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A year in Melbourne...almost.

A year in Melbourne...almost.

Old Aug 25th 2008, 5:05 am
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Default A year in Melbourne...almost.

A week on Monday it will be one year to the day since we said our goodbyes to Mum & Dad at Newcastle airport and set off on our big adventure.

It has to have been the quickest year either of us have ever experienced. It has gone unbelievably quick, and what a year it has been.

It took almost two years to get our PR visas, during which time we planned our move to Melbourne. At first it was easy, yeah no problem, we'll move to Australia and it'll be great etc. When it started to look like we would actually get the visas and things became a bit more real the decision to move got a LOT harder. Not helped by the fact that we were very established at 'home', with good jobs and great friends. We were never running away from anything, sure the UK had it's bad points - but where doesn't? For us, it was all about doing something crazy, getting out of our comfort zones and having an adventure.

Still, by the time that last month came around, we really started to wonder if we could go through with it. We would never have backed out, but those last minute nerves and emotions were pretty crazy. We seemed to be in our regular lives one minute, then the next we were in an empty house with no jobs and under a week to leave home and everything we knew behind.

We saw a lot of our old friends and socialised like we'd never done before! We were out most nights visiting people, or meeting up at the pub for a few pints or going round for dinner. We started thinking what are we doing leaving? Turning our back on all of this. Looking back though you realise that it was kind of unreal. We would not have been doing all that if we hadn't been moving away. That in itself is a lesson learned - why does it take emigrating to force you to have fun with your friends?

We kept our house, (not as a safety net, but as an investment for our retirement). We treat leaving the house in the same way as though we had sold it. Writing it off as our home and accepting that although we still own it, it's now some one else's home.

We have both worked since leaving our respective school & uni so we deemed it a great time to take some time out and see some of the world on the way over to Oz. We figured we probably wont be moving countries again any time soon, or giving up two good jobs, so why not. We refinanced the house and worked the figures so that the rent covered the mortgage interest and upkeep and the rest we cashed out. We gave ourselves a world trip budget and the rest into an account for a future deposit on a house here in Oz eventually.

September 1st 2007 rolled around and we were off on out adventure. The trip was unreal and we can definitely recommend doing something similar to anyone. We spent 8 weeks travelling and it made for a superb way of leaving behind your old life and transitioning to your new one. By the time we arrived in Melbourne we were more than ready to stay still for a while. We started in Boston, took the Greyhound to New York, Greyhound again to DC then on to Philadelphia. From Philly we flew to Vegas for a while before taking a hire car and driving to Death Valley, on to Yosemite and ending up in San Francisco. From San Francisco we flew to Peru and trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu, we explored the Sacred Valley and made our way into the Amazon Jungle. What an adventure! It was back up to Los Angeles from Peru for a touristy trip around Universal Studios and then over to New Zealand where we explored the south end of the north island and the north end of the south island. From NZ it was on to our last stop, here in Melbourne.

If anyone is planning something similar for their trip over, our blog is here http://www.mytb.org/tony---emma with plenty of pictures. The whole trip over is now a distant memory, reading back over our blog is surreal - it's like someone else did it. There are also some recent posts on there about life in Melbourne that maybe interesting to people thinking of moving here.

I had a job lined up already, from previous meetings with employers when we came out on our reccy in January 07. Emma had no work lined up and we knew it would be tricky for her to find something in her line of work.

We stayed with some people we had met during our reccy. They had a holiday let in Carlton which we used during our reccy, but they had since sold it. They were kind enough to put us up in their spare room until we found a rental.

We had landed on the evening of October 22nd 2007 and our feet never touched the ground. We spent every evening on the internet lining up rentals to view, and every day was spent out in the hire car viewing rentals and sorting out the rest of the things that staring life in a new country requires. Medicare, tax file numbers, new mobile sims etc. We were pretty despondent after the first week as we had not found a suitable rental and my work was on the phone constantly, wanting me to come and start. We had planned for a few weeks off when we arrived to enjoy the place before we slotted back into working life - no chance!

