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Our Australian Escapade


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After reading other people’s journals over the last few years I guess the time has come to write my own journal entry as we are less than 2 months away from moving to Melbourne on 189 visas.


My family and I currently live in Dubai. My wife and I have lived here for almost 11 years and both of our kids were born here. Over the years we have become so accustomed to living without fear of crime. People leave their handbags in their trolleys in supermarkets, leave their cars running when they pop into a shop to keep the AC running etc. When we hear a noise at night it the last thing we think of is someone breaking in. This carefree lifestyle is exactly what we want our children to experience growing up. We had always toyed with the idea of moving to another country and in October 2016 I got hold of an agent and started looking at our options.


I am a quantity surveyor, however I studied a different degree at university so my case wasn’t very clean-cut. This is the reason that we ended up using an agent for the entire visa process. The 2 best options that the agent recommended were a 190 visa for Queensland as a construction estimator and a 189 visa as a quantity surveyor. While we were busy collecting all of the initial documents I received the bad news that Queensland had taken construction estimator off their 190 skills list. This meant that the only chance we had of getting a visa was the 189 which meant that a positive skills assessment was crucial. I did the IELTS Academic in November 2016 (still don’t know why I didn’t do the General) and my score wasn’t enough for 20 points (9/9/8/7), however it was enough to submit a skills assessment. Our agent sent our documentation off to AIQS for the skills assessment in December 2016. She warned me that it could take a few months to get a reply due to the time of year. She also warned me that AIQS are notoriously quite strict and getting a positive skills assessment for a degree that wasn’t for QS might be tough.  Literally less than a week later I received an email to say that I had received a positive skills assessment. My wife was already in Cape Town with our daughter on holiday and I called her to tell her the news. She burst into tears and that was the moment that I always look back on when I knew that she was as committed to the move as I was. Up until then she was always interested but I was not entirely convinced. That phone call changed everything. I joined her in CT for Christmas and only got around to attempting IELTS again in February 2017 (General this time). The marks came back and I was short again (9/9/9/7.5). I paid for a remark which was unsuccessful so I turned my attention to Pearson PTE and did the test in March 2017. Luckily in Dubai the centre is open six days a week with two tests per day so I could do the test immediately. I ended up getting straight 90s and suddenly we had enough points to lodge the expression of interest. The EOI was submitted in the middle of March 2017 and by the end of March we had received an invite.


Our agent recommended that we submit the final application ‘decision ready’ meaning that every single document that is required is submitted with the application. We did our medical and by the end of April 2017 the final application had been lodged for a 189 visa (quantity surveyor) with 65 points (60 was the minimum back then). I signed up to Myimmitracker and visited the site multiple times a day. Visas had started drying up and everyone was talking about waiting until July when the new quota came into play. Halfway through June 2017 we received an email from our agent stating that the case officer was requesting a correct police clearance for my wife. The police officer who did the certificate in SA had written the date on the day it was issued as my wife’s birth date! The courier service missed it, the agent missed it and so did we. This was incredibly frustrating as we would have been granted the visas. We managed to get a new police clearance within 24 hours and it was loaded onto the system. The wait continued. We had booked flights to Australia to activate our visas (big mistake, I know) and when they hadn’t come through a few days before we were due to leave we ended up changing our flights to Hong Kong. There aren’t many last minute holiday options with a South African passport! At least my daughter got to experience Disney Land and Ocean Park. We also went to Macau for a few days. On 1 September 2017 (I will always remember the day) we were in the desert having a breakfast braai with some friends around one of the man-made lakes. I had left my phone in the car. I went to check it and one stage and I had emails, missed calls etc. I opened the first email and it was from our agent.




