Moving on to Melbourne Part 2: Too. Much. Stuff.

Renting a room or an apartment in Australia is pretty different from the UK. For one thing, hardly anywhere is furnished, not even with a fridge or a washing machine.

So it wasn’t really surprising that two single people, both with hobbies that require a fair bit of equipment (like scuba diving, camping, and climbing), and one of those with a small addiction to shopping, accumulate rather a lot of … stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, Silvio got to see the new apartment for the first time. He texted me afterwards, “There are some good things, and some not so good”. My heart sank: I had a feeling that the “not so good” was going to be something to do with space … and I was right. We already knew we would need to sell a few of our things, either because we already had two of the same, or because we wanted to replace them with new, but it was time to take a long hard look at EVERYTHING and think hard about what would have to go.

Luckily, neither of us are too sentimental (well OK, I can be, a bit) – moving to Australia knocks most of that out of you, since the cost of bringing things across is so astronomically expensive that you just can’t ship every last little thing. It was time to get closely acquainted with Gumtree.

Gumtree is a funny place. Some things sold within hours with no quibbling over the price, some people have successfully bargained me down, while for other things I held my ground. Some adverts have been sitting on the site for two weeks without a single enquiry! It’s impossible to predict what will shift easily, and what won’t.

I advertised a couple of cheaper items for a fiver each, with no luck, yet after marking one as free it was gone within an hour. Some people text to arrange a time to visit, then never reply, some arrange a time and don’t show up. I’m not sure which is worse!

One thing I was really struggling to get rid of was my stacks of flower pots, even for free. On Saturday morning, on my friend Becc’s good advice, I put them all outside with a sign saying “Free – Help Yourself”. Somebody obviously did, because they were gone in less than two hours!

I’ve tried to find friends who will benefit from some of my things, and given bags of clothes away to charity shops, and it’s not always easy – especially when things are in good condition.

I’m trying to focus on the good feelings: that somebody else is enjoying it, that I feel “lighter” with less stuff, and that I would rather live every day in a tidy, less crammed apartment than keep all the things for the one time in a blue moon that we might want it :)

We’re still not done. The last few things remain for sale on Gumtree, and the spare bedroom is getting more and more stacked up with boxes containing those things that we ARE taking with us (note to self: got to tell the movers that we may have underestimated how many boxes …)

“Where are we going to put this?” Silvio asks twenty times a day as we’re packing. “I don’t know how this is all going to fit …” I don’t know either! I suspect Gumtree is going to be my friend for a little while yet …

Moving on … to Melbourne! Part 1: Job Search

Two years ago, with no idea that I would come along and turn his life upside down, a slightly grumpy Italian man – who vaguely resembles Aragorn – looked at a plan for an apartment in Prahran, Victoria, and decided it looked like a good place to live one day. Yesterday, that deal was finally sealed.

And that’s why, in just over six weeks’ time, and after nearly two years living by Sydney’s northern beaches, I’ll be packing up my life again and heading off on a new adventure.

I’ve had a long time to get used to the idea of moving to Melbourne, and a few visits to get an idea of what life will soon be like. Fewer beaches, better bars and restaurants. Less sunshine, less humidity. Queen Victoria Market, a new job, and a home of our own, well, Silvio’s own but close enough.

A year ago, I was pretty fresh out of the process of applying for a new job with Atlassian and a new visa. The entire process took around two months from start to finish, and I had no desire to go through it again. Moving to Melbourne, I declared, was definitely a long term plan, to happen when I didn’t have to go through the visa changeover again. This was no problem: the completion date for the building was moving back and there was no rush.

Over time, the memories faded and the promise of a new home became more real. On weekends in Melbourne, we visited the site, where the shell of the building was slowly breathing life into the artist’s sketches I’d seen. As the completion date became more concrete, we began to talk more about the possibilities of moving, and gradually our plans moved further forward, until we were considering how soon we could move after returning from our trip home in November.

I liked my job though and I didn’t really want to think about finding a new one. For a long time I nurtured the hope that I could stay with Atlassian and work remotely. I tried to ignore the warning signs of restlessness when I worked from home – I still wanted to believe I could do it every day, even when I accosted Silvio as he walked through the door in the evening, desperate for company after just one day alone.

In May, Silvio was posted to Melbourne for two months, and with the completion date looming at the end of July, this somehow triggered everything to fast forward. We started to consider moving before the trip home, perhaps in September, and I began to consider whether changing job would be an option after all. I still had no idea if working remotely would be a possibility, and much as I wanted to believe it was, I was starting to admit to myself that it wouldn’t be ideal, either for me or for my team.

For the first weekend of June, I travelled to Melbourne to spend the long weekend in Sydney, then work from Melbourne for a couple of days so that we didn’t have to spend quite so much time apart.

On Saturday, we headed over to Prahran to visit the show apartment – the building was virtually done, although the inside of it was very much still in progress. I was thrilled to see the huge, “rain” shower heads in the bathroom! It’s the little things :)

On Tuesday, I sat working at the kitchen table in Silvio’s corporate apartment, with a view out of the twenty-fifth floor window across the city, feeling lonely and restless. By Wednesday afternoon, I couldn’t sit still, probably partly because of the gallons of tea I’d consumed, but I felt like I was going crazy. I watched HipChat waiting for conversation, tried desperately to find the zone, but failed. At some point during those two days, the “remote” in working remotely struck home. I need to be around people. Sadly, but not without some excitement … I thought, it’s time to start the job hunt.

I was lucky, in many ways: I’ve spent time at some very good companies, I have good contacts, and it seems that there’s a shortage of developers in Melbourne, so there are a bunch of great companies who were willing to train me in something new. What started out as feeling around for opportunities very quickly turned into several serious job applications – all working with Ruby on Rails.

The start of the process was intense: for nearly three weeks I spent my evenings crafting solutions to code tests, sitting up until midnight fretting over why my Cucumber tests wouldn’t pass, or trying to learn how to use the Ruby option parser. The hard work was worth it when I was invited for interviews – yay!

I had expected the whole process to take far longer than it did in the end. I had an early offer, which significantly reduced my stress levels. I was determined to all of the applications through to the bitter end though, despite being tempted many times to just accept it. I’m glad now that I didn’t – I met so many people that I feel like I’m almost part of the Melbourne Ruby scene already :)

Attending interviews was an experience: I found myself leaving each time thinking, “that place is my new favourite”. By the end of the process, I had to force myself to take the time to let everything settle before making a final decision – and I found that my heart was pulling me towards a place with a passion for travel and a reception area full of books of possibility: Lonely Planet.

So that was the job sorted … well, except for those awkward details like signing documents and sorting the visa (again). Oh, and the sad conversations with my current colleagues at Atlassian – that wasn’t so much fun either. On the plus side, at least I was there for the (once again, amazing) End of Financial Year party!


Time to celebrate? Well, maybe – but actually, the rest of the stress was only just starting …