As promised, I am asking to international travellers and people living and working in a foreign country to share their life stories with me to know why they decided to leave families and friends behind to explore new realities and meet new cultures!
Are you curious about how they managed to adapt and settle in their new countries? Then follow my expat interviews categorised by country! Are you an expat wanting to share your tips and experience with the rest of the world and be a source of inspiration? Then fill in the expat interview form: I would love to hearing from you!
“Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Iba Battuta
Let’s meet Liz: an fellow expat travelling from US to Melbourne
Introduce yourself briefly. Tell us who you are!
My name is Liz, and I currently live in Melbourne, Australia. I’m nearly thirty and up until two years ago I spent my entire life residing in the north-eastern United States. Before moving to Melbourne, I spent four years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I enjoy reading and writing (often in cafes!), playing the flute, traveling, and meeting new people. I have family in Wales and have spent the last several years learning the Welsh language. Since moving to Melbourne, I’ve kept a blog about my expat journey at www.mullaroundtheworld.com
Why did you move to your current country?
The short answer is that I met and married an Australian man while we were both living in the United States. But it’s a bit more complicated than that! I had studied abroad in Bath, United Kingdom for five months during college and it was an incredibly transformative experience. I felt so fulfilled and alive exploring new places throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, and immersing myself fully in a community with different cultures and traditions than my own.
After meeting my Australian husband, he expressed a desire to live abroad after 14 years in the US. My time spent in the UK prepared me to be open to this possibility. We ended up picking Australia because it was where his extended family still lived and we both would have opportunities to work without language barriers.
What do you do for a living? How was the job hunting?
I came over on a partner visa which gave me full working rights. Some of the other visas like a working holiday visa only permit you to work with one employer for up to 6 months, so I have friends who have really struggled to get a job under those restrictions. I work in development and alumni relations at a University and had a job lined up before I got here, due to some networking I had done in the lead-up to our move.
Compared to the US, this industry is very small in Australia. The higher education system here is very different to what it is in the US and there are far fewer colleges and universities, so I was very grateful to come in with a job.
How is the social life in your city, is it easy to make friends?
It is very easy to meet new people in Melbourne! There is so much going on all the time and endless ways to meet people — through book clubs, community sport leagues, expat meetups, language classes, etc. I came to this city knowing one person (my husband) and have developed a network of friends over the past two years by getting involved and not being afraid to show up to events on my own.
Why should people move there? Why did you fall in love with this place?
Melbourne is a hot-spot for arts and culture in Australia. It doesn’t have the same quality beaches as Sydney but makes up for this in art galleries, museums, cafes and restaurants, festivals, live music, and theatre. The sport culture is huge here too, as most of the country’s Australian Football League (AFL) teams are based in Melbourne.
As a writer, I have had so many opportunities to meet fellow bloggers/writers, attend literary festivals (such as the Emerging Writers’ Festival and the Melbourne Writers Festival), go to book launches, and get lost in used bookstores. There are so many unique cafes and libraries throughout the city to relax in with a coffee and a good book — this is a dream for booklovers like myself!
What do you want to say to people looking to move there?
Melbourne is consistently rated as one of the most liveable cities in the world, and for good reasons! It has something for everyone, and is also within close distance to stunning beaches and hiking trails. The population is very multi-cultural and friendly toward immigrants. To get an idea of Melbourne’s culture and top things to do, visit https://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne or https://www.timeout.com/melbourne I would highly recommend Melbourne as a place for expats considering a move down under!
How is the health system? Is it a safe place to live in?
From my experience, the national health system is amazing! On a partner visa, I have full access to Medicare meaning it is generally free for me to see a doctor. This is something I never would have dreamed of in the US! The cities are very safe and there is also strict gun control here. There have been some instances of women being attacked while walking alone at night, but generally the crime rates are low.
How is the general cost of living, what is the average rent?
The cost of living compared to Pittsburgh (where I last lived) is quite expensive. Yet it’s still cheaper than places like New York City or even Sydney. I live in a neighbourhood a few kilometres north of the CBD and the average rent is $600 AUD per week ($2,600 AUD per month). The average house is $1.1 million AUD, which feels very unattainable for many (myself included). This makes it more common to rent rather than to buy.
One thing I’ve noticed is that in Melbourne people earn a lot and spend a lot. I have never spent so much on “going out” as I have here — eating out at restaurants, buying coffees, going for after-work drinks — it’s just part of the lifestyle!
Tell us something you don’t like about where you live and the difficulties you came across when settling in.
Australia is really, really, really far away. Going home to the US takes more than a day of travel. It’s even worse going to Europe. It’s hard being SO far away from family and friends and knowing that I won’t be able to make it home quickly if I need to.
Tell me an unmissable thing to do in your city over a weekend
We always take guests to the bustling Queen Victoria Market on a Saturday morning and then walk through the CBD and down to the Yarra River. We will usually come across some sort of festival or event going on, and it’s great for people-watching and getting a feel for the city!