Settling in to Life in Australia

G’Day Mates! Kidding, I am pretty sure I can’t get away with saying that anytime soon. It is now exactly a month since I’ve been here in Australia and I am loving it so far! I know, total shocker right. The weather has been fantastic since I arrived, our house is a five minute drive from multiple beaches (hopefully getting a bike soon) and it’s been really nice for Stephen and I to reconnect and spend quality time together after being apart for 2.5 months. And I mean a LOT of quality time together, we barely know anyone around here…

Moving usually comes with its ups and downs and moving countries definitely is no different. Living in a different country puts you more out of your comfort zone because your norms are totally flipped around, sometimes literally flipped like driving on the other side of the car, AND the road. I am lucky to be in an English speaking country so it’s not as big of a transition as moving elsewhere in the world, but it still comes with plenty of new experiences. Today I am sharing some of what I’ve experienced in my first month of living down under. And since I prefer to end of a happy note- let’s begin with the not-so-easy stuff.

Shopping- Where do I go?

O how I miss you Amazon, Target and TJ Maxx- you have no idea! We do have a version of Target and TJ Maxx here but it is just not the same. You can’t compare to the amazingness that is our Target in the US or the absolute ecstasy that is Amazon Prime. I read Amazon is coming to Australia in 2018 so if that happens I may cry out of pure happiness. Shopping has been an adjustment for me for sure- I am having to relearn where to go for what I need. We are also living in a small coastal town, not very close to a major city, so when you’re trying to buy EVERYTHING for a house and don’t have many store options around (and you’re super picky) it can be frustrating. We’ve taken a few trips up to the Gold Coast which has 1000x the places to choose from. It’s come in handy when I can’t find what I am looking for around here, but it’s an hour away. For example, I looked everywhere for the perfect sectional couch- I had this idea in my mind for what I wanted but I could not find it. If we were going to shell out some decent cash for this piece of furniture I wanted it to be right. We ended up finding it, in the Gold Coast, and since they don’t deliver down here we have to make the trek all the way up even further to their warehouse in Brisbane to get it. Not convenient, but in the end it’ll be worth it. We actually pick it up tomorrow, AHHHHHH, so goodbye camping chairs finally. I realize this might be completely petty of me to be frustrated by shopping choices, but after living in Atlanta for so many years, with almost anything I could need/want easily accessible, it’s been an adjustment for sure!

Starting Completely from Scratch

Usually when you move your belongings might be unorganized in your new place for a while, but at least you HAVE stuff. You know, things to eat off of, places to sit, a bed. This past month we’d bought everything from appliances to plates, to a bed and clothes hangers- all the way down to the salt and pepper. I will say I feel extremely fortunate because of Stephen we are in a position where it hasn’t been a financial strain, but you’d be surprised how fast the home budget disappears. After all the shopping we’ve done the house still feels empty to me, and for someone who is extremely visual it’s not so easy. My surroundings really affect me- I am distracted by the blank walls, the empty rooms, and have ideas swirling around in my head constantly I can’t do anything about yet. If you saw my last apartment you know I like stuff around me, knick knacks and art makes me feel at home. But I am learning to be more patient and let them come together over time. I think the addition of the couch tomorrow will make a huge impact and let me settle down a bit. Also our shipment from the US containing artwork and more personal things for house arrived in Sydney by boat and should be coming to us next month- yay!

BEACH BEACH BEACH!

Some people are mountain people, some are city people, some are beach people. I’m probably a little combination, but coastal living is so ingrained in my being and who I am. Living near the ocean is something I’ve been wanting and dreaming of for as long as I can remember, and now it’s a reality. And not those beaches where it’s literally just sand and then condo, condo, condo- yea they’re nice sometimes but that’s not the environment I wanted (sorry Destin and PCB). Goodbye annoying spring breakers, frat guys and too many families crowding up the beach! No offense to the families but spring breakers and frat guys, get your shit together and act right.

