American Expat Living in Australia - Interview with Tracey

Published: 2 Jul at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Australia
Tracey is a native Texan who is branching out to explore the wide world. She began her travel by going to Canada at 15, it was on to Sweden, England (twice), and Mexico all before 30. It wasnt until 2013 that she decided to try living overseas. Her first "permanent" overseas assignment is Australia and this is that story. Tracey's expat blog is called Little Honey (see listing here)

Uluru at sunset
Uluru at sunset

Here's the interview with Tracey...

Where are you originally from?
I am a native of Dallas, Texas but I have lived in Virginia and New Jersey.

In which country and city are you living now?
Home right now is Canberra, Australia, with frequent visits to Sydney on the weekends.

How long have you lived in Australia and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived here for about 18 months and have another 18 months left on my current assignment.

Learning to surf in Bateman's Bay
Learning to surf in Bateman's Bay
Why did you move to Australia and what do you do?
I moved here for work and I currently work at the U.S. Embassy

Did you bring family with you?
Just little ole me! I have two cats who have adapted to life in Australia (which really just means different treats). My mom has come to visit and I have more family scheduled to visit soon.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Even though Australia is a first world country, there are some massive differences that I had not prepared myself for before I arrived. Exchange rates really threw me for a loop. When I bought a car, I was already in sticker shock over the cost for a *used* vehicle compared to the states but when I added in the exchange rate, it nearly killed me.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We live in a bit of a bubble working at the embassy. I do get to meet people through work and when I am fortunate enough to be invited to social functions. The part that has struck me most is that the people I meet are so diverse. I dont just meet Australians, but Kiwis, Dutch, Vietnamese, South Africans and more. It adds something to this experience knowing that they too are here on behalf of their country.

Hanging out with Roos
Hanging out with Roos
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Lake Burley Griffin is the hub of activity. I love walking down by the lake and taking in the peacefulness of it. Of course, its also great to escape Canberra! The beach is about two hours away so its never too far to go for a surf.

If you are considering becoming an expat, do your research. I did lots of research before moving to Australia. The quarantine laws are very restrictive here so I let people know up front what could or could not go in care packages. I also had to complete all the requirements to move my pets and had great success with a pet relocation company who navigated the process on my behalf while I could concentrate on the house and my work.

What do you enjoy most about living in Australia?
I love the different holidays they celebrate. It doesnt hurt that I get those holidays off work as well as all the American holidays. Some of their holidays draw parallels with US holidays such as their ANZAC day is very similar to our Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. Others are completely different like Family and Community Day.

How does the cost of living in Australia compare to home?
Since almost everything must be imported, Australia is rather expensive. I have compared prices with those of home and things are roughly three times more expensive.

Canberra's 100th!
Canberra's 100th!
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Australia?
It is so very far. Getting to anywhere other than Asia takes hours and there are times when I wish I could just go home for the holiday or a break but it is cost prohibitive and time consuming.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Australia, what would it be?
Dont buy the stereotypes. The Aussies are so much more than Crocodile Hunters, Mick Dundee, or Mad Max. I have never met people who are more genuine, down to earth and kind as the Aussies.

Be prepared for the sticker shock!! Things here cost so much more. You find ways around it.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Being away from my family. We are very close and thats been tough, especially when I miss things like birthdays and Christmas. Technology has helped with that alot. I have been able to call on my VoIP regularly and I actually Skyped in for Christmas while we all opened presents together. I didnt get any of my Mom's cooking but it was almost like being there.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
After much sleep to readjust to American time, I suspect there will be elements of Australia that I will always miss. Some of the foods here such as the famous Aussie meat pie, are just not available in the States.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Set realistic expectations. You will feel lost for awhile until you get your bearings. It is OK! As you settle in you will be in better shape for your new life.
  2. Dont be afraid to ask for help. People can tell you are not from around here. Most of them are kind and will offer to help you.
  3. Be willing to try "local" cuisine, even if its a tourist thing to do. I tried kangaroo. Im not really a fan of it, but I tried it and I can tell the story to people when they ask me.
  4. Go everywhere you are invited. I have met some of the most interesting people by attending functions I have been invited to and our paths would not have crossed otherwise.
  5. Never forget where you are from, but let your new *home* leave its mark on you. I am definitely a different person than I was when I arrived in Australia.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started my blog mainly to keep my family at home updated on what I am doing. Rather than spending my only available *calling* time by recounting the same stories over and over, I decided I could start a blog and let them get all the same news at the same time. My readership has grown slowly as my family tells their friends and so on.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Feel free to leave a comment on my blog and I can try to answer your questions!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingTracey is an American expat living in Australia. Blog description: A first time expat learning how to surf.
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