A year in the States – A year since we emigrated from SA

A year in the States - A year since we emigrated from SA

(Photo credit: LeeAnn Stromyer with LeeAnn K Photography // @Leeann_K_Photography)

A year ago, we left South Africa. One year ago, we got on a plane with 3 suitcases while 10 boxes were making their way to us on a slow boat. We had our essentials, leaving a country that was our home for about 10 years to make a new life in the States.

I can’t decide if a year is a long time or not. I suppose I have to stop saying that we are new in the country, or recently emigrated.

Someone is trying to help with packing. 😂😍

A post shared by Zoe Hawkins | Born Geek (@moonstormer) on

We definitely are more established. This feels like HOME. It’s comfy and routine and normal. 

In the beginning, I swear we were just running on adrenaline. We had to get all the admin sorted of changing my name at social security, getting Dean’s Green Card, getting his license sorted… it seemed like a continual wave of admin. And yet, after two weeks, all the stuff was sorted.

Then came the much more difficult task of getting settled. Where did we want to live? We were staying with my mom, but knew we didn’t want to stay in that town, so where did we want to go?

And even once we found our neighborhood and rented a house, it was everything that goes into getting set up. From school to work routines, favorite places to shop and making friends, it’s finally all falling into place.

We’ve met some amazing local people who are quickly becoming our friends. We have found our rhythm with work and getting Harley to school, with how we want to spend our weekends and places we like to go eat. It’s all coming together in a wonderful way.


A post shared by Zoe Hawkins | Born Geek (@moonstormer) on

There’s a question that people used to ask a lot when we first moved. Do we regret it?

I mean, sure, I got a bit misty-eyed in the car when Toto’s Africa came on the radio. And I miss restaurants with play areas and childminders. And seeing a giraffe at the Phoenix Zoo doesn’t compare with the Kruger.

But in all honesty, I don’t regret it. Not for a single moment of the day. I might miss things, and it will be cool to visit in four-plus years (once my ban has been lifted), but it’s not like I want to move back.

It’s sad and a bit scary to see how quickly some of our relationships changed. Friends we thought were close have all but disappeared, while other connections have stayed the same or gotten stronger. You’d think it would take longer in modern times – more means to stay in touch now than I ever had when I moved to Holland in high school. But, I suppose the fact remains that some connections aren’t meant to last forever.

It’s already so much more than I’d hoped for, and we are only a year in. There’s more we want to do, and it all feels so attainable.

I never want to say crappy things about South Africa. I mean, I know that the US is far from perfect, and doing some truly reprehensible things. But in my day to day life, things are just so much better. Prices are stable, only a small portion of our paychecks go towards groceries or gas. Admin stuff is slow or irritating, but it WORKS.

I hear about things in SA, from striking season to ever-increasing costs to an increasing divide between rich and poor. I have to shake my head. Sure, we were fine and comfy in our bubble there, but the current situation just isn’t sustainable. Something has to change, and I don’t know if it will.

So, instead, we changed our lives.

I don’t want to undersell how huge the adjustment has been. Everything from finding which grocery store we liked the most, to which school would be best for Harley, to where to buy random specialty items, everything has been a hurdle. But we’ve gotten past the setting up phase, and it’s feeling more and more like we are on the right track for our lives to move in ways that simply wouldn’t have been possible staying in South Africa.

Yes, we are happy we moved. No, we don’t regret it. Sure, we might miss some things in SA, but almost none of the things I expected to miss. It’s sort of funny how when leaving, saying goodbye to loved ones is the hardest part, but upon leaving, it seems that we miss random food items or services even more.

A year in the States - A year since we emigrated from SA


Here are some more links about our emigration journey if you’re interested in knowing how we got to this point.

How much does it cost to emigrate? (from South Africa to the US)

Emigration: From concept to hearing “congratulations”

How to tell your friends (and deal with their reactions) when you’re moving away

Things I wish I knew before we emigrated


If you like these words, please check out more of what I say on twitter and Facebook, and pics I take on Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Pinterest.
Also, please be sure to sign up to my carefully curated, crafted and infrequent newsletter.