Deciding to move your life to the other side of the world is HUGE. It’s overwhelming, stressful, happy, sad and exciting all rolled into one. There is so much to do, from deciding whether to take your pet with you to completing the English language test, from getting ready for the shippers to considering schools for your kids. Here are ten mistakes you need to avoid because they won’t help serve you as you move towards your new life Down Under.
10 mistakes not to make when moving to Australia
In a rush? Ignore the negatives and download the list of 5 things you should do when moving to Australia now. You’ll find them in my FREE Resource Library which you can sign up for here.
1 Listening to visa advice from people who aren’t reliable migration agents
Seriously, this is the most important thing. Do not listen to visa advice from anyone who isn’t qualified. Agents are up to date with all of the latest rule changes, and changes are happening regularly at the moment. If you listen to advice from your aunt or cousin who lives in Australia, you are just hearing rumours rather than up-to-date facts. If you listen to people chatting in Facebook groups, the advice could be based on something that was valid a year or two ago but isn’t anymore. Even some migration consultants out there give incorrect advice, so you need to know you are getting advice from a trusted source. Please please please, make sure you check facts with a migration agent.
Even some agents can get things wrong – not all agents are trustworthy and even great migration agents can make mistakes from time to time. And many agents have websites that are out of date, so don’t trust anything you read online unless you can back it up with up-to-date facts. Read this post about why you might want to use an agent and how to find an awesome one. (Or cut out the work and find out about my recommended migration agent partners here.)
2 Putting off your move until later
Deciding to emigrate is a massive decision. We were guilty of putting off the decision for a long time (read more about our journey over on my Start Here page). During that time, my husband’s main occupation was removed from the skills list. Lots of agents told us we no longer qualified, so our dream was almost shattered. (Thankfully we found Veronika from Sort Out My Visa and together we worked out he qualified under another occupation so it was all good – phew).
DO NOT PUT IT OFF.
If you want to migrate to Australia, go for it. If you don’t, stay where you are. But please don’t decide you want to go and not apply right away. So many things can get in your way. You could get sick and that could stop you passing a medical. A family member could start to need you more which makes you feel bad leaving. Your skill could be removed from the skills list. Visa rules could change making it harder to find a long term pathway to Australia. If you are eligible and you want to go, apply now.
In 2013, when we were making the decision to emigrate, I met a lot of people who told me they were going to make the move later on at some point. But everybody who told me that is still in the UK. Please don’t tell me you need to renovate your house, or that you need to spend more time in your job or that you want to wait until your kids are older… if you are eligible now and you want to move, waiting is likely to mean you never make it out here. Don’t say you are ‘going’ to do it: Do it, or don’t do it.
3 Letting other people’s opinions influence your decision
Everybody who loves you wants you to stay in the country. And some people will do whatever they can to keep you there, including emotionally blackmailing you to stay. You need to live your life, your way.
When we were backpacking a few years ago, we met so many British elderly couples who were travelling in Australia and New Zealand. They told us that they had a chance to emigrate when they were our age and they stayed because their families didn’t want them to go. They all told us it was the biggest regret of their lives and they wanted us to know so we could take the action they were too scared to take. They were still thankful to be able to travel in retirement but wished they’d been able to give their kids a different lifestyle.
Anyone who loves you should support you living life in a way which makes you happy. If they don’t, then they are thinking more about their own happiness than yours.
4 Letting fear of the wildlife in Australia stop you from moving
I’ve received so many messages from people who want to move to Australia but are afraid of spiders or snakes. You aren’t alone; I don’t think there are many people out there who really love spiders or snakes. I certainly don’t. But it’s not a reason not to move here. We’ve only had a couple of spiders in our house in over three and a half years (we had way more than that in the UK!) As we get our house sprayed for bugs, we rarely get any cockroaches. Older houses might have more of an issue but an annual spray should mean there are no living bugs in your house.
With snakes, you just need to be aware. Stay on pathways, keep your eyes open if you’re in the bush (or avoid going into the bush if you hate them that much) and don’t leave stacks of garden rubbish in your yard. My husband was bitten by an adder at the beach in Hampshire and almost died when he was little. So far in Australia, I haven’t met anyone who has had a near-death snake experience. Keep the risk in perspective, and if relatives are trying to scare you into not moving with stories of snakes and spiders, remind them the UK also has a very dangerous snake living there!
