Monday, January 19, 2009

Our home here in South Africa

Since we are expats we move about every 4-5 years to a new country. We like that kind of lifestyle, but it is a big thing to move your whole household to the other side of the world. Dirk and me are 18 years together, 14 of these years we lived abroad. We started humble with 2 suitcases each. We moved to Spain, the Canary islands and the maximum of weight was 20 kilo's. We lived on the islands Tenerife and Lanzarote for about 1,5 years and moved for another 9 months to Rhodos, Greece. We were very young at the time, 23 and 24 and just had these 2 suitcases. From there we moved to the USA, (Dirk did his MBA at the UofO in Eugene, Oregon) with again 2 suitcases and lived there for a little bit over a year, and came back to the Netherlands again with our 2 suitcases. It was actually a very free and exhilirating feeling to have nothing to worry about! We rented an apartment, decorated it with goods from Goodwill and hold an Open House at the end, sold everything, packed our suitcases and left the country with only those 2 suitcases!

Moved back to Holland, got married...yeah we lived in sin almost 5 years ;-O and moved to Thailand. This time we had a bit more... a 20 ft container. But the house we had in Thailand was so much bigger than the teeny weeny apartment we had in the centre of Breda, the Netherlands. When we left Thailand to move to the USA we had a 40 ft container with us. Now 5 years later and 2 children we moved from the US to South Africa with a 40 AND 20 foot container. We had almost 600 boxes of stuff with us!! I don't know if this cycle of adding stuff will ever end, but I am working on it to really get rid of stuff we don't need. I still have boxes not opened since we left Thailand, more than 6 years ago! This is rediculous and my New Years resolution is to get rid of a LOT of stuff.

My friends all over the world ask me how we live here in South Africa, a lot of people have different ideas about that. So I will show you some pictures of our house. It is not a Zulu hut or some other simple shack, it is actually quite nice, more than you expect from an African country...believe me we don't have a bad life here!

I'll walk you through it from front door to the upstairs sun deck, the only room I don't have pictures of is the sauna, since it is still a work in progress....

1. First we were thinking to go all the way for a traditional Zulu house, the only problem it had was that our 600 boxes wouldn't fit, not even in the whole village....

2. So we opted for this contemporary house with a palm tree lined entrance.

3. African lady with baby on back greets you at the front door.

4. Hallway with canvas from NYC street scene. A bit of everything we have in our house; Asian, American, European and African pieces.

5. View from TV room, a fireplace opening up to both sides of dining and sitting area.

6. Sitting room, here we drink a vino with guests or read a book.

7. TV room.

8. View to front door and my future photo studio, still waiting for my lighting.

9. Dining room with fireplace.

10. Open kitchen, acutally the whole house has an open floor plan.

11. Kitchen, view from other side.

12. Full bar, you order we serve!

13. Our 'wild' animals protecting the bar area ;-)

14. Outdoor Lapa with gas Weber BBQ and charcoal braai.

15. Pool and garden.

16. Guestroom with en-suite bath.

17. Playroom girls, with a first; their own TV.

18. Girls bedroom.

19. With their own bathroom... I certainly didn't have that as a child!

20. Crafts- and computer room.

21. Master bedroom with fireplace.

22. Master bath with bush bath and almost outdoor shower, it has a glass rooftop.

23. Sun deck off master bedroom (plan is to put a jacuzzi here).

So quite the difference with our first house abroad, although I have to say, we are not more happy than in those first years. It was quite the adventure to travel just with 2 suitcases for a few years. Less headaches and worries about your STUFF!!

A big house is nice, but it can be a golden cage if you are not happy. Luckily we are happy and we enjoy our life style, but many expat families I've met over the years had a big house, great car and everything you think you would want in life, but weren't happy. And then it is sad, because the only thing they want is to go back home and don't see the beauty of that new country they are living in and experiencing...

Have a good one, I hope you enjoyed the peek into our African abode.


Nichole and Craig said...

Wow, your home is beautiful. It looks like it should be in magazines 8-)

erika said...

Oh My God!! your home is beautiful... and it's so true of what you said about being happy... you and your family made a homo out of this house. My husband and I with our twin boys might move to Africa for his job and now I can just imagine what it would be like out there. I know that for some expats life abroad is not easy but you have to make the best out of it.


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