by the ruling against trade union federation Cosatu and communications regulator Icasa when they brought a last-minute case against Telkom’s sale of Vodacom shares.

“The election sent all the right signals to the investor community internationally, including South Africans abroad.” If the Vodacom case “had gone in another direction, it would have been another matter entirely,” he said.

One of the South Africans at the London meeting was Timothy Schultz, a marketing specialist, who has lived in the UK for nine years.

“The good times in London are definitely over,” he said. “A lot of people have already made up their minds and they’re going. They’ve already got their plans in place.”

Schultz said there appeared to be many at the meeting who were not there “purely because of naive homesickness. You got a sense that there were people who had business plans in their back pockets.”

Last week, investment ratings agency Moody gave South Africa an upbeat assessment, saying the country would experience a relatively short recession. This, coupled with high demand for new South African bonds, boded well for the country’s ability to attract investment, Battersby said.

Gareth Knight, who has started web-based businesses such as kinder.com, a social networking website for families, has just returned to London after visiting his family. He now wants to come home permanently.

“In the UK, I’m always going to be an outsider. In South Africa, I’ve got a vested interest … It’s something that I want to see succeed,” he said. “I’ve seen enough of the infrastructure in South Africa to know that there’s enough for me to do well,” he said, citing South Africans’ strong work ethic and the prospect of more high-speed Internet bandwidth.

Timothy Hind, a South African-born business analyst for JP Morgan bank in London, said perceived economic stability in South Africa inspired him to attend the May 9 meeting. However, the 30-year-old is waiting to see how the 2010 soccer World Cup goes.

“I think that in my age group, most of my friends have been here for maybe five to eight years, some even 10. We’re at that stage where we’re finally looking for where to settle,” he said.

4 Opinion(s):

WHITEADDER said...

Strange - ALL of my ex RSA friends
have no interest in coming back to resettle. Some rather pay some family members to come and visit them as opposed to even visit South Africa. I guess it depends on your expieriences that made you leave.

Loggi said...

There’s almost a new stability around South Africa,” she said

O really..... Watch this space the Zoooma show is about to begin.

Anonymous said...

What a load of rubbish, I live in Perth and know loads of Saffers, nobody would ever dream of going back to SA. As for the belonging to Africa drivel, middle class saffers have a lot more in common with Australians than Zuma'a Africanist ideas that are overtaking the country. I feel more at home in a place when the people around me are not trying to steal my stuff and hurt my family 24/7 and dont care what my skin colour is.

Doberman said...

@ anon 11:10, quite right. I live in Aus too and yes, I have my moments of doubt (very few), but deep down I know why I made the decision to move here in the first place - and I know also that it is not my future that is at stake, it is my children's. You'll find those that want to return are mostly in the UK, and/or do not have children. No one in their sane mind would go back permanently and expose their children to a life of perpetual danger and second-class citizenship. I have become the "soutpiel" of my generation, one foot in Aus and one foot in SA, for now and truth be told, unless SA rights itself, I cannot see a reason to return permanently. Besides, I've made more money in three years than I did in nine years back in SA, so there is that as well. One DOES make more money outside SA because we are earning real currency, not the monopoly money called rands.