Karen, David and Josh after
emigrating to Australia, outside
our first home in the northern
suburbs of Brisbane,
In November 2001 Karen's sister Lorraine and her boyfriend Chris decided to travel around the
world, she said she'd be gone for a year and it was sad saying goodbye, but she'd be back...or so
we thought. It's now five years on and she still hasn't returned!
Almost three years after that tearful goodbye we (that is myself Karen a 34 year old Registered
Nurse, David a 43 year old Crane driver and Josh a 2 year old professional tantrum thrower and
dribbler) went to visit Lorraine and her (now) husband who had eventually settled in Sydney,
Sydney was an amazing city to visit, but what we were most impressed by was the Australian way of
life. The cafe culture, the barbies in the parks and outdoor lifestyle as a whole. We knew this was
what we wanted in life and for our sons future but we wanted i more relaxed manner so we looked at
David had previously visited there and had said how he had loved it's laid-back atmosphere and
year-round good weather. The emigration seed was sewn from there.
Ever since we'd had our son in November 2003 we had been looking around the town we lived in to
see what kind of future he would have. We lived in Fleetwood, Lancashire and although it's a lovely
seaside town, there are not a lot of opportunities there and because of the weather, outdoor living
The trip to Australia opened our eyes to a completely different way of life but upon returning to the
UK we started thinking about friends and family and decided we'd try and give it a go in Fleetwood.
We did this to the point of completely redecorating our house and extended it until it became the
home we had always wanted it to be.
But there was a slight hitch to the plan, we still weren't satisfied and the option of a 'new life' soon
reared its head again.
In August 2005 we decided to ring a migration agent who had been recommended to us by a friend
who had recently moved from the UK to Brisbane. Julia (the agent) was absolutely fabulous,
explaining her service and the process we would be facing. After talking to her we decided to go
ahead and apply. The date was 24th August 2005.
We were applying for a skilled-Independent Visa as I am a Registered Nurse. The skills assessment
was really hard work. Not the forms they were manageable if you broke them down into sections, but
gaining all the documentation such as course modules from university did prove tricky. Also gaining
confirmation letters from pervious employers was a slight challenge too.
People we needed information off were very helpful but they did not rush in sending the forms
through. They took approximately 6 weeks to arrive which is a long time when you're waiting to send
off an application to start a new life. Then we had to find someone to certify our documents. This in
itself was hard and took a long time as the person doing it did not have a stamp and had to write
everything out by hand.
Eventually, however, all our hard work paid off and the skill assessment was submitted. Our agent
received the completed skill assessment on 13th September 2005, which she checked and then
submitted on our behalf.
On 7th October 2005 we received a positive result from our skill assessment. The relief was massive
because at the end of the day it's all down to whether or not you are sufficiently skilled, so there is a
lot riding on it. We had decided to go ahead and complete the main application whilst awaiting the
result of the skill assessment. This was the first of many gambles during the process, but there was
no apparent reason as to why our skill assessment should fail, so we thought we'd get a head and
complete the rest of the application.
We had a slightly anxious (tearing out hair) moment when we emailed our agent after we had sent
the main application to her 2 weeks previously, only to be told she hadn't received it, but it eventually
turned up after 3 weeks. We'd learnt our lesson though, spend the money on special delivery for
important documents, it may sound obvious, but it's expensive and we didn't think for one minute that
it wouldn't get there, but a lot of work goes into the application and it would be a nightmare to have to
do it again, so play it safe!
Once we had been allocated a case number we decided to have our medicals done. Although they
hadn't been requested we decided to get them done anyway and we also requested our police
clearances. This was the next big gamble.
Medicals are expensive. For 2 adults and a 2 year old it cost approximately £500 in total. However
'in for a penny'... so off we went to Manchester where we had it all done, we even had the chest
x-rays done there as we thought it would be easier having everything done in one place.
The medicals were left in the hands of the doctor as they had to be sent directly to the Department of
Immigration and Multicultural affairs (DIMA). The police clearances took four weeks to come through
and we just sent them to our agent, she then forwarded them on to DIMA on 28th November 2005.
The next question in our mind was our house. We knew we wanted to get to Australia as soon as
possible but should we put the house on the market and risk it selling straight away, or should we
wait until we have the visas and chance it not selling....oh the pressure of it all!
