Trial and error

Gatherings of expats invariably lead to one conversation topic, things you wish you’d done and things you wish you hadn’t.

These aren’t confessions of the stag/hen night variety, but wistful glances back at the process of moving to Australia and learning some lessons of relocation the hard way.

So, for today’s post, 18 months after our move, I’ve put together a list of the best and worst three decisions we’ve made in our journey to a new life down under.

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Blink and you’ll miss it

I often have cause to reflect on the serendipity that has brought us to Canberra and how, if our timings had been just a little bit different, we may never have made it here at all.

It’s three years now since our Australian residency visas were granted. Back then, after a couple of years of getting our documentation in order, gaining all the right evidence of Mrs CBRbound’s professional skills, and securing state-sponsorship from the ACT government, everything aligned in a wonderful post-Australia Day email which told us that we could start planning a life down under. Continue reading

Putting down roots

House.jpg

It all happened very quickly, but last week we bought a house in Canberra.

So, we bought a house. There’s no way of tip-toeing around that one, so there it is. We bought a house.

As a new migrant, this is no small undertaking. There are the exchange rates to consider… are you cashing in your foreign currency at a rate that won’t make you fume in a few years time? There’s the fact that you have little credit history with which to support any mortgage application. You also have to familiarise yourself with a buying process that is rather alien, particularly if you buy in an auction. And then there’s the psychological question of: what does this really mean? Continue reading

Close-up of a spider on a window.

Snakes, spiders and sharks

Snakes, spiders and sharks probably represent the unholy trinity of creatures that new migrants fear the most (notwithstanding those spoof stories about drop bears – and they are spoofs). But what’s the reality of living cheek by jowl with Australia’s deadliest animals, and how much do they actually figure in our everyday lives? In reality, not much. Continue reading

An education

Moving to a new country is a giant juggling act. You can’t know everything about your new home from the moment you arrive but you strive to gather enough information about the essentials so that nothing critical falls to the ground and smashes.

Occasionally, you miss something – like when using the wrong type of tick treatment cost Mr Pup an extra three weeks in quarantine. And a few weeks ago, we missed something else that we probably should have known about, but didn’t.

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Christmas in the middle of summer

Christmas tree baubles from multiple countries.

Christmas for migrants often means a mix of traditions from several places.

We’re coming up for our second Christmas in Australia and, just like last year, as native Europeans, it’s hard to reconcile the time of year with the weather outdoors. If this feels like familiar ground, then you’d be right – I wrote a post about this ‘Tis the season… except it’s not’, this time last year.

I’m revisiting the point though because of an old newspaper article I chanced across which, I have to say, makes my own uncertainty pale with its agonising over a mid-summer Christmas, and concludes that the only thing to do is to move Australia’s Christmas to 25 June. I kid you not.

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The Canberra Weekly property section.

Dealing with Canberra’s undesirables

There’s quite a funny song that appeared on the British TV comedy show ‘Spitting Image’ many years ago, entitled ‘I’ve Never Met A Nice South African’ and it provides a suitable backdrop for the trouble I’ve had with writing this post.

Originally, this piece had an introduction along the lines of: “Every city has their undesirables and Canberra is no exception. In London, it’s investment bankers, in Copenhagen, it’s the hipsters, while in Canberra, it’s estate agents.”

But, just like the Spitting Image song, this sweeping claim troubled me. For the record, I’ve met plenty of lovely South Africans. I actually know an investment banker who’s a pretty good guy. And I even know an estate agent whom I believe to be ethical and principled.

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Postcard from Merimbula

A few months ago, I asked the question: where do you go on holiday when you’ve just moved to your dream destination?

Several readers posted great suggestions and a few weeks ago, we had a long weekend away to check out a place that probably outscored other recommendations by about three to one – Merimbula.

Two children run along a deserted beach at Merimbula.

Australia seems like it can offer everyone their own private beach.

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