Moving to Australia with Kids – a guest post by my lovely friend Karen Bleakley at Smart Steps to Australia
Leaving our family and friends behind in the UK to move to Australia was scary.
Moving to Australia with Kids
As my husband Matt and I were planning our move, people kept telling us they couldn’t possibly emigrate because they loved their family too much. It hurt so much because we love our families dearly too. This was just something we felt we had to do for the sake of our kids. We wanted them to see the world and to have an outdoor lifestyle. Most of all, we wanted them to see that their parents were willing to take risks and give things a try. We wanted our family life to be packed with experiences and learning opportunities for all of us. And we knew that if we didn’t give it a go, it would be something we would always regret.
So, three years ago, after spending years agonising about it, we hopped on a plane to Brisbane. We’d sold our house in Hampshire and packed our belongings into a shipping container. We needed the finance from our home to fund the move, but more importantly we also knew we needed to jump in feet first without a safety net. We didn’t want to hold onto our UK home in case “things didn’t work out” as people kept suggesting. Australia was going to be our new home and we knew that having a positive mindset was essential.
Settling in Brisbane
We only knew one family in Brisbane: my husband’s ex-work colleague, Sarah, her husband and their two kids. I’d met them once before and I’d been emailing Sarah regularly since we’d decided to make the move. Having somebody there to answer my questions made the planning so much easier.
We had no idea how we were going to get anything done when we arrived with four-year-old twins and a two-year-old, and we were scared we’d never get time on our own ever again. We worried about what we’d do if something happened and we needed help but didn’t have anyone to call on. Leaving behind our entire support network of trusted friends and family was terrifying.
I knew that Aussies were friendly from our time travelling around the country a few years before, but I wasn’t prepared for the kindness of strangers. There was the taxi driver who collected us from the airport in Brisbane and asked his wife to email us and invite us for coffee the next day. Then there was the owner of our temporary rental who invited us to the beach, shared wine with us and had us over for birthday cake. And there was a mum in the park who invited me for coffee and gave me the low-down on local schools (after one of my kids went up to her and proudly announced we were from “In-gland” and told her we didn’t have a home anymore!
The Kindness of Strangers
In the first few days here, we met and discovered the kindness of so many different people and this was given to us freely without us ever asking for help.
Sarah and her family were beyond incredible. They met us unexpectedly at the airport to give us a hug! They gave the kids food and drink and help us to the taxi with our bags. Then they took us to the shops to go car seat shopping. They took the kids off our hands while we drove around doing the admin like setting up Medicare and finding a rental. They were there as a friendly and understanding ear to laugh about how much effort goes in to setting up your new lives here and they fed us dinners after a long day of moving admin.
In our second week, we met another UK family who were friends of friends. More BBQs followed, and more offers to help with the kids. It meant we didn’t have to drag our daughter along to our boys’ school interviews.
We were building our network, one relationship at a time. Within the first couple of months we had made friends through the school. As well as at the park and friends through expat networks. Making friends here felt so natural and easy.
If we need help now, with have a strong circle of friends who we can call on. In return, I can be part of their support network too. I’ve helped other new arrivals with babysitting during emergencies. We’ve helped new families move house. We always invite people for coffee who have recently moved here because we remember what it was like when we arrived. Our friends are from all over the world – some have family close by but many don’t. Many of our Aussie friends have moved here from somewhere else in the country too. Living away from family is common. Because so many of us are in the same boat it means everyone is willing to pitch in and help out when needed.
If you’re thinking of moving to Australia with kids
If you’re moving somewhere new, my advice is to be open and willing to see what friendship opportunities come your way. Accept offers of help or invites for coffee because you never know where they might lead.
I was worried making friends was going to be the hardest part of moving abroad. But it turns out it was actually one of the easiest. Nobody will ever replace your friends and family back home. However your new network makes you feel stronger and more supported than ever.
- Emigrating from the UK to Australia
- 7 ways Australia is different to the UK
- 5 ways that moving to Australia has improved our family life
- 5 reasons this American Mum loved having her baby in Australia
Are you thinking about moving to Australia with your family?