When I first decided to move to Australia, my first thought was: ‘how long is this going to take?’.
Yep, I have the patience of a three-year-old, but I’d also spent months pondering that huge decision, and I was itching to get things underway! I might as well have been asking: ‘how long is a piece of string?…An invisible piece of string!’.
After searching high and low on Google for an answer to my migration mystery, I spoke to the Australian embassy in London. I also played pin the prediction on the calendar. But, I just couldn’t find a solid answer. The truth is: there is no solid answer. How long it will take to move to Australia will differ for everyone, mostly due to the visa process.
I find it always helps to read about other people’s experiences. So, I’ve decided to share my own timeline of moving to Australia – in three parts: visa, organisation, arrival. While this won’t give you a schedule to set your calendar by, it will give you a good idea of how the process looks.
Let’s begin with the most important part…
June 2017: Ready, Steady…
Once you’ve made your decision to move Down Under, I recommend you get cracking with your visa application right away. Applications for permanent migration visas take some time to complete and, once submitted, can take many months to be approved. For more tips: read this!
August 2017: Go!
I finally had my application ready after nearly three months of gathering evidence, chasing family and friends for statutory declarations, saving money, reminding my husband to complete his part (he’s not a paperwork fan!), and going a little crazy. With eyes the shape of my computer screen, I finally clicked ‘submit’ and, with my Australian by my side, did a happy dance around our living room with a celebratory glass of wine!
December 2017: Taking Requests
After submitting my application, I received an email to confirm the embassy had received it. Then…radio silence! For four months, I would check my inbox every single day, hoping for news, but nothing came. I called the embassy and was told this is normal. My Case Officer was simply sifting through the application.
Then, a couple of weeks before Christmas, whilst in Latvia, I received a message asking me to book my medical and obtain my police checks. My Case Officer also wanted a little more information on my husband’s dual citizenship. I’d read in forums that once your medical and police checks are requested, things tend to move quickly…cue another happy dance!
Early January 2018: Poked, Prodded & Vetted
I booked my medical for early in January and nervously awaited my appointment. This was a BIG deal. I’m terrified of needles, but sacrifices (my sanity) had to be made! It wasn’t actually all that bad (again, more on that later). Once the medical is complete, the doctor sends the results directly to your Case Officer.
My husband and I also submitted requests for police clearance. I obtained a UK police check, while my husband obtained both UK and Australian checks. Bear in mind that the Aussie police check can take some time to reach you, if you’re in the UK.
End of January 2018: HAPPY DANCE!
This was a very happy day! Completely out of the blue, whilst enjoying a Saturday lunch at the local pub, my phone pinged and a visa grant landed in my inbox. Cue another happy (very public) dance…(there may also have been happy tears).
It all happened very quickly; much quicker than we ever expected. The whole process took just over six months from application to approval. I think our case is pretty clear cut, but I’m aware that it can take much longer, so do bear this in mind.
July 2019: There’s More…?!
And so it begins…again! I applied for a permanent partner visa, which comes in two parts for those who have been together for less than three years, or two years with children. If this is the case, you’ll start off on a temporary visa.
Two years since submitting my application, it’s time to provide proof of my ongoing relationship, so my permanent residency can be granted. I’ll update this list as the process progresses. In the meantime, you’ll find me slaving over a hot computer!
October 2017: Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box
It’s tricky knowing when to book the shipping of all your beloved items (and, if you’re like me, random junk that’s still sitting in boxes a year after arrival). We took a gamble!
We knew we were leaving our London flat at the end of October 2017 – due to an end of contract nightmare and a truly awful landlady – to go on a two-month trip around Europe. Upon our return, we stayed with my parents for five weeks, and then moved to Australia.
We did our research into shipping companies and decided to go with Anglo Pacific; who, by the way, were excellent. We chose to pack everything ourselves, following the guidelines we were given. Anglo Pacific then collected our boxes (and a huge mirror that surprisingly arrived in one piece!) and placed them in storage until we were ready to load them onto the ship.