Here in Australia and in particular our area, the beaches are private, expansive, clean, natural and peaceful. I’m usually at the beach a few times a week- either for a midday run/break from work or for a walk with Stephen when he comes from work. Last week after a busy day of errands we packed 2 beers, left the shoes at home and just sat on the beach for a drink, admiring the water and thinking how thankful we are to have this so close to home.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and bring eternal joy to the soul.”
— Robert Wyland, marine life artist

Working 100% Remotely at Last

Back in Atlanta many mornings consisted of dreading the alarm, rushing around getting ready for the day, sitting in my car for 45 minutes, office for 8 hours, car for another 45 minutes, then cramming in errands and more work at home just to hopefully enjoy a little bit of down time before doing it all over again. Even though I was working remotely while traveling around Europe, when I returned it was back to the in-office grind on a regular basis. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted, I had taken strategic steps away from it but then circled back in order to make larger dents in my debt payoff. It was worth it, but I was so ready for the lifestyle change.

These days I am typically up by 6:30am for a coffee, then open my laptop to begin work around 7am. The morning is prime time to talk to my US clients because of the time difference so often I have a call or two first thing in the morning, then the day’s schedule is up to me. Despite the distractions of our empty house just waiting for a makeover I’ve found I am much more productive working outside of the office. No more people popping in for little things and interrupting my thought process- I feel I can actually FINISH things faster and be more efficient. Depending on my mood I’ll work from the dining table, my office or sit out on the front balcony like I am doing right now. I love having the freedom to work when and where I want, to take breaks when needed, and to be able to do errands during the day to places that are only open until 5pm. It feels great, and is definitely the type of lifestyle I have been after for a while now. My office, like much of the house, is still pretty sparse, but I have plans for a big collage inspiration wall and my prized Apple monitor should be arriving from the US next month.

New Beginnings and More to Come

The other day my mom cracked me up on the phone- she said “so what else is new besides, you know, your entire life”. Shes right, it’s literally like stepping into a new life (one that includes no dryer and me hanging all of our laundry on the clothes line outside, but that’s another story). I hope you’ve enjoyed a little look into this new life in Australia, and I can’t wait to share so much more! A few things I have planned coming up are a home tour, DIY projects around the house, a little closer look into relationships, and how you can ditch the “norms” of society and go after what you really want in life too.

Stay tuned, stay positive, and for God’s sake have a glass of wine, you deserve it.

For a more regular, behind the scenes look make sure to follow Sauvignon Blue on Instagram!

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Final Thoughts About Moving to Australia

It’s hard for me to believe I am officially moving out of the United States TOMORROW! Earlier today I made it to California for a little rest and relaxation before my big flight out. These past few weeks in particular have been a whirlwind of doing my best to keep up with work and getting things in order for the move- things like selling my car, cancelling insurances, getting new global health insurance, plus so many others things I never even thought about. At times it’s felt extremely hectic… I don’t remember the last time I just had one day or even an evening to myself to relax, then add on some unexpected doctor visits and let’s just say stress levels have been a bit high. Lately I’ve been able to enjoy a few wonderful quality-time trips and many dinners with close friends and family which has made me feel so very special and loved. Overall I am feeling surprisingly prepared and very excited… EXTREMELY excited!!!

A lot of people have been asking me a few of the same questions so I thought I’d share those along with my final thoughts- good and bad- about the fact that I am leaving this hemisphere and moving to Australia.

Where will you be living?

We have a house!!! We will be living in East Ballina, right near the border of New South Wales and Queensland… about 2 hours south of Brisbane near the Gold Coast. I can’t even explain how lucky and grateful I feel to have a beautiful home waiting for me. Stephen did a great job finding our new home- going to all the open houses on his own and keeping me updated along the way about the properties. Even though HE is the actual homeowner he’s made me feel so involved and he truly values my opinions and what I wanted in a home. In addition to an open floor plan, outdoor living and 2 bathrooms, it was really important to me to have 3 bedrooms. Since I will be working from home 100% and when people visit it will be for extended time (2 weeks) and not just for a weekend, the separation of home office and guest bedroom was key in my mind.  I am pretty sure he nailed it, plus it’s only a 6 minute drive to the beach!

What will you miss the most about the America?

