That’s Paul and Courtney Esterhuizen’s motto. Both are CAs(SA) who landed in the UK just three years ago and already they have crossed 30 countries off their bucket list – and they are still going strong.
Paul and Courtney Esterhuizen describe themselves as a down-to-earth couple who are passionate about travel, entrepreneurship, healthy and active living, and everything in between.
Current job title and company you’re working for?
I am the senior group financial accountant for a property investment company in central London – Hansteen Holdings Plc. Courtney is the group financial controller at a publishing house in central London – Pan Macmillan.
How has your CA(SA) qualification benefited your career? The brand CA(SA) has proved to be an international currency. Courtney and I have both worked for more than one employer in the UK and the general perception is that South African chartered accountants are driven, hard-working and possess a great deal of passion and personality.
UK employers hold the CA(SA) designation in high regard and it has therefore been a fantastic badge to wear to any interview.
How has international experience enriched your life and career? Working in London means that we interact with professionals from all over the globe on a daily basis. This cultural diversity has expanded our view of the world and has broadened our skill set well beyond what we developed in South Africa. The whole experience of relocating and finding our feet in a foreign country has been character building, to say the least.
Describe yourself as a person. Our day jobs have taken us to some of the bucket-list financial hubs of the world, but it is our own personal business venture that has seen us visit the depths of the Amazon Jungle. We hiked for four days to reach the ever-impressive Machu Picchu, snowmobiled deep into the Arctic Circle, and climbed to the top of volcanoes in Iceland.
In 2016 we started an adventure travel blog/vlog and e-commerce store, Wanderfallworld.com. Using our business knowledge, we have created a platform that transports others to a utopia of spectacular places and interesting people. We have an ever-growing subscriber base with nearly 20 000 people following our explorations on Instagram and other social media platforms.
An interesting lesson you have learned living in the UK? Never forget your umbrella … Challenges you have encountered in the UK as a South African? Applying for visas can be a nightmare. Our advice: use a solicitor.
Is there a community of South Africans living in the UK? Absolutely.
What do people do in the UK to relax and enjoy their free time? There is an incessant pub culture in the UK, but we find that many South Africans are drawn to sport or travel instead. You can’t keep a SAFA indoors.
What is the quality of life like in the UK? London offers a fast-paced lifestyle where there is always something to do. We believe it is an ideal home for the young, aspiring professional. The one thing that will always disturb a cheery South African is the dreary weather. But that comes with the territory.
What do you miss most about South Africa? A good old braai, Jozi sunsets, afternoon thunderstorms, and the friendly people.
What does a South African earn in the UK? Between £45 000 (newly qualified) and £75 000 plus (for more than three years’ experience).
How does the income tax system work? Each individual has a ‘personal allowance’, which denotes the amount they can earn without paying any income tax. If they earn more than the personal allowance, then they pay tax at the applicable rate on all earnings above the personal allowance. Generally speaking, a permanently employed CA(SA) will be taxed at a rate of 40% (or 45% on earnings above £150 000).
What is the cost of living – rent, food, electricity, water, gasoline, entertainment, etc? Also, what do items like houses and cars cost on average? The average salary a CA(SA) can fetch in the UK market allows for a comfortable lifestyle. Rent and entertainment costs are significantly more than what we are used to in South Africa. A monthly travel card will cost between £250 and £350. Gas and electricity can cost anything between £90 and £200 a quarter. This depends on the season and also the size of the apartment/house. Groceries are fairly inexpensive, but eating out can be pricey. House prices are exorbitant, especially in central London. Expect to pay in excess of £500 000 for a two-bedroom apartment. A modest car (out the box) will set you back anywhere between £8 000 and £20 000.
Based on these factors, can a South African working in the UK save money or is it difficult because of the cost of living? Certainly. The key is to set a realistic budget and then stick to it.