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Our surprise Sydney journey


Tntaglia

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Thanks for the updates - sounds like you're doing so well!

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Thank you for sharing your experiences.  We are expecting to leave SA at the end of June, just waiting for our visas to be approved now. How is life in Sydney? Is it really as expensive as what people say? Also, what was your deposit when you rented?

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Tntaglia
On 4/18/2018 at 3:49 AM, Nats said:

Thank you for sharing your experiences.  We are expecting to leave SA at the end of June, just waiting for our visas to be approved now. How is life in Sydney? Is it really as expensive as what people say? Also, what was your deposit when you rented?

Honestly I think the expenses are not that different from SA - groceries, etc. The biggest differences are accommodation and eating out, both of those are MUCH more expensive. But at least with accommodation you have some control over it, you can choose to stay in a smaller place and/or have a longer commute to manage the costs. And of course eating out is pretty much always a choice, we have scarcely eaten out since getting here. 

 

For the rental our deposit was exactly 4 weeks' rent, I think that's pretty standard. We also offered when we applied for the property to pay 3 months rental upfront but the landlord was OK with standard payments. 

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Tntaglia

190 Visa granted today!!! 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Tntaglia

It's about time for another update. We've been here for 7 weeks now - time flies when you're having fun! Or if you're working really hard and feeling a bit overwhelmed at times...

 

All in all it's going really well. We really can't complain much. We really like our rental, right on our budget in the area we wanted, and slightly bigger than we thought we were going to get. I think the real estate market really is slowing down - I read articles about houses taking a while to sell, and there wasn't much interest in rentals when we were looking. That may be good news given that we'd like to buy at some point in the not too distant future.

 

Work-wise I am busier than I've been in a long long time, but enjoying it. I'm often away from home for about 11 hours (8am to 7pm) and by the weekend I'm pretty exhausted. It's just a new routine to get used to, this isn't something that will change soon - although I may be able to work from home occasionally. The kids started school on 1 May, they are thrilled to finally have some friends and routine etc - they had been out of school since December last year, so it was a loooong time. Curriculum-wise they are absolutely fine, both wrote a test on day one and said it was really easy. So at least that's one less thing to worry about. My husband is not yet working, we had originally said he should wait at least 3 months before looking for work, so that we can settle in with one person still at home. He is putting out some feelers so long, we'll see what happens.

 

Our container is in Sydney, but no news since the confirmation that it landed safely 10 days ago. I contacted the company today to ask for an update, no response yet. Hopefully everything is chugging along and we'll soon hear that it's cleared, I REALLY want to have proper furniture and appliances and clothes! Most of our winter clothes is in the container, if we don't get it in the next 2 weeks or so I may have to go shopping.

 

Oh and of course the bathroom scale is also in the container. Eek. That's gonna be some bad news I think, and I'll be fresh out of excuses...

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CharlesH
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The kids started school on 1 May, they are thrilled to finally have some friends and routine etc - they had been out of school since December last year, so it was a loooong time. 

May I ask why so long?   

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Tntaglia
On 5/12/2018 at 8:33 PM, CharlesH said:

May I ask why so long?   

We knew in December that the visa approval was imminent - if we sent them back to their expensive private school in January we would have incurred school fees for the first term. So we opted to not send them back in the hope that we would be in Australia within a few months. And then when we got here we had to find a rental first, because you need a contract to be admitted to a public school, and after that was done we needed to get authority to enrol (because we were on 457 visa) and that took a couple of weeks. 

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Tntaglia

I'm writing this at my dining room table sitting on a comfortable chair... Yes! Our container is finally here! It was packed on 7-8 March, arrived in Sydney 28 April, cleared customs last week Friday (11 May) and delivered yesterday (17 May) - but that last bit was our choice, my hubby had a job interview Wednesday and wanted to get that over with before the chaos starts. It is simply amazing to have all our familiar stuff with us - thanks @SimpleSimon for pushing the idea of familiarity bringing comfort. It is so so true.

