We went on summer vacation and never came back

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When we told our family and friends three years ago that we were selling in London and moving to Cape Town, we encountered two reactions: either ‘you are completely crazy’ or ‘how brave to move to another continent in its fifties! “

Well here we are in beautiful Cape Town. My husband, Harry, and I had lived and worked in many countries before – Hong Kong, New Zealand, Egypt and France, to name a few. So we had no qualms about starting over, despite the challenges Cape Town faces, like all major cities.

Harry owned bars and restaurants; I was the food director of a large publishing house. For me, it got to the stage of more stress, under-staffing, longer hours and reduced budgets, which killed the job I had once loved. We had paid off our mortgage in London and had no children, so we had the financial flexibility to move. We sold, put our things in storage, and got on the plane.

Over the past 15 years, we had both visited Cape Town on several occasions, for vacation and business. We fell in love with the mountains, the beaches, the people, the food, the vineyards. And we had made friends in Cape Town, which helped us choose where we wanted to live.

You get a lot more bang for your buck in Cape Town, so we’ve increased the size rather than decreased. As avid gardeners, we had to remember that here it is good to be facing north – it takes a while when you change hemisphere!

We bought a house in Constantia, in the green vineyards. The house had nice framing, great gardens and a large swimming pool, but the interior was dated so the renovation started. It took four months, but it’s ours. South Africans are welcoming and very friendly, so there is no shortage of “braai” invitations.

We bought a house with an attached cottage, for rent through Airbnb. From the opening, we were full, then the pandemic struck. South Africa has entered a hard lockdown, with all local and international borders closed.

Fortunately, with private pensions and my self-employment, we could do without rental income. But we, like everyone else, can’t wait for the world to open up again. Thank goodness for the free video calls with our family and friends.

Harry misses a good pint of bitter at the pub with his pals; I miss Jersey Royals and English asparagus. But we are living a wonderful life and, yes, we would do it again. We are here to stay.

“We wanted to get out of the London cycle”

Mike Curtis, 54, and his wife Kelda, 52, left their jobs in London to run a B&B, Casale Volpe, in Le Marche, Italy.

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