OMG. OMG. It is one, just one month until I fly to Australia. ONE!
And there is still a frightening amount to organise. After the shipping costs of several million dollars (or so it seemed) we’ve tried to think of new ways of getting what we need out to Canberra and finding somewhere to store our remaining belongings back here. The trouble has been finding the time to do it- both in terms of time to plan and in terms of time to do it. Our weekends are jam packed with family and friends who want to see us before we go (understably, and indeed a source of delight and support!), and during the week my heaviest teaching days are my partner’s non-teaching days, and his teaching days are my non-teaching days… meaning we have no non-teaching days off together when we can pack up and drive our belongings to other parts of the country.
So we’ve been doing a bit of project planning and wrestling, bringing our research skills into play… and I look forward to seeing some 4* outputs as a result (non-academics amongst you- this is geek chat!). We’ve been really lucky that family members have offered to help out with both storage and transport- now its just a case of getting down into the weeds and working out precisely what needs to come with us and what needs to be packed up, what (ideally) we would still like to ship, and what we can afford to get rid of.
After the insance shipping cost debacle we pursued a couple of possible options:
- (significantly) reducing the amount of stuff we ship out, but still shipping some belongings (we don’t have a choice of carrier as my employer only uses the one).
- Paying additional costs to take an extra suitcase each on our flights instead of shipping (obviously this significantly limits the size of what we can take but that’s just the way it goes)
- Airfreighting additional suitcases (with the same size constraints as the cases coming with us, but without the bonus of them arriving at the same time as we do)
- Taking nothing but the absolute bare minimum which will fit in our one allocated suitcase and buying everything we need (home furnishings, personal belongings, technology) out in Australia
- Paying to store the remaining belongings in a near by storage company facility (at a cost of around £700 per year)
- Renting a van and packing up everything ourselves (that we can’t take) and storing with a kindly family member
- Chucking/selling anything we can’t take with us and just committing to rebuying anything we need when we need it- a kind of ultimate spring clean!
So far 2. is proving to be (also) ludicrously expensive so that’s probably a no. We are still waiting on a quote for 3 (although my partner informs me that from his research this looks possible- although that means we won’t have a TV…). We’re looking into the cost of a van (as 5 seems crazy to me as we don’t know where we’ll be coming back to!).
The only bit of this I am looking forward to is chucking out of sheaves of my partner’s paperwork which he was originally going to ‘go through’ when he moved in over a year ago… I love a good throw out!
Image: By © firstname.lastname@example.org, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45065547
It comes as no surprise that moving your stuff to the other side of the PLANET is quite expensive. But still I was surprised when the University’s relocation provider quoted an astonishing $7,195.00 to ship our belongings out with us. Admittedly they provide an amazing service, packing it all for you, labelling everything as required for customs, and unpacking it all at the other end as well as (presumably) moving the stuff from our Birmingham base to Canberra, a cool 10,082 miles.
Actually, when I look at it like that it doesn’t seem quite so unreasonable…
Nevertheless, this is WAY out of our relocation budget (which has to cover a range of different things). So it’s back to the drawing board. We had originally planned on taking a couple of bits and pieces of furniture with us- a double mattress, a sofa bed, a couple of bookcases, a chest of drawers, and a couple of desks; alongside the standard homeware of bedding, plates and bowls, glasses, paintings/photos, clothes. Now we are exploring the possibility of hiring a van and packing up the furniture and most of the rest of the ‘stuff’ to store in my parent’s attic (thank Mum and Dad!!) or in storage near their home (£700 for the year). Not quite sure when we’ll do this as we don’t have a spare weekend between now and when we leave…
This means either a) we need to request extra baggage on our flights or b) we need to get everything for 18 months into one suitcase each (and a cabin bag….). This could be interesting!
I am super excited as we have booked accommodation for our first three weeks in Canberra. We were originally planning to stay with some friends but felt uncomfortable about staying for quite such a long time. We have, instead, managed to find a small flat literally two streets away from our friends which is being let at a very reasonable price for the three weeks when I (and then my partner) arrive.
It’s always worrying parting with money over the internet, and I’ll confess to having been duped out of cash this way before. Somewhat embarrassing in retrospect. This is where sites like Air BnB are particularly useful. I know they have their down sides but with all of the verifications in place, the capacity to leave feedback and follow up on issues there is at least some protection available.
Having somewhere to call ‘home’ for the first few weeks I’m hoping will make it easier to settle in. Admittedly I imagine we are going to spend a considerable about of time in those first few weeks looking for a home for the longer term, but having somewhere to chill out, cook, and sleep off the jet lag feels awesome!
