Congratulations to us, we made it! Let the sunburns commence.
I had wanted to post this before we arrived in Australia but Tom said, “Are you crazy? If the authorities see it they won’t let you into the country and our whole plan will go down the toilet!”
He might have been right, but I still think the chances of the Australian immigration authorities catching wind of my blog and then informing all the immigration agents to be on the lookout for me – Mail Order Bride #3239423 – when I landed at Kingsford Smith were slim to none. But what this whole moving abroad thing has taught me is, when you throw caution to the wind in certain aspects (goodbye jobs, friends, and family!) you ought to play it safe in others (please let me in, Australia)!
By now, most of you know why we’ve up and moved to Sydney, land of plummeting property prices, terrace houses (one of which we hope to rent), and strange slang, some of which, to the untrained ear, sound like they could be racial slurs (see: root rat, chook, and dag.)
But some of you might not know. Or you might have forgotten. Or you might, when zoning out at work, be wondering what the hell we’re doing Down Under. So to put those burning questions to rest, here’s a list of questions we were most frequently asked about our move to Sydney, Australia:
Tom’s mom is Australian. While she wasn’t ever like, “You guys should move there!” (Why would she? She lives in Virginia), her Aussie-ness does mean that Tom spent many summers in Australia as a kid, has Australian citizenship, and harbors a deep appreciation for things Australian like Vegemite, meat pies, and bogans. Aside from that, Tom is very positive about Australia. He knows that people there work, but believes that they don’t work very much and have ample time for things like surfing, meat pie-and-beer-breaks, and not working (what the Aussies call “holiday”). To prepare for this lifestyle, Tom has bought a few Hawaiian shirts and is claiming he will learn how to surf.
What was wrong with New York?
Nothing really, and returning is not off the table. However, we wanted to leave before things became uncomfortable – e.g. cramming ourselves and any potential baby into a one bedroom apartment only to surrender to “upgrading” to a $5,000 a month (at least) 2-bedroom apartment in Park Slope and toil away for promotions and bonuses (all the while hoping to not get let go a third time) so we can afford the staff that babies nowadays seem to require (e.g. daycare/nanny, cleaner, personal chef). All this while maintaining our millennial consumerist lifestyles of eating, drinking and traveling because otherwise, what’s the point?
But let’s be honest. Those very things are going to happen in Sydney anyway, except we’ll have less friends around. So, we’ll console ourselves with the facts that we’ll at least be doing those things in better weather and from a ferry rather than a stalled subway train. There was also the growing number of departures other than our own. We wanted to leave the city before the city – as we know it- left us.
Why Sydney over Melbourne?
Some people who are stupid have said that Melbourne was the superior city because it has better food, culture, and coffee.”Sure, Sydney is beautiful,” they said, with a very detectable air of disdain, “But Melbourne’s got the culture.”
And for a while I felt uncertain about our decision and wondered if we were making a mistake by going for beauty rather than for personality. But I thought about all the beautiful people with interesting personalities I knew, like Tom, and reminded myself that the two qualities were not mutually exclusive. Those Melbourne fans sounded like poncy turds, much like New Yorkers who live in Greenpoint.
We’re also trying to be practical while doing the impractical. A quick browse through LinkedIn for “Copywriter” jobs yields 31 results in Sydney and 21 in Melbourne (in New York, the same search brings 512 results). For “Data Analyst,” Sydney has 278 current job listings while Melbourne has 180 (New York has 2,875). So Sydney, where the weather is nice and the jobs are (relatively more) plentiful, is the place for us.
What about work and stuff? Are you really retired?
We haven’t been working for the past two months and it’s been, in Tom’s words, “just glorious”. We’re also using the word “retired” loosely since it usually applies to people with enough retirement income to retire comfortably. We have enough savings to bum around for two months while living off our parents, and then live really fast and become homeless after February. So working again (barf!) is on the horizon.
Fortunately for me, Tom will need to find a job sooner since he has the privilege of being an able-bodied, ready-to-work citizen while I am his feckless immigrant wife who has yet to master Australian Engrish. Harooo!!!
Are you guys planning to have a kid?
Of course! I love me and the idea of a little me. So we’ll let you know how that goes.
How long are you guys planning to stay?
I doubt we’ll stay long enough so that our kid starts to talk like Steve Erwin (RIP), but one never knows where the winds – and boxed wines – will take you. We think at least two years, at most five. We don’t want to be too far away for too long. But right now our parents are still healthy and most of our friends have verbally committed to visiting (which in Australia is as good as a blood oath).
What do your parents think about all this?
My parents – my dad, especially – would love if we moved next door to them in California and shared weekly Costco orders. Culturally too, I think my parents see a key part of prosperity as having your posterity all about you, like two floors up and one floor down, as my Grandpa Ho had in Taipei. My parents are in general, pessimistic about old age and think that children should stay nearby to help out if necessary. I totally agree with this, and would come back at the first sign of true decrepitude. But right now, my dad is still loud as hell and my mom, despite being super slow moving, can still play four rounds of golf a week.
As for Tom’s parents, they’re sad to see us go so far, but they’re no strangers – and neither are my parents, come to think of it – to moving to strange lands (to Japan, for instance, with three kids in tow!) Though it’s been pointed out that the Wards moved to Tokyo in the 90s in extremely different circumstances: for a really good job opportunity and many expenses covered while Tom and I are paying for this ourselves with no jobs or housing lined up (and also with the hope of working as little as possible). But with Tom’s aunt, uncle, and a bunch of cousins in Melbourne, the Wards have even more reason to visit Australia more often!
Okay, so what’s the plan now? You have a place to live? What about all your stuff?
Now that we’re in, the next big hurdle – even before finding a job – is finding Bom Palace 2.0. For now, we’ve booked our first three nights at The Old Clare Hotel, and the three weeks hereafter at AirBnbs throughout the city. During these three weeks, we’re going to schedule as many “inspection times” (what the Aussies call apartment viewings) as possible. As mentioned above, we want a terrace house! And hopefully in Surry Hills or some other hip but not-too-poncy neighborhood not too far from where we’ll hopefully find jobs.
As for our stuff, we arrived in Sydney with four bags total. Two large and two carryons. We left some furniture to the guy that sublet our apartment (he was really into the couch), and some other things to Tom’s parents in Virginia. Our “bespoke” dining table, books, clothes, Tom’s records, and his sad collection of DVDs that unfortunately made its way into the shipment – Part of Five?!?! – should be en route to us now, in a shipping container somewhere in the middle of the ocean. In a few weeks time we will welcome it with open arms because it would be nice to change our clothes. Side note: If you’re looking for international movers, I’ll provide a detailed update in the future of our experience with ilovemoving.com. (So far so good)!
How are you going to keep in touch with everyone?
Global warming be damned, we’re gonna fly a lot. But we will also save a lot of trees by sending out a digital newsletter in which we’ll share all the fun stuff we’re doing down under, along with flight deals and Australian trivia: e.g. Did you know that that brand Quicksilver was founded in Australia?! The result of all that should be a steady stream of visitors. Remember those blood oaths.
Lastly, I’ll be updating this blog more often than I’ve done in the past two months. Can you blame me? I was enjoying retirement.
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