Before the move:
We decided it was best for Andy to move to South Australia (SA), Adelaide a few months before we did. Our visa conditions required that we stay in SA for 2 years – this however was a moral obligation, not a legal one.
Some folks who were already here in Australia had moved directly to Sydney or Melbourne and told us not to waste our time in SA because of the job scene. However, a moral obligation to us is as important as any. It’s our word – it defines who we are and determines how we’d react in other aspects of life.
In the early days of waiting for our visa, Andy and I used to spend time on www.realestate.com.au. We loved the houses in Woodcroft, Flagstaff hill, Happy valley etc. So when we had to figure out where Andy would live, I started looking for accommodation in those areas. We had to find something reasonable for 1.5 months. Air bnb wasn’t a thing then – we didn’t even know it existed, and I finally found Woodcroft Park. The budget cabin seemed okay – and a decision was made.
When Andy moved:
At the Adelaide airport, Andy caught a cab and the driver was surprised that he was going to Woodcroft because of how far it was.
Lesson 1: Cabs are very expensive.
I remember waiting to hear from Andy – had he reached? Was he okay?
This is a good time to also mention that we chose to move to Australia WITHOUT having ever visited the country.
I called Woodcroft Park and they told me that he was probably jet lagged and fast asleep, and hence wasn’t answering the door. It was the longest wait, Andy just wasn’t calling!! Then at 4 pm, he did and said that his priority was to get a SIM card because the shops would close at 5 pm.
Lesson 2: Yes, 5 pm!
I was beyond shocked – what if you needed eggs, milk, bread, medicines, etc? Well, yea, that’s reality for you in Adelaide. We learnt later that you’d get some of the basics at a servo (petrol pump with an attached grocery store) which are open 24*7. In Adelaide, the majority of them are On The Run (OTR) and in Melbourne, 7-Eleven.
Lesson 3: Stock your pantry.
Andy then sends me pics of the streets – absolutely beautiful, serene, clean (and no potholes and garbage). I take one look and ask, ‘Where are the people?’ It felt ‘lonely’ to me – would I ever adjust to that life? We are so used to having people all around us in India – the watchmen outside buildings, random people talking to the watchmen, maids going to work on foot, men on cycles, fruit and vegetables vendors with their carts, some old uncle standing in his balcony scratching his belly, and how can we forget the dogs and cows that make up our streets. You learn to get used to it though and even appreciate it after a while.
Lesson 4: OMG! This is different.
The next day Andy went to the shopping centre, ate burgers for lunch and bought a biryani for dinner – at approx $10-12 for a biryani, one does convert to INR and wonder what’s the cheapest thing to eat while we set up and find a job. I told Andy to buy some basics from the supermarket and try cooking in his cabin. But it’s tougher than you think when you don’t have a pressure cooker or a mixer. I mean how many eggs are you going to eat? You crave the simple things like dal and rice.
Lesson 5: You can take an Indian out of India, but you can’t take India out of the Indian.
But you learn about how to adjust and make better decisions. Andy learnt that if you ate lunch at the food court after 3:00 pm, you’d get it for half price as they need to finish the food and can’t keep leftovers for the next day. Cool concept, but lots of late lunches to manage funds!
Lesson 6: $1 = INR 50.
What we also learnt was that Woodcroft park was mainly a caravan park – people would rent ‘powered’ sites and live in their caravans on the property. Some of these folks were passing through while others have sold their homes and travel the country living in their caravans. These folks use power from these sites and have shared toilets, bathrooms and laundry rooms. They’d hang their clothes out to dry on lines outside their caravans – that’s a bit familiar with the clothes we hang in our balconies in India for everyone to see 😉
Lesson 7: Caravaning is a large part of Australian life. I’d love to do it sometime, but I’m not sure about those shared toilets.
Ultimately, I found a suburb that we wanted to live in – it was so, so far away from Woodcroft. Woodcroft had its charm though with koalas and kangaroos around.
A new country, 100% different from India, no friends, no family, nothing familiar to make you feel like you ‘belong’ is overwhelming! I can’t imagine how Andy stayed without us for two months.
Lesson 8: As I write this post today, I feel a strong sense of emotion. It’s a reminder to hang in there – if you want something, be patient. Work hard and don’t lose sight of why you’re doing something in the first place.
In my next few posts, I’ll take you through what Andy did during the two months he was alone in Adelaide – that’s when its got real!
Have a good week ahead!