When we decided to become expats, I knew there were others like us out there – I just had to find them. Once I started looking, I was amazed at just how many people have chosen an expatriate lifestyle. So many people tell me that they wish they could move to another country; I want to share the stories of those who have made the choice. I hope that these stories might encourage others to take the plunge. My first guest post is from Alyson, the author of World Travel Family. We’ve both got two boys about the same age, and she’s Welsh (bet you didn’t know part of my family is from Wales too!). Their family is planning a two-year travel stint and I can’t wait to read all about their adventures. Oh, and Alyson hope you know if you add Morocco to the list we’d love to show you around!
In January 2005 I was sobbing as I handed my baby over to a day care worker. I was stuck, I had no choice, I had to return to full-time work after just six months of unpaid maternity leave. There were issues with contracts, I was just very unlucky.
The situation stank and I couldn’t bear it.
A year later, I was pregnant with my second child and determined to keep both babies at home with me, no matter what. I couldn’t go through that trauma again, we had to do something.
I loved living in London, we had been there for eight years, ever since I met my husband in Egypt and moved to the capital to be with him. We had been busy, first travelling and then buying and renovating two properties, always working hard. But hard work in London isn’t enough to buy you freedom, property prices are astronomical, one of our salaries was entirely taken up by mortgage repayments. We had only one option, we had to leave.
The Practicalities of Becoming an Expat
My husband is Australian, so picking a country was a no-brainer, getting a residential visa for me wouldn’t be too difficult, the boys had Australian citizenship by right of birth. It was easy to make the decision to leave my family and friends and the life I loved behind, when the alternative was losing most of my babies’ childhoods.
The visa forms were long and tedious, we didn’t use an agency, we didn’t feel there was any need. We collected the information we needed and submitted the forms. My approval arrived within 6 weeks.
We shipped all our possessions to Australia. It cost us about $7000 and was a piece of cake. The removal company came to our house and packed everything up for us. A few months later they turned up at our rented home in Port Douglas, Queensland and unpacked it all again. It’s a great service and one that I’d highly recommend.
Adjusting to Expat Life in Australia
At first living in the tropics was glorious. We rented a house while we looked for a property to buy, it felt like we were permanently on holiday. Waking up to the squawking of lorikeets, looking out at our tropical garden and swimming in the Coral Sea were heavenly. I thought this would be our “forever home”. The boys would go to school here, we’d be involved in the community and put down roots. I even tried to convince my parents to move out here with us. I’m glad they didn’t, after the excitement of buying our own home, complete with pool, started to wear off, the cracks started to show.
I’m not cut out for life in Australia. It’s not me, I don’t fit.
I’m a city girl, I like shops and people, having things to do. Life here is just too slow. We live in a remote community, Port Douglas is a fairly upmarket resort town, but facilities are thin on the ground. The few shops here cater to tourists, not the needs of locals. I’m not cut out for small town life, I don’t like everyone knowing my business, I’d rather have anonymity. I’m too British, I miss so many things from home, from foods, to pubs, to the National Health Service to shoe shops. It seems like every day something will remind me of the things I miss from back home and make me resent living here even more.
I don’t believe in regrets. I don’t regret moving here, it has been an interesting experience and one that has brought me rewards. We’ve all learnt a lot, about who we are and what makes us tick, as well as gaining an understanding of all things Australian. The move gave me my children back, they have both been home with me full-time, other than when my eldest went to school for a couple of years. If it weren’t for the terrible local school I would never have discovered homeschooling, we love our way of living and learning, I wish we had decided on this path earlier.
If we weren’t so fed up with living here we would probably never have decided to change our lives again, we are going back to something we love, travel. Not just holidays, long-term, nomadic, endless travel. After almost six years in Port Douglas we are leaving to travel the world, it can’t come soon enough. I started a blog about this crazy idea we had, travelling the world with the kids to give them an education. Blogging is fun, something else that expat life has brought me.
I always imagined that living a simpler life, near a tropical beach would be my dream existence. I’ve discovered that it’s not, but if I hadn’t tried it, I wouldn’t know. You should only regret the things you never tried, not the ones you did.