Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Our House

I am no longer praying that our house gets sold, but I rather pray that God gives me the patience to wait for the house to be sold.

We can only start making plans to move to Australia once our house is sold. This is the last major thing on our to do list. In this current economy I am starting to think that it may be impossible to sell our house.

I remember so well back in 2005, after my 1st husband died in a car accident, I wanted to move back to my familiar surroundings in Alberton, just south of Johannesburg. We stayed in Pinetown, Kwa Zulu Natal at that stage. After such huge trauma in my life, I wanted to be closer to my parents and in-laws. I got hold of an estate agent, and he started marketing it.

The house was advertised in one of the booklets on a Monday and that afternoon 4 couples came to view the house. The agent had his hands full, not knowing who to serve first. All 4 couples viewed the house and back on the driveway, they started arguing about who are going to put in an offer 1st. I sold the house the following day to a lovely couple and I got double the price Jan and I bought the house for in 2003.

In a blink of the eye the house was sold. No stress, no hassles.

Now, in 2011, it is a total different story. In 2005 the house market was in a “boom” and all houses sold quickly. The demand for houses were much higher than the availability of them. This is definitely not the case in 2011.

After Sarel and I got engaged in 2006 we decided to move in together. Suddenly we had a house full of people. 6 in total. Sarel’s house just was not big enough so we decided to find a bigger house. We wanted to stay in the same neighbourhood because the kids were already settled in their schools.

We searched all over in the area, but just could not find a suitable house which fit our pockets.

One of the estate agents took us to a house in a Security Estate, about a kilometre away from our house. We were not too crazy about the 1st house she showed us (coinsidently, my gynaecologist lives in that house now), but we did fall in love with the Security Estate. So we decided to buy a stand and build a house in this Estate.

We found the perfect stand and bought it. A very good friend of ours is an architecht and he did our house plans for us. By the end of 2007 we were ready to build. But before we started building, Sarel and I got married, we sold Sarel’s house and we moved into a rental house across the road from our stand. We were ready to be owner builders

Herewith a few photos of our building process:

The stand before we started building


Ground work and preparation for the foundation

The kids enjoying themselves in the sand

Preparation for the raft foundation. There are some dolomite in the area and we all had to have raft foundations 

All the PVC piping for the electricity, water, vacuum cleaner and home automation before the cement are poured for the raft foundation.

Here comes the cement!

We had a typical Highveld storm the day of the pouring of the cement for the foundation. The mud was too thick for the cement trucks to come close to the foundation and we had to hire this orange monster to pump the cement closer to the foundation.

The first bricks are being laid
The ground floor done

The start of building on the 1st floor

1st floor done, now for the roof

Roof comes up ...

The house from the front

Almost done with the plastering.

A Cape Dutch style house must be white ....

 The lights inside the house

 All the lights on - view from outside.  This was so funny. Sarel did his own home automation thing, but at this stage it was not ready.  Thus, if you wanted to switch one light on, all the lights in the house came on.  Our neighbours must have though we are crazy.  Luckily Sarel sorted it out before we moved in. 

The house in daylight

The front of the house

We built this house with a lot of love and hope for the future. There were lots of sweat, but likely no tears nor blood. It was a wonderful project for me and Sarel during our first year of marriage. We worked very well together and we are proud of what we achieved.

We moved into our new house in August 2008. We are in this house just over 3 years now. It is a wonderful entertainment house, with an extra entertainment / pub room and with enough sleeping space for a small army.

If we knew that we were going to emigrate, we would never have build the house. But we aint no Psychics , so we did what was best for us at that time. I am not going to stay in South Africa just because we have a nice comfortable house.

We would love for this house to go to a family who will also enjoy it. We put the house on the market in January 2011 and to date; only 5 people came to view it! So few viewings!!!!

But I am still very positive because every person who come and view the property is one closer to the person who will actually buy the house.

Please hold thumbs or pray that the house will sell or alternatively pray that I get more patience. :-)

Until next time….

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Piglet Money

Today, a story that is not totally related to our emigration, but still worth telling and interesting.
It is about our pink savings pig.

In January 2010 I bought this huge pig with the intention to get the kids excited about saving for our Australia holiday in the June/July school holidays.  I gave the kids a black permanent marker and told them to decorate the pig in a way that everybody can see it is our “Australian holiday savings fund”.

We started putting some change into the pig and the kids started putting money in which they picked up.
My eldest daughter, Neré, is a real crow. She picks up every thing that shines and most of the time, this is money.  She easily picks up anything from 5c to R3 on a Saturday trip to the mall (mostly between R1 and R2). All this in 5c, 10c, 20c and sometimes a 50c coin. In Australia she picked up $5 in lose change (At that time it was R35!)
The other day I went to a mall in Randburg to fetch mail from the business post-box and from my car to the post box and back, I picked up 55c!!!
It is amazing to see how much money people just throw away.  Literally!!!!
This picked up money goes to the pink pig and it has become custom for the whole family to pick the money up and give to the pig.  We call this money “piglet money” (in Afrikaans: “Varkie geld”)
There are very little money in the piggy’s tummy that came from our purses, most were picked up.
I did not cut the piglet open for our holiday last year, but decided to continue to save this way. 
One day when we slaughter the piggy (it is halfway full now), I will let you know how much money was in his tummy.
Oink – until later…..