Once on the ship, it takes roughly 6-8 weeks to arrive in Australia, from the UK. Then the shipment has to go through customs, which adds on a little extra time.
December 2017: Flight Fright
Now, this is the really tricky bit. If you’re waiting until your visa has been granted to book your flights, congratulations – you are sensible and organised. If, however, that’s not the case, you need to look into your options and cross your fingers!
We booked our flights not knowing when my visa was going to be granted. We knew it was well underway – as the medical and police checks had been requested – but we didn’t have an exact date.
Our situation forced our decision. We booked our flights for late in January 2018. We decided that, if my visa hadn’t been granted by this time, I would fly out to Australia on a three-month tourist visa and then return to the UK to wait. During those three months, my husband could find work and start to organise our Aussie life. I ran this by our Case Officer, got approval, and forged ahead.
Luckily, my visa was granted a week before we left. You can bet the relief was immense!
January 2018: The BIG DAY!
Words can’t fully describe how you’ll feel on this day. For me, it was a mixture of excitement, happiness, relief, fear, sadness and anxiety! It probably didn’t help that we flew out just 36 hours after getting married. I don’t recommend doing that, unless you like stress!
At 6am, on the 28th of January, we arrived at a freezing cold Heathrow Airport, and a brand new chapter of our lives began. I bawled my eyes out as the plane taxied the runway, then promptly caught the flu and watched about 3,465 movies (dramatic? moi?).
January-March 2018: Work, Work, Work
When we arrived in Australia, we stayed at the Skytower; an apartment hotel in the Brisbane CBD. We thought we might be there for three or four weeks, it turned out to be two-and-a-half months! We knew we had to find work straight away, otherwise our savings would soon dwindle.
The day after we arrived, still jet lagged, my husband put on a suit, in 35 degree heat, and headed to an interview with a recruiter he had contacted in the UK, whilst I sweated out the flu in a delirious state. In the meantime, with my visa in place, I was allowed to work, so I took on some freelance writing to keep us ticking over.
My husband’s job search was long and stressful. It took six weeks before an opportunity popped up, and then we were away! Bear in mind that, if you’re flying out to Australia without a job offer in place, it can take time to find work, so you’ll need to have a decent pot of savings or solid ways of supporting yourself. It’s all about the contingency plans!
March 2018: Bring Me My Belongings…
With a regular salary trickling into the bank, we started looking for a rental house via realestate.com, which meant our boxes could take to the seas. We contacted the shipping company and gave them the go ahead. By this stage, I had completely forgotten what was in those boxes!
April 2018: Home Sweet Home!
We looked at many properties, but we just couldn’t find ‘the one’. Houses in Queensland are very different to houses in the UK, which threw me a bit. Finally, we found a beauty with a swimming pool…only to find out it was strictly a six-month contract. We wanted something long-term, so we said goodbye to the swimming pool of dreams.
A couple of weeks later, we found a house closer to the CBD with a great landlord. We snapped it up and moved in immediately (along with a couple of existing roommates: geckos…geckos everywhere!) – almost three months after our arrival in Oz.
May 2018: Real-Life Tetris…
The final piece of the puzzle! Our belongings arrived. I’m pretty sure, by this point, we only really cared about the many fridge magnets we’d collected on our travels. Oh, and the TV. Definitely the TV. And then the endless unpacking began…
Rome wasn’t built in a day
…and neither was constructing a new life in Australia. As you can see, it’s pretty full on! For us, how long it took to actually move to Australia was almost seven months. To settle took a whole lot longer.
Just remember: there will be ups and downs. There will be happy moments and moments of grey-hair inducing stress. BUT it’s doable and it’s worth it. You just have to be committed enough to stick with it to reap the rewards.
Now that we’ve got timelines out of the way, join me next Sunday to find out how deep the pockets of your board shorts (knees out, all year round!) will need to be to afford a move Down Under. From visas, to flights…from shipping to groceries; the need for those shiny coins will soon mount up!
I’ll tell you exactly where our money went, and exactly why I almost had a breakdown when I bought my first Aussie chocolate bar…