We were so excited but also relieved. Four months of daily checking of Myimmitracker, reading forums etc. and all of that was behind us in an instant. We had been keeping a bottle of champagne in anticipation of the visa grant and we eventually opened it that night. We had no intention of moving to Australia immediately as we were (and still are) extremely happy with our lives in Dubai. We had up to early April to enter the country and we booked our flights for March 2018. We ended up going to Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. We arrived in Melbourne on a Friday morning in late March 2018. Quite strange setting foot on Australian soil for the first time as permanent residents. The jet lag was terrible and it took a few days to recover. We went to the aquarium, watched the Hawks beat Collingwood at the G, went up the Eureka tower etc. We really loved the place but we were only there for a few days and flew to Sydney on Tuesday morning. We did the big bus, went to Manly for lunch, saw the opera house, went to the zoo and the wildlife park near Darling Harbour, went to the Newport for dinner (we were staying in the Northern Beaches). Sydney was incredible and definitely has the most to offer for a tourist. We flew to Perth on the Friday to stay with my wife’s cousin who had moved to Perth about 20 years ago with her family. It was Easter weekend so the family were all free to show us around. Kings Park was stunning. We spent the full week there doing site seeing and spending time with the family. We absolutely loved the holiday and when we got back to Dubai we knew that once my son was born (my wife was pregnant on the trip) we would have to start the entire visa process again but luckily just a 101 visa. My son was born at the end of June 2018 and we immediately began the process of applying his Australian visa. The official website at the time said that the visa could take up to 11 months. We submitted the visa application in the middle of September 2018 and within a month the visa had been granted. We have until September 2019 to activate the visa.


Fast-forward to today and we are busy finalizing the move. I have managed to get an internal transfer with my company to the Melbourne office which I am very grateful for. I start at the beginning of August so we are looking at going over towards the end of July so that I have a week to settle before starting work. We still need to sell our cars as well as furniture that we aren’t taking, ship the remaining furniture, finalise the dog relocation and close out all of our admin in Dubai. We are moving to Melbourne as we have quite a few friends who live there and my wife’s sister and her family moved to Geelong a few months ago.


It’s about 8 weeks until we make the move and we cannot wait. The only problem is that we haven’t had a winter in about 6 years and Melbourne will be freezing!

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Hi Hunts

Congrats on the visa and transfer, and all the best with the upcoming move.

We spent 17 years in Dubai and our son was also born there. We loved the first few winters here, it was a relief and a novelty. We're in Perth, which isn't really that cold, but the teenager reckons he is fully acclimatised now, and begged for an electric blanket this year! 

Good luck closing all your admin in Dubai - it'll be a huge relief not to have to deal with the inordinate amount of red tape you find in the Middle East. 

Enjoy the last few weeks and let us know how you settle in.



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  • 1 month later...

So in exactly 12 days we will be at the airport about to board a flight to Melbourne and start the next chapter of our lives! We still have quite a bit of admin to do but should have enough time to complete it all. Part of me wants to just enjoy the last bit of time that we have in Dubai as it has been our home for so long but another part of me wants us to be siting on that plane knowing that all of the (UAE) admin is behind us. It still doesn't feel real that we are leaving next week. Friends of ours, also from SA, are on the same flight as us as they received their 489 visas for NSW Southern Inland a few months ago so it will be nice for all of us to be closing our Dubai chapter at the same time. The 13.5 hour flight will be interesting with a 1-year-old boy who doesn't like to sit still and is too big for a bassinet.


We arrive on Saturday morning (20 July) and will drive a rental car down to Geelong to stay with my sister-in-law and her family for a couple of nights and then head back to Melbourne. My company has luckily put us up in a hotel apartment in the CBD for 2 weeks. We will have to hit the ground running when we get to Melbourne in order to find a rental house that will accommodate our dog. At this stage we are thinking either the Williamstown/Newport area or the Watsonia/Greensborough area however we need to first see the areas in person before deciding on our final choice.

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Best wishes for the days ahead. I can only imagine how you feel, so close yet so far at the same time. Am still 6 months out and already feel like landing on the other side and starting the new life.

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