If you know our family well enough, you know that we don’t do things in halves. Troy and I bought a house together after just 1 year of dating. The same day we collected the keys, we picked up our first puppy. Bailey the Beagle. And then proceeded to try and move house carrying a squirming 6 week old puppy.
Fast forward several years and we got engaged in New York and married in Singapore. We then decided to entirely uproot life as we knew it and moved to the other side of the world when I was 20 weeks pregnant. So it probably comes as no surprise that we have decided to end our expat adventure and relocate back to Australia amidst a GLOBAL PANDEMIC.
The Journey Thus Far …
It was always our intention to stay in the York for 4-5 years. Last month saw the 4.5 years mark, so the decision is well in line with what we had planned. My husband recently finished up on the project we moved here for, and whilst Mackenzie and I are both British Citizens, Troy is on a working visa.
In Western Australia we have our first house, along with our entire family and friends. Not to mention that we both work within the mining industry which is once again very buoyant. So it makes sense that we head back to Perth as opposed to searching for new opportunities in the UK.
The first response from most people when we tell them about the planned move is
Wow – how exciting!
And I guess many people would give anything for the opportunity to live in Australia. Of course we are eager to see our family and friends – it has been almost 2 years since we have seen them. But as for ‘being excited‘ … well if I am honest, I couldn’t be further from it. I could probably write a book with all my current thoughts and emotions, but in the meantime, here is a little snippet of what’s happening!
Get The Beagles Home
We knew before moving abroad that it would be a lengthy process to transport the dogs home. The reality is that it is a minimum of 8 months to organise it all.
Multiple vet visits. Multiple vet bills. Followed by a long haul flight, 10 days quarantine in Melbourne and then a further onward flight bound for Perth.
The strange thing is – the dogs are guaranteed to get home, whereas we as Australian Citizens, are not. We will not be there to greet them when they arrive in Perth due to our own quarantine. And Bailey will be 14 years old which is not ideal.
Thankfully, the fabulous people at Airpets have been incredibly helpful throughout the entire process and I know that both beagles are in safe hands for relocation from the UK to Australia.
Shipping ALL THE THINGS
Again, we always anticipated this cost and logistical exercise. But throw a pandemic in the mix and there are now multiple issues that are far beyond our control. Container shortages, lack of available shipping slots and the West Australian government suggesting they might prevent ships from docking for Covid issues.
However, we have engaged the services of PSS International Removals and they have been very helpful and thorough with explaining the process and ensuring we are organised for the move. So in the meantime, we just have to figure out what we might need for next next 2+ months until our container docks in Perth mid-November. And then squeeze that all into a suitcase!
Flights to Australia
So we booked flights from Heathrow to Perth several months ago when we knew the prospect of returning to Australia might be a reality. There was already travel caps in place at this point but since then, the Australian government has halved said travel caps. They also reserve the right to cancel flights arriving into Australia up to 48 hours before departure.
You might be able to find flights online, but many of these are ‘ghost seats‘ and don’t actually exist. The government may also decide that the flight is to be cargo only and remove all passengers prior to travel. Or perhaps the airline has oversold the seats and you will be bumped from the flight. The problem with all of this, is that it is near on impossible to book seats on another flight. Oh, and the cost of a flight is SIGNIFICANTLY more than an airfare during normal times.
There are of course medical repatriation flights available to Australian Citizens. On August 30 they announced the flights for September from Heathrow to Australia. There were 3 in total – 4th, 8th and 21st September. They sold out within minutes. And now those waiting to get home will have to wait until the end of September and try their luck to get on a flight in October.
Where do I even start. 14 days in a hotel where you are put in a room and not given a key. You may or may not have the ability to open a window or access a balcony. They do not clean the room. Food is left at your door for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And you have to pay for these special privilege’s.
I know and understand that they want to keep the country safe. But when we are fully vaccinated, I cannot see why we are unable to quarantine in the safety of our own home, where we would have access to basic things such as a kitchen, laundry and garden. All of which would arguably be good for our mental health.
We have recently travelled to France, Greece and Spain. We have followed the simple testing requirements along the way and neither of us have tested positive despite our travels and adventures. As we are now 18 months into the pandemic, surely there is a better way than a hotel quarantine system which has proven to be flawed.
I Don’t Agree With Australia’s Covid-19 Strategy
In the early days of the pandemic, I completely support how the Australian government responded. Shut the borders, keep out the virus and keep everyone safe. This has kept our family and friends safe through all of this which I am very thankful for.
However, it quickly became apparent that the virus was not going anywhere. And rather than be pro-active and formulate a plan to vaccinate residents quickly and learn how to live with Covid safely, they have buried their heads in the sand and hoped it would all go away.
There has been a slow uptake rate for vaccines when compared with other countries, and then there is the anti-vax crowd. From the outside looking in, the country appears very naïve and do not seem to comprehend the harsh reality of what has happened in the rest of the world. And I know that is quite a generalised statement, but the fact is that Australia is not immune, and the sooner they realise it, the better.
Leaving Our UK Family & Friends
Never did I anticipate the network of friends, acquaintances and relationships we would build on this expat journey. York truly feels like home to me and I am heartbroken to be leaving this life we have built for ourselves.
It is the birthplace of our daughter, the only place she has ever know as home, and the place we became parents. Over the course of the past 4.5 years, we really had to learn how to do things on our own and persevere even when it was tough. Particularly so in the past 18 months. And not to mention that we will be leaving behind the memory of one of our best friends who we lost here.
There is no denying that York will forever hold a very special place in my heart. I will think of it fondly and hopefully visit often. I must say, I cannot even bear to bring myself to think about the day we lock up the house and drive away.
And Just Like That …
Its the end of another chapter for our family. One that is wreaking havoc on my heart and mind right now. I haven’t even mentioned above that we have also had to sell a car, home and furniture along the way – that’s a challenge enough in itself. If I am a little quite or unresponsive over the coming weeks and months, you now know why. Wish us luck and I will be sure to share what I can along the way! Shell xx