Courtney Alkek, Brisbane

Who are you?

I am Courtney Alkek, an American expat who lives in Australia.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We moved to Brisbane, Australia in July of 2014 for my husband’s job.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Deciding what to bring, what to sell or donate and what to store was probably the most stressful part of the moving process.How did you find somewhere to live?

My husband’s company set us up with a relocation agency that helped us find an apartment to rent. We also found that all of the properties were listed online so it made it easy for us to pick and choose what we wanted to see.

The apartment rental process was different than in the US because the majority of units are privately owned instead of just being managed by the apartment complex. That mean we had to set up appointments with different real estate agents that were managing the properties instead of just showing up at the leasing office.

Are there many other expats in your area?

There seems to be a good mix of expats from all over the world in Australia. I don’t encounter too many Americans on a daily basis but there seem to be plenty of Europeans and Canadians.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Australians are very friendly and laid back so it is easy to get along with them. They don’t treat expats any differently in my experience.

What do you like about life where you are?

I love living in such a beautiful country that has so much to see and do.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

It’s hard constantly having to calculate the time difference every time you want to text or call anyone back home. Spending holidays so far from family is hard as well but we try and have a special celebration either just the two of us or with our friends here.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Australians definitely embody the whole “work to live, not live to work” school of thought. People value spending time with family and traveling the world more than slaving away in an office. I think the US could learn a lot from them in that realm.

How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?

Australia is more expensive for sure. There is also a lot fewer choices, which does make decision making less difficult but can be frustrating at times.

What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I love the food here! I have no dislikes (but I haven’t mustered the courage to try Vegemite yet) everything I have eaten has been delicious. There’s a big emphasis on fresh, healthy meals here.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Be open minded, don’t compare everything to your home country, and put yourself out there to meet new people.

What are your plans for the future?

We plan on staying in Australia at least another year or so (you never know though) and then hopefully move somewhere else overseas.

Courtney’s shares more information about her adventures in Australia through her blog www.alkeksabroad.com, and where you will also be able to catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.