Who are you?
Alison & Jean-Philippe (Australian & French, butpermanent resident of Australia and has lived abroad for 10 years)
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
We moved to Washington State in October 2014. We moved because my husband was offered a job in Ellensburg, Washington State, USA at a scientific researcher at the university.
What challenges did you face during the move?The biggest challenge was deciding what to take, what to put into storage and what to sell or get rid of.
But it is a very cathartic and cleansing experience (moving anywhere!) and makes you think about what you really need, in terms of belongings.
How did you find somewhere to live?
For the first month we were located in housing supplied by the university. We could’ve stayed in this house, however the housing was aimed at students. We found a rental place that was fully furnished (beds, couches, all white goods as well as crockery etc) which was priced within our budget and close to town.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Because we are living in a university town, there are quite a few expats (even a few from Australia) however the population of the town is small, maximum of 20,000 people and we haven’t met many other people.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
They love us, we are somewhat of a novelty, especially as the town has a small population and we chose to move to their great little town.
What do you like about life where you are?
The sense of community is strong. People have helped us out so much from buying a car, to helping us with our tax. And the environment is beautiful, Washington really is the ‘evergreen state’ which is the slogan on the car number plates.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
Sometimes Ellensburg can feel small, but Seattle is an easy day trip if we need a dose of culture and food. America and Australia are surprisingly similar (of course with a few obvious exceptions, imperial measurements, driving on the right side of the road) in terms of culture, but it has made us realize that Australians are quite British in many of the words we use and also the food Australians eat can be very British. I don’t miss any Australian food per se, but I do miss much of the multicultural choices of food we had in Australia. And this is possibly because we live in a small town. I miss Vietnamese and Indian food mostly.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Budget it all out before you move. Make sure you can afford to live on the salary you will receive, especially if one of you is on a spousal visa and unable to work. And go for it! You only live once, take a risk and have an amazing experience. What’s the worse thing that can happen? If you hate it, move back to your country of origin.
What are your plans for the future?
At this stage we are not sure. We will either stay for another year, move back to Australia or possibly Europe… our journey is to be continued!
Alison and Jean-Phillipe share more information about expat life through their blog Nouveau North Westerners.