New Country, New World by Steve Caradoc-Davies, General Manager of Harcourts International

Moving home is said to be one of the most stressful experiences in life, ranked closely with the death of a loved one and divorce.  So when we decided to make the move from South Africa to Australia it’s not a decision we took lightly.

Unlike many of our South African countrymen, our move wasn’t prompted by some terrible experience, such as being a victim of violent crime.  We love South Africa – it’s people, it’s culture.  We had an incredible lifestyle living in Somerset West outside of Cape Town, surrounded by the mountains and the ocean, and within walking distance of top wine farms, restaurants, nature reserves, and the best South Africa has to offer.

We were simply presented with an incredible opportunity for me to take up the position of General Manager for Harcourts International.  It was one of those times in life where, after weighing up the advantages and disadvantages, we felt it was too exciting an opportunity to pass up.  So we made the decision to move and packed up everything in 5 weeks.

In hindsight, packing up was the easy part.  Not that it was easy to pack up, but it was nothing as difficult as saying goodbye.  We knew it wouldn’t be easy to say goodbye to our friends of 30-40 years, our family, or my colleagues.  But we hadn’t expected to be so emotionally impacted by it all. 

Leaving people who are so integrated with ones’ life is never easy.  It’s like ripping out a tree with deep roots.  But it did teach me never to take for granted the people that play a role in our lives.  So often we get caught up in the stress of living, that we fail to stop and “smell the roses” – to appreciate what we have and easily take for granted.

Arriving in Australia brought with it the excitement of new challenges and a new adventure.  We switched into “discovery” mode – exploring, investigating, researching.  Each day yielded something new – some big, some small.  Walking into a new business at Harcourts Head Office reminded me in a strange way of a first day at a new school.  Again, I was reminded of the importance of making people feel welcome to their new environment.  My new colleagues were warm and receptive, and that made all the difference.

Settling into a new environment isn’t without its challenges.  It’s often the small things that we miss – the comfort of a doctor we know, our usual hairdresser, or the reliable handyman we always use.  Making friends is a process that takes time and, even though we’ve been so warmly received, deep friendships will always take time to cultivate.

Life is full of opportunity and challenge.  When doors open for us we can choose to walk through them, or to stay in our comfort zones.  We chose to rise to the challenge and make the move – to stretch ourselves.  It’s really fitting then that our Harcourts theme for the year is “being courageous”.  As a family we treat each day as an adventure as we embrace our new home and new friends, whilst never forgetting the value of our roots and the people that have shaped our lives.

Steve Caradoc-Davies
General Manager, Harcourts International

Pauline Smith