Holly Deyo on Changing Countries
Survivalists often discuss which countries would be safest to be in, should a global cataclysm occur. Typically the focus is on the lack of danger – no volcanoes, inland, no nuclear power plants… Less discussed is whether you can handle the more mundane aspects of living somewhere new, and leaving your old life behind.
Holly Deyo is the author of the very excellent Dare To Prepare! (buy it, even if the weight makes it expensive to deliver…), and she knows what she is talking about in her article describing her 5+ years in Perth, Australia.
That’s right – Australia. Not like Lesotho as Patrick Geryl suggests, or parts of Brazil that I mention in my book, Survive 2012: Safe Spots. There are strong reasons for not moving to countries where the culture is quite different to your own. Not only might you struggle pre-SHTF, after a catastrophe you might lack the skills to deal with angry or desperate people from a different culture.
So, Australia. I’d suggest that alongside Canada it is the country most like the USA. So it shouldn’t be difficult. It comes down to who you are, and that’s not a judgemental thing, it’s just reality that some people need what is familiar, and others cope fine in foreign environments. Holly struggled – my comments are in red. And as someone who has spent a lot of time in the USA, and having lived in Perth at the same time as the Deyos, I feel qualified to comment.
I had to learn to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. It meant a new driver’s license and a new test. Everything was measured in metric from distances to recipes to weight… In the States, a “can” might consist of 14 oz., but there it could be 300 grams, which when you convert it, is only 10-1/2 oz. This difference certainly mucks up recipes… Now think what that transition would be like to a country where you don’t even speak the language…. The entire planet is metric – except the USA. Driving on the wrong side of the road isn’t so hard, but roundabouts can throw you, kill you even. But these are things that come right with time. Even if you stay in your own country, new jobs/relationships/shoes take getting used to.
Imagine trading every single thing you know, every piece of history you identify with, every single store you’re used to shopping, every landmark you associate with your culture, every street familiar to you, every joke and bit of humor you “get”, every idiom that’s a part of your language, every holiday that is your tradition, every convenience you take for granted. Weigh all that and more, it carves a big hole out of your heart. That’s really powerful. Time doesn’t help as much. If you are uncomfortable in a foreign culture after, say, a few weeks – it will probably be permanent.
I remember seeing programs on Aussie TV that originated in America. It was so good when they panned the city and one got to glimpse a slice of home, even if for a few seconds. Though those seconds brought more waves of wretched homesickness, it was wonderful to see America again. It can be a Catch-22, you miss the things from home, but when you see them they make you just as homesick. The most popular holiday destinations for the British are Mediterranean resorts that serve fish and chips, ale, have Coronation Street on TV and have a dart board in the recreation area. If that sounds like you, do not relocate for survival purposes!
In the ensuing four years, a stack of paperwork literally 2” thick had to be completed for the Australian government.
Every 6 months I had to exit the country for 6 weeks at a time to not overstay the visa. That became VERY expensive for the two of us. I also had to prove that my personal funds were sufficient to show that I was an “asset” and would not be a burden on their welfare system.
Background checks were run on me both in Colorado and in Perth by their police departments to make sure I wasn’t some bolting criminal. Oh yes, I had to pay for these too. This will happen wherever you relocate to. If you can actually read the paperwork that’s a big plus.
During these 5-1/2 years, because I retained my U.S. citizenship, we paid dual income tax on the same money, which was very expensive. Incorrect - there are tax treaties between Australia and the USA, and you get credits for tax you have paid in the other land.
Imagine the surprise to find that Downunder many women are still viewed as having no minds except for creativeness in the sack, washing laundry and prepping food. Imagine dialing the clock back two centuries… Didn’t the days of man’s knuckle-dragging disappear in the 60′s? Not there. Even Stan was shocked to see the disparity in treatment. This really comes down to what part of the country you are in - there are certainly parts of the USA that are as bad. Australia gave women the vote long before the USA, and NZ was first. Try Melbourne or Sydney and you’ll see a big difference in attitudes.
We’ve had half a dozen acquaintances over the past few years move to Australia and New Zealand. They quit their job, sold out, and moved their entire family to a place they’d never been…Within two years, three tops, those people who had moved to Oceana packed it in and came home to America. We know a lot of ex-pats in Australia. In fact we barely know any families where both parents were born here. It seems to be about 50/50, between those who give it a go then head home, and those who declare they have found a new home. My brother and sister lasted six months each, I’m still here after 17 years (from NZ originally). But I was the one who backpacked through North America and Europe for many years. And my English wife has been here 8 years, but she has lived on a Kibbutz for 6 months and backpacked through China and Laos etc. Our English friends who had never travelled beyond Majorca can’t wait to return to the UK, yet another family who had travelled through Africa extensively look like they will stay forever.
Perhaps travelling to other countries (as opposed to being a tourist) is a prerequisite for relocating?? A beauty of the modern world is that it is relatively easy and cheap to sample a foreign land and see if you like it. And 2012 provides a great excuse to do just that. If you think Australia, Brazil or South Africa would make a great survival spot, why not go there from November 2012 to January 2013?* That way, if something terrible does happen, you will be there. And if it doesn’t, you’ll have a good idea as to whether it is somewhere you want to stay long-term.
Let the fear of Dec 21, 2012 empower you. Make bold, easy choices. Mix it up for a few months because you can.