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Bhavik & Kavita
Our migrant story is quite unusual, as we migrated during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2020. I was awarded fast-tracked permanent residency through the global talent program within 3 weeks! However, to get into the country we had to quarantine (in Darwin!) and were not allowed to leave again until the borders opened (almost 18 months later). The choice of Sydney was pretty much driven by receiving a job offer in the city before making the move. Everything happened very fast – from applying for the visas to receiving the grants, job and moving was all within 3 months in the midst of Covid lockdowns.
Although we knew very little about Sydney, we both fell in love with the city very quickly. Initially, things were good and we lived near the airport (which in Australian cities are usually located within close proximity to the city centre). Since internal and international borders were closed, there were no flights and it was easy to forget that we lived under a flight path! The surprising thing about Sydney is that there is nature everywhere. Within a 30 min walk from our place in the city, there were bush walks with wild bat communities and dense bush, making it easy to forget that you are in one of the biggest cities in the world. There is so much to do in Sydney and the scenery is stunning. Almost every weekend in the summer, spring and autumn are like a holiday, with beaches, hikes, city activities and more right on our doorstep.
Sydney is immense. It is more like three or four cities in one, with each different part (city, eastern suburbs, west and northern beaches) having it’s own unique character. Driving an hour (or two) is something you will have to get used to if wanting to settle in the city. After the very intense lockdown of 2021, we decided to move out to Campbelltown in the city’s southwest.
It is easy to forget that we are in Sydney when in the southwest, with everything being significantly less built up and less congested than in the city. It is possible to get onto the property ladder here, with 3 bedroom houses priced in the range of $700,000 – $750,000, putting them into the NSW government’s stamp duty reduction scheme for first time buyers. Compared to London, things are generally more affordable in Sydney for couples or young families starting off.
From the southwest, the Illawara, Wollongong and several national parks are very accessible. We love hiking, and there are so many options around it’s impossible to do them all! Canberra is around 2.5 hours drive west and Wollongong (and less it’s less crowded beaches!) are around 1 hour away. The Blue Mountains are 1 – 1.5 hours away, and you don’t have to do through the city when traveling from the city’s southwest. We are lucky to live within a 5 minute walk to a train station, which goes directly to the city within an hour. Compared to other locations, southwestern Sydney has it all – transport links, affordability and nature.
For jobs, Sydney is great. There are several major universities here and of course, the city is a major economic centre. I found a job as an associate lecturer at one of the main universities before making the move, which helped immensely. My partner was offered a position whilst we were still in quarantine and before we arrived in Sydney. Everyone was so welcoming and it was easy to forget we are in city of 5 million people!
In all, Sydney is great place to live and work!
Q and A with Shelly and Jack
Name and members in your family? Shelly & Jack and our two kids.
When did you move over? We moved over in July 2019, the kids were 12 and 9. We had never been to Australia before, so took a chance and landed with 4 suitcases and lots of excitement.
Where did you come from? We came from a small Welsh mining village called Pontlottyn, the kids were born and raised here, but growing up we both lived in Cardiff, Wales. Pontlottyn was about 40 mins from Cardiff.
Where do you live now? We live in Port Macquarie, NSW. The most beautiful place.
How would you describe Australia now you live here? Beautiful, laid back, relaxing, just everything we want. Not a busy city like Sydney or Brisbane, its somewhere the kids can meet up with their friends, go for a skate, bike ride walk etc. Its paradise.
Biggest question – why did you choose Australia? We had never planned to move anywhere let alone Australia. But my little brother passed away and it made me realize two things, 1, I found it too upsetting being around all the places we grew up and had memories. And 2, life is far too short not to try something out of your comfort zone. You only live once. So, we looked at a few different countries, America, but the gun crime worried me. Canada, too cold. Spain, wasn’t English speaking so the kids, and us, would have to learn a new language as well as settle into a different country, so then we came up with the idea of Australia and I am so glad we did!
