1) Why did you decide to move to Australia?
My husband (then Fiancée) decided to move to Australia on a skilled work visa. We'd only been dating a short time when he began the application, and he asked me if I'd come along if he was approved. Six months later, in record time, he got his acceptance letter, and off we went.
2) What were the visa requirements for you to move to Australia?
I came through sponsorship from my husband. He was on a skilled work visa, and I came on a prospective marriage visa, which meant that we had to be married within one year. We had to prove our relationship with letters, correspondences, travel documents, and statutory declarations from both ourselves and our friends. The best thing was that we both got Permanent Residency with our visas.
3) What was the moving process like? Did you take all of your stuff or was it minimal?
I moved with two suitcases! It was hard, as I sold off or gave away most of my possessions before moving. I stored a few boxes of important items at my mom's house, and bring some of it back with me each time we visit, but I don't miss too much of it after being gone for so long.
4) How does Australia compare to your expectations before moving?
Looking back, I don't think I really had any expectations. I thought of it from a tourist perspective, and I knew it would be fun to see, but I didn't have my mind around what daily life would be like. If we ever make another international move, I'll have a much better idea of how to mentally prepare for ‘real life’, not just seeing the sights.
5) Do you feel that the cost of living is more in Australia than where you are from?
Australia is a very expensive country to live, and Sydney is one of the most expensive areas. The cost of everything from housing to loaves of bread was one of my biggest shocks.
Find out more about the cost of living in Australia here.
6) What 3 things do you wish you could have known before moving to Australia?
1. As above, how expensive things are (though, to be fair, my husband warned me, I just didn't believe him).
2. How important it is to find the right suburb for you - they're all so different.
3. How to order coffee!
7) What is the best thing about living in Australia?
I don't think I can pick just one: The culture is laid back and values both work and leisure time.
We have friends from so many different cultures.
Everyone is entitled to health care and we never worry about guns (things that are different from home!).
I'm still awed every single time I see Sydney Harbour.
Most of all, it's a wonderful place to raise our young daughter.
8) Which aspect did you find most difficult about being a new expat in Australia?
I found it nearly impossible to find work in Australia in my field, as the work I did was quite specialised. It was hard to give that up and look for work in different fields.
9) What's the biggest cultural difference in Australia compared to where you are from?
Coming from the US to Australia, the cultural differences tend to be a bit subtle, which I think is actually the hardest part. For the first year, I felt that things just weren't comfortable, but I couldn't put my finger on why - I think it was more a collection of little things, rather than anything large.
Certainly one of the tougher things to adjust to is the Australian sense of humor. It's much rougher and more personal than American humor. If they're ‘taking the piss’ (making fun, or taking you down a notch), it probably means that they like you, but sometimes it might not feel that way.
10) If you had to take someone around where you live in Australia for the weekend, what would you do? Where would you take them?
It's probably cliché but I would certainly start at the Sydney Opera House. Once you're at the Opera House, you know that you're in Sydney.
I'm partial to drinks at the Opera Bar on a sunny day, and the Opera House tour is a fun overview. From there, I'd grab a ferry to Manly because it gives you a great view of the whole Harbour, and at the end, you get to walk enjoy one of our beautiful beaches. We'll head back to one of Newtown's funky restaurants for dinner for a completely different vibe.
With a second day, I'd do a driving tour of some of our beautiful Northern Beaches and coastal parks. Some of the scenery just an hour or less from the Central Business District is so stunning - you have to see it to believe it.
11) Please list your favourite Australian…
- Beach: Favorite beach in Sydney is Balmoral because it's beautifully kid-friendly.
- Place for shopping: I'll admit it, I'm a KMart junkie - no fancy airs here!
- Restaurant: There are so many amazing restaurants in Sydney. I'm partial to Sprout Cafe in Naremburn (Lower North Shore) for breakfast and brunch. They make such good, healthy food and they have a fenced in yard with a cubby house where the kids can run around and play.
- Bar: Lord Nelson in The Rocks. They brew their own very tasty beer and it's full of history.
12) What one piece of advice would you give to someone moving to Australia?
Bring lots of money! And, otherwise, settle in and enjoy the lovely people, the laid back lifestyle, and the gorgeous scenery. They don't call it ‘The Lucky Country’ for nothing.
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