Life of an Expat – Kim Bonorchis

by Kim Bonorchis

On 22 October 2019 I left South Africa to set up our new home in Hampshire, UK (south of England) with the plan of Clay following a few months later with all our belongings; which did not materialise due to Covid19, which changed all our lives around the world.

This solo journey has taught me a lot:- “Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow”.

You are never too old to learn new ways:-
– filling your own petrol in the car (no petrol attendants)
– putting air in your car tyres (yes, you pay for the air)
– scraping ice off the windscreen of the car
– packing your own groceries

Learning new words:-

  • Braai = barbeque
  • Cell phone = mobile phone
  • Traffic/turning circle = roundabouts (some do have robots in the roundabout)
  • Robots = traffic lights
  • Freeway = motor way
  • Jersey = jumper
  • Pants = trousers
  • Underwear = pants
  • Sick = poorly
  • Geyser = boiler
  • Prestik = blue tac
  • Takkies = trainers
  • Tracksuit top = fleece
  • Jersey = pull over
  • SMS = text
  • Bond = mortgage
  • Pickup = bakkie
  • Globe = bulb
  • Hello = Hiya
  • ICE – you need to really pronounce the “I” or else they think you are saying something else.

How differently things work here:-

  • Council tax (SA rates/refuse) – apply online, receive a discount if you live on your own no matter how old you are and you do not pay a deposit to secure the account.
  • Electricity – choose your own supplier, submit your meter readings and receive the bill electronically that day or the following day (you do not pay a deposit to secure the account and can change supplier as often as you like).
  • Doctor – you register with the doctor where you live and are requested to come for a check up even though you are not sick, for FREE, to build a medical record.  All records and results are available online which you as the patient have access too.  Doctor sends you reminders for check- ups.
  • National Insurance is deducted from you payslip monthly which covers all medical expenses except reading glasses and if you opt for private dentist instead of the NHS dentist.  I have been to a Government Hospital (NHS) which for me was the same experience as a private hospital in SA.
  • This contributes also towards your government pension.
  • No bank charges on cheque account (able to have joint accounts)
  • Self checkout tills at the supermarkets.
  • You pack your own groceries and the cashiers are always friendly and enjoy having a chat with you.
  • Transport: buses and trains are frequent and on time.
  • APPs – use lots of APPS for various things and people love to shop online.
  • Parcels/deliveries are left on your doorstep at home or at the office (no fence around the property or driveway gate).
  • Daily delivery of post including receiving pamphlets from the Government about Covid19 or if there is going to be a disruption of electricity or water you will get a letter in the post with advanced warning.
  • Pay Road Tax online (like the license disk on SA cars), we do not display a disk on the windscreen as police log your registration into their tablets/cellphones to get details on the vehicle.
  • MOT: cars are checked annually for road worthiness (you can look up a car registration online to see the history of the car).
  • Drivers license, filled in a form at the Post Office and received my UK Drivers License in the post a week later.
  • Motorway, nobody driving in the emergency lanes, driving at the speed limit and give you gaps including the trucks.
  • Nobody hoots and there is no road rage.
  • Have not seen 1 tow truck only AA or RAC.
  • Pedestrians have right of way including cyclists in the numerous cycle lanes.
  • Abundance of parks and forests to walk in safely which are well kept and litter free.
  • Salaries are aligned to affordable cost of living (such a variety of affordable food at a variety of supermarkets and/or markets).
  • Customer service is absolutely amazing and all Government/council services work here.
  • Libraries are well stocked and you can read online via e-books for free together with magazines or newspapers instead of going into the libraries.

I live in Hampshire which has the New Forest and South Downs National Park, full of
villages and endless walks and cycle routes amongst the wild horses and ponies; together with a short drive to the beaches of sand or pebbles.  Hampshire has an abundance of history and
friendly folk you chat to along the walks.  London is a 1 hour train journey.

Besides having the freedom to walk safely and catch public transport I live in a country where you are not judged for what you look like, what you wear, what car you drive, who you socialise with, where you live, what job you do or company you work for; people here are very respectful of one another and trust each other. To be able to walk in the dark home after work from the train
Station and not look over my shoulder is an understatement.  To drive with my windows open and my handbag on my seat has given me hope of feeling safe and free to do so.  It took me a while to get used to no security gates, burglar bars, alarm, electric fences and parking my car where there is not driveway gate or high wall.  No matter where you live in the world there is always going to be crime but I for one, feel safe, relaxed, positive and content in our new home.

SA will always be home, full of scenic beauty with wonderful childhood memories.
I miss my family and friends but with todays technology I seem to talk more to them now than I did when I was in SA. UK does not have bad weather, it is about wearing the right clothes to accommodate the weather during the 4 distinctive seasons.  Autumn is my personal favourite with the amazing colours.  Summer days are very long, sunsets between 9.30pm and 10pm and experienced temperatures of 33 degrees in 2020.

My solo journey so far has changed my ways of spending weekends in SA of road cycling and seconding Clay on his runs to walking in the forests/beaches and even started doing Park Runs in the UK prior to Covid19.  Once Clay has arrived we will start mountain biking on weekends through the forests and he can do the trail runs.

Daily routine changes as work only starts at 9am and finishes at 5pm; you get told you have to take a lunch break; had to get used to that as in SA never took one.  I learnt to work a lot slower as that is how it is done here and everyone is so respectful to one another in the work environment. I still get asked if I am from Australia, New Zealand or Canada, besides South Africa (the land of the Safari as it is referred too by some; they are very oblivious to what is happening in SA).

This has been my solo journey so far and I am so very thankful, incredibly grateful and unbelievably blessed; may my STELLA STAR RUNNER, Clay (aka PAPA SMURF) start his marathon journey to me in 2021 to start our new beginnings.

Take care and stay safe,


  1. Hello Kim
    Soo good to hear from you, sounds like yo’ve settled in well. wishing you all the very best and hope Clay starts his journey soon.
    bye for now


  2. WOW what a journey its been for you so far Kim solo nogal. I like the new terminologies you got to get use to. Soon Clay will join you. Take care hun. God bess!
    Much love,
    Glo and Frank


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