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Why I am an ex-expat, for now

Right, confession time. I haven’t blogged for a while because I have been too busy. Moving countries and starting a new job tends to have that effect. Yes, I am back in Joburg and yes, I am one of the returning expats the Sunday Times wrote about with such undisguised schadenfreude earlier this year.

Don’t misunderstand me: I was not forced to return. We’ve sold our house — ironically, to a couple who returned from the US after their visas were cancelled. I could have stayed in Sydney; there was enough to tide us over until the economy improved. So why did I return?

Long story cut short, a host of factors.

Anyone who has followed this blog will know that I was severely depressed in Sydney. I would have stayed put and toughed it out, though, if I had not received a phone call from my former manager, who made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. A senior management role, a chance to work with some of the best people in the industry, many of whom I have worked with before — and yes, good money — had some friends telling me I’d be mad not to come back. (And, yes, others telling me I was insane to get on that plane.)

I’m not the only one. Yesterday, we welcomed our new executive creative director, who was in Ireland until recently. As our CEO says, the global recession has been good for his company.

So far, I am loving it. The people are great, the work is intellectually stimulating, the client challenges are interesting. Even though winter is starting to bite in Joburg, I get up every morning looking forward to every day. Right now, for me, there is no better place to be working than South Africa. Yes, we have Fikile Mbalula — a man who only looks good compared to Julius Malema — as deputy minister of police, but this is a truly interesting country to be in.

I’ll return to Australia eventually because I like it a lot and if my ovaries ever scream loudly enough to persuade me to start procreating, that’s where I’d want to raise my children. But in the mean time, South Africa is an exciting, challenging place to be — in a good way.

I’m glad to be back.


  • Sarah Britten

    During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.