Laura: Laura and Peter Down Under
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Melbourne, etc.
I am 26 years old and originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Prior to our move to Australia, we lived in Springfield, Missouri, USA. My husband and I moved to Melbourne in July 2014 for his job and intend to stay for two years.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
When I found out we were moving to Melbourne, I searched the internet for information about the city and about moving abroad in general. I found that the best source of information came from personal blogs of people who had made the move before us. So, I started ‘Laura and peter Down Under’ to be a resource for people in our situation and also to have a virtual scrapbook of sorts to document our time in Australia and let our family and friends back home know what we’re up to.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
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?
One of the big differences is at home; we had two cars and drove everywhere. Here in Melbourne we don’t own a car and rely 100% on walking and public transportation. It’s a big change and takes a bit more time and planning, but I enjoy not having to own and pay for a car. Plus, I would be a disaster driving on the left side of the road. We didn’t have too much trouble adjusting, partially because Australia is an English-speaking country and shares a lot of cultural similarities with the USA. There was a bit of culture shock, especially learning the different phrases and words Australians use and getting used to the slower-paced nature of life in Melbourne; it can be a bit frustrating at times when you need something done quickly.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Melbourne? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I think we were pretty well prepared for life in Melbourne, partly due to the blogs I had read before our arrival. I’m glad we only brought clothes and necessities that could fit in a few suitcases, as shipping over furniture and belongings is so expensive, but I wish we would have brought a larger stash of toiletries — they are SO expensive here. Also, we only had two weeks to find a place to live, which was really stressful. If we were to do it again, I would have secured a short-term (one month or so) accommodation for after our initial two week allotment in order to spend more time looking for a place and getting settled instead of rushing into a lease. We now live in a great apartment, but we had a bad experience in our first place (you can read about it on the blog!) and getting out of that lease was a nightmare.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well, looking back, our whole situation with the first apartment was pretty funny, although it wasn’t at the time. We hurriedly moved into a place when we first got here and a few days later discovered it was infested with cockroaches. It was terrible, though now we are able to laugh at what we have dubbed the “roach motel”.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Melbourne?
- Read as much about the different areas as you can before you have to choose where to live. There are tons of suburbs with different vibes, and you want to make sure you live in a place that is safe, in a good location, and fits your lifestyle.
- Join InterNations to find friends! It’s a website where you can start a group for a common interest and set a date and time to meet up with others. I heard about this website, once again, through an expat blogger. It was the best decision I made when we moved to Melbourne, as I met almost all of my friends through one of the groups.
- Be open to new experiences and don’t expect your new home to be exactly like the place you left. Embrace change and adventure!
How is the expat community in Melbourne? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Melbourne is an extremely diverse city, and I meet tons of people from all over the world. As I mentioned, joining InterNations helped steer me in the direction of like-minded people and other expats in similar situations. You have to be willing to put yourself out there.
How would you summarize your expat life in Melbourne in a single, catchy sentence?
Living life to the fullest in the land down under!