As we prepared to move to Australia, I’ve been asked why we’re doing so countless times. In this post I’ll explain why we’re moving abroad again, and why we chose Australia.
A New Adventure on a New Continent
We started with the fact that we knew we wanted to move somewhere new this winter. Between funerals and marriages, we’ve been home in Montana for over a year - the longest I’ve been home since high school. We knew we wanted to go somewhere:
-Warm (Montana winters are brutal)
-We haven’t been before
-We had some connections to help us get settled (not crucial, but always helpful)
This criteria helped us narrow our options to somewhere in South America, and Oz - both places neither of us had been. South America had an abundance of teaching jobs and expat communities to offer. Australia has higher wages and a clear path to obtaining a work visa. Both seemed awesome but in totally different ways, so we needed a push to make a final decision.
When I say we had been in Montana for over a year, that’s not including the month we spent doing a Workaway in Sayulita, Mexico. We stayed at an incredibly cool house in the jungle in exchange for taking care of three cats and the occasional light yard-work.
It was not a bad deal.
The other couple staying at the house were Aussies named Brooke and Sam. As you might imagine, they lobbied for Oz, talking about how much money we could save to fund further travel and suggesting that we’d like the vibe in Melbourne. If we weren’t already convinced, you have to be under the age of 30 to qualify for the Working Holiday Visa, and Austin is pushing his late 20s. So, we decided on Australia, booked our tickets, and figured we’d sort the rest out as we go.
Montana Winters Though, For Real.
We were hoping to move somewhere in January, 2017 to escape the agonizingly long end-of-winter (that part of the season where it doesn’t snow because it’s so cold, and the existing snow is coated in black from all of the cars, and it’s just the most disgusting). We ended up just leaving for the aforementioned month in Mexico, which was great, but we’re not going through that again. I spent the first 18 winters of my life here; I’ve gotten my fill of winter.
That's not to say Montana winters can't be beautiful — I've just had enough of them.
It’s not just a strong dislike of cold weather that makes winters dreadful. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, also known as seasonal depression) affects up to 20% of Montanans, and I’m no exception. I’ve been taking Vitamin D supplements and seeing a therapist to improve my mental health, and bearing another winter would be counterproductive to my progress.
Working Holiday Visa
Sometimes it just makes the most sense to do the easy thing, especially when faced with an open-ended question like “where should we move?”. Australia makes the process to apply for a year-long work visa rather seamless if you’re under 30 and a citizen of one of the eligible countries. The clear path to a visa combined with the urgency of the program’s age limit made Oz our clear choice.
Money, Cash, Dough, Cheddar
This one is pretty simple: we can make more money in Australia. While we could find jobs in various parts of South America, it would be much harder to save money from our wages. The minimum wage in Australia is much higher than Montana, and the cost of living is comparable.
We don’t really know anyone in the city we’re moving to, but we have some good friends scattered about the country. While I am confident in our ability to navigate the unknown, it’s always good to keep your friends close.
Exploring a New Part of the World
Awhile back I set the goal of living on every continent for at least six months. I’ve completed North America (where I was born and raised), Europe, and three months in Africa. I had never even been to South America or Australia, so I knew it’d be one of those. And now that we’re in Australia long-term, we’re so much closer to other countries we want to explore! Just as taking a trip to Seattle or Canada doesn’t seem like a big trip to people from Montana, hopping to New Zealand or Southeast Asia for a short break isn’t a big deal to people in Australia. It’s all a matter of perspective. I was able to explore a lot of countries in Europe for cheap while I lived in Spain and Portugal, and I can’t wait to do the same from Oz.
Check out the photos below to get a taste of our explorations in Melbourne so far!
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