Expat update: Month 9

Our ninth month of Australia has been a lot more chilled than the previous 8, and I have to say that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Good

Happy New Year! ¦¦ In case you hadn’t noticed, Sydney does NYE biiiig. Even though we had a low key night in with friends and boardgames, it was still so fun to be out and about in the city whilst preparations were being made. Everyone is in the party spirit, and seeing the elaborate preparations people put on to secure a prized harbourfront position for the fireworks was something else. There’s nothing like the whole city being in a good mood for a nice, non-controversial holiday.

Nightlife and open air cinemas ¦¦ This month we went to three whole special events in the Botanic Gardens, which is my favourite place in the world. First we went to an evening tour of the park where we spotted fruit bats, a micro fishing bat, some huge golden orb spiders, two types of frog (and learned to distinguish their call), and both brush- and ring-tailed possums. We also got absolutely eaten alive by the rest of the nightlife, aka mosquitoes. Lesson well and truly learned.

Then we went to not one but two screenings at the Open Air Cinema which has the most astounding outlook over the harbour. You’ll struggle to watch the film with this view in the background:


Obviously the fireworks don’t happen every night – I took this on Australia Day where we had a firework interval! It was the ideal spot to see them from and kind of the perfect time to go to the Open Air Cinema if you ask me. Speaking of Australia Day…

Australia Day ¦¦ This year marked our first being able to experience Australia Day as (temporary) residents. As mentioned, we attended the second of our films at the Open Air Cinema – thank you to my sister for an amazing Christmas present!

Australia Day is a somewhat controversial holiday, so we tried to be as sensitive as possible on the day – especially as we’re invading British people. We went down to the harbour to watch the events, and it was quite awe-inspiring to see the huge helicopter carrier HMAS Canberra dominate the harbour.

There was a gun salute, flyovers by black hawk helicopters and Hornet fighter jets, dancing yachts and all sorts. It was quite the spectacle. If you caught my Instastories you’d have seen a lot of all that – and I apologise for the hearing loss any of you may have suffered as a result of the flyovers…

Management consultants are in need! ¦¦ This is going to be boring for most people so feel free to skip. If you’re familiar with the Australian visa application process, you’ll know there are two occupation lists. There’s the short term skilled occupations list (STSOL) and the Medium and Long term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). Basically, you want your occupation to be on the MLTSSL – you have many more visa types open to you, and there is the possibility of applying for permanent residency and eventually citizenship. If your occupation is on the STSOL only, as of April 2017 (just after my 457 visa was granted!) you can only get a sponsored visa for a maximum of two years, and then you have to go home with no possibility of extending your stay, getting residency or citizenship. Up until last week, my occupation of management consultant was only on the STSOL which is why we had to rush to apply for permanent residency, as those on old 457s were given a year to apply for PR as per the old rules if they wished. But now management consultant has been moved to the MLTSSL! Seeing as my PR application is already in, this isn’t likely to affect much but it may make them look upon my application more favourably. Perhaps. Fingers crossed.

Art ¦¦ I haven’t really been seeing much art recently which is bad, and I don’t realise how much I miss it until I go and see some again. So we called in at an installation at Carriageworks in Redfern called The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Meters, Then it Stopped. All the bright colours were so cheery, and it was fun to watch people interacting with the space. Which mostly involved everyone tripping over the folded canvas on the floor, but at least it wasn’t just me.

Typically, I do not at all get the meaning behind the piece. I like art, but generally I don’t get it. I’m just not that highbrow. However, I did feel much happier and more positive having been in the space, so there’s that. Nothing like a good smack of colour on your retinas, isn’t that what they say…?

The Bad

No visitors ¦¦ For the first full month since arriving here we’ve had no visitors to brighten our doorstep. That has been sad, but having 8 months of people we know being here on a regular basis has been such a treat. I can’t be too upset that we’re just normal now!

January is quiet here ¦¦ I hadn’t really anticipated quite the extent that Sydney shuts down in January. A huge proportion of people are on holiday, and whilst that can give a fun vibe to the city, mostly things are just super quiet. Aside from the school holiday type activities, most things like classes or events won’t start up until February, and people are away a lot so social things are a bit thin on the ground. Add to that the fact that I’ve been working from home for almost the entire of January (not to speak of December, November, and October…) and it’s easy for isolation to set in. Thankfully, things are looking up because I’ve just been assigned to a new project at work – hooray! It’s full time and based at an office nearby so that’s going to be a great way to generally interact with more people on a daily basis. I do have my concerns about the project as a whole but I’m trying not to look a gift horse in the mouth here and go in with a positive attitude. Wish me luck.

The Ugly

In case you’re new around here, I’m sharing The Ugly side of things via email so I can be more honest on things that I’d rather not splash up here for all to see.

So if you want to know The Ugly, just put your email address in the box and I’ll add you to the list. You’ll get mail from me a few days after you see this post, just to give everyone a chance to sign up who wants to.

Before too long it’ll be time for me to start planning our First Expativersary… Any suggestions?


See previous months’ updates here

It's been 9 months since I moved to Sydney from the UK, and here's everything that has transpired this month and the lessons I've learned from them.



  1. 29th January 2018 / 21:43

    I get you on the January shutdown thing! It’s definitely a time to just kick back and relax, beach or pool is the way to go, as everything is shut or if it’s open it’s super swamped! My work has mandatory shutdown over Christmas new years which helps get into the mood for doing absolutely nothing for even a couple days, it’s bliss. I can see where it would get a little boring though, if you’re been WFH and feeling a bit isolated because of that.

    The fireworks look awesome – I’ve yet to go to the Brisbane fireworks for new years but I’ve done a couple local ones before the kids came along. Have to wait until they are bigger and have later bedtimes to even make the family friendly ones, haha!