Monday, 12 September 2011

Milestone No 1

Something very special happened today.  It was a special milestone on our journey.  An awareness, a surreal awareness of what is happening.
Some readers will not understand my excitement about this event, but most who have made an emigration decision, who are in a process of emigrating or who have been through it all, will understand this.
Initially we wanted to go to Australia for our “entry” in December, combining it with a holiday, but for various reasons (mostly financial) we decided against it and Sarel and I am going to Sydney in October to do the entry and to go do some LSD (Look, See and Decide!!!) Decide – mostly to decide which areas, neighbourhood etc will suit us. We will also go and activate the bank account Sarel opened the past week-end and to spend some quality time with my brother-and sister-in-law.
If we do not move before our “entry” date expires, we will take the kids in for a short holiday. Hopefully we will be able to move before then.
Now, back to my special experience today.  I phoned the travel agent we normally use (for business and private) and discussed the travel plans with her.  She asked all the necessary questions and asked me if Sarel will go in with his Dutch passport and if I need help with my tourist visa application.  Unmindful I answer that Sarel will probably use his Dutch passport and I will … and before I could say “need a visa” I remembered.  The whole purpose of our trip is to do our entry!
What a special feeling to tell her, never mind, we are going in with our South African passports and we don’t need visa’s as we have Permanent Residency Visa’s.
This was a WOW moment for me.  So surreal and an amazing feeling.
Another achievement on our journey happened this week-end.  Sarel opened a bank account in Australia.  We can only deposit money into the account and we do not earn interest yet but as soon as Sarel see his personal banker in Sydney, we will be able to transact and earn interest.  It is like our FICA. You need to prove who you are and they need to know that you are a real person and then the account becomes “active”. 
One can easily open a migrant account at most of the Australian banks over the internet.  I suggest you do your research in terms of what the banks offer.  Same as here in SA, all banks offer relatively the same products and interest, but you need to do your homework to decide for yourself which bank will suit you. That is why the internet is there! J
By the way, most banks have none or very little bank charges.
Now I am waiting for my next few milestones to tell you about.  Every milestone is closer to our time for our move and I am very excited.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Keeping the idea alive

“Wait” is not a term that a child normally understands or can do.  They lose focus so easily.  Between their normal tasks, playing, planning to play and messaging on the cell phone, they easily lose focus.

Although the kids are 100% happy about our emigration ideas, I have to keep reminding them about the future.  They lose focus and I have to be very creative to keep the idea alive.

Some of the ideas I implemented are as follows:
·         We look at houses and neighbourhoods in Sydney.  I let the kids tell me which house to look at and which ones they like.
·         We search for appropriate schools in the areas we are interested and look at their uniforms, activities, subjects and the general feel of the school (This helps a lot – even though we know we they have to go to a school on our area, they get a good idea about the schools)
·         I befriended a lot of people in Sydney and am trying to find pen pals for the kids.
·         We talk a lot about our fears, dreams, excitement and disappointments.  We openly have these discussions.  The kids are aware of the fact that it is not always going to be such fun as it was on our holiday, and I believe this will help them adjust to their new life.

A couple of weeks ago we had a braai (BBQ) on a Sunday afternoon.  We sat and had our famous family chats and we decided to document our feelings.  We tackled 2 questions that day and herewith the answers from us all.

Question 1: Why do you want to move to Australia?

Cara (8 yrs) - We are going to have lots of fun there.  They have more fun places. South Africa do not have so much fun places
Neré (10 yrs) – I want to get away from the strikes and taxi’s.  Striking people looks dangerous.  Taxi’s drive like idiots and cause bad accidents.
Megan (12 yrs) – It will be a big adventure. I want to feel what it feels like not living in South Africa. I will have freedom to do more things like going to the mall with my friends – ALONE – without my parents babysitting me.
Chantel (mother) – I feel like white people do not have opportunities, a history and future in South Africa. I don’t want to be judged in business on the colour of my skin, but want to have equal opportunities for myself and my children. I want to live somewhere where my children have a better future.
Sarel (Dad) – I want to be in a place where I can sleep every night without waking up and worry about every sound we hear. I want to go to parks that are free, clean and not fenced off. I want to live in a non-racial country where my children have a future.

Question 2: What I am I going to miss about South Africa?
Cara – Our big house, the pets, the family and South Africa
Neré – Our house, the pets, our family, Durban, the Kruger National Park, friends, school, our tutor, the cars and Honeydew Mazes
Megan – Family and friends. I will miss being with my friends at school every day.  The horse riding and our pets.
Chantel – I will miss my Mom and Dad.  Family, our pets. My domestic help and how easily we can get help in South Africa. I will miss the bushveld, being able to go dining out easily and cheap. My friends. I am going to miss my work.  With regards to food, I am going to miss SPUR Durky sauce and Jelly tots.
Sarel – Pets, bushveld, eating out and to braai on a wood fire.  I will miss our local pub: PEPPER CHAIR! And the big cheap steaks we get in South Africa

Honest truths from all of us!  I am going to repeat these questions in a month or 2 and see how the kid’s answers change.

Cheers for now – and enjoy the rugby world cup – it started today.  Go Bokke!!!!