People keep telling me they can’t possibly leave everything behind and move to another country, even though it’s something that is tugging on their heartstrings. I wanted to write a bit about our story of moving to Australia to show that we are no different from you. We don’t possess any extra special powers. We still love our friends and family back home. Moving to Australia was no easier for us than it is for anyone else.

We had doubts and worries. We agonised over the decision for years before we finally gave in and agreed to give it a shot. We could so easily STILL have been at home in the UK talking about it. Or trying to push it to the back of our minds until the possibility of us even being able to go had passed and then we could complain about how it was something we had planned to do but it was no longer an option (something I see SO many people doing).

If you’re thinking of moving to Australia, you need to read this and then take some action to actually decide if moving to Australia is the right path for you.

Our story for those who are thinking of moving to Australia

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.

A couple sitting on a wall in Sydney Harbour

We planned to start trying for a baby during our travels but as we were diving, hiking up glaciers and taking a lot of bumpy speedboat transfers to remote islands we waited until the final week of our trip when we only had relaxing activities planned. About four days later I started feeling sick all the time and knew right away I was pregnant. We flew back to the UK dreaming about our plans to migrate to Australia with a baby in tow. A few weeks later the positive pregnancy test confirmed what I already knew given I was spending my days vomiting, and a few weeks later we found out that baby was twin boys (hence why I was having such a strong reaction to being pregnant!).

We still had the travel bug, but having two babies instead of one changed our minds. We wanted our parents to see our kids grow up and having two babies made everything feel more complicated. Less than three years later our boys were joined by their little sister.

We thought we’d let the idea of moving to Australia go, but it never really went away. We still lusted after programs like Wanted Down Under (have you Googled how to submit a Wanted Down Under application? I bet you have!) and read Australia and New Zealand magazine every month (which I’m now a regular writer for). In 2013, we learned that Matt’s ‘secure’ job was going to be ending in a few years. It gave us the kick we needed to re-evaluate our lives.

It would have been easy to not make any decision. We could have waited for the redundancy a few years later which we knew would give us a good five-figure payout that would change our lives financially. But we knew that making no decision would really be making a decision not to go. And we knew that if we didn’t do it right away 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 plus we knew occupations on the list got updated 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 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 gave us everything we were looking for. It wasn’t just because the other two options weren’t going to work for us either; the decision just hit us one morning and we knew it was the right move 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 that week. Timing, right? I spoke to lots of agents who weren’t helpful at all but eventually (thankfully) I found Sort Out My Visa. After chatting to them a few times and having them review 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, submitted our skills assessment in September ’13, did the IELTS test in December ’13, submitted our EOI in January ’14 and were granted our permanent residency visas in March ’14! We then sold our house, threw a leaving party 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 kids 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 some options). We could have accepted that we were going to spend many months of every year cooped up indoors because it was too cold or wet to go out (our 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.

We could have waited for the redundancy payout (which could have been three – six years away) and it would been lifechanging in so many ways as it was a lot of money. The thing is (and this is so important I’m writing it in BOLD) you can always make more money but you can’t make more time.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can now clearly see that if we hadn’t acted when we did, we wouldn’t have got here as it has only got harder to move here over the last five years. We wouldn’t get in if we applied now (honestly), so I’m very grateful and thankful that we had the confidence to take the plunge and move to Australia when we did.

We’re living in a much bigger house than we could ever afford in the UK, we earn more than we did in the UK, I was able to set up this business to help other families make the move which was initially funded by two government grants, 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), we have taken some of the most amazing holidays here – 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.

A picture of Karen Bleakley and her family sitting on some steps

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 and others who are really homesick too (it’s worth reading this post about the things I wish I’d known before we moved). 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 that Australia suits our lifestyle better  🙂

Should I move to Australia?

This is a question I get asked all the time. I can’t say for sure if the move to Australia is right for you – only you can know that – but I can say that you need to make a decision one way or the other. Before we made the decision, it felt like our lives were in limbo. By making no decision we were making a decision to stay stuck.

I get that it feels like a massive decision. When we used to think about moving to Australia, it always felt too big to even consider especially as we had little kids to think about. It felt like something totally radically and huge – something that was almost too hard to comprehend. Once we started the process, we realised it wasn’t too big at all – it’s how you frame it in your mind. It’s just a house move to another country. People around you who aren’t doing it will likely make it feel like an enormous move, but if you surround yourself with other families who are doing it too you’ll find a community to support you and you’ll carry one another through the process.

The world is small – communication solutions are everywhere and following your dreams is what life is all about.


Are you thinking about moving to Australia?
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Want some help with all of the moving admin? You need my Ultimate Emigration Checklist. It breaks down all of your tasks and shows you what things you need to do at what stage. It makes everything as easy as possible and includes links to helpful resources too. Once you have a plan, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming – just work through the list a step at a time and tick it off as you go.

>>Find out more about the Ultimate Emigration Checklist here.

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