Our Australian adventure

I never really considered a move to Australia before but one fateful evening I saw a webinar being advertised from Healthcare Abroad to discuss the benefits of working as an OT in either Australia or New Zealand. In January 2022, I sat through the webinar and began to re-evaluate my goals and future. As I have two young children (7 and 2) this was not a decision I took lightly and knew I had to do my research. I emailed Rosie who was very knowledgeable and supported me through the whole registration process. I decided to register via the New Zealand route because for the longest time I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to move to New Zealand or Australia and applying via the OTBNZ kept my options open. Eventually we decided to move to Newcastle in New South Wales. My cousin and his fiancé live in Newcastle, and we felt that having local knowledge (and babysitters) would be invaluable.

We have been in Newcastle since February and are so glad that we chose to settle here! We are still close enough to Sydney that we can do all the touristy things and family can visit but don’t have the same high cost of living or busy city traffic to contend with.

We have so many things to do here as a family. We have been to a sting ray and shark rescue centre, a beautiful beach, a koala sanctuary, to another beautiful beach, to a steam train festival, to another beautiful beach, to nature reserves, to another beautiful beach, to a shipwreck and, of course, some more beautiful beaches. There are still so many more places that we are looking forward to exploring, including the Hunter Valley and Nelson Bay. In the future we also plan on travelling a bit further afield to appreciate all that Australia has to offer. We are really enjoying all the things that the Aussie lifestyle is famous for such as spending more time outdoors, friendly locals and people, in general, being much more laid back.

If it is a consideration for you, the stereotypes of seeing a sharks, huntsman or snake round every corner isn’t what the media portrays. We have come across a few stick insects, lots of crickets and a few non-scary spiders. Instead, we love the variety of wildlife and still get excited by seeing a cockatoo or Kookaburra on our fence and parrots and lorikeets flying overhead. When we have been at the beach or along the coast we have seen plenty of dolphins and whales from afar and will likely go on one of the many boat tours available to see these beautiful creatures up close.

Although there have been some challenges (expected in a move across the world!) we have found so many benefits to living in Australia, especially with young children. Besides being able to spend more time outdoors, we feel that there is a lot of local resources. It was recently the school holidays and the local libraries had free activities on offer nearly every day. My children were able to attend Lego robotics, an artist workshop, tree planting activities, craft workshops and story time activities at no cost. Newcastle also has a toy library where you can borrow 3 toys per child and then return them after 3 weeks for a small yearly fee. As we came to Australia with just what we could fit in our suitcases, the toy library has been an amazing resource. Days out with the family are generally cheaper and being able to explore outside parks, playgrounds and beaches is free and priceless!

Although my visa expires in 2025, I don’t envisage it being difficult to extend and then apply for Permanent Residency. The advantage of a temporary skills shortage visa is being able to get out to the country and work quickly. Occupational Therapists are in high demand out here and there are plenty of employment opportunities. The role is highly valued in Australia and central to a lot of services, much more so than in the UK. I was also fortunate that the company that I work for paid for mine and my families visas. Our lives feel greatly improved living here, however the pull of family and friends back in the U.K is a huge consideration for us. For now, we enjoy each day as it comes but the amazing quality of life that we have here will certainly make our Australian life here hard to top.

3 top considerations when moving to Newcastle, Australia.

1)Finding somewhere to live

The rental market is extremely competitive, especially inner city, and we had viewed so many properties. Eventually we decided to offer more than the asking price because we didn’t want to keep extending our Airbnb. However, once we did find somewhere to live and moved into our new home, life became much easier and more settled.

2) Cars

Everything is much more spread out in Australia and so a car is essential for getting around. So a car was something we needed fairly immediately after arriving here. The second-hand car market is costly and so this was a big expense for us. We thought that we would be able to sell our cars in the U.K and buy similar cars in Australia for similar costs. Unfortunately, this was not the case! However, we did find that because most people in Australia drive automatic cars, if we purchased a manual car then this would save us a bit of money. Although cars are expensive, we have found things like petrol to be much cheaper than in the U.K and the large shopping centres don’t tend to charge for parking.

3) Schools

Another consideration for us was the schooling for our daughter. As we are on temporary visas, New South Wales charge us for public education which is a significant expense. However, we realised that paying for the local private Catholic school actually worked out cheaper than the public. So my advise to anyone with children moving to NSW is to consider the cost of education, and look around at the private schools as well. Different states have different rules, and I don’t think all states charge for education.

Overall, we are absolutely loving our experience in Australia. Whether this is a 2 year move or a permanent one we are so grateful to have had the opportunity.

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