Are you being pushed to leave or pulled to go?

The answer is not only significant in your decision-making, but if you already find yourself in your new country, it helps you navigate your thoughts and emotions when you do the comparisons of your two homes. There may be reasons why you feel pushed to leave your country more than you feel excitedly drawn to your new country; if so, for those in the decision-making process it is helpful to do a full overview of all the reasons and for those who have already done the move, keeping detailed record of those reasons can be reassuring. As a side note, if you are the latter, also make a list of the attractions to your new country.

Reasons for feeling pushed to leave

I will not speak to fleeing your country as a refugee from war or persecution, as I do not feel fit to speak on the topic. I will however list less extreme, yet valid reasons:

Government and public services

Crime and corruption


Jobs, careers, finance, investments






My husband and I felt it was helpful to make a list and perhaps these categories will help you too. It was important to us not to nitpick with an overly critical and judgemental eye, knowing that we had a bias. We wanted to honestly evaluate if there was more than only one or two motivations for leaving. Perhaps there is one strong motivation to leave, but by going through these categories, it may give you less or more conviction on the matter.

The Government can be a complex and broad topic for instance, but there’s a difference between trying to escape a totalitarian dictatorship government, verses leaving a country because you do not like the newly elected political party or leader of that party. It is not to say that it cannot be a motivation to leave due to policies you do not align with, but keeping in mind that the next elections could bring about change. Each family needs to decide whether uprooting themselves from their home and making potential financial sacrifices is worth the risk.

In the case of South Africa as an example, ongoing high unemployment and crime rates, devastating poverty, deteriorating public education and crumbling public services, under the same leadership of many years, may not give much hope because even under better leadership, it inevitably could take many, many, years to improve.  

For my family, only on reflection within our new country Canada, did we see how certain life stressors and unnecessary risks impacted our day to day lives and future. No place is perfect, but for us, our move was one we have never regretted to date, but we still had to ask ourselves the following questions before leaving:

If better political leaders come into power, will we survive on hope for change?

If we could afford private education for our children, would it be worth staying?

If employment options in our fields improved, would we stay?

Thinking of other topics above, you may be asking yourself different questions:

If a new medical program or special needs assistance is offered for my child, would I stay?

If my family that I moved to be close to, passes away or moves again, would I regret the move?

If I could afford to retire in my country and perhaps won’t be able to in my new country, is it worth the risk?

A parting tip

One of the first things you need to know is that you need to make peace with your decision without relying on affirmation from outsiders. If you look to others, you will receive personal opinions that could confuse your decision-making, and keep in mind that this topic evokes an emotional response in everyone.

Secondly, no two people will have the same thoughts or reactions, but optimal communication is vital if there is a partner or family who will be moving with you; it certainly is not ideal not being on the same page about the final decision. As a family, you may need to land on the greater common good and for many parents, that decision is made prioritizing their children’s future.

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