So, it’s official.
We’re moving to Australia!
It’s been a long time coming, but on the 23rd April, we will be getting on a plane from Heathrow, to land in a place we’ve never visited before, and that place will become our home!
It’s been a long process. I got a call from a headhunter in February last year asking if I’d be interested in interviewing for a role with Coles, one of the biggest food retailers in Australia. Within a couple of weeks I’d been for an interview in Newcastle, which went really well, and at the time I thought that was it. Becca and I discussed it in detail, and got really excited, but then things went quiet.
On 16th March, Coles then announced they were de-merging from their parent company Wesfarmers.
Everything went quiet.
In early April I got told the move was still on, but there would need to be more interviews. In late April we headed on our sabbatical to Southeast Asia, still not 100% sure if it would happen.
By the time we got to Laos, there was another interview arranged, this time by Skype. We booked into a posh hotel for a couple of days so I had somewhere big and quiet I could prepare for and then take the interview. I’d packed one shirt in case I might need to look smart, but by now it was crumpled beyond belief. Thankfully Becca is pretty innovative, you can see her below ironing it using her travel straighteners!
View this post on Instagram
Ironing a shirt with straighteners ahead of dinner, and cleaning my trainers in the shower with a complementary toothbrush after an unscheduled stop in knee deep mud yesterday. Hotels must love travellers! At least they’ll dry in front of the air con vent! #realityoftravel
The interview seemed to go really well again, and the recruitment consultant dropped me a note to say they were really happy, but there needed to be one more interview with the Chief Operations Officer for Coles.
Then another bump in the road.
Coles announced a management structure change, taking out an entire tier of leadership.
Things went quiet again.
I got another call in mid June, and a final interview was arranged for July, a week after we finished the sabbatical. It was very early UK time, and again over Skype.
It went brilliantly. At the end of the interview they said they’d ‘get back to me’, and within 15 minutes my phone rang showing an Australian number. I assumed they were calling to clarify some details, but it was the head of HR, they were ringing to offer me the job. They said it’s taken far too long already, and they didn’t want to keep me waiting. I thought it was a prank call for a while, I’ve never had the news so quickly after an interview before.
It was on.
Becca and I thought long and hard about the decision. We thought of family and friends, how much we love the UK, how far Australia is away. But I think we knew deep down this was what we wanted. It would never feel right to regret something we haven’t done. Better to give it a try and work it out from there than spend the rest of our lives wondering what could have been.
I’m always amazed in these moments just how brave she it. After the initial shock has gone, Becca quickly takes control, and the practicalities quickly get ironed out. We’ve both had our extreme ups and downs through all this, but the strength between us always picks the other one up. The process being so long had given us a lot of chance to make sure we’re doing this for the right reasons, and any risk of us saying yes due to sheer excitement was long gone. There were many points we thought the move was going to fall through, so we were perfectly prepared for that outcome too.
But we were ready for it now.
It was on.
Or so we thought.
Another bump in the road.
Australia decided to change the visa process. The old 2+2 visa process was gone, to be replaced with a temporary skills shortage 4 year visa. Better for us, as gives us a lot more certainty, but but good for timescales. Coles were masters at proceeding visa the old way, but with a brand new process it meant the lawyers setting things up from scratch, then a brand new application process.
The visa finally came through on New Year’s Eve.
So in the end the process has taken ten months, and then with my 3 month notice period from Co-op added on, I finally finish work on 6th April!
But after wading through a mountain of paperwork, becoming experts in organisation and masters of form-filling we are there.
They say you never learn anything about yourself when you’re comfortable.
So the next few years should be like a second education!
Here’s to the future.
Useful Tools for Booking Your Sabbatical
I always use Skyscanner or Agoda alongside Google Flights to make sure I’ve got the best price. I use Google Flights to save a route and monitor price changes and a combination of Skyscanner and Agoda to get the cheapest tickets.
If you are in the UK I would also highly recommend signing up for Jack’s Flight Club to get incredible flight deals sent to your email inbox every week.
When booking accommodation I always start with Booking.com as they generally have the best range and prices. I also regularly use Airbnb for longer stays and apartments in cities (use this link for £25 off your first stay). For a different experience try signing up to Housecarers for free house-sitting opportunities (get 10% off membership with this link).
Travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, but when a flight gets cancelled, injury occurs or you damage a piece of gear you’ll regret not paying in advance. I’ve used World Nomads for two sabbaticals and (after badly damaging a hire car in Laos!) found the claim process to be simple and transparent.
Getting from the airport to your destinations is an added stress after a tiring flight, so take the guesswork out and pre-book with JayRide.com. Their prices often beat the local taxis and I've found them to be reliable and easy to use.