When you’re moving to Australia, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the visa process and all of the admin like opening a bank account and shipping your belongings. It can become all-consuming. And if you don’t know any friends who have done it already, it can be difficult knowing what to expect and how to feel about things.
I try to be honest about our migration experience so that I don’t sugar-coat it. We LOVE our lives in Brisbane, but it took a lot of hard work and effort to get here and it was very emotional leaving family and friends behind. There are so many things that I didn’t appreciate when we were going through the process of moving.
Here are a few of the things that I think it’s important to know before you move.
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Spending your entire life in Australia doesn’t need to be the end game
This is a biggie. When you move to Australia, you don’t have to stay here forever. It doesn’t have to be a one-way only journey, but also – and I think this is REALLY important – if the move doesn’t end up working out for some reason, you don’t need to return to exactly where you moved from either (unless, of course, that is what you want to do).
Make the move because it’s the right thing for you to do now and stop putting such pressure on yourself that it will definitely be forever.
It won’t work unless you go all in
On the surface it might look like this point contradicts the point above but, trust me, it doesn’t. Come to Australia without the pressure of it being a lifelong move, BUT come ready to go all in. Please don’t set yourself a time limit on how long you will ‘give it’ before you go back ‘home’. I see so many people come out here and say they’re going to ‘give it a year’ or ‘give it two years’ – as if it’s Australia’s job to win them over within such a strict time limit.
It’s YOUR job to give it your all and make your life here so amazing that you don’t want to go somewhere else (let alone back to the place you came from that obviously wasn’t giving you what you needed because you felt called to leave in the first place).
I see so many people online who sound like they’ve decided the move isn’t going to work before they’ve even arrived. Their whole approach is clouded with a negative mindset, and the fact they’ve set themselves an easy exit plan divides their energy and attention rather than focusing 100% on making their new life awesome – this sets them up for failure.
Moving here is challenging and takes an effort – it’s not something you should walk away from too easily. You wanted it enough to go through a year of visa applications and paperwork and all of the costs involved in moving – don’t give it up without fighting hard for it! It may turn out that there is another better opportunity out there for you, and that is OK but give this one a chance first before you write it off.
Kids act up when they get here
It’s totally natural for your kids to act up after you’ve travelled across the world to your new home. They will have jet lag and it will last longer than you expect. They will be missing their routine and their friends and family. They might not instantly settle in (unless they are really little, but even then the jet lag will be hell for at least three weeks!)
I read an article before we moved where a family moved over who had a three-year-old. During their first couple of weeks, they were asked to leave their rental unit as he was causing too much noise with his anger and tantrums. Within a month, the family decided it was too much for him and moved back home. Maybe (probably) if they’d known to expect this adjustment period they’d have waited it out and have loved it here.
My kids were AWFUL for about a month when we moved but then they had jet lag, we’d taken them away from friends and family, we’d moved into a new temporary house and we were dragging them around doing the most boring chores you can imagine (switching driving licenses, setting up Medicare, taking cars on test drives, looking at houses and schools…) It’s no wonder they acted up!
Just know that your kids will be bored, and grumpy, they will fight, they will have epic tantrums. It won’t last forever – you are in transition. Accept it and keep going until you move past it. In a couple of months, that phase of tantrums will be a distant memory. Well, not totally over but at least back to normal levels again!
Homesick creeps up on you
Homesickness is a strange thing – you can feel totally fine and then for a split second you see a Facebook memory, or read a newspaper article or you smell a certain smell or hear and song and you’re in tears. Know that this will happen – feel all the feels and then smile and move on. Don’t wallow in it, or think that feeling these things means you need to go back. You can still miss people and places and still be happy where you are – I promise.
It’s all about gratitude
This is another game-changer that I really wish I’d understood when we moved and I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere in migration advice. Don’t focus on what you don’t have – your family, your old friends, your old house and old life – instead be grateful for the opportunity you have and the new experiences you’re having.
So many people would love the chance to move to Australia but aren’t able to make the move (for health, age, money or visa reasons) so you have a really rare gift – appreciate it as much as you can.
I’m currently reading Thank and Grow Rich by Pam Grout and in it she suggests that every day we should wake up and say “Today something amazingly awesome is going to happen” and then list at least three things you’re grateful for.
I’ve just started a daily gratitude jar with my kids and every night we write something we’re grateful for on a slip of paper with our initials and the date and pop it into a jar. At the end of the year, we’re going to unfold them and see what an incredible year we’ve had. I wish we’d started this when we first moved here as it would have really helped us get through the hard times.
