Passport burning a hole in my pocket

Since announcing my plans to emigrate to Australia, several months ago, I’ve been asked “why?” more times than I can count. And it’s a fair question. Why would I walk away from London, one of the greatest cities in the world, a job I reckon I’m pretty good at in a company where I’m supported and immensely valued, more friends than I can count, and my beloved parents 90 minutes away?

In short, because I can. I’m fortunate enough to be a British-Australian dual national, thanks to my Sydneysider mother (who, 45 years ago, did the classic “come over for three years” thing, met my dad and changed her mind about going home – so intercontinental moves are in my blood!). That little blue passport opens the doors to Australia, and indeed New Zealand, for as little or as long as I want to stay there, no questions asked. It offers me the opportunity to live in the same continent as my cousins, who are fantastic but I’ve not had enough face time to be close to as I’d like; to experience a lifestyle which may be similar but definitely has differences; to see far more sun and sea and sand; to visit all the stunning bits of Aus and NZ I never get to on holiday because by the time I’ve visited my friends and family it’s been time to fly home; to reset expectations on my work-life balance over 10,000 miles from my previous job; and to take on the challenge of applying my skills in a new market. After returning from a year in NZ in 2007, I’ve always thought I might go over for longer one day. Recently I’ve concluded “if not now, when?”.

After looking at it from the perspective of what will I regret more in five years’ time, I decided to give it a whirl. It’s for three years minimum, unless I decide I really don’t like it, so I have to invest in a new life and new friends. Sounds alarming, three years, but what was I doing three years ago? Pretty much what I’m doing now. I had the same job (or a more junior role in the same place), the same friends, the same flat. I’ve loved absolutely all of it, but in my mid-thirties it’s time for something to change. I wouldn’t have chosen the single life, but while I’ve got it I want to enjoy it to the full – and one big advantage is being able to make decisions for me and only me. As a friend and former colleague put it, “You only get one shot at life”.

With a combination of careful planning and some slices of luck, I’ve managed to set things up quite nicely. I have landed a good job in the heart of Sydney at an international professional services company, but not to start until mid-January. For this cricket tragic, the timing of two months off and the Ashes in Australia is no coincidence – I’ve tickets to eleven days over three matches. And I will also walk the Overland Track in Tasmania, explore Kangaroo Island, spend two weeks in New Zealand over Christmas, and catch up with many friends and family members.

There’s a huge amount I’ll miss, but a lot to be excited for. Time for the little blue passport to stop burning a hole in my pocket.

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