Since returning to the UK, I have been asked numerous times what my experience of living and working in Australia was like and whether I think it was something worth doing.
For me, it was a huge rollercoaster ride of incredible highs but also some pretty tough times too and therefore I feel like a well balanced source to discuss the pros and the cons.
We chose to go to Australia at the end of our UK summer, which is the beginning of theirs, and I definitely think this was the perfect time of year to go.
We bought our working visa’s online before our arrival for 420USD (apx 245GBP).
Obviously, you then have to factor the pretty pricey flights and travel insurance for the whole year, plus a decent bed of savings to fall back on.
Our time in Australia was really clearly split into good and not so good sections and this was largely due to our financial situation at the time. Australia is a very expensive country and we always said it’s either the best place in the world or one of the worst depending how much money you have saved and whether you have an income.
Our first 6 weeks in Australia we travelled the East Coast with the savings we already had from home, visiting Byron Bay, The Gold Coast and Sydney before staying in Sydney with a relative for a while. This part of the trip was a huge high; we had the most amazing time and spent most days at the beach, having new adventures and eating delicious food.
After this, we decided to settle in Brisbane for a while and that’s when cracks in the plan started to appear. Brisbane is a lovely city but it isn’t on the coast and when you don’t have much disposable income there isn’t loads you can do.
I found it very difficult to find work here and at this point the money that I’d spent on my working visa felt like a waste and I wished that I had just come on a free 3 month tourist visa. We spent a lot of the time leading up to Christmas, in Brisbane, really questioning our choices.
It’s important to point out that whilst in Brisbane we still had some incredible experiences. We made lovely friends and spent time with relatives, and we visited The Sunshine Coast and Noosa Heads, which was probably our favourite place in Australia. But unfortunately, the money situation was crucial and that wasn’t going so well.
We had a pre-booked holiday to Fiji for 2 weeks over Christmas so we went there and then decided to head to Sydney to stay with a relative and while we were there we had a lot of time to reflect on our journey so far. After many late-night heart to hearts we decided to carry on and try to make it work in one last place.
My wonderful best friend, Emily, was living in Melbourne at the time so this seemed like the perfect place to go next and I knew that being with my friend from home again would lift my mood more than anything.
Within our first week in Melbourne, I had got work at a ticket and events company, with my best friend, which I absolutely adored and I was able to make really good money too. Nathan got a job in a restaurant and we moved into an incredible city centre apartment with breathtaking views over Melbourne.
For a few months we were absolutely living the dream and enjoying every moment, although it wasn’t easy to work ourselves out of the not so great financial position that we were in when we arrived in Melbourne.
But, we managed it and we had some of the best months of our lives in Melbourne and I couldn’t have wished for anything more at this point. We had great friends, great food and events on our doorstep, free tickets to The Australian Open, Adele and Justin Bieber through my work and the Melbourne late summer weather was so much more bearable than the sticky Brisbane heat that we had pre-christmas.
Unfortunately, like with anything, all good things must come to an end. We decided that with the money we had at this point (after almost 8 months of travelling) we could carry on another few months and then have to go straight home, or we could use our money to travel New Zealand and Asia for two months, which had always been a huge part of our dream.
After some pretty intense deliberation, we decided to leave our amazing life in Melbourne, and Australia as a whole, to head off on another adventure with very happy hearts and the most amazing memories of our time spent here.
As you can see, our time living in Australia was in no way straight-forward and we had a lot of difficult times where we felt like giving it all up and getting a one way flight back to England, but I am so so proud that we persevered.
Although it was difficult in places, it was the most important and special experience that I have ever had and it brought Nathan and I so much closer (and Emily and I too!) and taught us how strong and ‘adult’ we can really be.
So my advice is, take a risk and do it.
But remember that it is a risk (unless you have a guarantee of work at the other side) and be as prepared as you can be by having plenty of savings to fall back on.
Also, weigh up whether you would rather stay longer but live more frugally and do less, or stay less time but see everything and enjoy every minute. In the end, we decided that the second option was much more suited to us but it’s a totally personal decision.
Most importantly, remember that if you never try then you’ll never know and personally I like to know that I’ve tried everything that I wanted to.