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'Your first months in Australia will be hard, but it's worth it'

'Your first months in Australia will be hard, but it's worth it'

Your First Months In Australia Will Be Hard But Its Worth It

By Estelle Vosloo

Expat Robert Killian tells the story of how he, his wife and daughter adjusted to life in Australia.

Robert and his wife Kay moved to Brisbane, Australia. He offered some valuable insight and good advice about how to adjust to the Australian life-style.
Robert and his family chose to move to Brisbane. Moving to Australia they considered all the major cities but Brisbane worked best for the life-style they wanted.

“Sydney was first on our list of cities we thought we might want to live in, but during a holiday in Australia we felt that Sydney was just too busy and the hustle and bustle wasn’t what we wanted. Perth was too isolated. Melbourne was a consideration, but the climate isn’t great there. So I think in the end it was Brisbane’s weather which attracted us because it’s kind of subtropical, which means we don’t really get a winter. It’s quite a clean and good-looking city, too,” said Kay.

Robert said that Brisbane has a couple of down-sides, but it wasn’t something that concerned the family too much.

“We love the beach and Brisbane is not that close to the beach. Brisbane’s actually about 50km in from the coast on the Brisbane river, so it’s by the water but not the sea. If you do go to the mouth of the river, you just get mangroves and plants and things, not golden sand. So if you want proper beaches, you’ve got to go about an hour-and-a-half north or an hour-and-a-quarter south. But if you do that, you get to the Sunshine Coast to the north and the Gold Coast to the south, and they’re fantastic.

“The other big downside is obviously the floods last year and there are floods in Western Queensland at the moment. But that’s just one of those things about living in a tropical climate – sometimes it rains and it rains hard. Thankfully, the floods don’t come too often.”

Meeting people in a foreign city can be challenging but more so if you are an expat from a different background.

Kay said making friends was not as difficult as they imagined and they met most of their friends through their little daughter Rebecca!

“We enrolled Rebecca, who is now five-years-old, in a local playgroup when we arrived and through that my I met other mums, and then Robert would meet their husbands.

“It’s not overly difficult to meet people – you just have to be open. Get involved in anything you can. I’ve met a lot of friends through playing football, for instance.”
On the big question if the Killian’s would consider going back home the answer was a resounding ‘no’!

“I think that’s the last thing we would think of doing. Australia’s a great place to bring up kids, it’s a great family country through and through. The standard mode of entertainment is a barbecue in someone’s back garden, and so you can bring your kids with you and you’re all outdoors having fun together,” said Robert.
Kay adds, “We’d never consider going back. We’ve found our home here, we’ve become Australian citizens and we’re here to stay.”

They had some advice for people immigrating to the Land Down Under and both Robert and Kay agreed that if you are going to go through the hassle of getting visas and finding jobs and a home in Australia you may as well be 100% committed to the country – any country for that matter.

“I’ve heard of people who come out here and haven’t even sold their house. But if you come out here you have to totally immerse yourself in Australia, try and make as many friends as possible as quickly as you can. It’s the people that don’t commit 100% that end up going back,” said Robert.

Kay gives some valuable advice that worked for them, “We had a golden rule that for the first year we would not refuse a single invite. If someone invited us for dinner or a gathering or community event, we’d go even if we didn’t feel like it. Getting involved in the community and meeting people is so important.

“You have to push past the initial period – for us the first four months were very difficult but we just had to power through. The turning point for us actually was our daughter’s fourth birthday. We had a party for her and about 20 kids came, who she’d met through school, and all their parents and we had an absolutely fantastic party. It wasn’t until that happened that we thought: we’ve arrived.”

The family is happily settled in Australia and owns a successful business. They said that while the first four months was a challenge, they have settled in well and now see themselves as Australians.

“It really is all worth it and we are happy and so is our daughter. The life-style is priceless and we wouldn’t trade our new friendships and bonds for anything,” said Robert with a smile.

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