 

I was actually fairly philosophical yesterday while unpacking the kitchen. We were obviously very excited to have our things, but it's actually been the pretty worthless but special objects that have really made a difference. I was getting a bit teary when I unpacked my grandma's salad bowl - we almost never use it, it's not a style that fits with our things and it's huge, but it was just wonderful to have it here. The best way I can describe it is to say it grounds me, I feel like the things that define who I am are around me know. The first oven dish I ever bought for myself is in my kitchen, the bed that was in the farmhouse where hubby's dad grew up is now in my daughter's room. I was practically excited for things that I want to use (my computer, a toaster, a kettle that boils quickly) and yet I haven't switched my computer on yet (this is my work laptop) and forgot to make toast for breakfast this morning! I am really so happy to be surrounded by familiar things. 

 

So for anyone still wondering if it's worth bringing stuff - it absolutely is. You don't have to bring the big things, but take a small movecube and bring the stuff that reminds you who you are. I didn't think I would need reminding, but I have the biggest smile ever right now.

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TamTam

I totally agree with you on this!

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SimpleSimon

It’s a great way to start your adventure in your new country. As you become more comfortable in your surroundings so you’ll slow,y start to replace stuff from your new home. Our South African stuff now occupies about 10 storage boxes and most of that is books and an old dinner service.

 

Now we’re trying to trim down and it’s the possessions we’ve bought in Australia that is the hardest to throw out. All the memories.

 

@Tntaglia The hard part of your adventure starts now you’ve achieved your urgent and immediate goals. For the next 3 - 5 years you will be torn between 2 countries and not comfortable in either. “Vasbyt”, you will come out the other side happier than you thought possible. In the meantime you will be so busy (in a good way) you won’t notice the time fly past. Contact me if you need someone to talk to it through.

 

In the meantime, record your adventure and share it with your South African friends. I used to post out a newsletter each month. I  also took lots of photos and videos. Now we have Facebook. These memories are very precious to us now.

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ChrisH
4 hours ago, SimpleSimon said:

For the next 3 - 5 years you will be torn between 2 countries and not comfortable in either. “Vasbyt”, you will come out the other side happier than you thought possible.

 

Comment of the week!  

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Fidjet
On 5/18/2018 at 5:55 PM, Tntaglia said:

I was getting a bit teary when I unpacked my grandma's salad bowl - we almost never use it, it's not a style that fits with our things and it's huge, but it was just wonderful to have it here. The best way I can describe it is to say it grounds me,

maybe it should be a new fruit bowl or something?

 

Glad your container arrived there save and sound, ours was packed on the 14th (finally) and left to Durban, so our weight is just starting. 

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  • 1 month later...
Tntaglia

We are almost 4 months in - time is really flying by!

 

My parents were here for the last 10 days, their first visit to Oz and our first international visitors. They have absolutely no plans to move here at all, but were very impressed with the city and how well everything works etc. It was good to see some familiar faces!

 

My kids have now survived their first term at school in Sydney, and it is going pretty well. Older one didn't get a brilliant report card, but we know she has anxiety at tests so no real surprise that she didn't show what she can do with maths. The younger one is flying academically. They are making friends, slowly but still. My older one is at a holiday playdate at the moment, she has always been really good at making friends and she is already pretty popular at school. The little one struggles more, she's incredibly extroverted but socially awkward so she finds it hard to make close friends. It was hard for us to take her away from the friends that she had in Johannesburg! But then I had a glimmer of hope last week: I am on a Facebook group for moms in our area, and one mom posted anonymously that her 8 year old is finding it hard to make friends at school. I suggested that she can get in touch with me if her girl wants another 8yo to hang out with, and it turns out the kid is in my kids' school, just in a different class. So we've arranged a playdate for the two 8 year olds tomorrow, hopefully they can fill each other's need for friends. Plus they live about 400m down the road from us so super bonus. The kids also started surfing lessons (!!!) this week - they've been asking to learn to surf since we told them about the Sydney move, so now we're making good on that promise. They absolutely loved it, even in the freezing cold weather, and my 11yo managed to stand up on the surfboard without help pretty quickly. 

