Hi Chantal, why did you guys decide to move to Australia?
I studied in Perth in Western Australia for half a year and fell in love with the country and the people. It is just so beautiful and laid back. At the end of the semester I almost decided not to return to the Netherlands, but practicalities held me back. Later on I met my now husband, Roel, who had spent some time in New Zealand and also wanted to go back to live on that side of the world. We had many discussions about whether or not we should do it, but we just weren’t really able to make up our minds. We then decided to try to get a visa; if this wasn’t possible, then the decision would have been made for us. However, it turned out that it was really easy for us to get a visa, so obviously we got one and decided to go!
Chantal Worp and her family
Was it a tough call to leave your home and family behind?
Probably the hardest thing I ever did. My mother and I are very close, so not having her nearby is still really hard for me. Our son was about 16 months old when we left, and not having him around is especially hard for our family. Whatever our decision would have been, there would have been negative consequences, as we both did not want to stay in the Netherlands. In the end we had to put our own happiness above that of our family and follow our dream. We didn’t want to wonder for the rest of our lives what might have been if we hadn’t given this a go.
What comes into play when a young European family wants to relocate to Australia?
A lot of planning, a whole lot of money, a lot of hard work, and some luck. We hired a company to help us out with the visa, that helped a crazy amount. They knew exactly what forms needed to be filled out when and filed where. Once that was all done (and that took more than a year) we needed to decide how to move our stuff over, and who would do that. This is just the stuff you have to do to be able to live there, but you also have to get there and sell your house and all the other belongings you’re not taking with you. We were lucky with selling our house reasonably quickly and for a good price, and our friends Petri and Lennaert were so awesome that we could live with them for our last months. It made the transition period a lot easier.
How did you decide where to settle in the country? (And have you stayed there?)
This was mostly an economic decision. The job market is reasonably good in Melbourne and Sydney, but it is a lot tighter in other places. Deciding between Melbourne and Sydney boiled down to us just feeling better about Melbourne, but it was almost like flipping a coin. We are still in Melbourne, and currently have no plans to move to another city.
Is it easy to find a pleasant place to live, as well as a challenging job in Australia?
It is all about the preparation. If you are not familiar with the Australian housing or job market and you do not inform yourself, you will find it very hard to find something you like. Thankfully nowadays you can find everything you need online. That is how we knew that we would have to provide references when wanting to rent a house, or that the layout of the CV is different from what is common in Europe. We tend to say that we were really lucky with getting our current house, but that doesn’t do any credit to everything we did before we got this house. It is the same with a job. We both hired someone to help us tailor our CV to the local market and to guide us through the interviews, and it really paid off, because we both love our jobs.
Are the locals welcoming newcomers, and do you easily become friends with them?
We have found it quite easy to get to know people and make friends. However, it takes time and effort to meet new people, and you should not expect it to come naturally. In general, Australians are very interested in who you are and your background, but it can sometimes be difficult to take the friendship to another level. It helps to have young children, to meet people with a similar background or to join one of the many sport clubs or other groups that are available here.
What have been the most challenging moments or experiences so far?
Moving to the other side of the world has in general been a really positive experience, but it is hard to miss our close family and friends. Thankfully they have been very supportive of our decision. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to not be around for the significant moments in the lives of the people that matter to us, such as weddings or births. Another thing I found quite challenging was the Christmas period. It is a period steeped in tradition, and it took some effort to experience the same vibe here. It was only after I realised that I could take those elements that I used to love (such as listening to Dutch radio this time of year) and mix them with local traditions here that it started to feel like Christmas to me.
Do you intend to stay in Australia for the rest of your life?
A resounding yes!