Describe your process and visa route getting here. Hard! Very hard. We started off with Emergico, personally I feel like they just took our money and offered no help or guidance. Just scripted answers to questions, and as someone trying to go through this process you have a million questions. So, we then found Jenny DUC on a forum, and everyone praised her and her attitude and help so we pulled over the car one day, gave her a ring, she told us what we could do to get the most points and helped us every step of the way. Even when our first EOI got refused at 1am one morning, all because of a missing middle name on a document. She answered our email in the middle of the night and helped us get through the process. Two English tests, two skills assessments and a lot of time and money later. We decided to sell our house and go on holiday to Hong Kong and then arrive in Australia on a tourist visa. The night of our flight to Australia our visa was thankfully granted! Not sure how we were going to holiday and wait for the visa on the small amount of money we had with us ha ha!
What was the journey over like? Awesome and exciting, we visited Hong Kong and Disney on our way.
What was your first month or 2 like? It was a mix of feelings, we were excited to get here and start working and exploring where we were, but also a bit scary as it was completely new to us and we had to find a house, jobs, cars schools etc.
But all that aside, seeing how beautiful Port Macquarie was made us realize we had made the right choice.
Anything that went well/didn’t go so well? It was harder to find a job than we thought it would be. We were on quite a good wage in the Uk and coming here we had to take a step back for a little while. But lots of hard work and we are back on track and running our own businesses. We just need to get our perm visa so we can buy a house. That will be the last bit of the puzzle.
Anything you would do different? I would save more money to bring over to help set up.
What is your life like now compared to your old life? So much more relaxed than it was in the UK, less materialistic, less keeping up with the jones’ etc. We are frustrated we came from owning our own house in the UK to renting here at the minute but that won’t be forever. But there is so much opportunity for an outside lifestyle here, outdoor exercise classes, long walks on weekends, coffees at the beach, days at the beach etc. Don’t get me wrong you get the same sort of routine, i.e. work, school, kids clubs etc. But it’s in a much nicer, warmer, calm relaxing place than where we were from in the UK.
What do you do in your free time? Coffee, walk, exercise, spending days at the beach is great!
Favorite food here? Avo and toast for sure!
If you have kids, how are they doing? Kids are doing so well. They have settled in much better than we had hoped, and they have great friendship groups. Our youngest is a little sports star, competing at state for athletics, plays rep basketball and our eldest has a part time job after school where he has made friends of all different ages and backgrounds, and they love the outdoor lifestyle. Everyone is so friendly here and has helped us and the kids fit in so well.
Anything you miss about your old life? I miss some people, family and friends but I do not miss the place at all.
Any advice you would have given to yourself while going through the relocation process? Relax it will all fall into place.
Q and A with Michelle Brindle
Name and members in your family? Michelle (Mother and ruler of the household), Husband Edd, Parker (10) and Douglas (9)
When did you move over? Left England in August 2019 and arrived in Sydney in Dec 2019.
Where did you come from? Near Wimbledon, South London
Where do you live now? Bulli, Illawarra, NSW
How would you describe Australia now you live here? Annoyingly had the worst 3 years weather wise since arriving but think that more climate change but even with the floods and fires much of the year the weather is amazing which just allows you to do more things, be it going to the beach, camping or just even to the park. Overall, it a great place to live, being we live in a seaside town everything much more laid back, the ‘rush hour’ means you might get delayed by 5 min, we have only been in this bit for 10 months but already making friends and the boys have really settled. However, ‘life’ still goes on, we still have got to work and pay the bills and life here is expensive, but it is just a lot easier when the sun is shining and everyone is less stressed.
Biggest question – why did you choose Australia? Edd had been a couple of times when he was a teenager to visit his cousin in Melbourne. However, I have never even been here on a holiday. Overall, we just wanted to get out of London (and England as whole) and had a short list of Australia, New Zealand or Canada and to be fair the weather here was what swung us.
Describe your process and visa route getting here. Being pre Covid we were lucky and had a pretty easy and smooth route to getting an NSW 190 visa. Also helped that I don’t like to throw paperwork away so had 10 years of bank statements and pay slips just ready to go. Edd was able to get through the skills assessment easily and the whole journey from the initial phone call with Wes to getting our visa was around 10 months.
