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Moving from South Africa to Australia: Expat Interview

Continuing our series of expat interviews, MoveHub had a chance to chat with Reeva, a South African making Perth, Australia her third home. If you’re toying with the idea of moving to Perth, check out what Reeva makes of the city.

Real moves: South Africa to Perth via England

Meet Reeva: a South African who moved to Perth via London

Meet Reeva: A proud South African in Perth, she has been living in Western Australia since 2013 with her family.

After an eight year stint in England, getting married and having a child, Reeva and family packed up to move to Perth. She shares her experiences on migrating to Australia and living in Perth.

When did you move to Perth and how did the decision to move come about?

I initially moved from South Africa to England when I finished university and had no idea what sort of job I would be able to find. I qualified for a visa for the UK so moved to England where I already had family living. I met my husband the month I arrived and we’ve been together over 13 years now!

In 2011, after having our first child, our perspective on life in the UK changed. We decided to look at moving to Australia as we wanted to live somewhere sunny and warm where our son could have a very different childhood and future opportunities.

What is the most expensive part of living in Australia?

The mortgage! Housing is expensive here, but that does depend on where you come from and what you’re used to paying.

If you move from a big city like London or New York it probably seems affordable but to us, coming from rural Gloucestershire in England, it was a lot more expensive.

How did you make Perth feel like home when you first moved here?

Boktown Perth: a bit of South Africa in WA

We met lots of expats when we first arrived and some are still really good friends, in fact we bought a house just one street away from some friends we met a month after we arrived!

It wasn’t really until our container arrived though that it really sunk in that this was ‘home’. I’ve only been to the UK shop once since we arrived but I still regularly visit our local South African shops for a piece of South Africa.

What are some of the differences you adjusted to in Perth?

The weather is obviously way better here and more like South Africa, where I grew up. It was one of the main reasons we chose Perth as our new home city above all other Australian cities.

The work culture is very different, I’ve never worked so hard in my life! But it’s totally worth it as you do get time on weekends to relax, socialise and discover Perth.

Name the three things you like most about living in Perth?

Caversham Wildlife Park in Western Australia

The beaches, the sun, and amazing local wine from the Swan Valley and Margaret River!

What are some underrated things about Perth?

Perth has tons of awesome restaurants and the dining scene is really taking off. My favourite is Baby Mammoth in Northbridge, a modern South African restaurant with the most amazing craft beer list.

Everyone knows Perth as a family friendly city, which it totally is, but there are plenty of grown up things to do to that often get overlooked. And we have Sculpture By The Sea every year which is also held in Sydney.

Reeva and her family moved from England to Australia

What do you think is the biggest misconception about living in Perth?

That it’s expensive – the only thing I find expensive is housing really, everything else is on a par with what we were paying in the UK, if not cheaper (fuel is currently half the price here than in it is in the UK!).

Anything that Australia does better than England?

The weather – hands down! Barbeques and outdoor living, the beaches have the most beautiful white sand and turquoise waters, and the coffee is pretty decent too.

Which are your favourite neighbourhoods in Perth?

I love Hillarys as it has the beaches, the boat harbour, and isn’t too far from the city. If only I could afford to buy there! Fremantle is also so laid back, trendy, and dare I say it, hipster. There’s nothing better than whiling away a few hours at Little Creatures in Freo.

Would you consider moving back to home?

It's a sign: advert in England hinting at a move to Australia

Home? Where’s home these days? I often refer to both South Africa and England as home and when we become citizens this will be my third home. But I can’t see us leaving the sunny shores of Australia for another country anytime soon, if ever. I love it here!

What one piece of advice would you offer someone who is moving to Perth?

If you have the right attitude to relocating, you will make a success of it. But don’t just jump head first into it in the current climate - do your research and make sure there are opportunities for you here in your current field or be prepared for a career change.