From Portugal to Australia - Expat Interview With Sami

Published: 27 Nov at 11 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Australia
Sami is used to moving - having now lived in 6 different countries, and about 16 different houses. When her husband was approached to work on a project in Perth, they first took at trip to Sydney and Perth (where the job would be) before making a decision, as they had a good life in Portugal and Australia was so far away. They did a lot of expense calculations such as property prices/ cost of food etc and decided her husband's salary would enable them to live well and have some left for to travel too. Sami blogs at Sami's colourfulworld (see listing here)

sami's colourfulworld

Here's the interview with Sami...

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Mozambique, which was then a Portuguese colony, but before coming to Australia I lived in Portugal for 12 years.

In which country and city are you living now?
I live in Perth, Australia

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been living in Perth for just over 5 years. I would love to stay forever, but due to my husband´s work, we move around a lot, so who knows?

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved here because my husband was invited to work on a project here (he is in Railway signalling). I used to own a small picture framing/art supply business in Portugal, but when we arrived here I did a Medical receptionist course, and have been working in a General Practice clinic since. It´s quite a busy clinic, can get quite stressful at times, but I enjoy the variety of work and I can say 90% of our patients are delightful.

sami's colourfulworldDid you bring family with you?
Only our son came with us, he was about to start university when we left Portugal.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It wasn´t my first experience living in a foreign country, as at the age of 14 my parents moved from Mozambique to South Africa, and after getting married, my husband and I moved to Germany (for his work again), then we moved to Portugal, and although I am Portuguese by birth, Portugal was almost a foreign country to me. So I think after moving so often and having experienced such varied cultures, I am quite adaptable and didn´t have any difficulty adapting to the Australian way of living.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I find that just as in other countries, people tend to stick to their school friends or people they grew up with, so when arriving in Perth I found it difficult to make friends, even though the Australians are friendly people. Then I befriended two work colleagues, but I had to take the first step in inviting them to my house, but I can say that I only have 3 Australian friends, the rest are either Portuguese or South African.

sami's colourfulworldWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Well, Perth is a beautiful city with wonderful beaches, so if you are the beach type (which I´m not) there are plenty to chose from. Otherwise Kings Park, the local botanic gardens are a must to visit for their beautiful grounds and views over the city centre. If you like wine, the Swan Valley not too far from the city is the place to visit, otherwise a bit further away is Margaret River, another wine region which is worth a visit.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the organization, cleanliness, friendly people, the Swan river that divides the city, the birdlife, the peace... One of the reasons we decided to move here was also to be able to travel in Australia and also visit Asia, so I have been lucky that my husband has had projects in 3 capital cities, so I while he is there I take the opportunity to visit him and get to know the area - so I have been lucky to have already been to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide. Unfortunately we haven´t yet seen much of Asia...

sami's colourfulworldHow does the cost of living compare to home?
Perth is probably one of the most expensive cities of Australia, unfortunately the mining boom has affected prices from food to housing, and even though not all of us work in mining we have to pay the high prices! Cost of living in Portugal is a lot cheaper for sure, from eating out, to clothing, to rents, with the exception of cars and petrol, that seem to be cheaper here.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Cost of living would be one of them - you have to make sure that what you are going to earn will enable you to pay rent and food, etc and still have some money left to enjoy life.
You should have an open mind and accept that there might be a lot of differences in your way of thinking and the Australian way of thinking or way of doing things.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
If possible come with a Permanent residence visa, it opens a lot more doors, and makes life easier.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The type of visa we came in with - 457 business sponsored - was at the time the only option we were given, but along the way we had a few setbacks, and as it is a non-resident visa, medical insurance costs more, university fees are double (you pay as a foreign student), to buy a house the deposit is higher...all these costs add up!

sami's colourfulworldWhen you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I do hope that in the short term we won´t be going back to Portugal, as unfortunately the situation there as in the rest of Europe is not too good...

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
Do your cost of living research, salary research, choose the right suburbs with the right schools, have an open mind and most of all make the most of your time in your new home.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog was started as a way to register my travels, experiences, my crafts. A while ago I joined a blogging group who were doing an A-Z of their country, so I am almost nearing the end of my A - Z of Australia, where I describe important sights, monuments, cities that I have visited.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be contacted via email: sami.veloso{at}hotmail{dot}com and Twitter @sami.veloso

Sami blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Sami's colourfulworld has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Sami, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There are 4 comments

Celeste Cortez wrote 11 years ago:

I love this interview. A lot of comments in facebook about it. Be happy until you want to stay.

Sami Veloso wrote 11 years ago:

Hi Joanna. We lived in a village between Coimbra and Viseu, for 11 years. My parents and one sister live in Cascais. Another sister lives in South Africa. My daughter has been living in France for 3 years, as she fell in love with a Frenchman. Hopefully they will join us in Australia someday! With my parents I always spoke Portuguese, with my younger sister I speak English as she is married to a South african Greek. With my husband, who is Portuguese, we speak both languages depending on circunstances. When we lived in Germany, where both kids were born, I spoke English to the kids, my husband spoke Portuguese and they spoke German at kindergarten and with friends.They soon forgot German after we left though... I still cook traditoanal Portuguese food, as I find it is a healthy cuisine and long as I can get the ingredients of course.

Johanna Bradley wrote 11 years ago:

Interesting to read. You know my angle is Portuguese, Sami, so I would like to know, whereabouts in Portugal you consider "home", whether your parents are still there or what other family you have? I believe I've read about you travelling with daughter? Do you still consider Portuguese your first language, and do you sometimes cook traditional Portuguese dishes? Nosey, aren't I?

Hélder Ribeiro wrote 11 years ago:

Hi Sami! It is always a pleasure to read about you and how you are unstoppable, always with new and enthusiastic projects in your life! Um beijo da Laurinda e do Helder

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