24 February 2017

Nicola Sutcliffe - Expat in Melbourne, Australia

Nicola Sutcliffe - Expat in Melbourne, Australia

We’ve had the chance to talk to Nicola Sutcliffe, 36, a British expat who has moved to Australia with her partner. Ms. Sutcliffe who has been living there for six and half years, now works as a communications specialist. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Manchester in England.


Q: What made you move out of the UK?

A: A 12-month job opportunity landed in my inbox. It was my role for the role and, being 29 at the time, no children and a burning desire to travel more before settling down, I jumped at the opportunity! 


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I live in Melbourne. I started in Perth WA but after finding it too quiet when my 12-month contract ran out and my employer offered me a position in Melbourne I jumped at the opportunity again! 


Q: How long have you been living in Australia?

A: Six and a half years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live with my 4-year-old daughter. My partner and I moved out to Australia together but are now separated.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I miss family all the time (not so much the place!) and I still get homesick – however, I have become far more resilient than I believe I ever would have had I not made the move, and feeling homesick becomes a normal part of life. I have accepted that once you move there is always going to some unease whether living close to family or far away!


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I love the Aussies! Australians and English are pretty similar in many ways. There are some differences, like Australians are much more laid back which means they can also be a bit more blasé about things, for example, manners which sometimes comes across as rude to me being British! But I prefer the Australian outlook on life, its way more relaxed and positive. Also, it’s so multicultural in Melbourne I have friends, acquaintances, and neighbours from all walks of life! 


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

A: I really put myself out there with other expats in the beginning and there are so many expats here it’s very easy to make expat mates! i.e. on social networking groups etc and through friends/work, and as a result have lots of other expat friends. But I also met other mums when my daughter was born and other Australians through work. So I have a real mix of local and expat friends now, but my expat friends are still my closest.


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


  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: $4 dollars plus.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: $10-20 dollars per main meal.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: $30-40 dollars plus per main meal, could go higher depending where you go, don’t really eat at expensive places anymore!

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

A: Average bottle of wine about $10-15 dollars but can get cheaper for example Clearskins which can be decent quality. Cigarettes $25 dollars a pack!


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Australia?

A: I did it in the first week. Pretty similar to the UK.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: I came on a 457 which work sorted but to do PR was a bit of a pain but worth it of course! Then citizenship which we got last year was very easy; couple of 100 dollars a multiple choice test!


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Australia is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Here we automatically qualify for medicare which is the free health care but expats are often required to take out private healthcare too. I fell pregnant a year after living in Australia, and as such didn’t have maternity care on my private healthcare, so when I had my daughter I used a public hospital and to be honest I wasn’t that happy with it but im not sure if that was due to quality of the care or just my bad luck and the busyness of the hospital at that time! Even if you use a private hospital you still end up a good few thousand dollars out of pocket and I have heard of women still not getting beds etc. I also required some treatment following the birth of my daughter and saw several private specialists.  However, eventually it was a doctor in a public hospital who resolved my problem so I don’t believe the quality of the professionals is any different at all. I have since used both private and public health facilities and quite honestly both have been really good. I use a private doctor and get a rebate on medicare – or I could claim some back on private (you can only claim on one). It costs me $80 dollars a visit and I get half back. You can register with doctors that are ‘bulk billed’ which basically means the government is billed directly and you don’t get charged anything but I have heard they are not very good and I have received such good care through my private doctors that im happy to pay for the minimal visits we require. In my time here, a couple of times for myself following the birth of my daughter, and twice for my daughter we have had to visit the emergency room and it was much quicker than it seems to be in the UK where wait times can be hours (for adults at least).


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the UK or Australia?  What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: Expats in Australia definitely require ambulance cover (otherwise it costs $3k) dental cover and probably general hospital cover on private healthcare. The free healthcare, Medicare wouldn’t cover dental or an ambulance and fees are extortionate. If someone is planning children they should also get that cover if they don’t want to use a public hospital but know they will still be around $6k out of pocket and there are still no guarantees. I’d personally go public again but not to the same hospital where the staff seemed a little inexperienced (The Women’s).


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Australia? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: Work organised all the transferring of our things. It all happened so quickly, from the job offer to the move it was about two months!


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Coping with general life challenges without family support.  Even after settling, not having that strong support of family can be really difficult and lonely at times. Thank god for facetime!


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

A: Australia is an amazing place to live. Everyone has a different experience but for me I earn more, the lifestyle is amazing; beach life, city life, outdoor life, it’s really relaxed. I feel more ‘me’ here than I ever did at home! But of course the downside of that is living so far from family and I’m a real family person so it’s something I struggle with.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Melbourne has the best of everything; beaches, a fab trendy city with tons of amazing cafes, restaurants, music venues, parks etc.  For visitors I’d say do the great ocean road, go to Philip island and watch the penguin march and eat out for breakfast in one of Melbourne’s amazing cafes every single day!


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

A: No idea! I try to live in the moment these days, I hope I will live in the UK again at some point at least for a while.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: To accept the uncomfortable feelings that comes with living overseas. They don’t ever really go; may as well get used to them!