Want to know how much it costs on moving to Australia with the defacto partner visa? Our guest post this week is from British expat Emma Edwards, from the brilliant The Broke Generation blog.
If you’ve not heard of Emma’s blog, you should; it’s not only relatable but she offers up excellent finance advice for the millennial generation.
In this post you’ll find out how Emma met her Aussie partner and how much it cost them to move from England to Melbourne.
Since I met my Australian boyfriend in London through friends, I’ve often joked that the dating potential in the UK must have been pretty bleak if I had to start looking at international options. I usually use this self-mockery to diffuse a conversation that’s escalating too far into the logistics of how having an international relationship really works.
As a finance blogger, I’m love talking about money. I’m an advocate for young people buckling down and accepting that life is expensive, but one huge expense of mine that I really struggle to get past is how much money my partner and I spent to simply be together.
So, how much does it really cost to move to Australia for love?
Well, let’s start at the beginning.
We met in 2013, both living in London, and after finally getting over our mutual awkwardness, we got together nine days shy of his pre-booked departure. I know, *eye roll*.
It was here that the most expensive relationship of my life began.
The long distance flights to Australia
With nine days to decide whether it was worth attempting to keep a relationship alive from two sides of the globe, we stepped on the accelerator of our relationship and got pretty serious pretty fast. Cramming in date nights at ritzy restaurants, exploring London together, having heavy conversations – we decided it was worth a shot.
Nine days later, we found ourselves in a long distance relationship. Over the next 18 months we would collectively fly almost 150,000 miles back and forth to visit one another.
When you’re cramming your entire relationship into a 2-3 week holiday, you definitely indulge – I will admit we did live like the king and queen of Norway on our visits. All our date nights came at once, all our gifts to one another came at once, any chance to have a special occasion together came at once.
The flights alone cost over $12,000 to keep the relationship going, before you even add on the meals, events and any travel.
Proof of financial capacity
18 months later, I booked a flight to Melbourne with a return date in seven months, to try sharing a postcode for the first time.
To be allowed into the country, I had to have evidence of having $5000 in my bank account. Granted, they didn’t actually check at the border, but I wasn’t going to risk breaking the conditions of my visa before I even got there.
You do get to keep this money, so it wasn’t exactly an expense. But it was still a hefty amount to have sitting in a bank account, on top of the flights and upfront rent costs you’ve already forked out.
Re-buying your life in Australia
Moving to Australia when you already live a mostly independent life is nothing short of expensive. You simply can’t ship your pots and pans, furniture, bedding, lamps, books, and extensive collection of clothes and shoes overseas. Baggage fees are just too expensive.
So once you’ve got rid of everything you already owned or moved it back into a parent’s house, you end up repurchasing everything you already own – but in another country. With the majority of rental properties offered unfurnished in Melbourne, it was a costly exercise, even with frugal options like scoring a couch from a roadside and a fridge from the previous tenant.
Replenishing your wardrobe for a new country doesn’t come cheap either – especially when style is part of your identity. I found myself buying new clothes to make me feel more at home, if that makes any sense at all.
Visiting family back home in England
Moving to Australia for a relationship that’s never actually existed in the real world is scary. Really f’ing scary. Your friends and family think you’re mental, and they don’t keep that to themselves, either. In fairness, moving 11,000 miles across the world for a boy I’ve spent a total of about 90 days with over 18 months does sound rather ridiculous – but I was going with my gut.
The uncertainty around whether we’d survive in the real world meant I had a return flight booked when I first went to live in Melbourne, *just in case. My Mum also lives alone, so I’ve always tried to promise myself I’ll never leave it more than 12 months between visits home.
On top of that, I’m at the age where my friends are getting married, and missing out on my best friends’ weddings just wasn’t something I was okay with. Flights in the peak of British summer aren’t cheap, so throughout our five year relationship, flights to see friends and family have so far come in at about $11,500 – even taking the cheapest airlines and copping the hit of a double layover and 30 hour trip.
Add on the wedding gifts, accommodation costs and cramming years worth of catch ups with friends and family into a few short weeks, I’d estimate a total of over $15,000 just on visits.
The dreaded Australian spouse visa
And then comes the big one. The Australian defacto partner visa. We paid $7000 back in 2016 (it actually costs more now, see here for more details) for the actual visa fee itself.
On top of that we had to pay for multiple police checks, health checks, bridging visa fees (if you want to leave the country while your visa is processing), printing, passport renewals, certifications, and everything in between.
Aside from being laborious in terms of emotions and admin, it was expensive, too. I’d estimate the whole thing from application to receipt of permanent residency cost about $10,000 – and the citizenship costs are still to come!
Pricing this relationship up at around an eye-watering $50,000 is certainly confronting, but it does illustrate just how expensive it is to be in an international relationship – especially when your home countries are as far apart as the UK and Australia.
Of course, there would be ways to cut these costs down if you wanted to do things on more of a budget, but that’s very easy to say in hindsight.
In the moment, I’d have done anything and everything to make the relationship work despite the distance. Luckily it did, but it came at a price!
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