Expat Diaries: Thoughts On Moving To A Massive Island

In all the years I lived on the tiny island that is the UK I never once felt like an islander. Perhaps it was because I was based in the big city, so sucked into London life that I rarely made the 1 hour journey to the coast. Or perhaps it was because we could access another country just by getting on a train. Or pop to a number of European countries in the space of one weekend, something I often did over the last few years.

I naively had notions of ‘popping’ to Asia from our home here in Sydney. Despite having been to Australia many times, knowing the flight times and vastness of the country, in my mind it would still be easy to hop to the nearest continent for a long weekend. What was I thinking?!

We have friends and family we would like to visit in Perth. Situated on the opposite side of this same island, it would take us 5 hours 20 just to drop in. Bali is just beyond Perth. Almost like an Australian equivalent to the Med, it’s the go to beach break for families and groups of friends. Yet whilst it takes us Brits less than 3 hours to be on any multitude of beaches in France or Spain, Denpasar is 7 hours away from Sydney. There are budget airlines that do the trip. I have salivated over the reasonable prices the likes of Jetstar and Garuda Indonesia offer to fly to exotic Asian destinations, yet I am concerned at spending 7 hours or more on the equivalent of Easyjet/Ryanair.

Getting in-between cities on this side of the island is easy though. We popped to Melbourne last weekend, picking one of the Virgin Australia flights that run every 15 minutes (they’re more frequent than buses!). As we live only 15 minutes away from the airport we were home in less than 1 hour 30 – we timed it from check in to front door. Security is speedy on domestic flights and Virgin Australia make it easy with mobile check in. In contrast, it used to take longer to travel from London to my parent’s in the Home Counties – and it cost about the same amount with South West Trains too. Although distances may be greater here at least there are faster ways to traverse them.

It’s not just travelling that has made me realise what a vast new country I have moved to – it’s the postal system that really got me thinking. I am yet to order anything online that arrives in less than a week – even if it comes from the same state. Often the delivery times are less than the vendor estimates (7 to 12 days seems to be the speediest quote) but they also come with a disclaimer – *may take longer to reach rural locations. As a girl who has become used to next day delivery for everything from my groceries to a new outfit for that night, this small matter blows my mind. My boyfriend tells me that in the rural part of Victoria where he grew up they didn’t have a postman. They would drive to the nearest post office and see if there was anything for them about once a week. Just this small piece of information had me stunned for a good 10 minutes.

This difference is compounded when I dare to order something from overseas, or do so by accident as happened recently with an art print. I’ve never lived somewhere where the currency sign is the same in another country so when I saw a print I liked in an Aussie magazine and went online to purchase it, it never occurred to me they were quoting in US dollars. It wasn’t until I had completed the transaction and got an email saying my purchase should reach us in about 12 weeks, subject to customs, that I noticed it was coming from San Francisco. Doh. (Postage was almost the same price as the artwork. Double doh!) Our household items, which we lovingly wrapped into 4 boxes in London, are currently enjoying a round the world cruise. Last time we checked they were hanging out in Singapore. The total journey time is expected to take at least 3 months.

And yet despite the acute awareness that I have moved to a massive island, very far from the rest of the world, I do not feel as remote as you might think. Skype brings me my family and friends on-screen, email continues to be instant, I can still be social on social media. I am in no way put off by the flying times; just learning to be a bit more strategic about where and when I go. (And being a bit more careful about what I order online.)

If anything this distance is teaching me to appreciate my immediate surroundings, to explore all corners of the new city we live in, and get out and about this giant country.

Speaking of which I am heading to the ProBlogger conference on the Gold Coast next weekend and am spending some time in Brisbane whilst that way too. Can’t wait!

About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

10 thoughts on “Expat Diaries: Thoughts On Moving To A Massive Island”

  1. You haven’t even touched on how delayed the popular US TV shows are. There’s a reason illegal downloading is so high here.
    And Jetstar is safe for international travel. I’ve flown to Japan and Vietnam with them. It’s a big step up from RyanAir and I often choose them over Virgin because their cabin baggage size is bigger.

    • Haha TV/lack of Netflix is a whole other story!

      Glad to hear good reports of Jetstar and their baggage allowance. We’re looking at going to Thailand in December so will bear that in mind.

  2. Jayne, you’ve seemed to handle the transition so well, and I’ve enjoyed hearing about your discoveries of differences along the way 🙂 Gav and I are still finding interesting differences even after he’s lived in the US for nearly two years!

    Looking forward to more stories about your new island 🙂 I know I haven’t commented regularly (shame on me) but I’ve been reading!

    • Aw hi Heather 🙂 The funny thing about all the differences I am noticing is that Justin finds them weird too because he has lived away from Oz for so long. Was that the same for you? We’ve loved discovering/rediscovering the quirks together!

  3. Uh… 5hr flight time to Perth? Are you talking door-to-door? Just under 4.5hrs when I did it last year, haha.

    Also, don’t know where you shop but, even as a Melburnian who doesn’t get the Sydney treatment express treatment (damn warehouses located in NSW…), 90% of my things are next day.
    Letters/parcels from Adelaide posted by 6pm? Overnight.
    David Jones purchases? While Sydney can be same day mine is 1-2 days (and I earn Qantas points now – cha ching!)
    Woolworths/Coles groceries? Click ‘n Collect those bad boys or organise a delivery slot that is in one of the two 8hour slots each day. (Woolworths is a little slower than Coles)
    and many major retailers (including New-A-Porter) offer same-day service if ordered before lunch.

    Do fly Jetstar soon! Are you flying them to PB? They offer more leg room than Virgin now-a-days… and friendlier cabin crew, haha!

    • Oh yes we have got on board with the Coles delivery already and I am sure there are sites that do next day. I think it’s probably because we needed a lot of things very quickly when we moved here that the timing was compounded. Bank cards, TFN’s, books, magazines, yoga mats – I had to wait weeks for all of them. When we bought our sofa from Freedom it was ‘In stock’ but this turned out to be in a warehouse in NSW that took 5 weeks to deliver to us – hence the sitting on the floor for several weeks. But Ikea were super helpful and delivered stuff to us the next day – after we went there and put it all through the tills as they don’t sell online!

      I will def try out Jetstar, have had good feedback on them now. Am flying Virgin to GC as its linked to my Virgin Atlantic account. But quotes for Perth from Sydney were stating it’s 5 hours 20 to Perth – only 4hours 30 on the way back mind you – good tail winds I guess!

  4. Haha, welcome to Aus! Things have moved on from a few years ago – hardly any shops even had ecommerce 7 years ago, so coming from the UK it was a major struggle for me. The best thing about shipments taking aaages to arrive is it feels like Christmas when it finally does get there!

    And you HAVE to go to Perth, just don’t fly with Tiger. I flew with them from Perth to Sydney a few months ago and it was the worst flight I’ve ever been on, even worse than Easyjet. You should visit Perth when I’m back over for Easter 2015 – I’d love to meet you and show you around, also Autumn over there is the best time to go as it isn’t too hot (it’s in the 30’s rather than the 40th’s)!

    C x

    • Ha it shall take me while to get used to Autumn being referred to as in the 30s but I would love to come them and shall make note not to fly Tiger.

      Our shipping has now arrived (quicker than expected) and mostly I thought – why the H did I did this?! 🙂


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