Hi there! I guess if you’re reading this then you’re considering moving your family to Australia. It’s a huge move, I won’t lie. For me, the move has been life-changing, inspiring and exciting. Life’s what you make it, regardless of where you live, but you have the power to make it even better if you follow through with your dreams.

If moving to Australia is the right move for you, I’m here to help you break it down into manageable chunks and encourage you to see it through. If you aren’t sure, I’m here to help you decide one way or the other.

(You can read a bit more about our migration journey in the August 2016 issue of Australia and New Zealand magazine: Australia and New Zealand magazine – reader story)

Where it all began
I want to give you the background about how I came to set up Smart Steps to Australia, so you can see that I’m just like you. It doesn’t take a special kind of person to move to the other side of the world – it just takes action and determination. Here’s my story.

My husband Matt and I always wanted to travel, so after we got married we spent a couple of years saving for a round-the-world backpacking trip. It was epic – we spent three months island hopping in the South Pacific, we drove around New Zealand in a camper van, then we drove up the east coast and down the west coast of Australia with a brief stop in the centre, before island hopping around Thailand and the Maldives.

Karen Bleakley in front of Uluru - image for Smart Steps to Australia

We arrived back in the UK with plans to migrate to Australia. We also came back expecting a baby. A few weeks later we found out that ‘baby’ was twin boys.

We still had the travel bug, but having two babies changed our minds because we wanted our parents to see our kids grow up. Less than three years later our boys were joined by their little sister.

We thought we’d made our peace with the idea of moving, but it never really went away. We still lusted after programs like Wanted Down Under and read Australia and New Zealand magazine every month (which I’m now a regular writer for). In 2013, we learned that Matt’s job was going to be ending in a few years. It gave us the kick to re-evaluate our lives.

It would have been easy to not make any decision and wait for the redundancy a few years later but we knew that making no decision would really be making a decision not to go. If we didn’t do it right away then the chance could be gone forever. Matt needed to be the main applicant as his avionics job was on the Skilled Occupation List and if he moved up one more age bracket we wouldn’t have enough points to make the move plus we knew occupations on the list changed annually so there was no guarantee how long his job would be needed.

I was bored with the uncertainty, so I set a time limit on the decision. We booked a holiday to Cornwall and agreed we’d decide one way or the other what we were going to do during our week away.

Before we went away, we narrowed down three options that appealed to us (I wrote about our dilemma in more detail on my family blog if you want to read) : 1) Move to Cornwall – a place we loved visiting on holiday. 2) Move to the Isle of Wight, just across the water from where we lived in Hampshire. And 3) Move to Australia – either Perth or Brisbane.

On the holiday, we spent our evenings debating the options and writing lists of pros and cons, and our days exploring and checking out the job and housing market in Cornwall. After exploring Cornwall in the freezing cold summer weather, we realised that house prices weren’t much cheaper than in Hampshire, but with no chance of earning a similar level of salary. And that was even assuming Matt could find an aviation job there. We also ruled out the Isle of Wight pretty easily, because of easy access to work for Matt. A few days into the holiday and it was obvious that Australia was the right path for us. It wasn’t just because the other two options weren’t going to work; the decision just hit us one morning and we knew it was the right one for us. We were sick of the cold weather, feeling frustrated by the lack of work opportunities as so many companies were closing down or laying off staff and we wanted a different kind of lifestyle for our kids.

As soon as we got home, I started contacting migration agents and realised that Matt’s occupation in avionics had literally just been removed from the Skilled Occupation List. I spoke to lots of agents before finding Sort Out My Visa. After chatting to us a few times and reviewing Matt’s CV, they told us we could apply under a slightly different electrical occupation as there was another role on the list that matched his skills, qualifications and experience. It was such a relief. We began talking to Sort Out My Visa in July 2013 and were granted our permanent residency visas in March 2014 – with the skills assessment, IELTS test and medicals all going smoothly in between. We then sold our house and moved to Brisbane in September 2014.

I love our lives here and Australia is home now. It scares me to think that fear of making the move almost stopped us from going through with it.

We could so easily still be living in our cramped house in Hampshire wondering whether to move or not, and letting the time tick by. Our boys could have been going to the nearby school with little chance of choosing a different school due to catchment restrictions (it was a great school but I’d have liked to have options). We could have accepted that we were going to spend at least six months of every year cooped up indoors because it was too cold or wet to go out (my kids hate cold weather even when wrapped up!) We could have tried to enjoy our few weeks of summer each year and been happy with that. I know that wouldn’t have suited us though.

Thankfully, we had the confidence to take the plunge and move to Australia. We’re living in a much bigger house than we could ever afford in the UK, we earn a little more than we did in the UK, I’m setting up this business which has been funded by two government grants (grant funding was severely limited in the UK), we can be outdoors all year round, we have barbecues all the time, our kids go to the most amazing school (which we chose from a selection of great nearby schools) – there are too many positives to list. Of course we miss friends and family, but the world has never been so small and we do what we can to stay in touch.

I want to add a quick note that the move has been amazing for us, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone or that everyone will settle in like we have. I know lots of people who’ve struggled finding work (Matt is still only on a temporary contract almost two years after arriving) and others who are really homesick too. Everyone’s experience is different. Also, I’m not knocking life in the UK at all – I love so much about the UK and I’m sure we’d have been happy if we’d stayed there too. It’s just Australia suits our lifestyle better, so please don’t take any offence 🙂

I’ll share more details about our migration experience in future blog posts, but I hope that gives you an idea of how we got here.

Who am I and why should you listen to me?

Picture of Karen Bleakley, Founder of Smart Steps to Australia

I’m not a migration agent, a finance expert or a relocation consultant. I don’t promise to know everything about moving to Australia and I won’t be giving you any technical advice. But I’ve been through the move with my family and I know how challenging, time-consuming and terrifying it is. I’m working hard to compile a directory of trusted experts so that whatever your questions, I have someone on hand who can give you an honest answer.

I’ve been self-employed since 2005, working as a freelance writer and a creative project manager. I’ve travelled extensively around Australia and have been blogging since 2008, first with a travel blog and then with my family blog Tales of a Twin Mum. I started writing for Australia and New Zealand magazine (the UK’s only magazine dedicated to travel and migration to this part of the world) back in 2009, and over the past three years have had lots of articles published in the magazine, with many more planned for upcoming issues.

My project management background was a huge help when it came to planning our move as there is so much admin to do. I’m hoping to make the move easier for other families by pulling everything together in one place, breaking it down into manageable chunks and finding a range of top experts who can answer all of your questions. There’s going to be plenty of free content you will find useful in the blog. When you’re ready to take things up a notch and really make your dream happen, you might find it saves you time to buy into my Plan Your Dream Premium options (launching soon) where I’ve pulled together anything and everything you’re going to need to save you trawling the internet for hours, days and weeks hunting for the information.

I hope you enjoy reading. Please leave a comment below and tell me what stage you’re at. Are you just starting to think about the move or are you well underway planning your new life in Australia? I’d love to hear from you. And if you have any particular questions, please fire away as I’m here to help.

If you’re a brand that is interested in working with me, please visit the Work With Me page.

 

Did you enjoy this post? Share it with the world!