What was the journey over like? We decided to take the only time in our lives where we didn’t have a house or job to worry about and threw caution to the wind and spent all our savings on travelling. We left in Aug 2019 and spent 5 months and visited 10 different countries across Canada, US, Taiwan, Japan and then made our way down Southeast Asia. Seeing the kids with their own little back backs exploring countries we had never dreamed of visiting was hands down the best experience of my life.
What was your first month or 2 like? Busy and expensive. We had managed to secure a rental before we arrived, so when we did get there in December, we had 6 weeks before the kids started school. Despite having the rental, we did stay in an Airbnb for a week whilst we panicked and shopped for stuff (remembering we only had 2 backpacks with us), managed to get a very old second-hand car and get the basic furniture. For Xmas we went down to Melbourne to visit Edd’s cousin then once we got back it was straight to job hunting. Thankfully Edd managed to get a job on a big site pretty quickly and brought in money within 2 weeks, which was a relief as we easily spent £10,000. I managed to secure work shortly after and set a start date for after the kids started school so I could help get them settled in. All seemed really good then 3 weeks later Covid hit, and we went into lockdown.
Anything that went well/didn’t go so well? Not realizing quite how expensive that first period was going to be, to secure the rental we had paid 3 months upfront and the bond $15k, Car $5k (which ended up breaking down and was unrepairable only 4 months later), Furniture $10k (and that was mainly second hand), tools, gear and licenses for Edd to get on site $2.5k and numerous other little costs such as drivers licenses, food, school supplies – my credit card got a battering that’s for sure.
Anything you would do different? We only shipped a small amount but 3 years later and almost all of it is still in its box. So deff could have saved and just sold it in the UK. Also perhaps not have got the rental before we arrived as whilst the house was amazing the area was not for us in the long run, which meant we ended up leaving after covid restrictions lifted. (But we do love where we live now, just felt guilty for moving the kids’ school again)
What is your life like now compared to your old life? Covid deff had a bigger impact here as it has meant I can work from home almost full time which means I am just a much more present parent (and saved a $$$ in childcare). But overall, we are just so much better as a family, even if it snuggles up of evening to watch a movie, going for bike rides or having fun together all-round family life is amazing! However, on the flip side covid has meant finding friends and our tribe was a challenge and it only been this past 10 months in our new area that we started to meet people that we truly get on with and that can play on the emotions especially when you so far from all the usual people you love back in the UK.
What do you do in your free time? Free time? What is this? Mainly just enjoying the outside and the abundance of local cafes, bars and restaurants. Also love a bit of camping and Edd is in the process of building his 4×4 truck so we get out and explore even more.
Favorite food here? Difficult one, as food is the thing I have struggled with the most. (I cried in Asda when we were back in London in September 22). Would just have to say they got some amazing wines and smooth pale ales. (Not an alcoholic I swear).
If you have kids, how are they doing? Since we have been in Bulli the kids have thrived beyond anything I could have hoped for. They have an amazing group of friends, and the area is so safe we have started letting them out on their own. They have a super packed diary of swimming, sports and scouts and gaming whilst both excelling at school.
Anything you miss about your old life? As above the food! Also, the convenience of London, I do miss amazon prime or Argos 4 same day for those forgetful mum moments. Everything here takes weeks for delivery and the same with public transport, whilst the tube was a horror it did get you anywhere you needed to go without any forward planning. Where I am now there is one train every hour.
Any advice you would have given to yourself while going through the relocation process Enjoy the small moments, it is going to be stressful and emotional and full of doubt and tears and you will spend money faster than you ever have before. But see it for the adventure that is and try not to bring your bad habits with you, it is an opportunity to reinvent and start a fresh in a whole load of different ways.
8 weeks in …
8 weeks in, and what’s it like now we’ve been through this intense period of time?
That layer is happiness.
This will be our fourth Christmas in Australia, and although still learning, feel more educated about what to expect this year.