InterNations Featured Blog
Aubree: Keys Down Under
A “classic” expat story if there ever was one, Aubree and her husband left their native US in order to live and work on the other side of the globe for a number of years. With almost daily updates and lots and lots of colorful pictures, they chronicle their adventures abroad on their blog Keys Down Under.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Melbourne, etc.
I’m Aubree Keys, and I moved to Melbourne at the end of April, 2011 with my husband because he took a job transfer. We moved from Colorado in the United States, but I’m originally from Michigan. I was a 6th grade language arts teacher and photographer before moving here.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
My husband Zack started the blog right before we moved to Australia, and I’ve since taken over writing most of the posts. Other expats had told us it was a great way to keep in touch with family and friends while we were away. It also will be a great souvenir and reminder of our time abroad.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Every other month or so I do a post called “Aubree’s Observations About Australia.” Those seem to be the most popular, but I like some of the ones from our trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Uluru, and Perth the best.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Melbourne differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Melbourne is a much bigger city than we expected, and has a very European feel to it. Public transportation is quite convenient; we don’t even own a car. We did experience sticker shock, especially with the cost of food. I do miss good Mexican food, having several choices at the grocery store, and snow at Christmas!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Melbourne? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
We will always question whether or not we should have brought our dog over with us (we didn’t). Other expats we talked to had brought theirs, and they regretted it, so we left ours with my brother. Otherwise, reading several blogs and online forums prepared us pretty well for the Australian expat experience.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
We’ve had a few interesting experiences with driving on the wrong side of the road and walking across the street while looking the wrong way. Those are only amusing now because everything and everyone ended up okay!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Melbourne?
- If you don’t do a sea shipment of your belongings (we didn’t), go to Ikea and get all of the basics in one trip (they can deliver). Gumtree.com.au is a great website for getting deals on some furniture and other household goods, but a few years is longer than you think, so don’t buy totally junky secondhand stuff. We learned this the hard way, especially with our mattress.
- Use this time abroad to try new things, perhaps out of your comfort zone. Since moving here, I’ve taken up surfing, knitting, writing, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, and yoga, and several of those are things I never thought I’d try (or even want to try!).
- Do some research before deciding where to live. We love St Kilda, because it’s right on the beach. South Melbourne is another great choice. Choose a place near a tram stop.
How is the expat community in Melbourne? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Meetup.com has been the starting source of most of our friendships. We joined several groups through this website based on our interests (mountain biking, book club, American expats, surfing, etc.), and we’ve been able to connect with some great people.
How would you summarize your expat life in Melbourne in a single, catchy sentence?
Life’s a beach!