Once you receive your visa you get a date by which you have to have it stamped in Australia, this is
usually 12 months from the date of your medicals, therefore we had the option of waiting to sell the
house and then if it got close to the date when we had to have our passports stamped we could
come out to Australia on a holiday. Not that we wanted to do that, we wanted to come to Australia
We knew the approximate time it ws taking to complete the cases and knew it wouldn't be until
around March that we would hear anything, so we decided, in the gambling manner that we had
become accustomed to, that we would put the house on the market at the end of January 2006 and
see how it went.
December was spent going to emigration exhibitions and getting quotes from removal companies.
Christmas came and went in a blur, there were lots of comments about it being our last christmas in
the UK and we were getting more and more excited. However, March felt a long way off.
At the end of January we put the house on the market. This was extremely nerve wracking as there
was no guarantee that we would get the visa but we knew that we wanted to go as soon as they were
After four viewings we accepted an offer on the house only 6 weeks after it had gone on the market.
The problem was that we still did not have our visas!
We kept in regular contact with our agent who said we should 'sit tight and wait'. We took the view t
that no news was good news and continued with our house sale. We knew by this point that we'd
probably have to go into some form of rented accommodation in the UK as it was looking more and
more like we would complete on our house prior to receiving the visa.
This was such a massive gamble to make and I wouldn't suggest it to the faint hearted.
The next decision we had to make was do we take our furniture to our new house and effectively
move twice or do we get our removals company to take it and move in to furnished accommodation?
The company completing the relocation of our furniture offered to put it into storage for us (they offer
if free for 3 months) so we decided that this was the right course of action for us.
However, true to our adventurous ways we still did not have our visas through. As I'm sure you can
imagine the emails to our agent were getting more and more frequent and increasingly anxious. She
was very good at calming the situation and we now felt that this was the time to contact our case
officer and find out what was going on, as the date was now 20th April 2006.
Our agent sent her an email and it took a week to receive a response, which was just a general
response and not specific to our case, this did not do our nerves any good at all!
We were due to excahnge on our house sale on 28th April and complete on 5th May. We began
selling lots of items (a further gamble). We didn't want the removal company to pack everything as
that would cost us more and we knew there were certain things we didn't want to take with us. Also,
we were moving into a furnished caravan on a local caravan park so nothing was needed in there.
We eventually managed to find homes for everything, including a rabbit and 3 guinea pigs.
Everything was running relatively smoothly in relation to the hosue sale until 27th April when we
found out the people buying our house had a problem and wouldn't be able to exchange the next
day as planned.
This was a nightmare, as it was so late in the day that the removals company couldn't change our
moving date without charging us. Going ahead with the packing was totally nerve wracking
considering we now had no house sale and no visas.
We moved into the caravan on 4th May 2006, the removals people had come and taken our stuff,
when they left it was really upsetting as nothing was certain, but on we went. By the Sunday the
gamble we had taken had hit home and the stress started to take effect. However, on Monday we
went to work as normal trying to be positive.
At lunch time I was sat at my desk when my mobile rang. There was a delay on it and I thought it was
a sales person from abroad and nearly put the phone down, but then I heard an Australian accent
and realised it was my agent. She was ringing with some "very good news" - our visas had been
The relief was immense. We decided that we'd look on the house sale positively and assume it
would go through at the end of this week like the buyers had promised it would. Yet another gamble,
but why change the habit of a lifetime?
Work knew that I would be giving limited notice. They generally required a month but because I
wasn't being replaced they had agreed to let me give whatever time I needed to. So on hte Monday
David and I handed our notices in, giving each employer a week.
the week flew by and all the while we were praying that the house dale would complete. On Friday,
whilst out for lunch with my colleagues, I learnt from my solicitor that the house sale had completed.
The ending couldn't have been more perfect if it had been written for a fil, everything timed perfectly
to the day.
It was sad saying goodbye to my friends at work as I'd been there for 5 years, but I knew it was a
change for better things to come.
the next day we went tot he travel agents and booked flights for Sunday 21st May. We would be
stopping on Sentosa island in Singapore for 2 nights and then on to stay at my sisters in sydney for
10 days before finally arriving in Brisbane on 4th June.
We had a few sad goodbyes that week, but the trick is to stay focused on why you're doing it. the
week flew past and we said our final goodbyes.
We wanted a taxi to take us to the airport so that there would be no tears there. this worked well as
we had to leave when the taxi arrived which kept the final goodbyes short.
Our flight was early sunday morning so we stayed the night before at the Radisson SAS at
Manchester airport so we'd hopefully get more sleep prior to our long journey.
the flight to singapore was only half full which meant we could spead out and the stop over was a
much needed break, it was also great o see my sister when we visited her in sydney.
the way we completed our process was a massive gamble from start to finsih and I sincerely wouldn't
recommend it. I was recommend a good agent such as ours becasue they guide you through the
process and check your application etc. whihc we found invaluable.
