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What is it like to move abroad during the pandemic – and could you do it?

 

In the depths of the pandemic and lockdown life, did you ever dream of moving somewhere sunnier, more beautiful or closer to (or further away from) friends and family?

 

You weren’t the only one. The popularity of Barbados’s Welcome Stamp remote workers visa proves that. But, when push comes to shove, do you really think you could do it? Up and leave your home, your life – everything familiar to you - during a time of enormous global upheaval and uncertainty? Such a move takes guts.

“Ingrid, “60 years young” and from Natal, South Africa, found the courage to move to Oxford in the UK.”

Ingrid Ford did it. In February 2021, Ingrid, “60 years young” and from Natal, South Africa, found the courage to move to Oxford in the UK, where she’s currently working remotely as an assistant financial accountant for the university she has been employed by since 2006.

A bold move! And an especially tricky one to pull off given the extra-tight restrictions on movement between South Africa and the UK.

We asked Ingrid to share her experiences of emigrating during the pandemic. Here’s what she had to say.

“I wanted to live a fuller life in a promising country.”

Why did you decide to move?

I had been trying since 2015 to get the necessary documents to apply for my Ancestral visa. It only finalised in about August 2020.I wanted to move while I was still healthy, able bodied and employable. I wanted to live a fuller life in a promising country.

Why did you decide to make the move during a pandemic?

It was bad timing, but after pushing through for five years, I could not wait any longer. The Ancestral visa only gives a short window period to get here and finalise the British residence permit.

Why did you choose to move to the UK?

This is where my Grandfather moved from to SA. I wanted a chance for opportunities, as he probably did all those years ago.

“I am re- learning how to make new contacts even in these challenging times.”

Do you have any friends/family in the UK? How important do you feel it is to have some prior experience of the country you’re moving to?

I have friends and ex-colleagues scattered all over the UK. Mostly in the Southerly regions though. For me, as long as I have internet contact, I can reach out to all my loved ones. In the meantime, I am re- learning how to make new contacts even in these challenging times.

How do you hope your life will be different after your move?

I hope to continue experiencing life to the full and grow in new areas. One never knows until you put yourself in that space.

How has the pandemic affected or complicated your move?

I had to decide very quickly, after my third flight was cancelled due to COVID19, to take the plunge and leave everything familiar to me and get to the UK. I was also motivated by the hotel quarantine introduction and NHS price increase. It saved me financially by being proactive.

What were the hardest things to plan for your move?

The timing of everything so that it flowed smoothly. Giving notice at work, getting a new contract to continue working, getting my Provident fund out in time, learning how to get the funds across at the best possible rates, etc.

Have you had any doubts?

None at all. But, I still need to find local employment before my current SA contract is completed.

What’s your travel background?

I’ve not lived anywhere else in the world but I have been to Botswana (2014), Mauritius (2012 and 2019), Thailand (2014), Seychelles (2017), Italy (2005, 2018, 2019), Belgium (2005) and the UK (2005).

What would you say to other women who are considering moving abroad at this challenging time?

Know why you are doing it and come with a positive, receptive mindset. 

 

Would you like to move abroad right now? Why?