We finally found a rental and moved in on 1st November. I started work on 5th November.

Our container arrived mid December, and frankly I was a bit disappointed. We had travelled all over with only a holdall each and had managed on that same holdall's worth of possessions from 1st September to 19th December with no problems. We had no TV and none of the material clutter that we were so used to. I wanted to turn the container away and carry on a more simple lifestyle without the material trappings. However, a few weeks later and we were back to the old life more-or-less. Big TV was back, books & DVD's everywhere, cupboards bulging with clothes that never get worn etc.

Amway, I digress, back to the story....

So - I started work as a draughtsman, (or 'shop detailer' as they are more commonly known round these parts), and Emma started the arduous task of finding work. My work was, and still is, perfectly fine. My wages are almost exactly the same as the were in the UK. The people are all friendly, the office is nice but the work is pretty boring. However, I'm not the sort of person who needs fulfilment and enlightenment in my working day. As long as it keeps me busy and pays the bills then I'm happy enough. Emma was struggling to find something, so she ended up working with me as a document controller - which was nice.

Eventually, 3 months after we arrived, Emma was called up for an interview. There were two positions advertised with the Australian Industry Group - one for a telephone advice line worker and one for the telephone advice line team leader. Emma applied for the lower role based on the fact she had got no where with other applications, so figured she'd try starting at the ground floor. She was called up and asked why she hadn't applied for the team leader position as it was more fitting with her previous experience in the UK. She explained why and they asked if they could interview her for team leader instead. So they did, and then she got called back for another interview - where the main interviewer told her she was so impressed with her that they offered her her job as she was leaving, so what started as an application for a telephone advice line operator ended up with Emma being appointed as National Manager! That was great news. 7 months later she's still there and enjoying it. It's long hours and plenty of stress, but she enjoys it. The big drawback with it is that she is based on St Kilda Rd in the CBD so the commute is a bit of a drag.

So, work is sorted for us both.

Melbourne is great as far as we're concerned. There's plenty to do. Loads of little suburbs to explore for a great Sunday morning brekkie or an excellent meal out on an evening. We love the City area and really enjoying spending a summer weekend day wandering around the parks, off to the galleries or just sat in the laneways drinking coffee and eating muffins. That sort of thing is exactly what we came here for.

We also like to get out down the Peninsula whenever possible. We spent many a hot Saturday or Sunday at Point Leo beach last year, baking in the sun and paddling out into the water.

We also love getting out into the Dandenong's for a few walks.

Melbourne is a great place for having lots of different scenery in a relatively small area. From the Peninsula beaches to the CBD and off out to the hills. Growing up around the Cleveland hills and North Yorkshire Moors, I have to say the Dandenong's don't really compare - but they're good enough to make a change from beach. There are still so many places we have yet to explore, but summer's coming so we'll be off out to some of the more spectacular places a bit further afield this year. We may even try camping if I can convince Emma she wont be eaten by a snake.

Not only is there plenty to do around Melbourne, it also only a short, cheap flight to Sydney. When my parents came out to visit in April we all went to Sydney and had a great time. We visited the Blue Mountains, and Dad and I walked over the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge - another boyhood ambition realised!

So, as far as the place is concerned, we're really enjoying life here. It takes a bit of getting used to the traffic and the abundance of traffic lights. The suburbs tend to look the same and are usually a bit un-inspiring, but the shops cafes and restaurants are great and are what gives each place it's own character and identity. The outer suburbs, whilst not everyone cup of tea, we actually like. We like the modern style of houses and the relatively large amount of space you get when compared to a city unit. In fact, we liked them so much that work starts on our own house build next month! We're really excited to be building something and to get into our own place again.

