2 September 2016

Lauren Kicknosway - Expat in Sydney, Australia

Lauren Kicknosway - Expat in Sydney, Australia

We’ve had the chance to talk to Lauren Kicknosway, 44, an American expat who has moved to Sydney, with her husband. Mrs. Kicknosway who has been living there for eight years now works as a blogger.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Seattle, WA, USA.


Q: What made you move out of Seattle?

A: My husband was recruited by an American company based in Sydney, Australia.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: We live in Sydney.


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: The company that my husband works for is based in Sydney.


Q: How long have you been living in Sydney?

A: We moved to Australia February 22, 2008. I will never forget that date.


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Sydney?

A: Probably the most difficult part of settling into life as an expat living in Sydney was making new friends. Expat groups are a great way to meet new people who are also new to Australia and eager to get out and explore the city. It’s also a way to start meeting friends of friends. Our Sydney-based friends are about 50% expats (The UK, American and Irish) and 50% Australians.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Sydney? What was your experience with these?

A: Getting an Australian visa can be a very difficult process for some, but for us, we were very lucky to have a work sponsored visa. The company that recruited my husband took care of our visa application and helped move us out to Australia.

Health insurance was also easy to get here in Australia as we need to have specific insurance for a 457 visa. All the private health insurance companies in Australia are familiar with a 457 visa and the required level of insurance needed. We just needed to pick one that worked best for us.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: It’s just the two of us.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Sydney? How did you manage to find a social circle in Sydney?

A: I already mentioned this above and highly recommend people seek out expat groups as having friends greatly eases the settling in process. Meetup.com has several expat groups in Sydney from the UK and American to French or German. Also Facebook, is a good resource for finding other expats from your same home country. Just do a search on Facebook for Sydney and your home country. Then narrow your search results down to groups and Facebook pages.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: The is always something worth checking out going on in Sydney it would be hard to choose just a few “best” things. I have a blog post where I list out 101 Things to do in Sydney Your First Year as an Expat, and I had to narrow down the list to just 101 things.


Q: How does the cost of living in Sydney compare to your home?

  • How much is a cup of coffee?

A: My coffee of choice is a soy flat white that will run from $3.50 to $4.50.

  • How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: A pub lunch like a burger with fries and a pint will probably cost about $25 per person.

  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: A dinner at an expensive restaurant like Tetsuya’s with cost $325 per person. That’s top of the line.

  • How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: If you stick to local Australia wine you can find a drinkable bottle for $20 - $30. A pack of cigarettes is about $25, but I’m not sure as I haven’t bought cigarettes in Sydney.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Australians are very generous, well-travelled people that are always up for a laugh. They are very proud to be Aussie as they should be living in such a beautiful country.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Sydney?

A: One of the negatives is the distance from home but with Skype or even Facebook Messenger, we never feel like we are too far away.

There are far more positives to living in Australia than negatives. For us, we are way more active here than we were back home. Sydney has so many festivals, amazing theatre and of course the Sydney Opera House always has an event happening that is well worth checking out. There really is never a dull moment.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: When we first moved being homesick was by far more difficult than now, years later.


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Skype video chats and Google Hangouts with friends and family are the best way to combat homesickness.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Leaving Australia would be a hard decision but if we were to move I think we would opt for a different country instead of moving back home.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Finding an apartment in Sydney was probably the hardest part of our move. Well, actually it’s hard every time. Apartment viewings in Sydney are only 15 minutes and are random times during the weekend like Tuesday at 2:15. It’s also a very competitive rental market so it pays to download the apartment application and have it filled out before the viewing.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: One thing that caught us by surprise was getting paid once a month on the 15th. We would have planned out finances better had we realised this beforehand. It felt like forever until that first pay cheque arrived.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Sydney?

A: Sydney Moving Guide is my website that I’ve been working on now for a couple of years. I start the site for people like me moving to Sydney. I’ve tried to include everything I wish I had known before moving. The site has now grown in a great community with a private Facebook group of expats helping out other expats with their move or settling in.