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Activation trip feedback - Melbourne and Sydney


Lovestory
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Hi all,

We have just returned from a three week visa activation trip. Here are some observations, including pro's and con's as I am trying to be as objective and thorough as possible. Please note that these are my observations only. Even my hubby disagrees with me on some of them!

- We went in winter and froze! Especially in Melbourne. Sydney is far more temperate but even with temperatures matching those in Johannesburg, it feels colder, so wrap up if you go in winter.

- It was winter and school holidays, but there were many activities for the family. For example, fireworks on a Friday evening at Darling Harbour in Sydney, snow machines at Healesville Sanctuary in Melbourne. Really a lot of fun.

- Melbourne is such a liveable city and in fact constantly rates higher than Sydney in the liveability polls. I just could not handle the Melbourne weather. It is quite changeable and felt like a European winter to me. I know that time of year can really affect one's experience though. But friends tell me it is sometimes a couple of months of grey skies. They love that kind of weather so it suits them perfectly. They say that it's the summers in fact that are challenging due to very high temperatures.

- Everything is insanely expensive ($56 for 2 hours of parking in the city...) We all know this but it still hits hard. This is everything from food to accomodation to activities. For this reason, I would possibly avoid an LSD/activation trip if you can. So much can be googled. Of course it is great to really "see for yourself" but if you have made a decision, just go for it. There are so many different areas in each city and if you move to an area you don't like, you will most likely be renting to begin with anyway, so just move again.

- We are spoilt with some really good restaurants in SA. Melbourne is renowned for it's many foodie spots but I think you have to be a local to know where to go. Restaurant service in both Melbourne and Sydney was not good. Tipping is not the norm as wait staff get paid by the restaurant. On the upside, there are chocolatiers everywhere in Sydney and you can get great Lindt hot choc to go almost anywhere. In Melbourne, you would be hard-pressed to find bad coffee.

- Melbournians are just about the friendliest people I have ever come across.

- Sydneysiders, while not quite as friendly, are so helpful and always seem willing to go out of their way.

- I was not a fan of the cheese or mayonnaise, although you can buy Crosse and Blackwell in the SA aisle in Coles supermarket - at a serious premium!

- When travelling domestically, the flight from Sydney to a Melbourne on Qantas was great. We all got our own iPads for the duration of the flight and it was a comfortable short flight. We flew back to Sydney with Virgin Australia. The plane was dirty and the service was really not good.

- If you are shopping and cooking, Coles has many specials each week. Just look out for them and you can cook quite a reasonable meal despite the high prices in Australia.

- I was quite surprised to discover that leaving perfectly good leftover food in the fridge incurs a $250 cleaning fee as someone has to remove it. I guess in SA we are used to leaving groceries for whoever cleans as a kind gesture. It feels a little wasteful to me but I realize that it is not wrong, it's just different.

- We visited several friends in both cities and all said that they struggled to adjust initially. Some took months, others years. No-one said they would move back. It seems that adjusting to work culture is one of the biggest difficulties.

- Public transport is so efficient. Personally I feel that it is fine for the work commute but a car is a must. It is time-consuming and tiring to get around on public transport with small children and/or groceries!

- We hired a car for part of the time and used those days to explore suburbs, shops etc. It worked really well as there are parks everywhere for the kids, so not too tiring for them. For the rest, we used public transport. This is great in both cities but a car is a must for exploring suburbs and getting a real feel for the place. Car seats are about $11 extra per day. Seat lets for everyone is a must. $200 fine if anyone is caught without a seatbelt. If travelling with toddlers, cheap strollers from Kmart ($20) are recommended. You do a lot of walking!

- A friend of ours was warned she would receive a $200 fine for taking her 18 month old to the supermarket without shoes - the manager saw her on camera and came to speak to her - it's a health and safety issue. It makes senses I suppose but it's one thing you learn very quickly - there are many rules due to health and safety issues.

- Sydney has so many beautiful, accessible beaches and nature reserves.

- One really does feel safe. Even coming home at 11h30 at night on public transport and walking in the street to the train station feels safe.

- I would have loved to try out having a barbecue but didn't quite get there. On that note though, double check that where you are moving to allows open fires before you send over the Weber. They prefer gas and in some places do not allow fire at all. If you have one of those fancy gas heaters, also leave it behind or at least first check that it meets health and safety standards.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip and tried really hard to look for the positives and the negatives. What an experience landing in Sydney, getting the passports stamped and knowing we are now permanent residents.

That's all I have for now.. Hope it helps someone.

Lovestory

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You said friends had difficulty adjusting to the work culture, what exactly was it about the work culture that was difficult to adjust to?

