In late February of 2015 I picked up and moved from New Zealand to Melbourne. I made the decision about two weeks before moving and at the time I didn’t think I knew anyone in Melbourne (thankfully, it turned out later that I did).
I should have rehearsed what to say when people asked me why I moved because I didn’t really know. I had some savings and one morning I woke up and decided I didn’t want to run down Tamaki Drive anymore. I wanted to see a new sunrise and make new friends, my mind began to fixate on the infinite possibilities of life in the progressive and cultural hub of creativity that I heard so much about across the ditch.
Two weeks later, having barely said goodbye, I was on my way. Granted, Melbourne is not the hardest place to move to, and culture shock was not really a thing I had to go through – Australia is hardly the South of France. That being said, I still came across many hurdles and learnt a lot in the process, here are some things I learnt so y’all don’t end up needlessly suffering my same mistakes.
Save as much as possible or be very good at budgeting. Moving was much more expensive than I thought it would be, this is also potentially because despite my best efforts to budget, I failed miserably. The wolf may have been at my door, but I wasn’t answering it without the finest espresso coffee. My lack of budgeting skill became a real problem when I didn’t find a graduate job for the first two months. I had planned savings for only one month of unemployment. Looking back, I should have saved more and started budgeting earlier so that I had more knowledge of my spending habits.
Finding the right 9-5 can be difficult depending on your level of experience – even with experience it can still be tough. After years of waitressing I went to Australia with a firm ‘no more hospitality’ plan. After one month of job searching through SEEK, I was desperate and totally disheartened. I abandoned my plan and was going around to cafes in an attempt to hand out my CV, overwhelmed with shyness I would end up buying coffee instead of putting myself out there – bemoaning the fact that I don’t have the imposter ability of Leonardo Di Caprio in Catch Me if You Can.
Many people say that networking is the best way to find a job, and I eventually found my office job through a friend, so I would recommend reaching out to as many people as possible. Volunteering is also a good way to fill in time and make connections. I did this for a month in Australia before I got a paid job. This meant that I had an Australian referee for my CV and also a bunch of new skills.
The internet is your best friend and it is very easy to put an ad up on the various house hunting websites across the globe. I recommend focusing on who you are living with more than the house itself, flatmates can really make or break your experience – much more than good air conditioner will. Although of course commuting time, suburb choice and comfort need to be taken into account.
Be super patient. I must have viewed over 20 houses in my time in Melbourne, so many of them were not the right fit for me and I almost felt like throwing in the towel and settling because the process is stressful and no one wants to spend hours a week jetting over town only to be disappointed, but finding a flat is a numbers game, if you visit enough of them something will pull through.
Social media is great when you live overseas. Chuck a status update up on Facebook about the move. Old acquaintances may want to reconnect and you are likely to have someone in your online network who knows someone else who can connect with you in your chosen destination.
As an introvert I had to learn to make more of an effort. One cancelled party among new acquaintances and you may not get invited again. Even though I would rather curl up in bed and watch movies 99 per cent of the time, I knew that having close friends is essential to mental health and while it took a lot of willpower for me to make new friends I set a goal of texting at least one person a day.
It is easy to get down when you move, being isolated from your social group and not having a workplace secured can lead to stressful times. It is important to put your health first. Focus on the benefits of moving, it is so easy when you are overseas to long for home and romanticise it as picture perfect paradise. This sort of thinking will do you no good. Make sure you actually invest your heart and soul into the move and take care of yourself. Drink water, exercise, find cheap things to do to keep your mind busy and embrace the extra time you have on your hands before you get bogged down with work commitments.
Finding love in the city
This is certainly not essential, and I wouldn’t recommend jumping straight into trying to find someone when moving is enough to focus on. However, I would (and I know this is controversial), recommend getting on Tinder and going on a few dates. When I moved I was vehemently anti-Tinder, but eventually curiosity got the best of me.
What did I learn? That Tinder dates can be exciting and a good way to check out movies, restaurants and what’s on in the area. When using Tinder, make sure you stay smart and put up your boundaries straight way – if you are looking for friends or for a relationship I would include that in your bio to avoid any miscommunication. Miscommunication is bound to happen anyway, but setting out your intentions should at least deter some creeps and their inappropriate behaviour.
Moving alone is a life-changing experience and you will learn a lot about yourself as you venture out into the big wide world. Take your head and your heart along for the ride, take deep breaths and accept both the glorious highs and harrowing lows that will be part of your journey. It’s all part of the adventure.