american expats, vol 1: australia here we come

I've been taking a bit of a break from the blog because I've been so busy, and I'm excited to share with everyone what's been taking up all of my time -- Joe and I are moving to AUSTRALIA!

After I didn't get my fix from living overseas when I studied abroad in Barcelona, about a year into our relationship, Joe and I agreed on a goal that we would try to go work overseas together at some point in our 20s. We've both expressed this personal-crossed-with-business goal of ours at each of our companies. We are both very career-focused and didn't want to sacrifice our careers completely to pick up and move and take just any job we could find, so we agreed that if at least one of us had a solid job opportunity going over, the other could find work quickly!

Joe actually got offered a transfer to his London office shortly after we got engaged, but that posed a few different problems. At the time, we weren't married, so I'd still have to figure out how to get my own visa. The net-net of it was that we were just getting busy to plan our wedding for the following year, and timing wasn't quite right, so he turned it down. Fast forward to February of this year when I discovered an opportunity for a role in my company's Sydney office -- I threw my name in the hat for the application process immediately!

I'm so excited to announce that we're moving to Sydney, Australia on the 457 visa (which will no longer be available in March 2018) sponsored by my company in just 3 short days! Since we're now married, my company sponsored both of our visas as we can apply together as a family on the application. That ended up making Joe such an attractive candidate since he didn't require sponsorship, and he was able to land an amazing job there too starting 2 weeks after we arrive! Everything is falling into place and we could not be more excited about this next adventure!

Here, I'm sharing my advice on how to go make it happen if you have a similar aspiration:

1. Tell everyone at work about your goal to work overseas.

Articulate your interest early on to build internal champions to help make this goal happen. If you share this goal of yours from the get go, you can set yourself up to be informed of an opportunity once it becomes available. It's much less risky for a company to send an internal candidate since they know what they're getting, rather than hire externally. When raising your hand for an opportunity tie yourself back to business drivers -- interests, talents, and internal knowledge that's unique to you but also going to help propel the company, team role, etc. forward. At the end of the day, it costs a company money to send someone internationally, so focus on the added benefits to the company and what unique attributes you have to help align.

2. Timing is never going to be right, so be flexible.

It's always going to be something that makes it seem like a bad time -- someone just started a job, you have a friend's wedding coming up, you have a nephew or niece on the way, you are busy, etc. Life gets busier and busier as we get older and there will always be a million reasons not to go follow your dreams due to feat of missing out, but timing will never be perfect and you can always save to come home for the important things. If you get the opportunity, just say yes.

3. Understand any financial implications specific to the new country.

It's helpful to know some of the major eye openers from the get go when thinking about taking an international job transfer. Each company has their own way of doing things that will often put you at a disadvantage as an non-citizen. Some companies offer expat assignments where you can stay on USD currency for income and maintain the same benefits you have currently, but some will only transfer you as a foreign employee, meaning you'd be required to switch to a foreign payroll, benefits, etc. The latter is what my company offers, which definitely has some disadvantages, so it's important to due your research in advance. For example, healthcare is government sponsored in Australia, but Americans can't take advantage. Some of my prescription medication ends up being significantly more expensive over there, even with the private health insurance my company provides. Americans also have to pay dual taxes (the ONLY country to tax on worldwide income... UGH) -- essentially we'll have to pay taxes in both America and Australia for income made in Australia. There are some exclusions to that and write-offs too, so it's not all bad. Just a reminder to do your due diligence and make sure it works for you and your situation!

Overall, a transfer internally is a pretty seamless way to get overseas. Most companies offer competitive relocation packages for overseas assignments (make sure you understand all of the fine print within these as well), and have an HR and/or immigration team to help answer all of your questions. My company was amazing through the process, but there were some hiccups including my visa being delayed about a month and a half. I expected to have it by the beginning of August and ended up getting it mid-September. The entire time I was nervous I was going to get denied, but in hindsight it was silly -- governmental processes just take time. You can also sponsor yourself as many countries (including Aus) offer a working holiday visa where they allow you to go live and work in the country for a year. That always gives you a backup plan in case you can't transfer internally. Plenty of people get a visa and head over to find a job once they get there, and it sounds a little bit scary to type A people like myself, but just remember that things that are meant to be always find a way to work out.

We've packed up our cute little SF apartment (which will always have a special place in our hearts as our first apartment together!) into 4 bags, and 6 boxes, and are ready to take the leap across the pond on Thursday. I'm sad to leave San Francisco, but happy to go to Sydney! We know we'll be back to the Bay Area, so it's easier to leave knowing that. It's going to be a complete change of pace from San Francisco where all of our friends live and where we have busy lifestyles with things going on after work nearly everyday. In Sydney, we have about 5 friends, so barely know anyone, but are excited to go build a new life over there together and make new friends together (and to be honest, pretty excited to slow down a bit in true aussie-style). We plan to stay 2 years because we know we'll miss our family and friends. Moving overseas opens up lots of new travel opportunities since there's a whole new side of the world to explore that is easier to get to from Australia than the states. We booked Bali for our first Christmas there (it's only a 6 hour flight!) and are eager to explore all around Australia, New Zealand and other parts of Asia.

Stay tuned for more updates on the blog (and read my American Expats vol. 2 post here) and a whole new set of travel guides & aussie-related posts. HERE WE GO!!



#travel #australia


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