Travel has become a big part of our society, but what happens when one no longer wants to pack for a holiday but actually wants to jump ship and relocate to a different country or better still a country they have an ancestral connection with. For many people, packing your bags and taking that bold step into the unknown can be very challenging, especially if you have no friends and family in the country you wish to relocate to. Africa is on the minds of not only tourists but also returnees and expats. Ghana’s recent media exposure has made the country what some would call “hot cake.”
In previous years most Africans in the diaspora used to only consider returning or relocating back home when they are close to retirement. The idea was to travel during your youthful years, find a decent job in foreign country and sent remittances back home to family. Some monies were also sent home to build homes for these individuals which they later return to live in during their retirement age. However things are changing now and a new generation made up of the children of these individuals are deciding to move back to the land of their forefathers.
We recently caught up with Elom, a 28 year old, Social Media Manager, who moved to Ghana three years ago also from the United Kingdom. Elom shares with us why she decided to make such a big transition in her 20’s. Read our interview below.
Hi Elom, there are so many reasons why anyone would decide to move to Ghana, what was yours?
The reason I decided to relocate to Ghana was because, Ghana is home. I left Ghana when I was twelve. It was my parents’ decision to move to the UK. I was raised in Ghana, brought up in Ghana till I was twelve, my parents moved [to the UK] to work, study and just to build a life essentially and I moved to join them. That was their decision and I was happy to go along with it because I love my family and I wanted to be with my family.
I loved Ghana when I was here. Being in the UK was a new experience for me because up until that point I hadn't travelled before. It was the first time that I had seen a different life. Solid infrastructure, education, health and all sorts. Not to say the UK is perfect but just compared to what I experienced in Ghana, it was really eye - opening for me. When I was in Ghana, a lot of the things that didn’t sit well with me such as why some people weren't able to seek healthcare or education was something that I wondered about as a young kid. Being in the UK and seeing that there was another country that seem to almost be getting it right in some sense just made me realise that ‘oh okay, the way things are in my country is not normal, I am here, so while I am here, let me learn, let me see if I can come back home and make some sort of impact in that regard. So I made that decision at the age thirteen. I had it in my heart and my mind and worked towards it ever since. About three years ago, I felt it was the right time to come, so I did.
Impressive! What was the most difficult part about your transition and how did you adjust?
I was very fortunate, when I moved to the UK I would visit Ghana every year. Ghana wasn’t foreign to me but the hardest part of my transition was just being alone; loneliness. I had a strong community in the UK. What really helped with that was my relationship with God, getting rooted into a church community. I found a really beautiful community. I was very intentional about that and also going out, being friendly and meeting new people. It takes a while to adjust but you would get there.
Any culture shock?
No, no particular cultural shock.
What do you enjoy most about living in Ghana?
The sun (laughs)…The sun, the food, the people.
What is the cost of living in Ghana compared to living abroad?
I would say Ghana is more expensive because it feels like money leaves your hands quicker. I think in terms of rent and stuff like that. That is not something I am experiencing personally because we have a home here but I can imagine that was insane in terms of home cost. Certain things are pricier here, even groceries, particular kinds of fruits, toiletries. I tend to ship certain items from the UK in bulk because it is cheaper.
For things that really matter, like healthcare, rent and all that kind of stuff, it is really costly.
What would be your top three tips for anyone planning on moving to Ghana?
1. Short Term Stay
Do a short term stay. Just remember that holidaying is very different from living. Have that in the back of your mind. If your holiday is your only frame of reference that is making you make a decision, then no. Just always remember when you are on holiday, it is very different from living. Do a short term stay for maybe, a month or more.
2. Ask Questions
Instagram is your friend, social media is your friend, YouTube is your friend, we are so blessed we are very connected to society. Reach out to people, ask questions, DMs [direct messaging], I am not afraid to slide into DMs. I’ve met some awesome people coming here. People have vlogged, so do your research and build your network in that kind of way. Ask all the questions, nothing is too silly, just explore every kind of question.
3. Have a purpose and be open - minded
I would say be very open - minded and have a purpose. Purpose helps because when things get sulky sometimes and you just want to pack your bags and leave, I feel like when you have a purpose it grounds you. Remind yourself why you are making this journey and be very open - minded.
Bonus tip: Have low expectations so that if they are exceeded , even better!
In Ghana for example, many investment opportunities are being introduced to attract the younger generation in the diaspora. A typical example was when Ghana’s Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia interacted with the members of the Ghanaian business community in New York in April 2019. During the meeting, he reflected on the government's commitment to creating a conducive investment environment and how businesses around the world have taken advantage of the opportunity to establish themselves in Ghana. He also revealed that the president has implemented measures which are leading Ghana into a new digital age, formalising the Ghanaian economy, reducing the cost of doing business and so on.
With all these measures in place, there is no doubt that Ghana has created a relatively conducive space for returnees to settle and do business but there is still a lot to be done and we believe that both the Ghanaian citizens residing in Ghana and returnees have a role to play to make the county even better for the next generation.
Have you relocated to Ghana and would you like to feature in our blog? A perfect opportunity to share your journey and experiences as well as tell people what business you have started in Ghana. Leave a comment in the comment section and we would get in touch with you.