| What I’ve learned from living in a developing country |

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So for those of you who may not know I’m originally from Northern Ireland but I moved to South Africa in 2016. It has never been my plan to settle here permanently but I really do love this country & I’ve learnt so much since moving here. 

If you’ve never been to South Africa then please add it to your bucket list of holiday destinations because it is a truly beautiful country with amazing people, delicious food, gorgeous scenery, a rich culture & there’s a hell of a lot to do here. Sadly however, South Africa is still classed as a developing country. While there are so many opportunities to be successful here & it really is an amazing place for business, there is still a high unemployment rate (26.6% of South Africans are unemployed compared to the 4.2% in the U.K) and there is a lot of poverty (30.4 million South Africans currently live in poverty). 

Having been born & raised in a 1st world country I’ve had to learn a lot very quickly since moving to a developing country & this has led to this blog post. I want to talk about the things I’ve learnt since moving here because it might make people who’ve only ever lived in 1st world countries think. This can be a touchy subject for some & I just want to throw a disclaimer out there that I write this blog post with no intention to offend or upset anyone. I am very grateful to come from a 1st world country & I am also very grateful for the opportunity I have been given to live in a developing country. 

Here is what I’ve learned since moving here:

We are so lucky to have our benefit system
As I mentioned South Africa is rife with poverty. 1 in 2 people here live below the poverty line. That poverty line is only R441 per person per month. Do you know how much that equates to in pounds? £26.42 per month! That’s only 88p per day! Can you imagine trying to pay for everything you need with so little?! It breaks my heart that so many people can’t afford what they need. In this country if you’re unemployed for any reason there is no help for you. You’ve got to find your way yourself. Now I know that there are many problems with our benefit system & there are many reasons why it frustrates those of us from the UK, but the long & short of it is that we are so lucky to have it because when we need it most, when there’s no income coming in – it’s there for us.

The NHS is a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted
A lot of people have a lot of negative things to say about the NHS but unless you’ve lived in another country where they don’t have it, it’s difficult to see why it’s amazing. Here my partner & I pay an absolute fortune a month (about £240) in medical aid (medical insurance) which covers us if we ever need emergency hospital treatment. A lot of the time this only covers some of your medical costs & doesn’t include things like prescriptions, gp visits, dentist appointments, opticians – nothing outside of hospital care. Sometimes medical aid won’t even cover you if you get cancer! It’s insane! Do you know how difficult it is to pay that much money as a ‘just in case something happens to me’?! The NHS is a godsend & in my opinion is one of the best things about the UK. Everyone, including those who live in poverty, will always been seen by a doctor, will always be given emergency medical care & will always get their prescriptions because they’re free. In a developing country many don’t have that luxury.

We are born into a country of wealth & opportunity
Here’s a little story for you to explain what I mean by this: it’s common in South Africa to have a helper, or a cleaner as we’d call them in the UK, who cleans your house for you. We have a helper called Teresa who works for us 4 days a week & she’s a lovely woman who is originally from Malawi in South East Africa. She moved from Malawi to South Africa which meant leaving her daughter behind (she lives with her grandmother) because they had no money in Malawi & she wants to save enough money to take care of her family. She has worked for us for almost a year & during this time she hasn’t been able to see her daughter. Helen was born into a very poor country with little opportunity so she had to leave those she loved the most in order to take care of them. In the UK we are born into a country that can offer us so much & we really take that for granted.

There is so much more that I could say on this but these were the biggest points that I wanted to share. My advice is to travel the world as much as you can, especially if you can’t or don’t want to live in another country for a while. Travelling is one of the most enriching experiences & it will truly make you a better person. Those of us from 1st world countries are really so lucky & blessed compared to so much of the world. Don’t take it for granted! 

30 thoughts on “| What I’ve learned from living in a developing country |

  1. Erin

    It truely is amazing how much we take for granted here, our health care is incredible here, really cannot say enough good things about it compared to the alternative. It’s so incredible that you have lived there now, I would love to move abroad somewhere 🙂

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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    1. It’s crazy expensive here & it makes your monthly debits astronomical once you add everything else on top too. I hate it! There are hospitals for those who cannot afford medical aid but the problem is they’re mostly very badly run & it’s a risk going there in itself.
      Megan x

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  2. We take so much for granted in the UK that we wouldn’t realise until it was taken away from us.
    I firmly believe everyone should travel if they can afford to – even just a different part of the country you live in. Travel broadens your mind in so many ways
    Em x

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  3. Megan McCoig

    South Africa is right up there on mine and my boyfriends bucket list. It looks so so beautiful and I can’t thank you enough for telling me so much about it from a personal view. I definitely need to visit ASAP! Maybe for New Year xx

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  4. From a born and bred South African I think this is a lovely post. And the inequality in all aspects of South Africa is absurd.

    Just to mention that state hospitals will never turn someone away and will always treat everyone. However the quality and waiting time is not great.

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  5. delphinethebabbler

    Wow, this is such an amazing and inspiring post! I’ve traveled throughout much of northern Africa but have not yet built up the courage to travel to it’s other countries. I really admire your openmindedness of exploring another country and culture so different from your own. I look forward to reading more about your experiences in South Africa soon! 🙂

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