On our first day back in the UK I was asked 3 times by complete strangers why on earth we left Australia. I’ve had lengthy conversations in Sainsbury’s and heartfelt talks with midwives about why someone would seemingly give up their dream life Down Under and come back to Old Blighty.
We did live the dream in Sydney and Melbourne; Australia gave Justin and I 4 fantastic years. We travelled the country from top to bottom; crossing the outback on a luxury train, meeting quokkas in WA and hiking to hidden beaches in Tazzie. I’ve been so lucky to see sunset over Uluru, sunrise over the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour from a seaplane. I succeeded on my mission to see every state, embraced the Aussie lifestyle and lingo as much as an outsider could, and honestly think there was not a moment in Oz that we wasted.
And now it’s time for a change.
Our move to the UK was not a long time coming. Indeed, until I gained permanent residency via a partner visa in April I technically wasn’t allowed to move away from Australia. Rather, a sequence of events came together that just pointed to us coming (to my) home, at least for now.
One of those big factors is having a baby. Almost subconsciously, the minute I found out I was pregnant I felt homesick. I craved British food, grew nostalgic for the BBC and whilst I knew I could stay in Oz if we needed to, having our first baby without my mum on hand to answer stupid questions at silly am is not something I ever pictured doing.
Around the same time that we found out we were expecting, Justin was exploring new avenues with his company and it just so happened that they were flexible about where he was based and – the clincher – they could sponsor him to come back to the UK.
So, plans started to fall into place and suddenly mere weeks later we were spending our last night in Melbourne on a blow-up bed and looking at houses in the Home Counties instead.
There was an unexpected delay to Justin’s visa though which added a layer of surrealism to our parting. In fact, until lunchtime on the day we were leaving we didn’t know if he was coming with me.
We continued to have farewell lunches and dinners, even flying to Sydney to hug some old friends there, and all the while Justin didn’t have a passport or permission to live in the UK.
If you saw my Insta Stories you’ll know it all came down to the wire this Monday, with Justin camping in our empty property and thankfully the postie arriving with his passport minutes before we handed back the keys.
Now we’re staying in an adorable Airbnb in Wokingham, which is where we plan to live. (Yes, it does happen to be minutes from my mum’s place.) We’ve been viewing houses, visiting doctors (for me), signing up for UK phones and generally hitting the ground running until 7pm in the evening when I often pass out crying. (Jetlag + pregnancy + stress = not a pleasant mix!)
At the moment it feels like we’re just here for a visit. It hasn’t sunk in that we no longer have a home in Melbourne and I don’t have the headspace right now for the reverse culture shock I imagine is coming.
Ever since moving to Oz and marrying a Melburnian I’ve felt like I belonged to two places. Justin and I will forever be torn between our two homes but are committed to taking our little one over to meet the Aussie friends and rellies as soon as I’ve finished reading all the advice about flying with babies 😀
There will still be lots of Aussie content coming through for readers who want that but you can expect quite a few more posts on European travels mixed in too. (I may have already researched trips to Puglia, Italy and Santorini, Greece.) I’ve lost my special status as an expat but like to think I can still offer advice from this perspective, including what it feels like to come back home after 4 years!
Thanks to everyone who has offered their support and well wishes through the move and to all our Aussie friends and family I hope you know how much we treasure you.
*Ends abruptly due to blubbing.*