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Thanks for sharing, doing our activation trip in September (Melbourne), with 6 and 1 year old. WILL PACK SHOES :closedeyes:

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Hahah good luck with that silly shoe rule in WA. Here I routinely go barefoot along with all the other locals. Topless too...rofl.

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Hahah good luck with that silly shoe rule in WA. Here I routinely go barefoot along with all the other locals. Topless too...rofl.

I quite miss WA and the whole boganness of the place :)

I used to go to the shop at 10 at night in my slippers... nobody batted an eye. I plan to do the same here in Melbourne because... well, stuff it!

Edited to add - if I could live anywhere in Australia (that is, if money/jobs for myself and partner was not a consideration), it would probably be either Brisbane (or the Sunshine/Gold coast), or Perth (or somewhere North/South of Perth). Unfortunately money and jobs are a concern... despite the climate, Melbourne is the best city for us to be in right now. The point I'm trying to make is, go where the best work situation is for you. Climate/lifestyle is important but it's nowhere near as important as being able to not only survive, but also thrive and hopefully get ahead.

Also, don't only focus on what you earn in your potential city, also consider what things cost. Big things, like properties. Sydney would provide a similar (maybe better?) work environment for myself and my partner, but the type of property we want (a newish/modern apartment near the city, with city and water views preferably) is completely out of our reach right now. Also, I think the Sydney work culture is similar to Joburg and that doesn't appeal to me at all.

Edited by Donovan83
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Not sure about that shoe rule. My kids hardly ever wear shoes. I now joke and say "Hey, its their African genes" and people just laugh. After two years of going into Bunnings barefoot, a staff member told us that " its probably not a good idea, as there could be something dangerous on the floor". Fare enough, they have a point. So dont sweat that story too much.

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Umm have you guys heard of Plantar's warts? They are contagious and picked up from floors in public places. Most often found in kids aged 12-16. After having a nice operation to get rid of the myself as a child, I would never let my kids go barefoot in shops. Here's a link ;)

http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/problems/medical/plantar-warts2.htm

Edited by Bronwyn&Co
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It is refreshing to see a country that not only has rules to protect the health of children, but also people who enforce these rules. I am a procedural/rules/structural type of person. I know some people don't always agree/like all of the rules but it is what keeps us safe and a country stable.

I don't agree with the fine though, a friendly warning could have been enough.

Thank you Lovestory, your post is very interesting and informative.

Food in the fridge is very strange - like you say, we are used to leaving food for the cleaning staff.

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I'm not sure that fine story is true... I've never heard of someone getting fined for being barefoot. There would be a huge fuss in the media if that happened.

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I'm not sure that fine story is true... I've never heard of someone getting fined for being barefoot. There would be a huge fuss in the media if that happened.

No I think that was a cleaning fee/fine for leaving food in the fridge when you check out of a place :)

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I'm not sure that fine story is true... I've never heard of someone getting fined for being barefoot. There would be a huge fuss in the media if that happened.

Yep I also doubt the fine for bare feet one. Another one that always gets people is the "you can't braai in Australia, you have to use gas". I would blerrie move home if that was the case.

Sure, you can't have an open fire when it's 40

Degrees and windy, but if you still want to braai in those conditions then you probably need your head read. :)

Despite us picking your stories apart, it's good to hear perspectives from new arrivals and visitors. We sometimes tend to forget all the emotions and surprises that come with being here for the first time.

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You said friends had difficulty adjusting to the work culture, what exactly was it about the work culture that was difficult to adjust to?

I am not sure exactly. My perception was that there was not much flexibility or creativity within work roles. It seems that very skilled people have to "tone down" their skills and stick with the job description only. I was also surprised by the long working hours, but perhaps that is job specific. I am sure people with actual work experience in Australia will be far more informative and eloquent on this one?

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Despite us picking your stories apart, it's good to hear perspectives from new arrivals and visitors. We sometimes tend to forget all the emotions and surprises that come with being here for the first time.

That is comforting, thanks HansaPlease. In time, we will adjust and all that seems new or overwhelming will be totally normal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for sharing, doing our activation trip in September (Melbourne), with 6 and 1 year old. WILL PACK SHOES :closedeyes:

Hey Mel.

What date are you departing?

I leave Jhb for Melbourne on 1 Sep :D

Regards

Itai

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Hey Mel.

What date are you departing?

I leave Jhb for Melbourne on 1 Sep :D

Regards

Itai

Spring Day. That's ironic ?

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Hey Mel.

What date are you departing?

I leave Jhb for Melbourne on 1 Sep :D

Regards

Itai

Hi Itai, were flying on 6 Sept. SO EXCITED. Visiting for a week :)

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Hi Itai, were flying on 6 Sept. SO EXCITED. Visiting for a week :)

Awesome. Too bad we're not on the same day, could've said Hi ;)

My activation trip is 1 year long :P

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What a great adventure! :king:

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