We have flights! Finally, hurrah! It’s taken my employer’s travel agents a month to book them, but we are sorted, we have times and dates.
And that’s great….
But man is this all getting real.
Real really quickly!
Yesterday, it was 6 weeks until I fly. There is simultaneously so much and so little to do. I am burying myself in lists to maintain some semblance of organisation. Lists of things to go to my parent’s loft for storage, lists of paperwork to pack, lists of things to buy, lists of things to make sure are packed in our luggage rather than our shipping, lists of details about driving licenses, about banks, about council tax…
*I meant to post this earlier, but true to form, forgot in all the excitement!*
We have now got our visas. But my word, what a task! I confess, I have never before had to apply for a working visa for another country. If the British system is anything like the Australian one (and I think I know that it isn’t but rather much worse) then all immigrants in the UK have my profound sympathies.
I was fascinated by the things I needed to prove, not just my identity (passport, fair enough!), the job I am going to (also fair enough, see contract signed, here), but also that I currently have travel insurance for medical costs (even though I am not yet in Australia and will be taking out insurance for this once we arrive), and that my relationship with my partner is a real one! I tell you, that’s a fun one when you aren’t married to each other and you don’t have shared finances! But we did get it all sorted, turns out a shared council tax bill (proves we live together) and proof that we had been on holiday together a number of times (thank goodness for family abroad and the odd vacation that we can prove through flight tickets… and thank goodness for email copies of flight tickets otherwise we would have been screwed!). I am grateful that we didn’t have to get a signed statement about our relationship from a colleague at work- now that would have been awks! All in all I submitted 34 separate image files/scans/documents to prove both my legitimate request for a visa and the legitimacy of my relationship with my partner! All good clean fun.
I have to say though, once you’ve got your head around the sheer volume of paperwork, signatures, photographs and X-rays required the online immigration system is both relatively straightforward to use and the communication between you and (presumably human) immigration agents in Australia clear and precise. Now all I have to do is turn up with my passport and it should all be registered and ready.
But I’m going to take a copy of my paperwork from the agency… just in case of mishaps! It’s an awfully long flight….
(Image Credit: By Sempoerna (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)
As I noted in the post, oh ages back, I like to read and research. I’ve been finding more up to date web pages and sources of information for Canberra to keep my need for knowledge suitably sated.
This page from the British government/Foreign & Common Wealth office had some good pointers: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-australia
They also have this useful info on driving in Australia and the relevant legislation there: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/australia/safety-and-security (I’m going to need to get a new licence… argh!)
Also, because I love a bit of sales pitch and pretty pictures I found this website pretty handy (and given that I’d since lost the link I’d carefully emailed to myself (how?!) it’s probably a good idea that I put it here) http://www.canberrayourfuture.com.au/portal/living/
Today an ‘agent’ from the shipping company popped round to size up our belongings and decide how many crates are required to transfer our stuff across the globe. It’s a strange feeling having someone going around your home, looking in cupboards and asking questions- ‘so how about this picture?’ ‘are you taking bedding and linens?’ ‘HOW many books? Goodness that is a lot’. Quite.
But they guy was lovely, and reassured us about what happens both at this end and at the delivery end- after all we don’t yet know our address in Canberra, as we’ll be spending the first couple of weeks with friends whilst we find somewhere more permanent to live… and then wait out the interim weeks in a naked, empty apartment! Sounds fun!
Its strange when you suddenly realise all the weird and wonderful things that you own- I made a list of pretty much everything in the flat that we might be taking, these included shoes (various), a teapot that wears a balaclava (terrorist teapot), a dyson hoover (which you couldn’t wrestle off me if you tried but which we will have to completely clean out or it’ll be quarantined!), several dubious pieces of ‘art’ I have produced and hung around the walls, far too many champagne flutes (can you have too many?) and myriads and myriads of books. I’ve made a list of ‘stuff’ I’d like my parents to keep in their loft whilst we are away, these include two candelabras, a china dragon, a globe with gemstone countries, and a A1 painting on a collage of a woman bathing upside down. Of course. It also appears that my partner and I have four double duvets. For a flat with ONE double bed. I feel a clear out coming on.
It was good to get the sense that the shipping is organised now though. Given that I am STILL waiting for my employers travel agency to book my flights (the dates for which I sent them nearly a month ago- a MONTH!) and a couple of important pieces of information from this end… its nice to have something feel like it’s moving forward. After all I am aware that there is a lot which we cannot sort until we get to the other end… and I don’t like uncertainty!
(Image credits: By Danny Cornelissen – http://www.portpictures.nl, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=562526)