This week's Monday Piece is on why we moved to Australia! Five weeks ago Nick and I took the plunge and moved from Malvern in the UK to The Gold Coast in Australia - moving abroad is something that we had talked about for what seemed like forever, we spoke about lots of different countries but finally decided on The Gold Coast in Australia. We had heard so much about the laid back lifestyle, year long summer, the golden sandy beaches, the outdoor living, and the general amazing health and wellbeing vibe - it was everything that we wanted and totally different to the UK life we had been living. We figured as there would be no language barrier that would be in our favour, so when it comes to finding jobs and settling in, it shouldn't be too tricky. Obviously moving abroad, thousands of miles away from our closest family and friends was never going to be easy, or a decision that we took lightly - so we did tonnes of research, spoke to friends who had done the same, read blogs and kept our fingers on the pulse so we could make the best decisions for ourselves.
Getting into Australia to work can be difficult, if you can prove that you have an essential skill or that you can perform in a specific job better than an Australian citizen, then you can get a working visa fairly easily - though it can be really expensive, and you still have to actually find a job when you get there which is never a guarantee, so it's a bit of a risk but of course this risk can also pay off which is awesome! As we are both under 30 (just), our best route to getting a visa was applying for a 'Working Holiday Visa', essentially a visa that allows UK citizens aged 18-30 to work and travel in Australia as much as you like - whether you decide to live and work in the same area for a full year, or travel for 6 months and work for the remainder of your time, it's entirely up to you. This seemed like the best option for us as it can all be done online, and once the visa is granted you have a full year to actually enter Australia - after talking about it for months we decided to just go for it, so in January we applied online on the Australian Government website, filled out a short form, and within two minutes our visas were granted - party time! The site says visas can take anything up to a few months to be granted so it was a massive relief when they came back straight away via email, as it was written in black and white we realised it was actually happening which was so exciting.
After getting our visas we then looked at flights and did some sums so we could work out how quickly we could just fly out there and go for it, there are quite a few reasons as to why we wanted to leave pronto - the UK was kind of dragging us down, the negativity vibe coming from all angles whether it be people at work, watching the news or general chit chat, everything just felt so miserable and drab - we wanted a bit of excitement, positivity and forward thinking, plus we were kind of both stuck in a bit of a rut with our jobs and just thought why not take an opportunity and do something totally different whilst we have the chance. We had no mortgage, no kids, no pets, just clothes and 'stuff', most of which had no real sentimental value, so we had nothing holding us back (apart from friends and family of course). Living and working in the UK we can do anytime, so it was time for a change - we booked flights for mid March so we didn't really give ourselves much time to get everything sorted, about 6 weeks, but that was good as it didn't give us time to change our minds or overthink the situation - over thinking is literally the worst.
Breaking the news to our family wasn't a huge 'thing' as it's something i'd spoken to my loved ones about for a while, they knew I wasn't happy in my current situation so they were mega excited for both Nick and I and congratulated us by throwing us an awesome Australian themed party which was just the best thing ever. All of them are super supportive and they always have been so I knew they would approve of anything we both wanted to do! SO...we packed up our apartment in Malvern, sold our furniture and belongings, handed in our notices at work and moved out in with Nick's family for a month before we left. My clothing situation was a little tricky...10 bags of clothes (not including coats), 70+ pairs of shoes and oodles of accessories weren't going to fit in two aeroplane sized suitcases, so I decided to bite the bullet and give away the biggest chink of my stuff - as a fashion girl I love all of my 'stuff' but it was time to stop hoarding and be realistic, so I was ultra ruthless and picked out only my favourites.
After a month of goodbyes and finishing our last days at work, we got packing and prepared all of our documents ready for the move...during our last week in the UK things got pretty real and it fully sunk it that I wasn't going to be in my natural habitat, surrounded by everything familiar to me anymore, BUT as the saying goes to get the best rewards you have to go out of your comfort zone - true dat. Being honest we were ready for it, this is something that we'd planned and talked about for so long, so we were ready to get stuck in. We were dropped off at the airport by our families and had a massive goodbye to the people that we love the most, to put it in perspective, we were going to be just a 24 hour flight away, so we reiterated that it's not that much of a biggie!
After a long old flight, and a little stop off in China to stretch our legs, we were in Australia...eeeeek! We booked a hotel for a week, as we were going out there with no job, nowhere to live, and no one we knew, so we thought it would be a sensible move as we could then use that as our base. So that is what we did, after checking in and getting some rest, it was time to get organised and start putting our life together. The first thing we needed to do was open our bank accounts - this we had actually done in the UK before we left, so all we needed to do was go to branch and start officially using our accounts. We also bought Australian SIM cards for our phones and arranged payment plans, this was one of the most important things as it's how potential employers can get in contact. We also had flat viewings arranged on the first day that we arrived which was mayhem as we didn't know where anything was! But we figured it out. After a few days of looking at places to live we chose an apartment on the outskirts of Surfers Paradise - it's a touristy area on the tram line, really central to everything including shops, beaches, offices and things to see and do. We arranged to move after our hotel stay so we got settled in and organised - the best place to find accommodation in Australia is Flatmates.au so this is what we used and it's something we'd definitely use again as it's so easy and safe too. The beach is 50 yards away so we can see and hear the sea from our balcony which is such a treat, plus our apartment block has two outdoor pools, Jacuzzi, gym, and games room so it's mega chilled and very Australian lifestyle esque.
Finding a job was the main priority, we didn't have an endless pot of cash so we needed to be employed as soon as possible, we signed up to a recruitment agency who had been recommended to us by a friend who were really helpful and set up our profiles - within two weeks we both had job offers so have since both started working, hooray! The wages in general are much higher than in the UK, the minimum wage starts at $18.00 dollars an hour which coverts to around £11.00, the food and lifestyle is slightly more though, depending on how and what you spend your dollar on of course, it's all relative. Initially we are here for a year, all working holiday visas can be extended for another year on the basis that you complete 88 days of farm or construction work in certain areas of the country, for now we are enjoying the lifestyle and settling in to The Gold Coast so will just play it by here - i'm forever updating my Twitter and Instagram so come and check it out for pictures and up to date goings on! I've popped some links below to helpful sites if you're thinking of doing the same, whether it's living in Australia for a year, or travelling, or both, drop me a message if you have any questions, i'm always happy to help :).
Learn about and apply for an Australian Working Holiday Visa here
Browse places to live here
Find working holiday visa jobs here and here
Search cheap flights to Australia here