Meet Emma Lisley who is this month’s Expat Story Of The Month on Londoner In Sydney. If you didn’t know, each month we share a story about moving to Australia!
When Emma moved to Melbourne with her then boyfriend in 2015 from Amersham in UK, she had no idea that she would end up falling in love with Australia.
Find out how she’s travelling around Australia and how she feels being away from family. Make sure you follow her expat adventures on her blog Emma Explored and via her Instagram @emmaexplored_.
Table of Contents
Why I Moved To Australia
I decided in a bit of a rush to move to Australia at the end of 2015. Within two months, I had scrambled everything together, but looking back on it, I wish I was more prepared money wise.
At the time, I moved to Melbourne with an ex-boyfriend *shudder*. We only lasted a few months and then I moved to the Whitsundays for work, explored the East Coast, and then did my farm work in Mildura.
From there I moved to Sydney and eventually settled in Adelaide for a few years with my current boyfriend. We left Adelaide in May 2020 and have been on the road travelling in our Nissan Micra, all over Australia (so I suppose I’m still deciding where I want to live, and that’s ok too!).
The Many Visas I’ve Been On
I started on the Working Holiday Visa and then got my second Working Holiday Visa after completing farm work. I then studied for a year and a half on a Student Visa, and now I’m currently on a Bridging Visa, waiting for the decision on my Partner Visa. At the time of writing, I’ve been waiting 21 months so hopefully a decision is made soon!
I have plenty of tips about finding farm work, doing proper research and the partner visa application process. Also with the student visa – it’s so so SO important to do proper research into your college; my college did not turn out to be what I expected, but that’s for another story!
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I think at the beginning my family felt apprehensive, but now they can see that it’s a totally different, and overall better life over here than in the UK, with things like wages, opportunities, and general lifestyle. Although I’ve only been back once to visit, I hope to go when the borders reopen.
Although I didn’t realise I was going to be away for so long, I sourced furniture from places like Gumtree and trusty Kmart which has kept me going over the years!
At the beginning it was a bit of a culture shock moving to Australia. I had lots of misconceptions about the country before I got here. I think I thought the whole place was a beach and not much in the way of cities, but I was wrong. Now I’ve been here for many years, the hardest part is being away from family. Whatsapp is a must for communications back home! I personally find that app much easier than Facebook chat.
I speak to family back home almost everyday. There’s nothing else that could help me personally. Homesickness in these current times in inevitable, but consistency in talking to my parents is key, it helps knowing they’re ok.
When I first landed in Melbourne, I really struggled to get work. In the end that contributed to my decision to head to the Whitsundays for hospitality work.
I worked in hospitality up until a couple of years ago when I switched to retail, and now we travel full time using a site called Workaway. If you’re unsure what Workaway is, it’s a cultural exchange for budget travellers so we work on people’s farms in exchange for free board.
As I’m an aspiring author, writing is something I fit around our Workaway jobs when I’m not working on my blog.
Working In Australia vs England
Working in hospitality is certainly different in England and Australia. Firstly, the pay in Australia far exceeds the pay back home. Unsurprisingly, even the amount of people attending the venues is far less in Australia than in Bristol for example. It’s not more relaxed in either hospitality or retail, but the main difference is the pay. At the time of writing, the minimum pay in Australia is $20.33.
Making Friends In Australia
I was actually not the best at making friends once I got here. But, putting myself out there as much as possible is definitely something I ended up doing. If there’s work functions or outings, I make sure I go on them. I didn’t do it at the beginning and I think I suffered for it.
If you’re struggling to make friends, join Facebook groups of like minded people. Get involved with sites like Workaway. Friends won’t necessarily find their way to you if you don’t put in the effort. But I promise they’re out there.
Feeling Settled In Australia
Because we’re currently moving around – settled isn’t the word I feel I can use about living in Australia. But I feel at home now, and I think that’s more accurate. I feel comfortable in Australia, I feel safe and I feel knowledgeable about the ins and outs.
If there’s one piece of advice I can offer, try and read and learn as much as you can about Australia. It will enrich your experience ten-fold.
The Hidden Costs Of Living In Australia
There are a few hidden costs in Australia, that were unexpected for me when I first moved here. For example, food is more expensive in Australia, especially eating out (apart from Dominoes?! Who knew?).
Alcohol is also extremely expensive in bottle shops and out and about. Apart from the wine which seems to be a bit cheaper!
I feel like when we paid rent that was fairly similar in price, especially in Adelaide. I couldn’t say the same for Sydney or Melbourne. I’ve found other items, books, furniture, electronics etc, they’re fairly on par with British prices. Flights are super expensive, even if you want to fly across the country in comparison to flights you can get in Europe.
If Only I Knew Before I Moved Here…
I wish I knew I would fall in love with Australia, then I would have prepared better! If you’re planning to only come for one year, be mentally and physically prepared to stay longer!
I wish I knew it was going to be harder to get a job at the start, so I would have come better prepared financially. I would recommend coming over with at least enough money to last six months without a job.
When I first got here, I thought I’d just be staying in Melbourne which obviously wasn’t the case. Try and see as much of Australia as possible, to help make more of an informed decision when you’re choosing where to live. I wish I knew about Darwin before we settled in Adelaide!
But most of all, I’m glad I made the move. Australia has enriched my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined!
A big thanks to Emma for sharing her expat story on Londoner In Sydney! If you would like to share yours, simply fill out this form!