5 Not making a decision
All of the time you are ‘debating’ about whether to move, you are really making a decision not to move. People can go on thinking about it for years and years, pretending to themselves they are still considering it when really they are using the decision-making time as a way to avoid saying yes to the adventure of a lifetime. Just make a decision, one way or the other and get on with it.
I should add, it took us years to make the decision but now looking back I realise we should have just focused on making a decision and got on with it. There are lots of decision making strategies out there to try.
6 Getting rid of everything
There is a lot of value in shedding your things and moving over without any ‘stuff’. People love the idea of replacing everything with shiny new things over here, but so often people tell me they regretted getting rid of everything. Some people miss those boxes of keepsakes that went to the tip. Other people say they wish they had brought all of the little bits and bobs they threw away like kitchen bins, dust pan and brushes etc. because they thought it wasn’t worth bringing but then realised the cost of replacing it all added up. Think carefully about what you decide to get rid of and what to bring because once it’s gone, it’s gone. (Be sure to read my decluttering guide and my shipping guide). Remember, if you are bringing a container anyway you can always bring things and throw them away later if you don’t need them – bringing them doesn’t mean you need to keep hold of it forever.
7 Not having a leaving party
My husband and I hate being the centre of attention, but we made sure we had lots of leaving parties before we left. It helped give us closure to our old lives and got us ready to start our new lives. It was a really important part of us saying goodbye to people we loved – both for them and for us. Don’t leave without holding at least one! Read my guide to organising the ultimate Australia-themed leaving party here.
8 Assuming Australia is like the UK
Australia is nothing like the UK. Move here knowing it is going to be a totally different way of life, and you won’t be disappointed. The lifestyle here is different, people’s attitudes are different, the weather is different, the landscape is different and even words are different (the word pants means trousers here, and pants are called undies, port is a bag in Queensland, trainers are called runners, felt-tipped pens are called texters…there is so much to learn!) Embrace the differences rather than fight against them.
9 Don’t expect the move to bring you closer together (not at first, anyway)
Moving abroad is one of the most stressful experiences in the world. A bit like having a baby, don’t move to Australia with your partner unless your relationship is solid because you will need to support each other through thick and thin and help each other get through those days when it all feels too much. You will fight a lot more often. You will feel pressure about finding houses and jobs. You will take things out on one another. You need to be rock solid and both want this move 100% because if one of you doesn’t, you will hit problems.
Once you get through to the other side, you will have an amazing shared experience to be proud of and you will be stronger for it, but to get to the other side you need to be as committed to the move as you are to each other.
10 Not giving it your all
I saw this post on Facebook the other day about running a business and how to make it work you need to burn your bridges and take Plan B out of the equation. I passionately agree with this. If you have a get out clause, then why would you strive to make it work? Don’t move out to Australia to ‘see how you like it’ or to ‘see how it goes’ (both of which I hear people say way too often). If you really want this to work, you need to move out here to make a life (unless you are young and looking to travel and amble around so moving forever isn’t on your agenda, in which case it’s ok to be vague and keep your options open and that is totally what you should do when you are young!)
To get settled in Australia and make this your forever home, you need to be determined and do whatever it takes.
When you arrive, you can’t sit at home being lonely in your new house thinking about the people you’ve left behind or feeling sad that you can’t pop over to see your mum for a coffee. You need to make yourself a new life here. You are totally responsible for creating the life of your dreams. You are the captain of your own ship. I don’t believe in giving up on anything that you want – if you are willing to give up on it then you didn’t want it enough in the first place.
Now you know the mistakes to avoid, what should you do instead?
If the whole move to Australia thing is starting to feel overwhelming and stressful, take a deep breath and keep reading…
I spent so many hours on Google researching what we needed to do when we moved to Australia. And I spent many months writing about my experience for Australia and New Zealand magazine (you can read those articles here) and writing posts on my family blog so that I could try to help make the process easier for other families.
I’ve now pulled together everything that I’ve learned into a detailed checklist that covers everything you need to do at every stage of your migration journey. From the moment you decide you want to move, through the process of closing down your life and setting up your new life in Australia. You don’t need to worry about forgetting to do something, or about doing things in the wrong order. My Ultimate Emigration Checklist walks you through it all, and it also helps you stay on top of bill closures and your moving budget too so you can stay in complete control of your finances.
Want to make your move to Australia as simple and stress-free as possible? Get the Ultimate Emigration Checklist here.