Definitely get quotes from various removal companies as they all offer slightly different services.
Mostly though, make sure you enjoy the process. It's an amazing adventure that is both exciting and
scary, but ultimately worth it.
THE FIRST 6 MONTHS!
"Welcome to Brisbane" announced the pilot. " The local time is 2.35pm and the temperature is 24
degrees". It was 4th June 2006, we'd arrived! So with the stress of our visa application firmly behind
us and the two days relaxing on Sentosa Island already a distant memory (after visiting my sister for
10 days in sydney) we were now ready to commence on to the next stage of our adventure.
The trip over had ben fine 'shrek' had been the movie on the plane and to our surprise our son Josh
had been mesmorised for pretty much thte whole flight. The preparation was definitely worth it, a
whole bag of toys and books had kept him totally entertained, Shrek had been a bonus.
We hired a car from the airport and set off on our new life. the first things that caught our eyes were
the birds, of all things. Parrotts flying freely around the terminal, it was amazing!
We had rented a furnished apartment through the internet in Clayfield, located 15 mins from
Brisbane's CBD. It was clean and spacious with phone, TV and Internet already installed, so that
was a good start. We had brought our laptop in the suitcase whcih was really useful as it meant we
didn't have to start trying to find internet cafes.
We had booked the apartment for 2 weeks so we needed to get ourselves a house to rent asap. the
rental system here is quite bazarre! Everyone interested in the property submits an application to
rent the house and then the owner can pcik who they want without even meeting you. On our 2nd
application we were accepted by the owner of a brand new house with 4 bedrooms, a laundry room,
a lounge, a family room and a double garage with a remote controlled door. I know it sounds really
childish but that door is great! We love it and it makes me smile each time I use it even though they
are commonplace over here.
As we were making lots of calls to the UK initially letting people knwo we'd arrived safely and so on,
we bought a phone card. If you shop around you can get really cheap deals, it is actually cheaper
for us to ring someone in the UK now than when we actually lived there.
Our furniture was being shipped over and we knew we only had enough to fill half the house, so we
decided to go shopping. For somebody like me this was fantastic, although I don't think my husband
felt the same way!
We then had to apply for a tax file number. This is needed to get a job and can be applied for
online. In fact, we went into the city to the actual tax office adn all they did was direct us to a
computer to do it online anyway. It takes about 2 weeks to come through and is an easy process.
Next was the medicare registration. This again was relatively straight forward. Medicare is is the
Aussie equivalent of the NHS and as a permanent resident you can register after 10 days of being in
the country. Offices are all over the country, in hoppin gmalls, high streets, etc. SO you won't have
any problem finding one.
After we had this we could register for family assistance, such as child benefit and help with kindy
(nursery) fees. We went to the local centrelink office and they were really helpful adn advised us of
everything we needed to do.
We had transferred our money via the Commonwealth bank as they have branches in London and
Australia. We had been given the name and contact number of our advisor and we made an
appointment to see them. Whilst there they activated our accounts and issued EFTPOS (switch
equivalent) cards without any fuss. They also put us in contact with a person who dealt in pensions
and life insurance. We aslo ended up taking our home contents insurance out with them, having
spent hours trawling the internet looking at quotes we didn't find any that were better.
Other jobs we completed in the first few weeks included buying cars, settling Josh into kindy and
looking for jobs. The list seemed endless, however slowly but surely we got there. It's overwhelming
as first and you can't really take it all in, but once the main jobs are done you start to relax and get a
feel for the place.
Another of the first things that struck me, apart from the birds, was that people walk around with no
shoes on. Now, this may seem like nothing new, I walk around without shoes on a lot at home, but I'm
talking about at the supermarket, down the street, the garage, all over the place! It's by no means
everybody, but there are quite a few. I walked a few steps on my drive with no shoes on the other
day and practically had to tip toe back in because it hurt so much!
We went on lots of days our initially, to places like Surfers Paradise, Shelly Beach at Caloudnra,
Bribie Island, The Hinterlands, Montville, Australia Zoo, Alma Zoo, Dream World, Sea Worl, Locla
parks and beaches...........It's fantastic, there are outdoor barbecues which are free to use in most
parks, there's so many parks you loose count and the beaches are very safe. All our days off we
spend outside. It's a really refreshing change.