Obviously I will be missing my family and friends very much, so let’s just get that no-brainer out of the way! Lately I’ve people have asked me, what food will you miss? I really can’t think of one… Australia has amazing seafood, sushi, burgers, Indian/Chinese food and honestly the cuisine is not that different there. The only one I could really think of is Mexican food since apparently they just haven’t gotten it right down there. When it really comes down to it the thing I am going to miss the most about America is Amazon Prime, and no I am not joking! The past few months I’ve become quite addicted and it’s saved my ass while being so busy and having no time to drive around to stores. I’ll actually have to go to a store to buy stuff now?! #firstworldproblems

Are you going to look for work there?

The type of visa I have to live in Australia right now is a 1 year Work/Holiday visa. Under this visa I am allowed to be employed by a company for up to 6 months and then would need to switch companies, but I am not allowed to have Australian clients under this visa. Given the nature of my work and how I’ve purposefully set myself up to have clients and not to be someone’s employee, I will not be looking for work there during this next year. I am fortunate enough to have gained my U.S. client’s trust to continue working for them abroad, plus I may have a few ideas up my sleeve for the future so stay tuned ;). If you’re interested in traveling to and living in Australia yourself, you will need a visa (yes you will need a visa for a 2 week visit but it’s easy and like $50) and can find more information HERE. After this first year Stephen and I will then apply for a partner visa, and once approved I will then be able to open my business up to potential Australian clients!

How does your family feel about you moving?

I am pretty sure no parent would choose for their daughter to move across the world. Although I know my parents and siblings are excited for me I know it is not an easy thing to grasp, especially for my mother. Unlike if I was living anywhere else in the United States they now won’t be able to easily jump on a plane to see me and visa versa. Despite the sad feelings everyone has been incredibly supportive and proud of me for putting myself out there to take this risk. They definitely see the wonderful opportunity to experience the other side of the world, and I know I couldn’t have made the decision to go full hearted without them behind me. Deep down it kills me to know I am choosing to do something that is turning my mom’s world around, but I know she also wouldn’t want to stand in the way of this huge life change. No matter what change in life is hard, but only amazing things come from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

What are you most excited about?

Of course first thing is seeing Stephen DUHHH. But second is for sure coastal living. Throughout the years I’ve kept a list of life goals, both short and long term, and moving to the beach has been on my list for as long as I can remember. I was determined it would happen at some point but I wasn’t sure exactly when or how. Well now I am about to live not only 6 minutes from the beach but in a country that has over 10,500 different beaches! Insane. It is not only the beach itself that attracts me to the coast but it’s the entire lifestyle, vibe and mentality. Honestly I am not one to lie there and bake in the sun all day (hello skin cancer!) but instead I just simply love being by the water.

Then I must say I cannot wait to decorate our new place. We are literally starting from scratch so this will be the first time in my life so far I will be able to actually design a space, instead of just finding a way to make a bunch of random crap I’ve had for years work together. I am definitely not someone who wants to go blow money on all new things- I love finding cool second hand pieces to give new life to. I’ve seen my mother on so many occasions find the most amazing deals for under $50 that easily looks like it came from Pottery Barn or wherever everyone is shopping these days. We definitely want to invest most in the staple pieces like the couch, dining and outdoor living- but all the other pieces will be fun DIY projects I can’t wait to share on the blog!

Final thoughts?

Part of me is still in awe this is all actually happening. Right now as I sit in my friend’s kitchen overlooking their beautiful backyard and views of Anaheim Hills, it feels like I am back on another vacation to southern California. Except this time I have way more luggage and no return ticket. I’ve made HUGE changes in my life during the past two years and none of them have happened out of luck or by chance. I know they’ve happened because I’ve refused to limit myself to the normalities and pressures of others. I’ve been told I am unrealistic, that I should be getting a normal job with benefits, that it’s crazy to move so far because for THEM it’s scary. I’ve talked to friends about the fear behind taking certain risks in life and I think so many can’t get past that fear. I will tell you, it gets easier and easier to jump in and go for it.

The last thing I want to share is how incredibly touched and lucky I am to have such amazing friends and family in my life. The out pour of support and excitement I’ve received from everyone the last few months has been indescribable. Next blog post will be written from down under so stay tuned!