    Great news about your job moving up the requirements list! My friend came over, looked at houses and locations to live and then when they got back to the UK the visa requirements had changed and they were no longer eligible. It was a huge blow to them, it is so good the opposite happened for you and you are more in demand instead of less!

    Thanks so much for your sweet messages on Insta this morning too – it’s going to be a crazy week here, I hope yours is better.

  2. 29th January 2018 / 22:03

    Oh my goodness the open air cinema view is magical. I feel like all the ones here are in parks and with the Brisbane humidity I haven’t been too tempted to check them out.

  3. 29th January 2018 / 23:10

    Sounds like another great month! I’d be at the Botanical Garden all the time too. And I totally understand the January shutdown, it happens here too! In January and February Santiago is so so quiet as lots of people head south or to the coast for their holidays and to escape the city heat!

  4. 30th January 2018 / 00:45

    i would love a slowdown in january haha. would be a better way to ease into the year. i dont blame you for visiting the botanical garden all the time – looks amazing! and i hope you get another visitor soon 🙂 if only i lived a hair closer haha

    xoxo cheshire kat

  5. 30th January 2018 / 07:15

    That’s so crazy that the city just shuts down like that! In the States we kind of get that around Christmas but not too much. And I totally understand the isolated feeling that comes with not going into an office everyday. I did that for a few weeks before the girls got here and it was very lonely. I couldn’t do it for long!

  6. 30th January 2018 / 10:33

    That Open Air Cinema is beautiful! I think the view might distract me from the movie 🙂

  7. Jen
    30th January 2018 / 12:41

    I can’t believe that you have already been there for 9 months! Time really has flown by. I hope you get some visitors soon!

  8. 30th January 2018 / 14:34

    As much as I like visitors, I always like having my own house back too. Pluses and minuses for both sides!

  9. 30th January 2018 / 14:39

    Would love to do a NYE in Sydney one year! And hurrah for your job moving to the better list – hopefully now you’ll get your permanent residency quicker!! Well, now that you’ve got no visitors, you can “settle” in to proper life! HA

  10. 31st January 2018 / 09:29

    The open air theater pic is AMAZING!! In my town we watch from cars and call it a drive in. LOL. We definitely have two open air theaters that I know of for live plays, and I think there open air cinema for movies that pop up here and there, but not a permanent set up. And wow. 8 months already? Does it feel like 8 months??

  11. 31st January 2018 / 14:13

    Sounds like good news on the visa regulations front! Hopefully, anyway…I know what you mean about rules changing about what you can and can’t qualify for and all those complexities. January felt very full for us–just full work schedules, extra meetings, and juggling rides since I currently don’t feel up to walking outdoors in the heat so the kind husband will leave work during a break between classes to give me a ride if I need to get somewhere. Gotta toughen up again soon, haha!

  12. 1st February 2018 / 03:01

    I loved your Australia Day instagram story!! Sounds like January has been an interesting mix of events and quiet times. I can’t believe you went 8 solid months with visitors – hopefully some more arrive soon! I myself was looking up flights to Australia this morning (flight-searching is a pastime of mine lol), but I won’t be visiting for a year at least, probably. Til then I’ll live vicariously through you!

  13. 1st February 2018 / 04:57

    Oooooh. I’m obsessed with the fireworks picture. Great capture from an interesting angle with a lot of light noise. What a view to watch a movie, too!! I had no idea that Australia shut down in January. It seems counterintuitive at the beginning of a new year!

  14. 1st February 2018 / 19:30

    Geeeez, that visa situation would have been stressful! Crossing my fingers for you as visas are so frustrating!!!! We haven’t had any issues with ours so far but they’re still so stressful and annoying. Worth it though !

  15. 1st February 2018 / 20:27

    Fingers crossed for your visa application!! And Sydney in January sounds a lot like Norway in July, lol! 😀

  16. 2nd February 2018 / 02:28

    9 months?! Wow that went by fast! I swear you just moved there! Australia Day there is like Columbus Day here in the States. We used to get that day off and while it’s still a bank holiday, a lot of school and businesses remain open that day. I think people are catching on that he didn’t actually “discover” America lol. I would LOVE to catch a movie at the Open Air Cinema, that view is so beautiful!

  17. 3rd February 2018 / 01:01

    Fruit bats – YAY! I love bats 🙂
    I can’t believe it’s been 9 months already!

    Visitors are nice, but honestly at this stage I think I would be relieved not to have to entertain anyone for a whooole month!

  18. 3rd February 2018 / 08:56

    i think i read once that sydney was in the top 5 places to spend NYE – along with NYC, London and… Tokyo maybe? I did it once in the city and you literally couldn’t pay me to do it again. the open air cinemas look SO AMAZING.
    i get the controversy with australia day. that’s not how i personally see and celebrate it, but i understand it.

  19. 4th February 2018 / 06:42

    That Open-Air Cinema view situation is just BEYOND incredible, my goodness. Amazing. That is definitely one of my top summer things to do, for sure! A summer without an open-air cinema screening feels like something’s missing.
    That’s really lovely you’ve had so many visitors so far! I can’t even imagine how cool that would be (as we rarely get visitors form home)… it must be hard to feel lonely with all the friends around 🙂

  20. 6th February 2018 / 04:48

    You captured such a vivid shot of the fireworks! It looks amazing, how awesome to have a view over the water. It looks like January from “the good side” is off to a good start for the year.

  21. 7th February 2018 / 11:32

    I love these updates that you do! Really cool to get an inside look at your life over there. February is the dead, “shut down” month over here in Chile, and I happen to have absolutely NO travel plans. Trying to save up money though, so I’ll try to make the most of staying in the city. Happy 9 months! Glad to see there is much more good than bad so far! 🙂

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