Let’s First Talk About Your Move to Australia

Now be honest, many times have you Googled “Move to Australia” or “Moving to Australia” in the past few days?

How many forums or Facebook groups have you joined? Or newsletters have you signed up for?

Feeling overwhelmed?

I’m not surprised. There’s a lot of information out there about moving to Australia, from forums to blogs.

So why can’t you find any answers? Is Google broken?

It’s not like you’re asking anything complicated, right? Just practical info about everyday sorts of things like:

  • “How much does it cost to living in Australia?”
  • “How do I open a bank account in Australia? Is that something I can do now or do I have to wait?” (psst, you can do that now ;-) )
  • “What if I don’t like my new job in Australia? Can they cancel my visa? Will I get kicked out of the country?”
  • “Where should I live in Australia?”
  • “What’s it really like to be an expat in Australia?”

I remember asking all those same questions and many, many more. I also remember getting on that plane to Australia and STILL not having the answers.

Our Move to Australia

You'll be as happy as I am in the photo dolphin watching at Port Stephens after you move to Australia too.

Me at Port Stephens, Australia while dolphin watching. There are about 100 bottlenose dolphins that permanently live in Nelson Bay at Port Stephens. Yes, living in Australia is magical.

It’s now hard to believe that neither of us had ever even considered traveling to Australia for vacation let alone move. Not surprising, when we told friends and family about our decision to move to Australia they had one of two responses: either they didn’t believe us, like flat out didn’t believe us, or they thought we were crazy.

Granted, it does sound a bit crazy now when I think about it, but I’m quite certain that if we were moving to London or Paris, we would have gotten very different responses. Just saying.

The truth is most people don’t really know a whole lot about Australia.

Australia is mystery to most people in the USA and what we think we know usually comes from movies like Crocodile Dundee, Australia the movie or from the Oprah Show when she was in Australia.

For example, you’ll never hear an Australian say “Throw another shrimp on the barbie”. Or that “Foster’s is Australian for beer”. In fact, you’ll have a hard time even finding Foster’s in Australia.

There were a handful of people we knew in Seattle who had actually been to Australia and they had nothing but praise for it: the beautiful Sydney Harbour, wonderful sunshine, gorgeous beaches and untouched tropical landscapes.

When we asked if they would move to Australia, the answer was always “in a heartbeat”.

To be honest, they had us at sunshine.

Seattle has an average of 58 sunny days a year compared to Sydney’s average of 240. A bit of sun after living in Seattle for 15 years sounded pretty darn fabulous.

Sydney Moving Guide Photographer

My husband and website photographer

The move came about through my husband’s work as a software engineer at a clinical laboratory in Seattle.

One day a coworker mentioned a recruiting company that kept nagging him about different jobs in Europe and, well, just about everywhere else on the planet. While my husband’s coworker was getting annoyed, my husband was getting curious. “Just what kind of positions were they looking to fill? And where?”

Both of us had entertained the idea of living overseas for some time but, for some odd reason, we never discussed it with each other. Mainly because it just didn’t seem like something that was feasible.

Living overseas was something that happened to “those people”.

You know, THOSE PEOPLE who have fabulous lives and can just get up and move whenever or wherever they want.

Seems so silly now, having been an expat and meeting tons of other expats who are definitely not those people. The truth is, living overseas really isn’t that hard. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s definitely not fun and can be super frustrating, but it’s also definitely doable.

Absolutely doable, you just need the right information.

Well, cutting the story short, the recruiter had two positions that fit my husband’s qualifications: one in Basel, Switzerland and the other in Sydney, Australia.

The position in Sydney was with an American company looking for people with the same skill set and experience he had. In the end, it turned out to be the best match.

After a few months of interviewing and negotiations, we were ready to pack up our household and make the move to Australia.

That was back in 2008.

Fast forward to 2009, when some friends of ours, who had moved to Australia from the UK, mentioned about how ridiculously hard it is to find a rental in Sydney.

“I mean, what a crazy system, only 15 minutes per apartment viewing. And the viewings were always at weird times of the day. Like a Tuesday at 2:15pm. Nuts.”

That’s when we told them about our secret apartment hunting tip.

“That’s a great idea. Did it actually work?”

“Yep, like magic. If we hadn’t of done that, I’m not sure we would have been so lucky.”

“Oh my God, really? I have to tell my brother that. He and his finance are moving next month.”

Why not tell everyone?

That’s what went through my mind that night. Why not tell everyone about our apartment hunting tip.

And, why they shouldn’t rent an apartment in Kings Cross.

And, that there is no cake flour in Australia.

And, where to find the best Mexican food in Sydney.

And…

So began my first blog: Emerald City to Oz.

Get it? Seattle is known as the Emerald City and, of course, Australia is Oz.

Yeah, no one else really got it either. Unless they were from Seattle. I should have known that it was a bad sign when I had to continuously explain my oh-so-clever domain name. #FAIL

Even with the terrible domain name, after a few months of blogging, I started to get emails from people from all over the world asking me questions, very specific about their move to Australia.

What was even better was that sometimes, I knew the answer. Even if I didn’t, I usually know where to look for the answer or I knew someone who had a similar experience and they knew the answer.

Instead of a blog, make it a guide for moving to Australia.

Instead of writing for a blog, I started turning those emails, full of questions and my answers, into posts.

I also started contacting professionals to help out with things like taxes, as I am definitely not an expert when it comes to taxes for expats living in Australia. Trust me, it’s something you don’t want to mess up especially if you’re from the USA. Taxes for US expats can be very complicated. Please, do some research before filing yours.

Emerald City to Oz became a more definitive guide about moving to Australia.

It was time to stop writing about the difference between American pizza and pizza in Australia, and start writing about real issues that people moving to Australia wanted to know about. There will always be time to discuss pizza later.

Sydney Moving Guide was born.

(I know, I can’t believe no one had that domain either!)

Since then, Sydney Moving Guide has grown by leaps and bounds. Mostly because of you. So thank you for sharing it with your friends and family. It’s been a huge help.

 

Thanks so much for reading this!