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”
Winnie the Pooh

 

Shutting Out the Noise and Trusting Your Gut

Anytime you make a big life decision you are bound to encounter the “gray area”. Not all decisions are black and white, and usually you will have to take the leap in one direction knowing there are pros and cons to both sides. You wonder if you’re making the right choice- what if it doesn’t turn out how you thought? What will others think? Will you have regrets? There is constantly so much noise happening inside our heads about decisions we make and which way we should take our lives. How do you turn down the noise and know what’s ultimately right for you? I dealt with this noise a lot when making the decision to move with my boyfriend across the world to Australia. I am so happy to say I am past the confusion and into the “all-in, never looking back, don’t give a damn what you think phase”. I must say, it’s the best place to be. So what was my noise all about with this decision? Where do I start…

NOISE #1- Where is this relationship going?

Stephen and I had to start having more discussions about how we saw our future, our expectations, timelines and what we want for ourselves. It is so important to know what you want for YOU before completely compromising everything for someone else. We both come from divorced families so a happy ending is a goal we take very seriously (not THAT kind of happy ending you perv). I already knew our relationship was wonderful and he makes me smile and laugh on a daily basis, but we couldn’t be naive to deeper topics. I won’t go into every little personal detail, but before I was able to consider this move we had to check our boxes and know our foundation and goals were solid.

NOISE #2- Wow that’s like, really far away and a really long flight.

This was pretty much the reaction from 75% of people when I began talking about moving. I understand it’s a normal and valid reaction! But oftentimes people react to the idea of something by thinking about themselves first- not you. They start to think “how would I feel doing that, would I ever choose to do such a thing”. I had to remind myself that we are all different- we have different interests, goals, priorities, and ultimately a different idea of what life should be. Don’t get stuck on the opinions of others without remembering that what works or doesn’t work for them won’t be the same for you, and that’s okay. Many of my friends or family members would never consider moving so far- but that doesn’t mean I can’t.

Other people’s opinions are not your own. The worst thing you could do is to make an important life decision based on the consensus of those around you, only to look back later and never have followed your heart.

For me, this whole distance thing is all about perspective. Okay I know it is a long flight from Atlanta to Australia – so I’ll figure out a flying routine to make it easier and deal with it on that one day instead of making that small fact my focus. Also those flights can be pretty pricey too. Well that’s just more motivation to keep building my business and increasing my revenue. **cough** business expense to come see clients **cough **. Thank you tax write offs! Stephen has always told me “you can be anywhere in the world within a day”, and he’s right. Why would I let one day stop me from experiencing the other side of the world and being with someone who has become such an important part of my life? I asked Stephen recently if he was nervous- it could get complicated in the future with our families being on opposite sides of the world. He said it’s not scary- it’s exciting! It’s all about perspective and that is just one of the things I love about him. It’s so refreshing to be with someone with an open mind to possibilities without limits.

NOISE #3- You’re moving that far without a ring on your finger?

Wouldn’t it just be such a lovely little story to share on facebook- we get engaged and then run off to Australia together. Well life is not about fairy tale endings or a facebook reveal (even though they’re fun sometimes). This topic was one where I felt the most pressure from others, and one I had to really sift through the noise to find out how I really felt. I felt that I SHOULD be saying I couldn’t make that big of a move without that commitment and it would look bad if I didn’t. Stephen and I had very open talks about this and neither of us believe in taking that leap just because of a situation if we weren’t ready. He felt it was really important I go and experience what I would be committing to first… I just felt confused.

For a while I couldn’t quiet the noise in my head. I knew how a lot of people would react, and I knew I would have to defend my reasoning if I chose to go. Then I realized- why should I ever have to defend this serious of a decision to anyone? Marriage is a huge decision- its bigger than Australia, its bigger than the judgement from others. I also started to realize a lot of the people who did really feel I should be engaged first haven’t first-hand experienced divorce in their life. I would never wish that on anyone, and especially wouldn’t want that for my future (WAY future) children. When you’ve dealt with divorce it can leave you extra cautious and slightly jaded. Friends of mine who have experienced divorce first-hand were all on board with me making sure this is what I really want for myself first. Once I let go of that external pressure and noise from others a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Go for it. Make moves and take risks. You have to at least try.

