I recently wrote a post about my favourite things about living in Brisbane, and I know I wrote it with slightly rose-tinted glasses on. I’m totally excited about being in this part of the world again – I’m still going through the honeymoon phase. Travel is such an important part of my life and since having the kids we haven’t had much spare time or money to be able to do it. Although we’ve moved to a fixed address, there are still so many places to visit around where we live and it’s exciting to think about all of the adventures we can have as a family.
But I won’t promise it has been easy. So to balance things, here’s my list of…
The worst things about living in Brisbane
The obvious one is missing friends and family. Skype and international call packages on the phone makes it easier, but I wish I could pick people up and bring them over here, or that I could reshape the globe and squish the UK and Australia closer together. Unfortunately I can’t 🙁 I also miss being able to ring my mum on a whim as I have to wait until early morning or evening to call her.
It gets hot here. Stupidly hot. So hot that you can’t have the windows or screen doors open – even at night – because the hot air pours into the house. There are days when it’s so hot you don’t want to leave the house – you just want to stay in under the air conditioning. That’s not so bad for me as I can pop the kids into school and rush back home into the cool house, but Husband has to work at an airport on the tarmac next to engines and it gets REALLY HOT.
There are quite a few foods we’re missing. Different isn’t always bad, it just takes some getting used to. Chocolate tastes sweeter as they put something in it to stop it melting in the heat. You can get English chocolate but it’s really expensive. Hubby is really missing Cherry Coke (although he has just found a local supplier selling crates of the stuff which has cheered him up no end). Sausages, bacon and ham are all really different and we’re still trying to find what we like (although Coles does a great British style bacon that is a big hit in our house). And don’t even talk to me about fish and chips…
I miss being able to walk into the town centre and have all of the shops in one place. You need to drive everywhere here, and shops are spread out in different shopping centres so I tend not to go as often. Much as I love little independent shops, I admit I miss having a shop where I can buy everything like Argos or Wilkinsons – it’s something I took for granted in the UK. I’m sure it will become easier as we get more used to the shops here. (If I’m allowed to share a positive spin on this though – one benefit of not having a proper town centre is that I’m not spending anyway near as much as I used to in the UK as it was too easy to nip into Next or Debenhams and come out with a bag full of clothes for the kids!)
It’s exhausting not knowing how everything works. Trying to get my head around things like the tax system, pensions and family tax credits are all draining. Everything ends up taking forever to sort out, and even now I’m not sure I’ve got my head around most of it.
Moving abroad has eaten up a massive chunk of equity from our home. The actual move (visas, flights, shipping, insurance and agent fees) was only part of the cost. Buying two cars (which are expensive over here), insuring them both, taking on a rental, paying the bond, living for two months with no income and replacing all of the things we gave away, threw away or gave to charity shops – it all added up to A LOT of money. I daren’t even think about how much it has cost us. I know it’s an investment into our future, so it hasn’t been wasted, but it is still scary.
Making friends is tiring. Yes, it’s also exciting and fun, but after an exhausting few months it would be lovely to go out for a glass of wine with an old friend that I know inside out and have a natter, or go to the park with the old crowd of mums from pre-school. Making new friends involves a lot of effort – it’s totally worth that effort, but I won’t lie that starting from scratch and building a network is hard. I’m pleased the kids have started school now so I’m getting to meet some more people as working from home can be lonely.
I miss being able to buy things online and getting free postage. Postage here when you buy things online can be so high that it actually makes me laugh. Instead of getting free postage if you spend over x amount (as often happens in the UK), here you often get charged more the more items you buy.
Brisbane any day
I’m really happy to be here, but I just wanted to show the flip side of our new life to make it fair. Every big decision in life has good and bad points, it’s just weighing them up and not being afraid to take a chance.
For us, the pros still far outweigh the cons but I’m sure there will be days to come when I feel homesick beyond belief. Life here is still pretty special – I still can’t believe this is our new home.
I’m linking up with Seychelles Mama for her #Myexpatfamily linky.