Homesickness has never been an issue for us. Yes, we miss friends and family and favourite old places, however, it has never really got to us like it seems to with some people. We have just kind of accepted that we are here now and need to get on with it. We came with an open mind and a fair idea of what life and costs would be before we arrived so our rose tinted specs never left their spectacle case. This is probably one of the reasons we settled so easily, the fact that there was no pressure for it to HAVE to work out here. We never bad mouthed the UK before we left we weren't running away from anything and our friends and family all knew that this was a big adventure so we never had pressures of thinking we can't go back as it'll look like we've 'failed'. Also, the fact that we're pretty easy going helps of course. At the end of the day, life is what you make of it - and we're here, so best enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, we're not particularly outgoing or go-getters and we're certainly no thrill seekers, in fact it was so surreal moving out here as we both kept thinking that emigrating is something 'other people' do.

Not being particularly out-going has mean that making new friends has been fairly slow, we never did have a huge circle of friends, tending to have a few close friends. Since arriving though, we've made quite a few pals and a couple of what we would consider as close friends, (mainly bloody Brits mind hah), we get out quit a bit for nights out in the city and we have some nice restaurants near our rental place. Our friends are spread across all corners of Melly, so usually get togethers are weekend affairs. We haven't met any of our neighbours despite being in this rental for 10 months. It's very quiet on a night, you just don't seem to see anyone around.

All in all, I've got to say, it's been a cracking year. We've had no home sickness, fallen on our feet with work, made pals and had a great hot summer and it just feels like home now. Mind you, its felt like home for the last 8 months, it's just so easy living here. We miss friends and family and favourite old places, but we've got it pretty good here. It's great on a sunny day when you drive home form work, turn into our suburb and look down the street to see the city skyline glistening in the distance. You have to pinch yourself and think, bloody hell - I've actually moved to Australia! It's crazy. Who'd of thought it. We talked about it for long enough but never though we'd have the balls to do it.

I know it's early days still, but I doubt we'd come back to the UK. I can't say we'll be in Melbourne for ever, but if we do decide to move on then we'll go and try somewhere else for a while rather than back to the UK. We'll be staying here for the next few years for sure, to enjoy our new house and get our citizenship, then who knows - we might head off on another big adventure.

Is Melbourne 'better' than Middlesbrough? I can't say. It's certainly different. We probably had an easier, more comfortable life in the UK than we do at the moment, the best way for us to think about it is to not try and recreate what we had. We came here for an adventure and to embrace the trials and tribulations that that may bring, it's still our life - but it's a very different one to that which we used to have, and maybe it's that outlook that has helped us settle so easily.

Reading back through that it seems I may have inadvertently painted everything rose coloured. There are obviously 'bad' points about Melbourne, but no more so than anywhere. You have to take the rough with the smooth - that's life. Yes, petrol is creeping up, yes cars are expensive, traffic is bad and Melbourne drivers amongst some of the worst I have EVER seen, but where in the world can you move to and not experience a few things that get your goat a little. A few points regarding cost of living here, don't think that Oz is a cheap ride - I would say it's swings and roundabouts. We earn about the same as we did in the UK and our outgoings are about the same. Some things cost a little more, some a little less - it pretty much evens out for us. I don't think I could say to anyone finance is a good reason to move to Oz as you will be surprised, and skint. Many people we know in the UK assumed that Oz was dirt cheap, and that cost of things was pretty much dollar for pound. No chance. In many cases comparable jobs here pay less than the UK and as said, cost of living is much the same - if not a little higher. So you may find yourselves financially worse off than you were at 'home'. For us it was never about money, if it was we would never have left he UK, it was more for the whole adventure of it. It just happens that we've been able to make a great start here but it could easily have not been the case.

Would we move out here if we knew now what we knew before we came? Yes. We probably had a 'better' life in a way back home, but we wouldn't have swapped this adventure for anything. It has opened our eyes to more of the world and given us a different outlook on life and what's important. No longer do we worry about our jobs or live to work. If we're out of work then we might move somewhere else - it's a big world out there and I want to explore some more of it.

Good luck to all of you waiting to make your moves, I hope you have as good a time as we are. Embrace it, enjoy the good times and accept the not-so-good. The experience can be as good or as bad as you want it to be, (to a certain extent), and if it's not for you - don't be disheartened. Take pride in the fact you tried it and experienced it and head back with the thought that you gave it a shot.

