Family say farewell to bonnie Scotland and head for Sydney shores
The prospect of warmer weather and an outdoor lifestyle down under has persuaded Edinburgh-based general nurse Vi McGowan, 40, partner Simon, 41 and son Dean, 16, to set off for pastures new and move to Sydney, Australia.
Having admired the laidback Australian way of life when visiting friends who had relocated there and wistfully watching them living the dream, Vi finally decided to take the plunge herself and relocate. All three headed to the airport with their one way tickets to Sydney and a new life.
Vi explains: “One of my close friends relocated to Brisbane and on returning from a trip to see her, I realised I wanted to go straight back. I had always thought about relocating to somewhere like Brisbane – particularly because of the great weather – and then we visited Sydney! We just fell in love, the city could offer us such a great lifestyle and job opportunities.”
Working as an experienced nurse in the UK, Vi was keen to research her job prospects and found that the working hours of nurses in Australia were very different to those back home. “In Scotland, my shifts can be up to twelve hours long, but in Australia the shifts are often eight hours and are spread across much more sociable hours. It was so appealing that they try and cater for their staff with family commitments.”
“Simon is a retail Development Manager and after looking into the Sydney job market he found that he would be able to find work very quickly as his skills are in demand. Dean is coming to end of his exams at school and once settled into Australia, he wants to attend a local high school or go to college to further his education. This will be a great way to help him settle in and meet new friends.”
After much research and a number of visits, the family decided to make the move, even though the extended family didn’t initially share Vi’s enthusiasm. “When we first spoke about relocating, Simon was a little apprehensive as he wasn’t keen on leaving his family behind, but he soon realised it was the opportunity of a lifetime. We discussed people coming out to visit and us flying back to the UK now and again, he started to see the benefits of moving to Oz – a fantastic home, great job prospects, a holiday destination for extended family, simply a better way of life.”
“I sat down with Dean to discuss everything with him and he was really excited at the prospect of moving. He’d been to Australia before with us on holidays and loved it, so he knows what to expect – after one of our trips we came home to a dreary winter in the UK and I think that definitely helped his decision! He did lots of research on the internet about what it was going to be like living there and he is really close to my friend’s kids who live there already, which is a real comfort. They’re of a similar age and have kept in contact in the run up to the move so he was able to ask them a lot of questions about the area, colleges and what they do for fun.”
After making the final decision to relocate, Vi knew she needed a helping a hand with organising it all and began researching relocation companies. “I had already heard of Crown Relocations through a friend – she’d heard some great reviews about them so I thought where better to start. I visited our local office in Edinburgh and instantly built up a great relationship with the team. I arranged for them to come and pack up my house, which was a big relief as it seemed like a big job to tackle when you are working and have a family to look after. I knew that my belongings would be in safe hands. They were really efficient with everything and always seemed to go the extra mile to help us; nothing was ever too much trouble. They even gave me extra tips about what to take and what not to take with me and advice on organising my belongings for the relocation.”
“One thing they gave me was the ‘Everything you need for a successful relocation’ handbook, which detailed everything I should prepare for before the move. It was important for me to still feel in control of my move and understand the process of packing, shipping and delivering, so it was really helpful to have this as a guide. I actually used to keep it by my bedside and have a flick through before bed for reassurance!”
“We also chose to go with Crown because of their local charity activities. Their Charity of the Year, DebRA was actually Simon’s employer in the east of Scotland, so we both know first-hand how Crown’s fundraising support helped the charity and people with Epidermolysis Bullosa.”
Like anyone, Vi knows that relocating is a big commitment and one that comes with massive highs but can sometimes be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. “When researching for jobs before moving, I found the perfect opportunity and managed to secure a nursing position in Sydney. It was such a relief to know I had a job waiting for me and that I could jump straight into.”
“Unexpectedly though, our permanent visa took longer to come through so we had to postpone our move date. I thought this might cause issues with Crown delivering our belongings to our new home and my new employer in Sydney, but fortunately both were really understanding and flexible. The only issue we faced was that we had already sold our UK home and Crown had packed up and shipped our goods! Our Move Manager advised us to change our visa to a temporary working visa for the first few months, until our permanent migrant visa came through. During this delay we were able to move into rented accommodation in Edinburgh, which was a huge weight off our shoulders.”
Asked what advice she would give to those thinking about moving abroad, Vi said organisation is key. “Make sure you are really organised with everything – I always knew exactly what I had to do and when. I kept a diary for all of the different appointments and always made a note of when I had contacted the visa companies –the deadlines for paperwork can get confusing! A tick list like Crown’s online ‘my move’ planner is a great starting point to help you get organised.”
“Getting a relocation company on board that you can trust and rely on is also really important. After all they are the ones packing and organising all your worldly belongings! Crown were very supportive throughout this whole process and always at the end of the phone if I had a quick question – and there were a lot of those! We are all excited and ready for our new start in Sydney, Australia!”