9 September 2016

Sami Veloso - Expat in Perth, Australia

Sami Veloso - Expat in Perth, Australia

We’ve had the chance to talk to Sami Veloso, 57, a Portuguese expat who has moved to Australia with her family. Mrs. Veloso who has been living there for ten years, now works as a medical receptionist. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Portugal.


Q: What made you move out of Portugal?

A: My husband applied for a management position and was offered a good contract.


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

A: Perth, Western Australia. Chosen due to a job offer.


Q: How long have you been living in Australia?

A: Ten years.


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

A: I life with my husband. Our son came with us at the time we moved, but he has now married and moved out. We all adjusted very well to our new life in Australia.


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

A: Yes I miss my family but we speak often on Skype or Whatsapp.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Australians are friendly and have a great sense of humour.


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: Not too easy to start with, I think in every country people already have their groups either formed in school, or university or with other Mothers at kindergarten, so it's difficult to be accepted as an outsider. I made a couple of friends via work but I was the one that took the first step of inviting them to our home. But mainly we socialize with other expats.


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

A:  Life in Australia is a lot more expensive than Portugal!!

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: I don't drink coffee but it can cost about $4.

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

A: A simple takeaway meal can cost from $15 per person.

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

A: An expensive meal could cost about $40 upwards per person.

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

A: A bottle of wine costs from about $12 upwards. Cigarettes are over $20 a pack of 30!!


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

A: There are a few banks that will open accounts for people with non-resident status. In our case we used ANZ bank, but I know Citibank also do that.


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

A: Australia has a very complex Visa system with hundreds of visas for different things, so the process can be lengthy and also very expensive. Generally I have found that you can go to any of the Government departments and always find friendly staff who are willing to give you information, and even though there is a lot of bureaucracy regarding paperwork, they are very organized and thinks work out well in the end.


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

A: I work in a medical clinic, so I could be biased, but I have found that we have a great medical system, good hospitals and great Doctors. If you are non-resident you have to get Private health insurance as you won't be covered by the countries Medicare system. Health insurance is also expensive but as a non-resident you only need to take Hospital cover and make sure ambulance cover is included as if you need to call one out it can cost you about $800 if not more! Of course with just the basic hospital cover you then have to make sure you don't have a toothache or need glasses and then you have to pay out of your own pocket for this. Otherwise get a policy that includes extras such as dental, optical, etc.


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

A: We had to arrange health insurance set up before arriving. As I said before the Hospital cover insurance with ambulance is the minimum required for non-residents.


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: Packing and moving was stressful, there was a lot to sort out, things to donate or throw away. I contacted 3 companies to get a quote for the container and went with the cheapest and everything work out well. I can't remember now who it was though.


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

A: Finding a job can be difficult depending on the area of work. Some job adverts require people with "Australian experience" and if you can't get a job you can't get Australian experience, and if you don't have Australian experience you can't get a job!! Luckily my husband already had a job lined up when we arrived and I decided to do a Medical receptionist course shortly after we arrived and was lucky to get a job straight after the course finished. It's probably not as easy now, as Australia was going through a boom when we arrived, but the economy is a bit flatter now.


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

A: I'm a very positive person so I fitted in quite well and love living here. The weather is a great positive with the long summers, lovely beaches, beautiful cities. The negative would be that Australia is so far away from everything else, it takes almost a day to fly to Europe...


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

A: In Perth certainly the beaches would probably be a drawcard for most people. The city is clean and modern with a few old buildings in between and with great transport.

Kings Park (botanic gardens) is a must, and a visit to a wildlife park is another must.


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

A: We have thought of moving back to Portugal once we retire as life is much cheaper there, but that's still a few years ahead... Apart from that I really wouldn't like to more anywhere else, as I love living here.


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

A: Try to integrate as much as possible, have a support group of people, make friends with the locals. 


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

A: My own blog: https://sami-colourfulworld.blogspot.com.au/ and http://perthdailyphoto.blogspot.com.au/