 

Work-wise I am settling in well. The first few weeks were really hard, I am not used yet to the Australian way of gently suggesting things so it was hard to get a grip on exactly what is expected of me. But I'm learning and in the last week or so it finally feels like I'm starting to find my feet. The last 2 mornings I've been taking the ferry in to work (drove with the kids to Manly for surfing lessons, so I could catch the ferry from there) and now I just want to move house so I can do that every day. 

 

My husband will start looking for a job in the next few weeks, it will make things easier and harder I guess. For now it's been so great that he can fetch the kids after school every day and the 3 of them manage to keep the house pretty neat etc. I think if we both work full time a lot is going to have to change, but hopefully we can afford then to put the kids in after-school care at least, and to sometimes get take-aways for dinner rather than cooking from scratch every night! We keep saying that we miss our domestic worker from SA more than anyone else, the struggle with housework is real. Oh and we've all had colds pretty much non-stop over the last month, I've been least affected but the kids barely go more than a week between bouts of the sniffles. So that warning about having to redevelop your immune system in a new country turned out to be true. 

 

We have also booked our first camping trip for 2 weeks from now, crazy, in the middle of winter. But it's less than an hour drive from home so if it really sucks we can pack up and come home :) The kids love camping sooooo much (and who am I kidding, so do hubby and I) so we didn't want to delay much longer. It's been our main way of holidaying for forever. 

 

The kids asked me last night if I love Australia and honestly my answer is "not yet". I definitely like it but it doesn't feel like home yet - so @SimpleSimon is right, it's going to take a while to feel totally comfortable. In the meantime I really can't complain, and hopefully it will continue to be a slow but steady settling in. 

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SimpleSimon

@Tntaglia I was wondering how you are going. Good to read about your adventures. It looks like you’re enjoying some of the best Sydney has to offer. Camping at Wisemans Ferry and then up the Central and North coast is good fun.

 

We made good friends with parents of kids at the primary school. We’re still friends with some 20 years later. You have to work at it a bit. Best way is to have a big party for your kids birthday. The parents come over and stay for coffee. Then your kids get invited to other kids parties and the social group opens up. You find then that you bump into parents in shopping centres and it all feels much better.

 

You have to give before you receive. Key mistakes I’ve seen ex-South Africans make is 2-fold. When we first arrive people are interested in us and invite us around for meals. However to continue the relationship we have to reciprocate otherwise the invitations dry up quite quickly. As part of this we are fresh from all the issues that South Africa faces. So we happily educate everyone around us about the social economic situation. However, we forget to ask Those listening about themselves and their experiences.

 

I think it took me 3 years to work this all out and after that our social life improved dramatically.

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  • 2 months later...

Today is 6 months since we left SA - that went really quick!

 

Work is going really well, I finally feel like I'm finding my feet and I understand what is expected of me, plus I'm working on the type of project that I came here to do which is really exciting. I like my colleagues, I enjoy the city, the commute is longer than I'd like but other than that I can't really complain work-wise.

 

I was in SA last week on a work trip, which was a nice bonus! Really super weird experience being in Johannesburg and not living there anymore - I felt really uprooted which was emotional and hard, but at the same time it was wonderful having a chance to see my friends again. I ate some familiar food, walked around in familiar places, shopped for clothes in shops where I understand the sizing (!!) and then was super glad to come home. I'm glad I went on my own because it confirmed the feeling that home is in Sydney, it may have been harder if I had been there with my family. I have definitely relaxed in terms of protecting my belongings in public, so I had to keep reminding myself to hold my handbag firmly and be aware of my surroundings - I was never in any danger at all that I was aware of, but it did remind me how much safer it feels in Australia. Ironically my colleague who came on the trip with me went to dinner in Parktown North and there was a drive-by shooting next to the restaurant so he got some exposure to Jozi danger.

 

My husband is busy negotiating a job offer at a non-profit that he's really excited about, he's been volunteering for them since last month so hopefully it can turn into paid work by October. That will also make a big difference, not just having two salaries but for him to do something meaningful again will be awesome.

