Upside Down Expat


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Moving overseas is incredibly exciting at first. But when the dust settles, will you be glad you made the move? This is for anyone considering emigrating, those who wish they hadn’t, and those who have never looked back.

Sometimes I wonder if moving to Australia was the biggest mistake of my life.

I love Melbourne, but crave being closer to my family in the UK. My partner wants to stay put. So, after four and a half years, being so far away is, at times, a source of pain, pondering and panic. As a result, I often ask myself; would I have gone down a different path knowing what I know now?

Our journey down the yellow brick road to Oz began in early 2010 when the British company I had been working for was taken over by an Australian owned organisation.

A conversation with my partner went something like this;

Me ‘We’ve just been taken over by an Australian company, imagine if I got the opportunity to work there, would you want to go?

My partner ‘Imagine. That would be ace; definitely’

Me ‘ Ideally it would just be a 12 month contract, because then I’d like to come back and have a baby

My partner’ I’d never want to come back’

Me ‘I couldn’t possibly stay for longer than a year or two, I’d miss my family too much’

My partner ‘Well I’d want to stay’

Me ‘Yes but I want a baby eventually and want to be near my family when I do’

Row started heating up.

Me ‘What are we even arguing for? This is never going to happen!’

Both laughed and went out for lunch.

A few months later, an internal job opportunity landed at my fingers (aka my inbox). I applied and was offered a twelve month contract in Perth, Western Australia. I really ought to develop my psychic abilities! Or listening skills, given the writing was on the wall – in thick permanent black marker pen!

Nonetheless, we embarked on an incredibly exciting adventure to the other side of the world. Ten months later I got another offer from Melbourne. Two months after that, I fell pregnant with our now two and a half year old daughter.

So two cities, three homes, one baby, and countless ups and downs later, do I have any regrets given the uncertainty of the road ahead? The answer has to be no. Here’s why:

  • Following my heart: Australia was one of those rare opportunities that filled me, above everything, with utter excitement. It was meant to be. And, despite some of the fears and loathing that stem from the outcomes of that decision, it couldn’t have been any other way.
  • Living life to the full: While I may have been shielded from some emotional pain, I would never have attacked life with the same enthusiasm that moving to a new country, or city, inspires. And, though eventually routine sets in, that ignited spark for life remains.
  • Meeting people from all over the world: While at home I was happy to spend my time with the same, lovely, life-long friends, saying yes to the opening of an envelope in the early days led to meeting a ton of people from all corners of the earth, and a ton of fun. The wonderful, the weird and the ones that will last forever. I also learnt lots about myself along the way.
  • High highs:The lows are lower too for those homesick like me, but even after all this time, Australia’s natural beauty (the beaches, the sunsets, the stars at night) still leaves me exhilaratedCombined with great weather, cool cafes, beautiful parks, rooftop bars, wineries, and much more, makes every weekend during summer like a mini-holiday. It is, in the voice of an Aussie, ‘awesome’!
  • Personal growth: Perhaps the most profound change of all. Self-sufficiency, self-awareness, resilience and courage.  When we’re alone in a new country or city and have no-one to rely on but ourselves, we develop an inner strength and independence that makes life less daunting, and anything seem possible.

So, while the path has been tougher than I imagined, the walk along it has been positively life-changing. Because it’s the stumbles and falls during the rockiest routes that help us navigate life’s most challenging terrain, leaving us feeling we can tackle almost anything.Above all, at some point along the path, we invest in a sensible pair of shoes with a tough sole, durable material and strong laces tied up properly in a double knot.

And new shoes are always a good thing.

I just sometimes wish I could click the heels of mine together and be right back where I started.

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