My name is Sami. I am Portuguese by birth, but have lived in South Africa (20 years), Germany (6 years) and Portugal (12 years). I moved to Perth to accompany my husband who had been offered a job. We came in January 2007. Although we were happy in Portugal, there was always a wish to go somewhere else where we could provide our children with a better future, and to an area where we could eventually explore the Asian countries.
What challenges did you face during the move?
We were lucky that the company that sponsored our move/visa paid for a removal company, so it make our life easier. We had to give away a lot of stuff as not all fitted in the container. Of course leaving family and good friends behind is heart wrenching but we had made the choice!We also had to leave our 3 cats behind, as it was far too expensive to bring them. Lucky for us our daughter was staying for a few more years and she took them.
How did you find somewhere to live?
We lived in a rented furnished flat (apartment) for 3 months paid for by the sponsor company, then we had to make our own way.
Perth was in the middle of a property boom at that stage and after having looked at over 30 properties, we had to settle for something less than we would have liked, as we had to give 20% deposit. We had lots of trouble finding a bank that would give us a loan too as we were on a 457 visa (4 year temporary business sponsored visa), hence the 20% deposit and we still had to pay an extra lenders insurance. We settled for a “renovators dream” as the real estate people call them. We now have almost fully renovated the house and because we did it all ourselves, it hasn´t cost us an arm and a leg. But we upgraded from living in an apartment in Portugal to a house with a garden in 800sqm.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Perth has many expats, mainly from the UK, and lots from South Africa, I don´t know any in my area, but most of our friends are either Portuguese or South African.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
I have no complaints with the locals who are friendly enough, I just find that it´s difficult to get into their circle or to get invited to their houses. I had to make the first move…Luckily I found a job within 1 month of arriving and have made friends with the girls at work (I´m a medical receptionist).
What do you like about life where you are?
I enjoy living in Perth, a laid back city, beautiful clean beaches, relaxed life style, the many parks, good transport system.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
The fact that we came on a 457 visa (age was a factor, and due to various setbacks we are still on it, hopefully within 6 months will be able to apply for Permanent residence) you always feel as if you live in a limbo, it´s difficult to get loans, car finance, etc., and of course we pay full fees for our son at Uni, and we have to pay high fees for health insurance.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Research the country or the city where you would like to live, and research the visas you may apply for and if you can get a PR visa straight away, go for it.
Also cost of living in Perth (and other big cities in Australia) is now very high, comparing to most European cities, so do your maths! Not everyone works in the resources industry. Some people might find Perth very isolated, which it is, but there is plenty to see and do in Perth, and some wonderful places to visit in this great state of Western Australia.
What are your plans for the future?
Unfortunately for me, my husband has already started on his next work project which is now in Adelaide, which means that we are planning our next move for the beginning of 2012. On the plus side I will get to know another city, new experiences, find new friends…
I have started a blog,(sami-colourfulworld.blogspot.com) not only to write about some of my experiences in Australia but also to promote my crafts, and I hope to eventually achieve some success with that, as with so much going on in our lives I have neglected my artistic side for a while.