No regrets.

Tony & Emma.
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Old Aug 25th 2008, 7:09 pm
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

What an amazing read!
I seriously take my hat off to you.
Thankyou for sharing your experiences with such honesty.
Cheers,
J x
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Old Aug 26th 2008, 6:20 pm
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

What a fantastic update, I really enjoyed reading it
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 12:06 am
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

What a great post! We hope to be in Melbourne next year. It gives you such a boost of enthusiasm again when you read a post like yours.
Very honest and objective.
Thanks! and good luck for the future.
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 1:28 am
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

Thanks for the comments. We're looking forward to seeing what year 2 will hold.

Bring it on.....
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 3:08 am
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

Brilliant and inspiring post, honest and insightful. Karma sent your way!
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 10:18 am
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

Lovely post, Tony!

I still remember your post on how to sign up with Westpac all those months ago (more than a year now, lol).

Really pleased to hear you've settled well. Here's to the next year!

Gina
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 11:35 am
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

excellent post! now i'm going to have a read of your blog!
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 12:05 pm
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

that's a great blog - you have some fantastic pictures on there....
thanks for sharing this with us all....
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Old Aug 28th 2008, 5:19 pm
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

Thank You .....

... for such an amazing post.

It sent shivers up my spine - have been having some wobbles about our "adventure" - you have made it seem exciting again.
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Old Aug 28th 2008, 8:14 pm
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

Brilliant post! Really enjoyed reading that and was good to see that someone else has done the travelling part before getting to Oz. Me and the misses (also Emma) have talked about doing the same on our way out, or if we don't do that then we will travel round Oz for a few months instead as we have never been.

Great to read such a positive and grounded post. All the best to both of you!

Looking forward to reading your blog now
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Old Aug 29th 2008, 12:54 am
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

Thanks for the great replies folks.

GinaUK - I remember writing that Westpac post at our dining room table back in the UK. I can't believe that was well over a year ago. Seems like only weeks. Surreal.

Melbourne - the wobbles are great aren't they? Wait until that last day, then the wobbles will really kick in. Good luck though, hope you have as good a time as we have had.

AndyR - If you decide to do some travelling on the way out I can recommend Trailfinders for your flights and accommodation. We basically worked out which ticket was the cheapest, (British Airways at the time, one way UK to Melbourne with additional stops in transit cities was 540 quid), we just added in extra flights then as needed. We worked out our itinerary based on where we could fly into or out of on the main ticket. Once we had a full itinerary we looked for hotels, then trailfinders tried to match them. Where they couldn't we just booked ourselves. We also booked the Peru part though trailfinders with a company called GAP adventures. They have some awesome trips and are very reasonable. Check out their website. We just had the best trip and pretty much hassle free the whole way. On the BA ticket you don't have to fly out of where you flew into if you know what I mean? i.e.. our BA ticket was Newcastle to Heathrow, Heathrow to Boston the we went overland. We then added a one way ticket with United from Washington DC to Vegas before overland to San Fran. We added a return flight from San Fran to Lima, (via LA), then the BA ticket kicked in again from LA to NZ and NZ to Melly. If you are interested in going via a similar route PM me and I'll dig out our itinery spreadsheet which might give you some price & place ideas.

Trailfinders was great as we tweaked our route and itinerary about 20 times before we finally settled on everything, they had no problem and were happy to help. Big thumbs up for Trailfinders and GAP

http://www.trailfinders.com/

http://www.gapadventures.com/

Cheers.
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Old Sep 30th 2008, 5:55 pm
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

what a fantastic and inspiring post well done to you both
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Old Oct 2nd 2008, 6:21 am
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

Great post. Pleased it's all worked out so well for you both. Hope the house build goes well.
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Old Jan 2nd 2009, 10:34 pm
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Default Re: A year in Melbourne...almost.

Wow.I stumbled across this thread and my OH and i had a read...Its an excellent post. Thank you for taking the time to write such an informative post. Can i ask what jobs you both do??
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