South African Expats in Dublin - Meet Derrick & Rose

Published: 20 Apr at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Ireland
Derrick & Rose Left South Africa in 2001 on a working holiday, a 5 year plan to travel as much as possible, make lots of money and return to South African, get out of the IT world and open a Game Reserve. John Lennon once said – “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” And sure enough in 2003, Emily was born – now it wasn’t just the two of them anymore. In 2008 they made the decision to stay in Ireland and buy a house, just before the property market crash and the death of the Celtic tiger. So for now this is their home, until of course they win the lotto and can move somewhere more exciting. They're still travelling though and Rose blogs about their adventures both at home and when they are travelling. Rose's expat blog is called Glory Days... (see listing here)

Meet Derrick & Rose - South African expats in Dublin
Meet Derrick & Rose - South African expats in Dublin

Here's the interview with Derrick & Rose...

Where are you originally from?
Johannesburg, South Africa also referred to as Joey’s, Jo’burg, Egoli and because it is in the Gauteng Province and the Car registration numbers all start with GP it’s also known as “Gangsters Paradise”.

In which country and city are you living now?
Dublin, Ireland which is a separate “Island” from the UK it’s known as the Republic of Ireland and not part of Northern Ireland that belongs to the UK.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been here almost 12 years now and hopefully will move somewhere warmer when we retire, maybe even back to South Africa.

Why did you move and what do you do?
This is a really long story, basically back in the late 90’s before Y2K – Europe and America were crying out for good IT people, a lot of our friends had gone to the UK and made loads of money and come back and bought houses, so not to miss out we looked around at going too. The plan was to go over make loads of money and come home and open a Game Farm. Ireland were in the height of the “Celtic Tiger” and were looking for people in IT, Construction and Nursing to come over, all you had to do was secure a job with an Irish company – get a letter of offer for employment, take it to your Irish Embassy and with minimum cost be given a 2 year work authorization, which did not tie you to that particular company, so if you didn’t like your job you could find another one.
Once you had employment and your work authorization expired, it was just a matter of getting a letter from your employer and having it renewed for another 2 years. After 5 years you could then apply for Citizenship which was an absolute nightmare. Citizenship is supposed to take up to 18 months, however the system was so slow that it took us 40 months, and countless copies of documents.
My husband and I are both in IT.

The 3 of us in Tahiti in 2009 on our Round the world trip
The 3 of us in Tahiti in 2009 on our Round the world trip
Did you bring family with you?
No, just my husband and myself at the time we had no children.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Because Ireland wasn’t a “permanent” plan it was pretty easy, I always thought we were on a working holiday. At least everyone spoke English.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
My husband does not make friends easily; on the other hand I do – for the first 3 months though we only socialized with his work mates, there was another South African amongst them. Also with people we knew, I had met two Irish girls in SA when I was working for a bank back in the 80’s, they both returned to Ireland. I wrote to them and we renewed our friendship.
My husband left for Ireland a month before I did, I went over without a job and did not realize that if I wanted to work I would need my own work authorization. However before I left I had so many phone calls from employment agencies in Dublin, telling me to come over there are no shortage of jobs. When I did arrive I went for interview after interview and could not find anything, when I was approached by a building society who said that it would take months to organize a work visa, I offered to pay my own way back to SA to get a work authorization provided they give me a letter, which they did.
Working made such a difference as I met so many new people and made so many friends, I did not seek out to mix with other South African expats as I wanted to learn about the country I was living in. Friends of ours who moved over later, the wife started a Coffee morning club for ex South Africans which was an absolute disaster.
At the moment I am working for a company where at least 30% of the staff are ex-pats from all over the world, and I have made friends with some wonderful people from New Zealand, Australia, USA, France the UK and other places to name bit a few.

Christmas lights in Grafton Street, Dublin the main shopping street
Christmas lights in Grafton Street, Dublin the main shopping street
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
When you get to Dublin especially if you come from a big city, you have to learn to slow down. Nothing ever happens in a hurry. I can’t pin point the “best things” to do because I find that even after 12 years I am discovering new things. If you are coming to live in Dublin, do the hop on hop off bus tour, discover Dublin and read about it, there are so many interesting facts about this vibrant city that has been around for over 1000 years.
Ireland is not big but there are so many places to go – get out there, drive the country and see the 50 shades of Green.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
The people, Irish people are so warm and everyone has a story to tell – have you heard of “The Gift of the Gab” well I think every Irish person is born with it, but it’s lovely how open “most” Irish people can be. Compared to living in the suburbs of Johannesburg, it’s much safer – you can walk around at night, there are no high walls with electric fences or razor wire around the houses, no burglar bars, a wonderful place to bring up children.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
This has changed over the past few years, when we first left South Africa we found Ireland to be “VERY” expensive, however South Africa has caught up in recent years, and sill things like a box of corn flakes are actually cheaper in Ireland than in SA. For IT workers, salaries are relatively the same when you are converting, but this can differ largely from organization to organization, however I do know of people in SA who earn more than they could earn in Ireland when converting.
You do eventually stop converting after about 5 years though.

