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.*
18 thoughts on “So, Erm, Surprise. We’ve Moved Back To The UK!”
I completely understand your need to come home. As soon as I found out I was pregnant earlier this year I instantly wanted to move back home and be close to my family, and when I lost the baby it just made me realise even more so how important it is to be close to family and old friends. Not having my mum there to just hold my hand and give me a hug made me realise just how far Australia is from the UK, and I never wanted to feel that alone or isolated again when miscarriage is already such a lonely and traumatic experience.
Repatriating is a difficult process and varies person-to-person, but on the hard days when you miss your ‘second home’, you really do just have to concentrate on thinking about the reason why you moved home and how your gut told you to do it.
Oh Catherine my heart breaks for you when I think of you going through that without a hug from your mum. I hope you got lots of support and typically British cups of tea when you got back home. And you’re right, sometimes your gut just dictates where you need to be – whether others can understand that or not.
Good to hear you’ve returned.
Amazing how babies change everything!
Looking forward to hearing your european travel stories & what a fascinating mummy you’ll make. xx
Aw thanks Janice, time will tell how it all pans out haha x
Welcome home! I’m (selfishly) glad to have you back and hope to see you soon.
Hahaha it’s good to be home and I look forward to catching up too 😀
That’s a lot of life-altering changes in a very short space of time. Moving house is stressful enough, then add moving country and a pregnancy to the mix and I would dissolve into a puddle. So I take my hat off to you and all the best for the coming journey!
I won’t lie there have been puddles of tears on occasion – it seems I like to challenge myself haha. We’re slowly making progress though and hopefully will have a nice home set up by the third trimester. *Crosses fingers*
Welcome back and congrats on the bump!
I recently made the move from Oz to the UK too, after 10 years in Melbourne.
My other half is Aussie too, and we now have two kids, so there will always be a pull for one country or the other. And guilt! But it’s the right decision for us now. One of the girls has started her new school and we’re still waiting on a spot for the other, but after just 3 months they’re settling really well. The fab weather has helped!
Good luck with it all!
Hi Linda, Thanks so much for sharing your experience. So good to hear your girls are settling well. I struggled packing up for just the 2 of us so you must have had quite a task on your hands! Hope you enjoy the change of seasons. Best, Jayne
Welcome home! May your days and your biscuits be not too soggy!
Hahahaha couldn’t have said it better myself 😀
What a great story, and one that I find very similar to my own (albeit a few years behind you and Justin).
I’m curious and would love to know what your plans are for the long-term, do you have any plans to return to Oz? As I assume you are on a PR visa then this will expire after 5 years?
I am planning on going for PR with my Australian partner (as we want to stay here for a few years and I don’t want to put up with all the Working holiday restrictions) we want to return to Wales after that but I want to keep open the option of returning to Australia/NZ in maybe 8-10 years time? Do you know what your eligibility is if you decide to return to Australia?
Best of luck with the move,
Hi Ben, I must admit I haven’t looked into the specifics of what happens if we go back after the 5 year window. From what I’ve heard I understand I will need to reapply for PR but hopefully not on such a level as it took to get the partner visa. I’m keen to avoid paperwork so basically will be making a big decision in 5 years time. Good luck with your visa process!
Hi Jayne, thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve been living in WA with my husband for the last 2 years and we want to return to the UK. I’m curious as to your experience over COVID with the lockdown. Do you still feel happy to have moved back?
Hi Connie, good question! There’s no denying we would have had a better quality of life if we hadn’t moved back but strangely I don’t regret the decision at all. I almost feel lucky that we decided to come back when we did as one of the ways I coped with homesickness/ living so far from family during my time as an expat was the idea that I could hop on a plane and come home when I needed to. Is that something you have struggled with during the pandemic? It was ironic, of course, that we moved home to be closer to family and then weren’t allowed to see them but at least I knew they were nearby and we could do walks together and support each other through isolation. (Quite literally – my parents got covid at christmas and I had to do their food shopping). My Aussie husband, on the other hand, has to live with the uncertainty at the moment of not knowing when we can come over to Oz again. He copes with that better than if it was the other way around! I hope this helps a little. Good luck with your decision.