I unpacked my bags again last week. It feels like the millionth time since graduation but now there is a sense of certainty. For the first time in five years, I committed to a place. I actually pay bills too.
Whereabout? Melbourne, Australia. Months ago I claimed it as my next home and a rush upon arrival made it so. Within two weeks I got a (few) jobs, moved into a flat, and immersed myself into the city life.
This two week whirlwind is a process I will call "The Express Moving Guide". In addition to examples from this move, it combines lessons learned from my five years of moving around the world. I think it can be applied to any new city and hope it is beneficial for your journeys!
Pre-Arrival: 1. Book a temporary place to say. Find a hostel, a friends place, couch surf, or even try a work exchange. This gives you a local address for mail, your CV, and important registrations like national ID numbers and bank accounts.
Lock in a deadline at this place to plan around. I booked one week at a city hostel and would either extend a second week or find a work exchange while sussing out work and long term housing options.
2. Get a local number. The sooner you have one the sooner you get call backs. I wasted no time and purchased a SIM at my first Australian airport. Then I spent the 3 hour connection updating my CV and applying for jobs.
Week 1: 3. Open a bank account and get a national ID. The rules for these vary by country but in Australia they can be done from the first day of arrival. Applications for a Tax File Number (TFN) are available online. Bank accounts require solely a passport/photo ID.
I received the TFN at my physical address in about a week. The bank account was quicker, ready in less than 30 minutes at a Bank of Melbourne branch. Appointments can also be scheduled in advance.
4. Work 9-5 looking for work. I find job hunting as intense as actually having a job. My first week was devoted to researching jobs, stalking websites (like seek.com.au & ethicaljobs.com in Australia), and meticulously tailoring my CVs and cover letters.
Bonus tip: Apply for the most time desirable positions/organizations first. For me, these positions required more back end work and had longer processing times. I find quick jobs are not the most desirable (though necessary sometimes).
5. Step away from the computer. Spend "business hours" primarily glued to job sites and emails but by mid-week start scoping the land.
I did a free city tour to get oriented, keeping my eye out for staff vacancy signs. Getting out also gave me a feel for different neighborhoods and helped narrow down the most interesting for housing and work.
6. Make a new plan. How did the first week go? Were there any patterns in work locations or sectors? Determine whether or not to extend your current housing based on your callbacks and general observations of the job market.
Week 2: 7. Meet people. This week, I spent less time applying for jobs and more time attending interviews. I expanded the job hunt to include leads from friends, locals, and fellow job seekers in the hostel. I also signed up with several recruitment agencies.
8. Find a flat. Think seriously about which part of the city to live in. If you are fond of a specific area, start there (GumTree and FlatMates are great resources). For the cheapest flats in Melbourne look inside the CBD— yes living inside the city is cheaper than the suburbs here.
Otherwise, consider this great advice I received from a friend: live near your work. Even short commutes in Melbourne can become long with public transport. I chose a place half way between my job and the city.
Week 3: 9. Work or wait. By the end of the second week I had some job offers and others with real potential. While I waited for confirmations from the more interesting positions, I took up casual event/waitress work with a staffing agency. The money helped tie me over before starting something more serious, “Student Experience Officer” at a university.
10. Settle In By now the hard work should be done. Relax. Get to know your housemates. Organize your flat. Make more friends.
At the end of week three I applied for more than 50 jobs, received about 15 call backs/interviews and accepted 3 positions. I plan to work two jobs at any given moment and continue receiving callbacks. -- With good effort and persistence, living and working abroad is achievable. Especially in a country like Australia. I look forward to the next couple years here, beginning in this beautiful Southern Hemisphere summer.
Read more of my stories at: lydiagrate.blogspot.com