Emily in Disneyland
Emily in Disneyland
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The weather, as one of the adverts says: “Ireland would be a great place to live if it only had a roof over it”. When you working all day it doesn’t really bother you, also you learn to dress for the weather and you don’t let it stop you from doing stuff.
The Housing Market Crash - bad for those who bought property at the height, however good for those looking to buy now.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Do not compare it to home, and don’t keep bringing up the past (especially those coming from South Africa) this is a new life, go with the flow and don’t look back.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Even though I am now an Irish citizen, I am more often than not made to feel like a foreigner especially when looking for a job post Celtic tiger with any Irish company. Missing family and friends, although this has been made easier with technology, Skype is wonderful!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
In the 12 years we have been here we have been home at least 8 times, and keeping in touch with friends and family and what is going on in South Africa will make it easier to return if we want.

Replica of the 'Jeanie Johnston' - Famine Museum on the Liffey River in Dublin
Replica of the 'Jeanie Johnston' - Famine Museum on the Liffey River in Dublin
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Make sure you have more copies than you need of important documents, like Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates etc. Reference letters from previous companies, character references.
  2. Get letters from every organization that you belong to that you can think of e.g. Letter from your bank regarding how you conducted your account. Letter from your Insurance Company, etc.
  3. Put all your belongings in storage for 5 years, those that return normally don’t last the 5 years, so don’t waste your money bringing all your belongings. Majority of the people I have known to return have lasted 2 – 3 years at the most.
  4. Come with an open mind and low expectations, you will be surprised or shocked, even the banking system in South Africa in the 90’s was better than it is here in the teens.
  5. Irish people are humble people and they don’t like people who are forever putting them down, and they dislike boastfulness, so take off your airs and graces and come down to earth.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started my blog really as a personal diary as I wanted somewhere to record my experience of living in a different country and travelling to different countries, and also just day to day stuff that popped into my mind. I don’t have a big following but have had some great comments on my posts.
I am not a great writer, I write as I speak.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Leave a message on my blog and I will get back to you!

Rose blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Glory Days... has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Derrick & Rose, please also drop them a quick comment below.

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Comments » There are 5 comments

Maria Roll wrote 11 years ago:

Rose and Derrick Have the right attitude.They decided to immigrate, got there.. embrassed, respected and adapted to Irish living, unlike some people that immigrate to another country and demand the host country to adapt to them. Good luck Rose and Dirreck you are doing SA proud whatever your future plans are.

Susi wrote 11 years ago:

Hi guys. I'm new here and just wanted to say Hello. Loved reading this interview. I have always wanted to visit Ireland and one day that dream will come true. For now I'll just enjoy reading about it! Thanks for sharing.

Catherine wrote 10 years ago:

Hi Guys, Thanks for your blog, its amazing how far you've come, I admire you so much for this. My husband & I are planning on moving to Dublin,Ireland. My mom & dad live in Germany & is a citizen there, but she also wants to join us there to live in Dublin. My parents are pastors of a church in Germany, but want to move cos of church ministry purposes. My husband is in the Building Management Business & we are finding it a bit difficult finding jobs in Ireland while we are here. Most applications come back saying we need to be there in order for consideration. Please can you give us some advise on steps to take & how to go about moving. thanks so much. regards Catherine

Ilze Heydenrych wrote 10 years ago:

I loved reading the blog. Took me quite a while, as I went right back to the beginning! I am also in IT and came across the blog and this site when I researched the possibilities of finding a job in Ireland. I desperately want to move to Ireland! Any ideas or advise? Regards Ilze

Dennis Mkhulisi wrote 9 years ago:

Hey Rose\r\n\r\nThanks for a fresh insight on the expat life. Am a medical officer and tried once to \"recharge\" my batteries by working in Canada. Age cut-off (50yrs)and family commitments made me shelve the idea. However, it\'s good to know that we have to appreciate things that we take for granted (eg a good banking system, the weather etc).\r\nAm 58yrs old now and cherish the hope of travelling the world on a working holiday-staying in a country, work thrice a week for nominal pay, board and travel a bit... Wishing your family well. Cheers!!

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