I think I knew immediately deep down I would end up moving with Stephen when he told me he had to move back, but I still remember the moment I officially let myself say YES, I am 100% in. Most days Stephen and I chat on the phone on our way home from work. That particular day while we were talking I remember saying “I have to at least try, how could I not even try?”. From that moment on the noise was gone and I was all in. This reaction can apply to so many decisions in our lives. Earning a degree, finding a more fulfilling job, going for that promotion, starting to date again, telling someone how you feel, traveling more, turning your dreams into reality… you have to at least try.

You know how the saying goes- with great risk comes great reward. My great reward just happens to come with kangaroos and a sexy surfer.

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The Details on My Move to Australia

Since this is the first time I’m announcing it on the blog… I am moving to Australia!! This week my visa was approved so the fact that it is official-official is still crazy to me. All that is left now is to book my one-way plane ticket!

Some people might be wondering, why Australia? If I haven’t been been able to catch up with you this past year and a half the first thing to know is my boyfriend is Australian. He is on an expatriate program with his job for 2 years in America and we met last January after he’d been living in Atlanta for about 6 months. And yes… he has an accent. People always ask me this but to be honest I stopped noticing it after a few months- it just becomes normal! It has been fun to get used to some Aussie slang- something that will come in handy in a few months.

Since we  started dating I’ve known moving to Australia at some point would be a possibility for me if our relationship continued to move forward, but it’s almost surreal now that it’s actually happening. We found out in February they needed him back there in a few months for work and after some conversations and soul searching I knew I had to go too. I definitely will be expanding on this whole decision making process in the next blog post because I went through an emotional journey to get to where I am now. I think some of you will find it relatable and helpful if you’ve been faced with your own tough life choices. For me it was a decision that was both difficult and so easy all at once. I had to shut out the world noise and trust MY judgement- not everyone else’s. More on this coming soon 🙂

Anyways, back to the official moving plans! Stephen will head home in June and I plan to make the big move sometime in August. Our location is determined by where he was placed for work so we will be about an hour south of the Gold Coast, about two hours south of Brisbane near Lennox Head and Ballina in NSW. We will have to wait until Stephen gets out there in June and starts house hunting to know exactly where we will end up in that area, another exciting process to share later!

The country is extremely beautiful in this area- I remember being mesmerized by the lush landscape and beautiful beaches when we were there last September. I have been a beach bum at heart my entire life, I’m sure it’s due to my southern California roots. Those who know me know I have been on a mission to move to the beach for FOREVER, but over the years there have been different factors that stopped this from happening. Looking back I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I never picked up and moved back to California, or over to Florida or Charleston. If I hadn’t trusted my gut to be patient and stay put in Atlanta just a little bit longer I would never have met Stephen and most likely wouldn’t be about to move to one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Not only am I excited about living in Australia, but the traveling we will be able to do in that side of the world is a huge bonus in my mind. New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia are just a few on my list 😉

Are we going to live in Australia forever? I have no idea. This was another big factor in my decision to move in the first place- I needed to know that if later down the road I wanted to move back to the U.S. Stephen would be open to that. Thankfully he is 🙂 but for now I am only focusing on this next step and am allowing myself to be open to whatever comes next over the upcoming years. I think when you try to plan too much ahead you end up being closed off and ignore potential amazing opportunities that come your way. You end up feeling like you’ve let yourself and others down if you change your mind. Well, I want to be able to change my mind, go with the flow and allow the universe to take me where I am meant to go. To be honest the idea of a “forever home” kind of freaks me out- I am a big dreamer and don’t like to put limits on myself and future possibilities. Luckily I found someone who feels the same.

I can’t believe I only have four months to go before the big move!! I know it is going to fly by and I’ll need to get in as much family and friends time as I can. I will 100% be coming back to Atlanta regularly, I am pretty sure my family would kill me if I didn’t come back minimum once a year.

This won’t be a “goodbye” to everyone, but more of a “catch ya later mate”!

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