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The Highs & Lows of Migrating to Australia

Author: Dominique Wilson

Published date: 2018/05

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Many people have the dream of living and working in a foreign country. It sounds exotic, exciting & somewhat romantic. But does the reality match the daydream? Having been here nearly a year now, I thought it was high time I shared the experience of what’s it’s really like to migrate to Australia.

Making the jump from the UK

I come from a small town in England called Lowestoft, where everyone knows each other. Irrespective of most people saying they “hate they place,” they never actually leave. At the age of 19 I decided to move to the beautiful city of Norwich. And when I say people never leave Lowestoft, I would literally invite people over for tea and they would need 3 weeks’ notice to plan it because it was “too far to drive” (30 miles).

From a young age I found a love for travelling. From the time I was able, if I did not go abroad at least 2-3 times a year I would get severe “holiday blues.” I travelled and travelled as much as I could, and as far as my bank balance would let me. America, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali, all of Europe – the list goes on. One place I never got to was Australia, and although I had never visited the place I just knew I wanted to live there!

When I finally met my now-husband, I was thrilled to learn he also wanted to move to Australia – HALLELUJAH! After our beautiful Thailand wedding we flew back to the UK, and the second we landed in Norwich we knew we couldn’t live there anymore. So that was it! Our minds were made up – we were doing it! Then and there I applied for our working holiday visas £325 ($590) each, and within 2 days the acceptance email hit our inboxes. How easy was that!? We sold almost all our possessions – the car, everything – and moved in with my father-in-law for 2 months until our one-way flight date of July 7th, 2017 arrived.

The reality of moving overseas

It was a very stressful time. I make it sound easy but believe me, it wasn’t. So many people were upset to see us leave and we had to spend as much time with them as we could before we left. We had phone plans not out of contract, loans and credit cards that had months/years left on them. But who cares right?? We were moving to Australia.

We needed work…maybe we should find jobs before we go? That must be easy, right? I have 12 years sales experience, surely people will Skype interview, right? WRONG! It was impossible to find a job. Recruiters didn’t want to know me, companies wouldn’t even consider me until I arrived in the country. The biggest issue I faced was that on a working holiday visa you can legally only work for one company for 6 months! Once that 6 months is up, you are done – go and find another job! And let’s not forget after 6 months if you want to stay longer in Australia, you must work on a farm for 88 days to even be considered for a further 12 months. Who would want to do that?

Despite these challenges, after a short flight across the world – 10,402 miles to be precise and approx. 26 hours of travel time – we arrived in Australia with $20,000, assuming that would easily keep us going. We flew into Cairns, hired out a camper van and drove all the way down to Melbourne. What an amazing experience! One of the most beautiful countries I had ever been to. But let me tell you…$20,000 between two of you is definitely NOT enough money to sustain you Down Under. £10,000 seems a lot of money in the UK, but it does not go far in Australia. Everything is so much more expensive than in England.

Finding work & a home

My husband is a bricklayer, and with Melbourne weather being as close to home as possible, we knew it would be the best city for him to settle into work without dying of heat stroke! And I knew that a role in Recruitment would be the easiest way for me to stay in the country – they are professionals in demand.

Upon arriving in Melbourne we booked an Airbnb for three weeks. Now, I have stayed in my fair share  of Airbnb’s across the world, but this was by far the worst! We were desperate to find our own apartment, and our funds were quickly dwindling away. Half our savings was already gone, and with a bond and first month rent upfront, we were looking at forking out at least 5-6k! We applied for apartment after apartment, and with that came decline after decline. This was much harder than we first thought. No one would accept us as tenants if we both didn’t have jobs, with proven contracts as evidence of security.

Hubby had found a job as a bricklayer within a day (yay!), but these kinds of guys generally don’t provide contracts, so that didn’t help us with the apartment situation. Finally, after two interviews I landed a job with a recruitment firm. They provided me with a contract and BOOM we got our apartment on Albert Park. Now we were getting somewhere!

The struggle with sponsorship

I was loving my new job, everything was great, I was smashing my targets and they were keen to sponsor me. We got my paperwork moving, I did my police checks for the UK and Australia, gathered references for previous companies, pay slips, bank statements…they even wanted me to list every single country I had visited since I was 18! I did it all, no problem.

During this time, I was also dealing with the fact my hubby was suffering with homesickness, and not enjoying Australia like I was. He was getting messed around by company after company, not paying him and making promises they weren’t delivering on. I was scared my dream of living this wonderful life in Australia would soon be shattered. He was truly on the brink of wanting to go home.

We had a trip booked back to the UK to surprise my mum, and I couldn’t wait to go. I thought a trip home would do my husband the world of good, and hopefully realise that he really hated England (fingers crossed).

But then, the worst happened. 7 days before I was due to leave for my trip home, my boss pulled me in the office and told me they could no longer commit to sponsoring me as a recruiter. As I had reached my 6 month threshold, without that golden sponsorship ticket I would no longer be allowed to work there. I was done. My dreams were shattered, and I was at an all-time low!

I had 7 days to find another job before going to the UK, what was I going to do? I had interview after interview. The sense of urgency really began to take over me, and I was stressed and anxious. I thought I would have to go back to the UK permanently.

At the last minute, Fetch happened. I was offered a BDM role and sponsorship, and I couldn’t have been happier. The weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My contract was signed, and I was on that plane!

Truthfully, it was the best thing we could have done. As much as I loved seeing my family, we both hated every minute of being in England and could not wait to get “home” to Australia. Hubby’s homesickness was cured, my career was secured, and our dreams were back on track!

The future looks bright

Having been with Fetch for three months now, the sponsorship process is in full swing. Everything is in place, all the documents have been gathered and we are ready to hit the button. This will allow me to stay here for 4 years. With my husband being a bricklayer (a skill in demand) he has the option to apply for PR (Permanent Residency) if we wanted to stay longer. With any luck, we will never have to go back to England!

Here’s the moral of the story, guys – do your research, save more money than you think you’ll need, and be prepared for setbacks. As wonderful as this life is, it’s definitely not plain sailing.

Good luck if you decide to take the plunge, it’s been the best decision I ever made!!


Dominique Wilson is a Business Development Manager at Fetch Recruitment, working in the Construction space . She is focussed primarily on building the Subcontracting business for Fetch. You can connect with Dom on LinkedIn here.