I’m in so many Facebook groups for people who are moving to Australia, and it makes me sad to see so many people focused on the negatives of their move. Yes, there are struggles with jobs, relationships, finances, missing family (we have the same problems too)… but what you focus on grows so if you concentrate your mind on the positives, more good things will happen (or at least you will begin to notice more good things which then makes your world a very different place).
Even the wrong decision is the right decision
Moving to Australia is an adventure. You’re choosing to follow a different path to most people you know. You’ll learn lots of things on the way so no move to Australia is ever wasted, even if you decide it’s not your forever home. If you decide that it doesn’t feel like the home you’d imagined, you’ve gained a huge insight from having moved – having experiences that don’t work out are just as valuable as experiences that do work out. Actually, they are even more important.
Nobody succeeds in life without going down a few ‘wrong’ paths. I put the word ‘wrong’ in inverted commas because there are no real wrong directions – if something doesn’t work out, you can just pivot and jump onto a different path.
Remember, if things aren’t what you hoped for, your pivot could be to try a different city or state in Australia. You don’t need to give everything up and go back to where you came from – there are other options.
Everybody wants to give you advice, but you should be careful whose advice you accept
There will be people in your life who don’t want you to go – maybe they will miss you, or they’re scared for you or they want to hold you back from going off and doing great things. You may have someone tell you it’s a mistake to move, that Australia is going into a recession, that you will never get back on the property ladder when you move back when it doesn’t work out, that Australian’s won’t give a job to an expat, that you won’t like it…We heard so many excuses as to why we shouldn’t move.
There are a lot of people in the world with a scarcity mindset who worry about all the world’s problems. Why should you listen to the feedback or opinions of somebody who isn’t daring to upgrade their own life themselves?
Brené Brown is THE BEST person at explaining the idea of making yourself vulnerable by stepping up to live your best life. Watch this video – If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, skip forward to 4 minutes but definitely try to go right to the end (I’m sure you will as she is so engaging). The talk is around the amazing Theodore Roosevelt speech about not listening to the critics in the cheap seats – the people on the sidelines who are offering unsolicited commentary on the people who are actually fighting in the arena.
What I’m saying is to listen to other people who are also daring to improve or change their life in the way you are. They have valuable input you can learn from. People who haven’t moved country won’t understand what you’re going through and they won’t know your options – although they might think they do! (i.e. family members kept telling us to get a sponsored visa but the reality is that the 189 visa we came on was by far the best visa available for us. Family members *think* they are helping but they can actually end up giving you incorrect advice because they don’t know the facts and you are so used to listening to them that it can lead you in the wrong direction, so just be cautious about whose advice you take.)
It’s not an option of one or the other – your choices are limitless in any direction
You don’t have to be limited to the choice of whether to move to Australia or stay where you are. You can go anywhere and do anything you like! When we were considering our move, we also looked into moving to other places in the UK – Cornwall, Lincolnshire, the Isle of Wight – and we even considered Canada!
We explored all of our potential options before we settled on Australia and knew it was the right choice for us. If Brisbane hadn’t worked out for us, we’d have moved on and tried other cities too after giving it a good try. If they still hadn’t felt right we’d probably have tried New Zealand next – we wouldn’t have gone back to Hampshire where we were before we moved. We weren’t happy there and we felt the pull to find something more in life.
Just know that your choices don’t need to be so black and white. You can do whatever you want to do! The world is your oyster – the only thing giving you boundaries is your own mindset! The world is smaller than you think – you can get anywhere by plane so try to think big rather than small.
What I wish I’d known
There are so many things I wish I’d known before we moved. It’s so easy to take on other people’s views of things so I think the key is not get tangled up in other’s people’s opinions of you and what you’re doing and have confidence in yourself and your own choices because this is YOUR adventure. I know that if we moved back to the UK tomorrow (which we aren’t going to do as Brisbane is home!), there would be a lot of people in our lives who would say how sad it was that we’d failed, rather than recognising that we’d done something brave and learnt some valuable lessons on the way.
Now, I’m so glad I understand that other people’s opinion of me doesn’t matter! Nobody explains it quite like Rachel Hollis does here. It has taken a while to get here though and realise that all that matters is that we feel like we’re on the right path as a family and we are exactly where we are meant to be!
Your life is filled with infinite opportunities – you just need to be open to accepting them, give them your best try and learn along the way!