Since moving to Sydney three weeks ago, I have made a momentous amount of idiot abroad errors mainly relating to flats, jobs and my stuff. Despite now finally securing a roof over my head and a legal source of income, my bank account has taken unnecessary explosions and I have wasted an embarrassing amount of time doing things in the wrong order. I feel it is only important to share, so I can laugh at myself and warn others not to do the same. If you are thinking about moving to Australia, listen up.
Being a very conscientious female, I somehow had it set in my head that I was going to arrive in the country with a job, a flat and a big fat WELCOME MEGAN sign. The 6 weeks prior to my departure (where yes, I continuously milked the whole leaving situation), I applied to over 200 jobs on LinkedIn. I have a CV for every industry, and a bag of cover letters, that are most likely sitting in 200 junk mail inboxes. Learning number 1, employers will instantly delete your application if your postcode/number is not from Australia. Who in their right mind is going to give some random Scottish girl who is coming to the continent in 3 weeks a well-paid sponsored job? No one. In fact, they will delete your application the minute they see the +44, and forever more NOT open any mail from you. You are that red flagged foreigner, who HR will roll their eyes and laugh at. In hindsight I wish I had just waited until I was over boarder control before even looking at jobs as now I am junk mailed for life from most good advertising agencies in Australia. I am sorry MC&Saatchi and most of WPP, I didn’t know the vibe.
Having clocked onto this lack of local postcode theme in my rejections, I then embarked upon mission get a flat before I get off the plane. Learning number 2, you cannot secure a flat legally unless you have personally viewed it. I spent a good part of 2 weeks trolling through Real Estate sites, flat shares, and trying to convince people on the ground to go and view on behalf and Whatsapp some pics over. Shout out to Nic, Sophia and David, who viewed flats for me having never met me, which of course was never going to work (I still owe you all wine). Once accepting I was not going to get a flat, in the 2 days prior to the flight I turned to Airbnb. By this point sadly it was too late, and a tiny grotty one bed was around £90 a night. I was lucky enough to have a good school friend offer up her sofa bed, otherwise it was hostel life. If you know you are going for good, book an AirBnB WELL in advance.
With no flat and no job, I headed to the airport, with too many bags. I don’t know why I thought that I could trick the system and bring 35kgs with me to Edinburgh airport when the limit was clearly 30kgs. Mistake number 3, don’t bring toiletries, jumpers or Timberlands to Australia. It was an all-time low of 2017 when I had to open up my suitcase infront of the whole queue at the airport, with thongs and bras pouring onto the floor, to then decide what was worth paying £100 per kilo for. I decided not to dish out £500 for my extra stuff purely because I did not have a spare £500. If anyone wants my hair oil, shampoo, Timberlands, or fleeces, they are in a bag at Edinburgh airport.
Once you finally are on Aussie soil and have a few viewings lined up, never ever go to a house viewing dressed like you’ve woken up jetlagged and hungover. Going to a ‘flat viewing’ is like going to a house party. You get an Uber over, excited with high hopes. You are greeted by a line of Brits down the street in Bondi, all eagerly awaiting to get passed the estate agent bouncer. You get to the front of the line and the bouncer asks for your name. If you don’t look the part, you are not going to be considered. There was one house in Bondi where I am 99% sure people were paying the estate agent bouncer to make them consider their entry. You finally get into the property and you see a whole load of Brits you look just like you – tired from sofa surfing and desperate for their own space. Lesson number 2, dress to impress at house viewings in Australia, have a back story, and slip agents dollar. The flat we finally did get was a tried and tested routine – myself and Ben were both in glasses and shirts, and spent some time explaining the “company” we had sold, and our “unlimited funds.” You gotta fake it till you make it in the real estate world here.
Anyone considering moving over any time soon – you cannot pre-plan to much. Do not apply for jobs, pack everything you use in the UK or line up any flats. It is weird going from a regimented London routine to having absolutely no clue where you will live or how you will find income, but change is exciting and idiots abroad are quick learners.