Friday, 2 August 2013

How to finance emigration?

As I think will be pretty obvious, humans are fickle. No sooner had I resigned myself well and truly to staying in South Africa on this blog, when I got the chance to visit Romania this December (from my previous post). I'm more hopeful than ever that it will be everything I've ever ... hoped for (hope and emigrating are forever intertwined), so that it will justify relocating as soon as possible (yes, that's logical!).

To make this blog a bit more interactive, I'd really like to hear from other expats how they managed to bridge the financial gap. I don't know about you, but I'm finding my current life extremely difficult to give up: I'm halfway through a two-year cellphone contract (minor), I have a six-month rental lease (slightly more serious), I'm nowhere close to paying off my car loan (everybody here in SA has car loans because new car prices are so high), and then there's things like my study loan and a little bit of bank debt to settle.

In short, The Real World is like a giant mud pit, and even if I DID get a wonderful job offer, I don't want to move countries and then end up paying off debt or for contractual commitments of things I don't even have anymore! Moving countries really does seem like starting off from a blank slate, and I've long since given up the hope of getting on a plane with much more than the clothes on my back and a suitcase of knicknacks.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not your average unskilled migrant hoping to find a job and Pamela Anderson's telephone number overseas. I've got a University degree, am a magazine editor, and earn enough to live a decent life in South Africa. Only, as is the case in most places, saving in any substantial manner is next to impossible ... instead I'm working diligently on paying down all my debt, so that I can remove the last chains which bind me to the country.

I'm lucky in that I've got a squeeky clean credit record (I just checked today again, lol), never having missed a payment. As much as none of us ever want to take credit, you'll probably know times when you just have to - in a way you're borrowing from your Future Self as much as you are from the bank. I wouldn't want to borrow from the bank, but when I'm borrowing from myself in the future, then hey, in my books that's fair. Only thing is, they never warn you that a side-effect of credit is irrevocably tying yourself to your country.

It's as frustrating as hell, innit? There should be some legal clause where you hand over your bank cars and car keys and home keys and anything else at the airport when you emigrate, and the Government just takes it all away. What a joy that'd be! Somehow it feels like that should be enough: it's only where debt is concerned, taking everything away is actually unfairly empowering :/

*sighs* I envy those toddlers who can kick and scream and daddy will make it all better.

So again, how did you do it? Did you save? Did you carry debt across to the new country and pay it off remotely? Did you just default on your commitments? Or maybe (and I suspect this is a big reason) you had family who just gave you money to help you start your new life? 

I actually think there's a job opportunity here, or at the very least a great idea for a charity. If I ever become obscenely rich, I think I'll start a foundation which offers interest-free loans to international emigrants, allowing them to settle their old debt, with repayments only after they've found stable employment. Some people need bread, and people in my boat need a time-shift for their credit.

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