 

My kids are super happy, they've adapted really well to all the changes and the older one (11) is getting really used to taking public transport on her own. On Tuesdays she has art lessons in St Ives and she goes alone straight from school, train and then bus, 1.5 hours art lesson and then she reverses the trip and comes home. It's still a bit nerve-wracking for me watching her be so independent, but the rational part of my brain is very excited. The kids walk to school most mornings, we live in the woods (Turramurra) so there are cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets etc. along the way, which never ceases to be amazing. The younger girl is in the final of the school speech competition tomorrow, so I'll be working from home for the first time so that I can go see her. They are adapting really well at school, making good friends and enjoying what they're learning. No accent changes yet!

 

We are slowly making friends, from church and work and the kids' school. Overall I've found Australians to be really generous people and easy to get along with - making deep friendships will obviously take time but I'm hopeful. 

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Hi there

Funny enough I was just thinking about you yesterday and how things were coming along for you.  Am so glad that you all have steeled in so nicely....more especially the kids.

Cannot believe you have been there for half the year already!  Shew time flies....and don't I know it.  We have just about 97 days before we fly out to Aus.  So much is happening and all at once...and strangely enough, I am feeling no emotion....hubby is very emotional, sometimes teary....but not me!  Am sure this is not normal and I'm beginning to wonder if this is healthy or not psychologically....

Anywhoo, all the best and hope your hubby gets his permanent paid job soon.

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  • 3 weeks later...
CtrlAltAustralia

Hi,

 

Just read from post one, till the end - all I can say is WOW and thank you - the unknown is a lot less now.

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On 9/20/2018 at 4:31 PM, March2 said:

Hi there

Funny enough I was just thinking about you yesterday and how things were coming along for you.  Am so glad that you all have steeled in so nicely....more especially the kids.

Cannot believe you have been there for half the year already!  Shew time flies....and don't I know it.  We have just about 97 days before we fly out to Aus.  So much is happening and all at once...and strangely enough, I am feeling no emotion....hubby is very emotional, sometimes teary....but not me!  Am sure this is not normal and I'm beginning to wonder if this is healthy or not psychologically....

Anywhoo, all the best and hope your hubby gets his permanent paid job soon.

To be honest I was the same. Pretty much no tears in that last few months - I felt like circumstances were just sweeping me along and emotions almost didn't apply. 

So you're getting here end of December, am I counting right? 

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13 hours ago, Tntaglia said:

To be honest I was the same. Pretty much no tears in that last few months - I felt like circumstances were just sweeping me along and emotions almost didn't apply. 

So you're getting here end of December, am I counting right? 

Hi there....we leave on the 27 December....so many mixed emotions

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 10/16/2018 at 11:52 PM, March2 said:

Hi there....we leave on the 27 December....so many mixed emotions

Getting close now... how are things with your son? I remember he was hesitant on the move?

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@Tntaglia yes. 6,5 weeks left.  Son and girlfriend have split.  She decided that she couldn’t do the long distance relationship even though we discussed that my son will come to South Africa after 6 months to visit and that we’d pay for her to come visit also.  We are just giving him his space for now and just supporting him as best as we can.  He’s obviously not very pleasant to be around sometimes but we totally understand that.  Maybe things will work out for them eventually. Otherwise we are going well.  Lots of family inviting us over and get togethers.

How’s everything going with you?

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Doing well thanks! Super busy at work at the moment, which is good (I hate when I have to be at work without enough to keep me busy!) and preparing for Christmas when family is visiting. Can't wait!

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  • 3 months later...
Tntaglia

We're almost a year in - just 2 more weeks. What a whirlwind.

 

Looking back it was probably the hardest year we've ever had, on many many levels. The lack of support system, uncertainty about what the future holds, new job and country and schools and house and everything. But we're here, and life is really good right now. It's interesting what the lack of support did to us as a family - we are definitely all closer than we've ever been before, because we've had to rely on each other where in the past our friends and family would have picked up some of the support roles. We have made wonderful new friends, ex-Saffas and Ozzies and a bunch of other immigrants. We really like our church and the kids are much more involved in the church ministry than they've been in the past. The kids' school is great (public school), they've made great friends and are doing extramurals that were not an option in SA - my youngest plays the french horn in the school band, my oldest does diving and art lessons, we take them kayaking on the Lane Cove river on the weekends... we really can't complain. I only wish we came earlier.

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