Why I Moved to South Africa (in a hurry)

You might remember last year I bought a house, moved on to renovate it, then suddenly packed up to leave my home country. Sounds dramatic? I couldn’t agree more. Since then, I’ve been asked a lot about why I moved to South Africa and why now?

The past eight years of living and sharing my life online have been a blur. For someone who grew up in a small town, I’ve been living large. And it has, to some extent, caught up with me.

Here’s the dirt.

Why I moved to South Africa

First of all, welcome to my home in Cape Town. It’s a cottage in the trendy suburb of De Waterkant, a short walk to the city and not far from the beach. We found this small two-bedroom oasis online. It was the second place we inspected, on our first day of inspections. We signed a lease the same day.

Many of you have asked on Instagram: why South Africa? And, why now?

For the sake of clarity, let me give you a timeline.

Also, for the purpose of anyone who finds investments interesting or who is interested in their own investments in your twenties, I’ll include the financial details.

January 2019

Feeling lost and in need of grounding, I take a solo trip to Bali, Indonesia. Whilst in Bali I buy a house (online) without ever viewing it. Yes, I’m slightly impulsive.

I negotiate the price to $530,000. It sold for the same price two years prior. I’ve landed a great price for an old home. It’s an 1890’s terrace house with true Victorian Charm.

For those interested in math (important later), I pay almost half the price of the house in cash and mortgage the other half.

How did I get that cash? At 20 years old I started this blog. It has been a moneymaker since day one. At 25, I used most of what I had earned to open my first bricks and mortar business, a dessert restaurant called Charlie’s.

A few months later I had paid back the initial investment (some almost $200,000) and used the new cashflow to purchase my second business. I poured money into the second business and soon it was profitable, too.

Around the same time I purchased the second business, I purchased my first home. A small one-bedroom apartment located above my restaurant. Rookie error – work became my entire existence. But, it did allow me to start creating a serious investment portfolio by my mid-twenties so – who am I to complain?

I rent out the first home after I have a quarter-life crisis and move to Los Angeles. More from that story on Instagram.

March 2019

I move into the new house with few belongings. It is cold, dark, and empty – all 129 m² of it.

I begin renovations immediately. When I say immediately I mean – I had not moved a single item of furniture in before I started renovating. The day I get the keys, I rip up all the carpet. The pile of carpet at the front of my house quickly disappears as a stranger asks to take it. I say yes, with pleasure.

On day two of having the keys to my new house, I spend more money on white paint than the price of a small car. I have a lot of paint and a lot of house. The two go hand in hand.

Over the month I rip up the carpet, replace old floorboards, varnish the floorboards, paint the entire house Antique White, replace the curtains and rods, install venetian blinds and finally, decorate the house.

April 2019

I finish renovating my house within 6 weeks and I leave on a trip to Pakistan, South Africa and Botswana. I didn’t sleep for most of those 6 weeks.

May 2019

After Pakistan, I land in South Africa. The only guy I’ve loved since my ex is newly single, so we meet for coffee in Cape Town. It goes terribly.

The next day, he follows me 1.5 hours down the coastline and surprised me with a knock on the door. And flowers. And a love letter. No one has ever made such a gesture to me in a relationship, let alone pre-dating. I’m his girlfriend within the week.

June 2019

After extending my visit to South Africa, I finally land back home in Australia. My house is finished and it has quickly become my favourite place on earth. I pledge to never leave. One problem: my boyfriend lives 14256 km away.

July 1, 2019

I land in London for a work trip I’ve had planned for some time. I start to realise my plan to travel less and stay grounded is not working out for me so well, if at all. I travel solo in England, Slovenia, and Paris. I meet my boyfriend in Ireland as this is one of the few countries he can travel to without a visa (South African passports, hey!)

August 2019

I fly home for a photoshoot with Merrell. I still own a bakery and a retail store in my home town, where my house is located. For all intents and purposes, my life is structured around living in Australia.

End of August 2019

My boyfriend lands in Australia after a 6-week wait to get a visa just to visit for up to 90 days. He stays for all of those 90 days.

November 18, 2019

Said visa expires and my boyfriend must leave the country. Moreover, he wants to. As it turns out “hanging out” for three months has a time limit. He needs to return to work – mostly for his own sanity. It would take about a year for him to get a visa to work in Australia.

November 22, 2019

I fly to South Africa to be with him in the designated role of “career cheerleader”. I fly over with 3 full suitcases with the intention of staying three months.

December 2019

We sign a lease in Cape Town.

January 2020

My house goes on the market as a rental. Within two days I have landed a tenant on a 12-month lease. They lock into paying $2400 per month, more than covering the mortgage repayments which are less than half of this (at a 3.070% per annum mortgage rate in Australia).

Inside my Living Room by World of Wanderlust
Inside my Living Room by World of Wanderlust
Best Beaches in Cape Town

Alas, we moved to Cape Town

So, why did I move to South Africa in a hurry? And why did I just buy and renovate a house, then up and leave again?

In case you haven’t realised by now: I’m impulsive.

But for a moment, I want you to reconsider this adjective in a positive light, rather than considering negative connotations.

I feel unsettled after eight years of travelling, so what do I do? Buy a house.

I love the house and I have built solid foundations at home, but I also love a man who lives in a foreign country. What do we do? He comes to visit me in Australia for three months.

He loves Australia but his life is back in South Africa. We also can’t get a visa in a heartbeat so what do we do? My life is the easiest to pick up and move (as a self-employed entrepreneur and someone who can work from their laptop).

So we? Move to South Africa.

Instead of Barriers, See Opportunities

Instead of seeing all the reasons not to do something, I look for all the reasons to do it.

I trust my gut, I act on intuition and when people tell me all the things that could go wrong, I counteract them with opportunities.

I have a home in Australia that more than double pays for itself with a new tenant. I considered AirBnB but for reasons that warrant another blog post, I decide a permanent tenant will be less hassle.

I have lower living expenses in South Africa – I pay a third of the rent here than what I can rent my house out for. I also pay less for groceries, electricity, gym membership and pretty much any bill costs exactly half in this country.

I also finally push to sell my business (the dessert restaurant) and have enough money back in the bank for another real estate investment – or – better, to invest back in to my company.

With the sale of one business, I have clarity and stress-relief that I haven’t felt in years. By shedding the business, I shed 20 staff members and all the headaches that come with managing people. Hospitality businesses are a difficult balance of managing your own people (team members), your customers, your suppliers and your financials. It’s tough.

So, what now?

I don’t have a crystal ball and I’m sure you’ve realised by reading this far that I don’t put too much thought into the future.

My main goal for the current climate is to build out a team here at World of Wanderlust and develop a product in the travel startup space that goes beyond our global audience.

Want to be a part of that change? Join us on Linkedin for opportunities.

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Brooke Saward
Brooke Saward

Brooke Saward founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen, with a particular weakness for French pastries.

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