2016: The Year I Became An Australian Resident
On New Year’s Eve 2015 I reflected on my decision to quit my job and travel the world. I was incredibly thankful for the nomadic lifestyle I chose to live and had no ‘return home’ date in sight. As 2016 comes to a close, it’s been another year of new countries, new friends, and new experiences, and I feel exactly the same way as I did all those months ago. The difference is, in 2016 I was granted something that few people are able to get; independent Australian permanent residency.
For many, being allowed to stay in Australia any longer than one year requires three months’ of regional work on a farm, or in the mining or construction industry. Staying permanently is only possible in exchange for committing years of your life to a single company (not ideal for those drawn to the nomad life). The only exceptions to these routes, are for people that have a particular skill and the amount of experience that the Australian economy needs.
When Dave and I touched down in Perth, in March 2016, we’d just finished a tour of South East Asia. We’d seen the Singapore skyline from the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel infinity pool, eaten scorpion, kayaked, trekked, and sunbathed in Thailand, rode a bamboo train, had the world’s worst longboat experience, and witnessed millions of bats leaving their cave at dusk in Cambodia, along with plenty of other bucket list checks.
As a result of all this travel fun though, our budget upon entering Australia was extremely low. We knew that as Dave was an engineer by trade, we could apply for residency in one of the most beautiful and familiar countries in the world. We also knew we’d need enough money to both live and apply for it within the next nine months, or chances were it wouldn’t come through before we were forced to leave the country. It probably goes without saying, that Australia ain’t cheap. The race was on.
Luckily, between freelancing as a marketing consultant and being hired by one of the best advertising agencies in Perth, while Dave worked as a fence installer, our funds quickly grew. Although we had to reluctantly adjust back into the 9-5 routine, it was all worth it when our PR visa was granted in November.
So now it’s official, we are residents of a country that couldn’t be further away from our English hometown. A country renowned for deadly spiders, snakes, and sharks (which I’ve not seen a single one of in the ten months we’ve been here). A place where a two-hour drive north of the city becomes red dirt roads, but two hours south of the city is nothing but grapevines and thick green forest. Somewhere that is hot for at least six months of the year, and filled with beaches and alfresco diners where people make the most of it. A country with sights like this:
Don’t get me wrong, it was a stressful and emotional journey to get to this point. There were countless times we wondered whether all the hassle and money was worth it, and whether committing to live so far from our friends and family was the right thing to do.
What I’ve come to realise though, is that having the ability to stay put in Australia doesn’t mean I have to stay put. Dave and I have yet to explore much of this gigantic country, and we have Asia right on our doorstep. So as I write this blog post, on New Year’s Eve 2016, I find myself in an extremely fortunate position, and the possibilities for 2017 are racing around my mind. I don’t know what will happen in the twelve months to come, but I can promise you this… the travel tales will continue.
Is 2017 the year you’ll choose to pursue your travel dreams? Let me know where you’re headed below!