If you’re considering a move to Australia, you’re no doubt excited but probably also slightly terrified. With a million things to consider, from visas to packing to where to live, it can be overwhelming. Gathering as much information as possible, in advance, will help you most prepared for taking the plunge down under.
To help with this, we have rounded up three of the best Australian expat bloggers, who have not only made the move and lived to tell the tale, but have thrived in their new adopted country. Hearing from someone who has first-hand experience can provide reassurance and some guidance, so I hope the below will be helpful to anyone considering a move to Australia.
To our experts, we put forward two important questions- What do you wish you knew before moving to Australia, and what would you change if you could do it again?
Introduction to the Panel
Courtney Alkek– http://www.alkeksabroad.com/ , @courtneyalkek
I grew up an expat kid and lived in 9 countries before I started high school. I consider Houston, Texas my hometown though since that is where I went to high school and lived for 5 years after college. We live in Brisbane, which is the capital of Queensland.
I am from The United States, moved to Sydney Australia where I lived there for 3 years. I am currently living and loving life in Southern California.
Cristin Kelly– http://betweenrootswings.com/ , @betweenrootsandwings
I grew up just outside of Atlanta, and moved to Australia from Sarasota, Florida. I’ve called Sydney home for six years.
- What do you wish you knew about life in Australia before you moved here?
Courtney– How much more laid back it was than the US, especially work wise. The work life balance is great in Australia and it makes for a very easy (for lack of better word) lifestyle. Not that it would have made a difference in how I handled anything, but obviously, there is always stress moving to a new country and it would have definitely calmed my nerves to know what a great quality of life there is here.
Sharon– My best piece of advice to anyone moving abroad, not just to Australia, is prepare to be unhappy at first. I think people, like myself, prepare for the best. We think about this new and exciting adventure overseas but forget that, like anything new, there is a learning curve. It will take time to settle into your new place, to find or acclimate to new working conditions, and of course, it takes time to make new friends. But you will! You will accomplish all this and when you do you will love your new life as an expat. You will grow to love being the person with a unique story and you will grow from this experience.
Cristin– So much. In retrospect, I prepared quite badly for moving to Australia. I mostly read a lot of Australian history, and for some reason it didn’t occur to me that people in the cafe weren’t just sitting around discussing the First Fleet! Instead, I wish that I’d started reading the Sydney Morning Herald every day, watching some current Aussie TV, and reading more blogs of expats who have made the move. I really needed more local knowledge and pop culture references.
My husband came a few months before me to set up home, and he warned me about the price of everything, but the cost of everyday items (not to mention rent!) still came as a shock to me.
I also wish I’d known how large Australia’s immigrant population is. For the first few months after arriving, I felt completely out of place, as if everyone else knew all the ropes, and I didn’t. But, the fact is that so many people come from somewhere else, we newcomers are hardly in the minority. Now, I love living in a place with so many different cultures and stories.
2. What would you do differently, if you could do it all over?
Courtney– Nothing! We have made a lot of our time here (almost three years) and I can’t think of anything I would have done differently. We have gotten to live in a vibrant, fun part of the city, I have worked for the public school system (both part-time and full-time) and we had our first child here in a wonderful medical system. All of that plus we have travelled to almost all of the Australian states and to multiple countries in Southeast Asia.
Sharon– There isn’t much that I would do differently. The only thing that comes to mind might be to stay a bit longer. I lived in Australia for 3 years and at the time it felt right to head back to America. However, looking back I would have made the most of just one more year.
Cristin– One thing I wish I’d realized is how important the suburb you live in in Sydney is. I didn’t feel like I fit in when I first moved here, and in hindsight, I think that had a lot to do with the neighbourhood we landed in. It was a great, convenient location, but it just wasn’t right for me. After our lease ran out, we moved to the lower north shore, where we’ve lived ever since, and it feels like home. Some people want to be near the water, some prefer the city, some like someplace quiet in nature, and some want to be right in the middle of a funky vibe.
There are neighbourhoods for everyone in this city, so I think it’s worth considering your personality and doing some research before settling in.
And, I would have discovered flat whites much sooner!
Thanks so much to our experts for giving your time and knowledge to contribute! They also all have fantastic blogs, so if you are interested in learning more about the expat experience, I’d encourage you to check them out.
More expat tips can be found here.
Do you have any advice for future expats to contribute? Please feel free to comment below!